How to Use Accounting Software - A Comprehensive Guide
 Finance & Accounting

How to Use Accounting Software - A Comprehensive Guide

Rick Johnson
Rick Johnson
March 29, 2024
Last updated on:

March 29, 2024


Read time: 10 mins

Accounting software simplifies financial management by automating tasks like bookkeeping, invoicing, and reporting. It streamlines processes and enhances accuracy while providing a user-friendly interface and real-time insights into financial data. The best part is that it comes with customizable features to cater to various business needs, thus making it an indispensable tool for modern-day accounting.

Whether you're a small business owner, a freelancer, or managing the finances of a large corporation, accounting software can keep you ahead in managing financial health. But given that numerous such software is available in the market, picking the right one for your needs can be challenging. Therefore, you first need to understand what accounting software is and how it works before implementing one for your needs.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of accounting software, explore its functionalities and challenges in usage, and provide a step-by-step walkthrough on how to use the powerful tool effectively.

How Accounting Software Simplifies Accounting?

Accounting software simplifies accounting processes in a number of ways. For instance, it streamlines bookkeeping by automatically recording transactions from bank feeds, invoices, and expenses, eliminating the need for manual data entry. Moreover, it generates financial reports, such as balance sheets and income statements, instantly, facilitating quicker decision-making. Additionally, features like automatic tax calculations ensure compliance with tax regulations, saving time and minimizing the risk of errors. Furthermore, it enables easy collaboration between accountants and clients by providing secure online access to financial data, allowing for efficient communication and feedback. 

Accounting Software Statistics
Image 1 - Accounting Software Statistics

How to Use Accounting Software: A Step-By-Step Process

1. Choose Accounting Software

Choosing the right accounting software tool is vital for businesses of all sizes. It streamlines financial processes, enhances accuracy, and provides insights for informed decision-making. With diverse options available, selecting software tailored to your company's needs ensures efficient operations and compliance.

To choose accounting software effectively, begin by assessing your business requirements, such as scalability, industry-specific features, and integration capabilities. Research user reviews, compare pricing plans, and consider factors like user-friendliness and customer support. Ultimately, opt for software that aligns with your budget, technological proficiency, and long-term objectives to maximize its benefits.

2. Install the Software

Once you've made an informed decision and chosen the accounting software that suits your business needs, the next crucial step is to install the software seamlessly. Installing accounting software not only establishes a digital foundation for your financial operations but also facilitates efficient collaboration among team members.

The installation process is typically user-friendly, often guided by intuitive wizards or step-by-step instructions provided by the software provider. It involves downloading the application, running the setup file, and configuring basic settings. This straightforward installation ensures that your team can swiftly transition to the new accounting system, minimizing downtime and maximizing productivity.

What is an accounting company?

An accounting company is a professional firm that provides financial services such as bookkeeping, auditing, and tax preparation for businesses and individuals. Its primary focus is on maintaining accurate financial records and ensuring compliance with relevant regulations.

Read our blog, ‘Top 10 Accounting Companies in the USA,’ to gain insights on top companies.

3. Set Up Your Company Profile

With the accounting software successfully installed, the next imperative step is to set up your company profile. This foundational task lays the groundwork for accurate and personalized financial record-keeping. Begin by entering essential details such as your company name, address, and contact information. Tailor the profile to your business structure, whether it's a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation.

Furthermore, take advantage of customization features within the software to input your logo, establish fiscal periods, and configure any tax-related settings. This not only enhances the professional appearance of your financial documents but also ensures compliance with relevant tax regulations. By meticulously configuring your company profile, you establish a digital hub that aligns with the specific needs and nuances of your business, setting the stage for precise financial management through the software.

4. Configure Chart of Accounts

Configuring the chart of accounts is a pivotal step in accounting software setup. Organize your financial data by categorizing income, expenses, assets, liabilities, and equity according to your business structure and reporting requirements.

Begin by defining account categories and subcategories that reflect your business operations. Tailor the chart to capture the nuances of your industry and financial activities, ensuring clarity and accuracy in financial reporting and analysis. Customizing the chart of accounts streamlines data entry, facilitates tracking, and provides insights into your company's financial health and performance.

5. Input Opening Balances

Inputting opening balances marks a critical phase in transitioning to accounting software. Enter precise figures for assets, liabilities, equity, income, and expenses to ensure accurate financial records from inception.

