Decided to modernize your practice, streamline your efficiency, and secure your client data by investing in accounting time and billing software? Great! Luckily for you, there are countless of products available for today’s CPAs. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by all the options, though, here are a few questions that will help you significantly narrow down your search, and yield better results in the future!
Does it Integrate with Popular Tax Software?
When you’re switching over to a cloud-based accounting software, the last thing you want to do is spend time manually entering all your data for every single client your firm has ever had. (Time entry software is supposed to save you time, isn’t it?) Therefore, make sure your new software can integrate with Quickbooks, UltraTax, and Lacerte. This might seem like a low-priority feature, but trust us, it’s actually the first consideration you should make. If your software can’t import information you’ve already stored and organized, in our opinion, it’s just too much of a hassle to bother with.
Is it Scalable?
Sure, you might only need a simple time entry tool for a couple people right now. But what happens if your practice ends up growing significantly over the next few years? Don’t complicate things for your future self by getting CPA software that can’t scale. A good time and billing software should have a wide variety of features and plans that accommodate larger businesses with multiple users and payroll accounts as time goes on. Get a software that will grow with you, not hold you back!
Is it Affordable, or “Cheap”?
Some CPA software tools are what we might call “affordable” or “cost-effective.” Others are what we might call “cheap.” The difference is in the value of what you’re getting. Yes, you want to choose an option that doesn’t put a big dent in your budget, but not if it forces you do do without features that would help your business grow in the long run. For example, you could pay less than $20 a month for accounting software that just tracks billable hours and creates invoices. But just a slightly higher investment would get you features like credit card processing, eSignature options, encrypted data protection, and automated reminder emails—all features which help you get paid faster and more easily.
It’s a bit like car insurance: yes, there are shoestring-budget options out there, but do you really want to be driving around with a policy that only covers accidents wherein you were at fault, on a full moon, only on Tuesdays?
Does it Adequately Secure Client Data?
Let’s talk a bit more about the “protecting client data” bit we mentioned above. In this day and age, protecting client data isn’t really an option anymore. The European Union and the State of California are just the first governing bodies that have started to crack down on corporate privacy negligence, by implementing the GDPR and CCPA, respectively. Under both these regulations, if customer data is compromised due to poor corporate security, the offending company can be hit with massive fines tallying in the millions. And that’s not taking into account the hit you’ll take when your clients no longer trust you to keep their information safe. Long story short? If your time and billing software doesn’t save data on an encrypted server, it’s not a worthwhile investment.
Oops—we had so many suggestions for choosing a great time tracking tool, we ran out of room! To read Part 2 of this series, click here.