Accounting software can vary from multi million pound solutions for major public companies to simple managed lists of income and expenses. Simple accounting solutions are most suitable for small
The most comprehensive financial accounting packages incorporate financial reporting information and managed by teams of qualified accountants supported by accounts clerks, bookkeepers and
substantial input from automated data sources. At the other end of the scale a self employed sole trader might use accounting software themselves and produce a set of financial accounts for the year in an
Different accounting standards are required from accounting software dependent upon the fitness for purpose and client needs. Double entry bookkeeping automated through a database system and
probably arranged in financial modules would normally be the choice of the majority of public companies. Single entry bookkeeping would not be an acceptable accounting solution for a limited company due
to audit requirements and statutory obligations.
Single entry bookkeeping does however have its place in the market place for the smaller less complex businesses who maintain financial control through a close intimate knowledge of every financial
transaction. The main objective of a sole trader is more likely to be the production of the tax accounts and complete the periodic and annual tax return forms.
The most sophisticated level of accounting software in the largest companies mirrors the accounting functions in those organisations with various financial modules for accounts receivable, accounts
payable, stock control, general ledger and fixed assets. These accounting modules may also be integrated with non accounting functions such as production and dispatch functions and also divided into
separate modules within the accounting function.
In larger companies the sales daybook and data entry of sales turnover would often be the responsibility of one department while the accounts receivable function might be split with a specialist credit control
function within that accounting module. A further division may also include sales administration and customer records. Accounts payable would normally be multi functional of the purchasing department,
purchase invoice accounts department and a legal function for overdue payments.
Accounting software for smaller companies and organisations is commonly a system of data entry of prime transactions which include sales income, purchase expenses and cash and bank transactions.
The prime entry of these documents being to a database which automates the double entry accounting principles and produces both accounts receivable, accounts payable and general ledger databases.
Some accounting knowledge is usually required tom operate a database accounting software system and that financial knowledge is usually available within the company as most companies that use
database accounting software also employ a bookkeeper or accounts clerks to input data and in slightly larger small companies also qualified accountants to manage the accounting function.
The need for accounting knowledge in a database system is partially to understand the data entry principles and the relevancy of the rules that need to be followed but essentially understanding of accounting
principles is required to understand what is happening ton the information after input. And most important, a qualified accountant has the financial knowledge, training and experience to know what the system
should be producing and how to query the database to retrieve that information.
A database accounting software system not only produces high quality financial records but offfers numerous financial control alternatives for both junior and senior business management. The accounting
function also has the security of producing trial balances, periodic profit and loss accounts, balance sheets and other financial and statements for tax and control purposes.
Accounting solutions requiring little bookkeeping or accounting knowledge are available usually based uponh spreadsheets as this is the most transparent method of viewing the accounts.
Small limited companies must obtain accounting software based upon double entry accounting principles as in addition to producing a profit and loss account and a trial balance to demonstrate accuracy and
integrity of the financial records plus a balance sheet is required for reporting purposes. Accounting standards require the limited company to have a system of financial control and accounting software is an
essential tool in achieving this.
Some accounting knowledge either from the management or outsourcing the bookkeeping services is usually required with even the simplest database accounting solutions eve3n if this requires the
understanding of what accounts receivable ledgers, accounts payable ledger and control accounts mean.
There are other possibilities and those businesses with a minimum of accounting knowledge can consider spreadsheet based accounting software. Accounting software compiled from spreadsheets is less
flexible and often does not have the range of options a database system has due to the lack of database queries available. These disadvantages of flexibility being compensated by the fact that all entries are
visible, transparent and changes can be made more easily.
Financially at the sole trader and self employed end of the business spectrum then the requirements from accounting software may be completely different. Gone are the sophistications of control accounts,
trial balances and many aspects of financial control. The most important aspect of self employed accounting software is often to produce a set of accounts for tax purposes.
Self employed small business that do not require a balance sheet can use accounting software based upon single entry bookkeeping rather than double entry and with the reduced requirement for financial
control then less financial queries to the system are required. In these respects the simpler an accounting solution the better and in this market an accounting solution written on spreadsheets that can
produce the net taxable profit would meet the requirements.