How to Find the Best Budgeting Software

budgeting for small businesses

If your business has grown beyond using notepads or spreadsheets to manage the budget, then you’re ready for budgeting software. Recognizing it’s time to upgrade budgeting processes is one thing; determining which tool is best for your needs is another. Don’t let the myriad of alternatives dissuade you. A good budgeting tool has several components regardless of industry or system features, which will help you narrow down the choices to a select few.

1. Compatibility

Your existing systems and procedures must be compatible with your new software. The compatibility of some software is easy to determine. For example, check whether it’s specific to a Mac or PC. But seamlessly integrating new software with your company’s ancillary systems is every bit as crucial. If some adaptation is required for the new software solution to sync up with your in-house systems, that’s fairly commonplace. However, if days of software developers’ time is needed to even get your system up and running, consider other budgeting software alternatives.

2. Reporting

Your new system’s reporting functions should improve expense management and other financial decisions. But making sound, long-term budgeting decisions is only possible if you’re able to access and use the data. That’s why your system’s reporting capabilities are critical. The ability to generate unique reports, based on the specific data of interest to you, is a must for your new system.

3. Importing/Exporting Data

The ability to easily import and export information, including an option to add data from sources outside your current legacy systems, will maximize your system’s capabilities. Budgeting is even more valuable when all available data is used and analyzed. Most systems allow for the import of data from Excel, Quickbooks, and other popular budgeting tools, but make certain the new system is able to accommodate less popular alternatives as well.

4. Multiple Users

Your new budgeting system should allow for several users and come with controls to manage those users. You should know who changed or added what data and when. Tracking changes that were made and noting the results of those changes will help you make appropriate decisions going forward. The system’s controls will ensure that only people you’ve approved have access to your sensitive financial data.

5. Simplicity

Like any software, you want it to be easy to get it running and fully utilized. A new system should be intuitive; it should either mimic popular operating systems like a Windows or Mac user interface or make learning the ins and outs of the new system as easy as “point and click.” If the budgeting software comes with a 300-page user manual, keep searching.

6. Customization

Your business and IT systems are unlike the ones across the street or across the country. Your budgeting needs are also unique, so your software should be, too. Most are easily adaptable, connecting to legacy systems without too much time, expense, or difficulty, and they can adapt to meet any specific needs of your business. But make sure you recognize the work involved, too. Just because something is customizable doesn’t mean it can be done easily.

7. Scalability

You’ve arrived at this point because business is improving. Assuming your business continues to thrive, the new software should be able to keep up with that growth. If you can avoid having to investigate larger, more complex budgeting solutions in one or two years’ time as your company grows, you’ll save both time and money in the long run.

With so many budgeting software alternatives available, the right solution for your budgeting needs is most certainly out there. Unfortunately, all those choices can make finding the right tool seem difficult, especially if you’re not technologically inclined. But the process doesn’t have to be difficult. Use these steps as a guide, and you’re sure to end up with the right software for you and your growing business.

Alice Williams

Related Cost Management Resources

Tackling the Budget: 5 Ways to Make Your Company’s Money Go Further posted in Cost Management

how small businesses can cut costs

5 Important Elements of Project Cost Management Tools posted in Cost Management

cost management

How to Create a Website Budget posted in Cost Management

how to create a website budget

Join the Conversation