How do I determine best accounting and payroll software?

Top voted answer
Melanie Gray

Melanie Gray Managing Owner at

Top 10% Accounting

The bigger the business, the bigger the task.

  • If you have minimal transactions, off-the-shelf systems designed for small businesses will do the job. If you are savvy with Microsoft Excel, I recommend to use that so you have a lot of flexibility with running your accounts and payroll.
  • If you are a medium sized business, it might be worthwhile investing some time in a Business Analyst that can help guide you in the right direction
  • If your business is large enough, it is definitely worthwhile engaging a Business Analyst first to help you define what problems you are solving and help with defining a solution. During this initial phase, start to create a project team with external people to help choose the best way forward and implement the new system
  • It is important to understand that an off-the-shelf accounting and payroll system is not going to do exactly what you want it to do because all businesses run differently. This is more of a problem as a businesses grows. The only way you will get exactly what you want is by having it built custom for your business. For larger businesses, off-the-shelf systems can cost just as much, if not more than having it custom built.

Jef Lippiatt

Jef Lippiatt , Owner at Startup Chucktown

Definitely helpful information.
Melanie Gray

Melanie Gray , Managing Owner at

Forgot to mention, that free options can change to not free. Paid systems can also, overtime, increase in price.
Jef Lippiatt

Jef Lippiatt Owner at Startup Chucktown

I would also add a different perspective. I think there are 3 things that help boil down a choice for this decision.

  • Cost - are you looking for free (there are options), low cost, high cost. Obviously high cost solutions usually have much more flexibility and can be custom fit to your needs. However, if you are just starting out you may not have a large budget. Do you want to be a 1-time license or are you okay with a host option that has a recurring monthly fee?
  • Integration - not all products are equal if you need your accounting system to integrate with your CRM or your e-commerce system or HR. Consider what you really need to make your operations seamless. A system with integration flexibility can definitely save you time and double entry.
  • Bookkeeper or Account - if you already have a trusted accountant what software are they familiar with? Which do they prefer to use and why? How will it fit your business? If you have a trusted person in mind, it may be easier to use what they already know, but still ask about options. Hopefully they can guide you to the right solution if you are unsure.
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