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Accounting Software: Does It Make the Accountant Obsolete?

Accounting software has both hurt and helped the field of accounting. While the popular accounting software packages used in small business has taken a few customers from CPAs and accountants specializing in tax services and consulting, it has also helped open a whole new area of services for accountants.

Many businesses require more complex accounting software than your basic Peachtree and QuickBooks programs. For these businesses there is a host of accounting software packages offered that are semi-customizable and usually are related to a specific industry.

Standard Accounting Software

Standardized accounting software is used by individuals and small businesses that require basic, straightforward bookkeeping. These packages, such as Peachtree and QuickBooks offer:

  • Sales ledgers
  • Invoicing capabilities
  • Payroll calculations
  • General ledger updates

Based on basic inputs, accounting reports and financial data for the business are generated. While many small businesses and even those who are self employed find these basic packages to be sufficient for their accounting needs, they should not shun the use of accountants, and will still need accounting services to:

  • Help set up and choose the software suitable for a particular business
  • Teach the user how to use the software
  • Offer individualized business and financial advice based on the reports generated

What do these accounting software packages mean to the accounting industry? They are opening up whole new areas of specialization to accountants who offer tax and consulting services. Many accountants are specializing in QuickBooks and Peachtree accounting software and using it to focus on the simple bookkeeping services so they can take on more complex roles in advising. Accountants who are shunning the use of accounting software will find themselves falling behind the times.

Semi-Customized Accounting Software

Many businesses require more complex accounting software than your basic Peachtree and QuickBooks programs. For these businesses there is a host of accounting software packages offered that are semi-customizable and usually are related to a specific industry. Accountants have found themselves with a new line of work in advising and assisting in the set up of these software packages.

Industry-specific software is popular for grocery stores, retail stores, manufacturing, and the hospitality industry.

Customized Accounting Software

Larger companies with more complex accounting needs, including those companies with subsidiaries and international offices, require software packages that can be completely customized to their needs. The advances in this area have opened up a new field of technology services within the accounting industry.

Accounting software needs to not only be technically correct and offer error-free financial documentation, it also must ensure that it adheres to accounting principles and produces useful, accurate financial reports. The mix of accounting and computers promises to hold a strong career path for accountants. Accountants also are being tasked with performing more technical duties, such as implementing, controlling, and auditing computer systems and networks and developing a business's technology plans.

Today's accounting software offers tools and information for small businesses that need simplified accounting solutions. But accountants shouldn't throw away their pen and paper; there will always be a need for them in business and personal accounting.

While a computer can take away the monotony of some accounting tasks, it allows an accountant to focus on the area that computers and software cannot enter. That is providing sound financial and accounting advice based on specific needs of businesses and people.