Online Accounting Not One-Size-Fits-All: Customization Options
3 min read
March 31, 2016 • Block Advisors
No cloud-based accounting application can offer a feature set and user experience that is an exact fit for you. Every small business has its own set of requirements and needs. So the companies that build these websites offer multiple levels of functionality at different subscription prices. They let you turn individual tools off and on.
They also provide numerous ways for you to change the content and layout of the site itself. Some of these modifications will only be visible and usable internally, but others will help you present a more distinctive, individualized face to your customers and vendors.
Dashboard/home page. What information do you want to see when you first log in to your accounting site, and in what form? State-of-the-art online applications give you some control over the tables and charts that greet you every day, like account balances, income/expense summaries, and action items.
Classes, categories, etc. Everyone has a different name for these, but they basically serve the same purpose. They’re sorting tools. You can classify transactions and other data by assigning them to groups that contain similar characteristics, like sales regions or construction types or locations. This gives you more control over the information that you see in reports.
Branding themes. Want to add a logo or distinctive background to your customer and vendor forms? Accounting websites let you do so, easily.
Modifiable records and forms. All cloud-based accounting applications come with pre-designed templates for things like customer records and invoices; these contain blank, labeled fields for names and addresses, product descriptions, sales tax data, etc.
If you want to track additional information about your customers, vendors, and inventory items (like product types, personal details, or the date of your first contact). you can create “custom fields” that will appear in all records. And if you don’t need a specific field on your sales forms, for example, you may be able to remove it. Sometimes you can even play with the forms’ layouts to rearrange their structure.
Multiple currency support. Many small businesses these days attract a global audience. Some accounting websites let you work in foreign currencies.
Tax structure. Are you a sole proprietor? A corporation? An LLC? Your business structure has tremendous impact on many things, including how you prepare income taxes. If you’re a new business or are questioning your current classification, consult with a financial advisor before you start using an accounting application. The best websites ask you to declare your legal structure because of the impact it will have.
Add-ons. If you find that you need more flexibility in areas like inventory management or billing than a particular cloud-based accounting application offers, investigate its integrated add-ons. These are services that can be connected to the main accounting site to extend its functionality in one or more areas. The top accounting applications offer hundreds of them.
You may be able to use a small business accounting website as is. But keep in mind when you’re looking around that you’ll be able to shape your application in many ways.