Start by compiling comprehensive records of your company's financial position as of the software's implementation date. Accurately record balances for bank accounts, outstanding invoices, loans, and other financial assets and liabilities. This meticulous process establishes a reliable baseline for future transactions and financial analysis within the software, facilitating seamless operations and informed decision-making.

Key Considerations for Implementing Accounting Software
Image 2 - Key Considerations For Implementing Accounting Software

6. Connect Bank Accounts

Once opening balances are set, the next crucial step is to connect your business bank accounts to the accounting software. This integration streamlines transaction tracking, reduces manual data entry, and enhances accuracy.

Choose the option to link your bank accounts within the software and follow the authentication process provided. Connecting bank accounts allows for real-time transaction imports, automating the reconciliation process. This not only saves time but also minimizes the risk of errors, providing an up-to-date and accurate financial snapshot of your business. Keep in mind the security protocols and encryption measures implemented by the accounting software to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and security of your financial data.

Read our article, ‘5 Essential Tips for Small Businesses Planning to Outsource Accounting for the First Time,’ to learn the strategies to follow while outsourcing accounting.

7. Record Transactions

With bank accounts connected, the subsequent step in utilizing accounting software is to diligently record transactions. Enter income, expenses, and other financial activities regularly to maintain an accurate and up-to-date financial picture.

Navigate to the designated transaction entry area within the software and input details such as date, amount, accounts affected, and relevant descriptions. Ensure consistency with your configured chart of accounts for precise categorization. Regular and meticulous transaction recording not only facilitates efficient bookkeeping but also aids in generating comprehensive financial reports, providing insights crucial for strategic decision-making and compliance. Embrace the automation features of the software to streamline the process, reducing manual efforts and enhancing accuracy in your financial record-keeping.

8. Reconcile Bank Statements

Reconciling bank statements is a pivotal practice to ensure the accuracy of your financial records. Compare transactions recorded in your accounting software with those on your bank statements to identify discrepancies.

Initiate the reconciliation process by accessing the bank reconciliation feature in your software. Match each transaction listed in your accounting records with those reflected in your bank statement, ensuring consistency in amounts, dates, and descriptions. Investigate any discrepancies promptly to rectify errors and maintain financial transparency and compliance. 

9. Generate Financial Reports

Generating financial reports is a pivotal step in leveraging accounting software for informed decision-making. Utilize the software's reporting features to create comprehensive documents summarizing your company's financial performance and position.

Access the reporting module within the software to generate key financial statements such as income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements. Customize these reports to meet specific business needs and industry requirements. Regularly reviewing financial reports provides insights into profitability, liquidity, and overall financial health, empowering you to make data-driven decisions that drive business growth.

10. Monitor Cash Flow

Monitoring cash flow is paramount for financial health, and accounting software plays a major role in this ongoing process. Utilize the software's tools to track, analyze, and forecast cash movements.

Access the cash flow management features in your accounting software to monitor inflows and outflows. Regularly review cash flow statements to identify trends and potential challenges. By keeping a close eye on cash movements, you can make informed decisions about expenditures, investments, and budgeting, ensuring the financial stability and resilience of your business. The real-time insights provided by accounting software empower you to proactively address cash flow issues, seize opportunities, and optimize your financial strategy.

11. Conduct Regular Audits

Conducting regular audits is a vital aspect of ensuring the accuracy of your financial data within accounting software. Perform internal audits to review transactions, detect errors, and strengthen internal controls.

Utilize the audit features provided by the software to systematically examine financial records, ensuring compliance with accounting standards and regulations. Regular audits enhance the reliability of your financial information, mitigate the risk of fraud, and demonstrate accountability to stakeholders. By implementing a proactive audit strategy, you not only maintain financial transparency but also build confidence in your company's financial reporting and decision-making processes.

12. Update Software as Needed

Updating the accounting software as needed is essential for better performance, improved security, and access to the latest features. Regular updates provided by the software provider address bugs, enhance functionality, and ensure compatibility with evolving technologies.

Check for software updates periodically and implement them during non-critical business hours to minimize disruption. These updates often include improvements in data security, user interface enhancements, and compatibility fixes. By staying current with software updates, you not only benefit from a more robust and efficient system but also safeguard your financial data against potential vulnerabilities, ensuring a smooth and secure operation of your accounting processes.

