How do you choose an online accounting application?
- Marty Zanen
- 21 Mar 2023
- Edited 14 Nov 2022
- 4 min
- Managing and growing
Accounting software applications are evolving all the time: you can manage your accounts in the cloud, send electronic invoices using a basic bookkeeping application, and securely exchange e-invoices within Europe through the PEPPOL network. Discover how you can benefit from these advances in technology, and learn what to watch out for when choosing an accounting application.
There are several ways of managing your accounts. For example, you can keep all your receipts and simply hand them over to your accountant, or you can manage your own accounts using an online or offline accounting program. So what accounting software application should you choose? In any case, it is best to buy accounting software that is both user-friendly and complies with all the security and privacy requirements. If you have a bookkeeper or accountant, be sure to consult them, as the two of you work on your accounts together. Online accounting software is cloud-based; this means your bookkeeper can keep track of what you are doing at any time, making it easy for you to agree on a distribution of duties.
Key considerations when choosing an online accounting software application:
Online accounting software
You pay for offline accounting software applications only once and subsequently pay for updates. If you choose an online application, you will pay for access and use through a subscription. The software is always up-to-date, and the fact that you work in the cloud means that you can access your data at any time through your phone, laptop, or PC. Peter Potters of Informer Online explains: “Many SME owners still use offline accounting software applications, where you install the software locally on your computer. This is a bit dated at this point, and virtually all accounting software applications available on the market now are online, not least because of the many benefits they offer.”
You will find few business owners who still keep their receipts in an old shoebox, but there is nothing wrong with using hardcopy accounts; that is, Excel spreadsheets or self-designed accounting software based on open-source accounting software. The only condition is that you meet the legal requirements*.
Electronic accounting provides certain advantages when professionalizing your business. For example, Excel spreadsheets do not enable you to monitor accounts payable. You can then create invoices separately in Word. Since you do this manually, you are likely to make mistakes, for example entering the wrong invoice number. Online accounting software allows you to work more quickly and efficiently, and there is no need to enter all the data manually. The program also keeps automatic track of whether invoices are paid or still outstanding.
Electronic accounting is also useful when it comes to managing your VAT: you can file your VAT returns using the accounting software, and pay using the iDEAL payment tool. An advantage of this method is that you are less likely to make mistakes when entering data for your VAT. In addition, iDEAL also facilitates more rapid payments. Business owners with sole proprietorships and who employ no staff can, when declaring their profits for their income tax in Mijn Belastingdienst, use accounting software which incorporates the Automatische Winstaangifte (Automatic Profit Declaration) module.
You are looking for user-friendly accounting software. Most online accounting applications also include an app; you can use this accounting app to easily take pictures of receipts and incoming invoices. These are then automatically recorded in the system. There are also accounting applications available that allow you to communicate with a chatbot through WhatsApp (for example, you can upload invoices or check your balance).
Features and options
Electronic billing (e-billing) can be integrated into accounting software. In some cases, e-billing is included in a separate application which you can buy individually. Check which features, options, and modules are important for your business, including timekeeping, stock management, and a cashier system. Note that additional features and options could increase your subscription fees.
Electronic billing in the construction sector
Since 1 January 2022, construction companies have been sending e-invoices based on the DICO standard version SALES005. If you own a construction business or work as an independent contractor in the construction industry, you can update your billing method. This is also an option if you are a supplier to the construction industry, or you can choose a new accounting program that works according to this standard. Check what to pay attention to when sending electronic bills in the construction industry (in Dutch).
PEPPOL (Pan-European Public Procurement On-Line) is a secure, GDPR-proof network in the European Union. You can link your accounting software to the PEPPOL network, so that you will be able to send electronic bills to international customers. Access to PEPPOL is subject to a strict vetting process. If your accounts and your customer’s account are registered in PEPPOL, your e-invoice will immediately be imported into the recipient’s accounting application. This prevents invoices from getting lost. “PEPPOL has made phantom invoices (in Dutch) a thing of the past,” Potters says. Governments must accept e-invoices received through PEPPOL.
Switching to another accounting application is not a problem: your financial data will be transferred using XML Auditfile, while your bank details are transferred through an automatic bank link. Potters: “Changing accounting applications is easy. Many business owners decide to do this on the first of January, but you can do it at any time of the year. You can enter the opening balance at any time, or, alternatively, collect everything and enter it all in one go, which you can just as easily do in July.”
The subscription fees for online accounting programs are roughly between €10 and €75 per month. The price depends on the date of your business’s establishment, legal form, number of employees, and the features and options provided by the software.
Software providers supply instruction videos, demos, or webinars when you acquire an accounting application, so you will soon get the hang of the new program.