Changing bookkeeping software – SWISS21

A company is constantly changing. And bookkeeping software also has to keep up with these changes. Many founders and SMEs don’t pay much attention to bookkeeping. At the beginning, you keep better ledgers and then, step by step, your bookkeeping becomes more professional and is adapted to the structures of a more mature company. Bookkeeping is generally considered to be a fairly dry subject. But it’s about much more than just posting business transactions. It’s important to have a clean basis and to be able to derive the numbers needed for the next business steps, especially where tax law, business strategy and management are concerned. That’s why it’s important to consider from the start exactly which bookkeeping tools you need and when.

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Failing to plan is planning to fail

But even if you’ve planned well, growth and other business-related changes can lead to a change in software. Changes carry risks, and various subsidiary ledgers and ongoing transactions have to be taken into consideration (wages, annual accounts, VAT, accounts receivable, accounts payable, etc.). If important points are forgotten, this can cost the company a lot of time and money. Find out here what you need to be aware of and what stumbling blocks you may encounter when changing your bookkeeping software.

What should your bookkeeping software be able to do?

When purchasing new bookkeeping software, you should ask yourself two questions: Firstly, what has convinced me or forced me to change? In other words, what isn’t my current software doing? And the second – even more important – question: What should the new software be able to do, and what do I want/have to achieve with it in the time that I’m planning to use it?

Some important questions to ask when evaluating new software are:

  • Which key accounting functions does the bookkeeping software offer?
  • What assistance systems are there?
  • Can postings be automated? Are there interfaces to online banking?
  • Is double-entry bookkeeping an option? Can multiple people work on it at the same time?
  • Can quotations be created and invoices generated on the basis of them? Is dunning integrated?
  • Is payroll accounting included?
  • Is asset management an option?
  • Does my company need goods and stock accounting?
  • What financial statements, reports and analyses can I create with it?
  • Is professional controlling and financial planning an option?
  • Can I use it to prepare VAT returns?
  • Can information be submitted easily to my accountant and the tax authorities?
  • Which interfaces does the software offer?

When to change bookkeeping software

Bookkeeping programs don’t tend to be compatible with other bookkeeping software. That’s why the date on which the software is changed should be chosen carefully. The easiest and best time is without doubt the balance sheet date, i.e. you end one financial year with the old software and start the new financial year with the new software.

If a company’s accounting date doesn’t correspond to the calendar year, it may still make sense to change the software on 1 January. This is the case if you have to create a lot of salary statements. When changing the software, you would need to create salary statements for employees in two systems, which would result in unnecessary extra work.

Impact of the change on VAT

There are different accounting methods for VAT, namely the effective method and the net tax rate method. The effective method is accounted for on a quarterly basis, so it’s advisable to change the bookkeeping software at the end of a quarter in order to ensure that all postings are recorded in one VAT period. If you account for VAT using the net tax rate method, the time of the change doesn’t matter.

Outstanding accounts receivable or accounts payable when changing the software

It’s often easier to record outstanding accounts receivable from the old software in a separate balancing account in the new software. This could be called ‘Accounts receivable – previous year’, for example. Payments received in the new financial year that relate to old accounts receivable are posted to this account. All accounts receivable have been paid as soon as the balance hits zero. The same can be done for accounts payable.

Example: Sabrina Manser runs an online shop and wants to change her bookkeeping software at the start of the new year. On 31 December, she still has an outstanding accounts receivable balance of CHF 15,000. To ensure she has control over payments received, she posts this CHF 15,000 in the new bookkeeping software in the ‘Accounts receivable – previous year’ balancing account. She receives payment for these old accounts receivable in January. The receipts are then posted out of the bookkeeping account, so that Sabrina has control over this and can send reminders to the customers who are in default.

Planning and migration takes time

As soon as you know that you need new bookkeeping software, you should start planning the migration. Rome wasn’t built in a day. In other words, the new software not only needs a carefully chosen introduction date but, above all, time for you and your employees to evaluate it and learn how to use it. The customer data has to be entered again, a shop system has to be set up either offline or online, data has to be migrated from the old system to the new one, and much more. Allow enough time for the migration – it’s often one of the most difficult things to do when transitioning from one system to another.