If you have to balance the books, chase invoices, manage suppliers as well as generating new business, worrying about the latest technology is probably the last thing on your mind. And if you are more comfortable with a pen and paper than the latest software, it could seem that buying, installing and learning it might not be the best use of your time.

Wrong. This is exactly when you need to worry about it. Buying an accountancy software package can slash the amount of time and effort you put into managing your finances.

From reminders for chasing payment to generating invoices, a good package is like a virtual accounts department. It can tell you how much you are owed and by whom; how long it takes you to pay your bills; what you have in stock and what you have in the bank at any moment in time.

More importantly, it could also give you those vital breakdowns of how much you are making on each job, product or sale. And if you enjoy working with numbers you can produce your own profit and loss account (P&L) or balance sheet. Apart from anything else this could drastically reduce your accounting bill every year.

But if you are like the majority of owner-manager businesses, perhaps you are still working from a box of receipts and calculations on the back of an envelope. If you don’t run a big stock inventory, employ a large workforce or send out a lot of invoices there probably is no need for an all-encompassing system.

It is perfectly possible to work with an excel spreadsheet and many do just that. Some use a spreadsheet that his had input from an accountant or other qualified person. However buying an accountancy software package can slash the amount of time and effort you put into managing your finances. And, if you are already running at a 100 miles an hour you just want to concentrate on the revenue rather than unnecessary changes. Therefore, it might be worth spending a bit of extra money on software that is a bit more flexible. So when it comes to a time when you want to concentrate on the business day to day you can.

Software has the advantages of making it easier to perform other tasks such as integrated with other software; segregating profit centres and cost centres; helping you to analyse information by product line, department code or job number; as well as the potential to cope with internet transactions in the future.

The right package?

Ultimately, it is about finding the right system for you, however many very useful systems aren't that expensive and pay for themselves in terms of time and money spent. A good system is one which should last for years and serve your business well. Therefore, if you haven't already it might be worth exploring the market.