Types of Accounting Software

Accounting software comes in various types, each catering to different needs and preferences of businesses. Here are some common types of accounting software:

  1. Desktop Accounting Software: This desktop software is installed and operated on a single computer. It's typically purchased with a one-time license fee and is suitable for small businesses or individuals who prefer a traditional software setup. Examples include QuickBooks Desktop and Sage 50.
  2. Cloud-Based Accounting Software: Cloud-based accounting software is hosted on remotely located servers and can be accessed through the internet. Users can easily access their business financial data from any device with an internet connection. This type of software often offers subscription-based pricing models and is scalable to the needs of growing businesses. Examples include QuickBooks Online, Xero, and FreshBooks.
  3. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems: ERP systems combine various business processes, including accounting, into a single platform. They are suitable for larger businesses that require extensive functionalities beyond basic accounting, such as inventory management, human resources (HR), and customer relationship management (CRM). Examples include SAP Business One and Oracle NetSuite.
  4. Open Source Accounting Software: Open source accounting software allows system users to access and modify the source code freely. It's often customizable to fit specific business needs and is usually available for free, although support may require payment. Examples include GnuCash and Odoo.
  5. Online Invoicing and Billing Software: While not strictly accounting software, online invoicing and billing software focuses on creating and managing invoices, tracking payments, and managing client billing. They may integrate with accounting software for seamless financial management. Examples include Zoho Invoice and Wave.
  6. Industry-Specific Accounting Software: Some accounting software is customized to specific industries, like construction, healthcare, or hospitality. These solutions often include industry-specific features and compliance requirements to meet the unique needs of those sectors. Examples include Jonas Construction Software and Kareo for Healthcare.

Best Accounting Software

The best accounting software can vary based on the specific needs of your business, your budget, and other factors. However, several accounting software options are popular and widely regarded as highly effective. Here are some of the top choices:

  1. QuickBooks: This is the most commonly used accounting software tool for small and medium-sized businesses. It offers many features like invoicing, expense tracking, payroll processing, and financial reporting. QuickBooks comes in various versions tailored to different business needs, including QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop, and QuickBooks Self-Employed.
  2. Xero: Xero is another highly regarded cloud-based accounting software that is popular among small businesses. It offers features like invoicing, bank reconciliation, expense tracking, and payroll processing. Xero is known for its user-friendly interface and strong integrations with other business tools.
  3. FreshBooks: FreshBooks is designed primarily for small service-based businesses and freelancers. It offers features including invoicing, time tracking, expense management, and project management. FreshBooks is known for its simplicity and ease of use.
  4. Wave: Wave is a free accounting solution that is popular among freelancers, consultants, and small businesses. It offers features like invoicing, expense tracking, payroll processing, and financial reporting. Wave is known for its affordability and user-friendly interface.
  5. Zoho Books: Zoho Books is a business accounting application that offers features such as invoicing, expense tracking, inventory management, and financial reporting. It is highly suitable for small and medium-sized businesses and offers strong integration capabilities with other Zoho applications.
  6. Sage 50cloud Accounting: Sage 50cloud Accounting (formerly known as Peachtree) is a desktop-based accounting software solution popular among small businesses. It offers features including invoicing, inventory management, cash flow management, and financial reporting.
  7. NetSuite: NetSuite is a comprehensive cloud-based ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software that includes accounting functionality along with features such as inventory management, CRM (Customer Relationship Management), and e-commerce. NetSuite is suitable for medium to large businesses with complex accounting needs.

When choosing the best accounting software, consider factors such as your business size, industry, budget, required features, ease of use, and scalability. It's also a good idea to try out demos or free trials of different software options to see which one best meets your needs.


Accounting software and its features are expected to undergo significant changes as technology evolves. Automation, artificial intelligence, and real-time data analysis will likely become integral components, streamlining financial processes and enhancing decision-making. Staying updated on new features is essential for businesses to leverage the latest tools, ensuring accuracy, efficiency, and compliance with evolving regulations.

Businesses increasingly rely on third-party providers for accounting due to the specialized expertise and cost-effectiveness they offer. Invensis, with over two decades of expertise, stands as a leading third-party provider of finance and accounting services, specializing in top-tier accounting software such as QuickBooks, Xero, and SAP. Our customized solutions cater to businesses of all sizes, offering a comprehensive suite of services to streamline financial management processes. Whether it's managing payroll, reconciling accounts, or generating insightful financial reports, we excel in delivering accurate and timely solutions.

Contact us for tailored accounting solutions – Elevate your financial management with Invensis!

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