When you start comparing budgeting software solutions, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
The right software can help you save time and streamline your financial planning — but not all budgeting tools will be right for your business. Some software programs might be priced higher than your budget allows or come with more features than you actually need.
So, what should you look for in your budgeting software? The key is to find a solution that actually benefits your business without putting extra stress on your team.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through five features every startup owner should look for in a budgeting software platform.
What Is Business Budgeting Software?
Business budgeting software is a digital tool that can either supplement or replace your accounting department.
It helps business owners manage their long-term and day-to-day finances, such as expense tracking and payroll management.
There are several benefits to using budget management software, including:
- Automated processes
- Less risk of human error
- Faster financial data analysis
- Fewer staff hours
- Reduces dirty data
Depending on the platform you choose, your budgeting software might be included with your CRM platform or come as a standalone product.
The Importance Of Effective Business Budgeting
A well-defined budget can shape your financial decisions, streamline cash inflow and outflow, and maximize your profits. Budgeting is especially critical for startups — as many as 82% of new businesses fail due to mishandling finances.
An effective business budget incorporates more than profit and loss statements. It should account for cash flow projections, variable expenses, contingency funds, and all aspects of your business’s finances. A well-planned budget can lower your startup burn rate and set your business up for accelerated growth.
Key Features To Look For In Business Budgeting Software
A well-informed, comprehensive budgeting process will help get your startup on track. If you don’t have the funds to hire professional finance teams, the right budgeting software can make all the difference.
Here are a few key features to look for when comparing budgeting programs for your startup.
1. User-Friendly Interface And Ease Of Use
The right budgeting software can help you avoid the cost of hiring finance professionals. But if you’re using the software yourself, as a startup owner or manager, it should be clear and easy to use.
A user-friendly interface lets you use your software without a steep learning curve. Whether you choose a downloadable platform or cloud-based software, you should have a clear dashboard with access to your financial planning tools, invoice management, financial reports, and other tools.
That ease of use is also helpful when you need to share your budgeting software with other stakeholders or train a new staff member.
2. Customization And Flexibility
Every business has a unique budgeting process. For example, one business may need to factor in contractor salaries or per diem costs, while another might be focused on supply chain management. The best budgeting software should be customizable to adapt to your business’s needs.
Some software platforms let you change the interface, create shortcuts for the tools you use most, or rearrange the dashboard so it makes more sense for you.
3. Real-Time Data Synchronization
One feature of budgeting software that sets it apart from traditional accounting is real-time data synchronization. Some budgeting platforms can analyze your budget and provide financial reports in real-time.
Things move fast in the digital age. If your business has online sales, for example, your revenue might change drastically throughout the day. Some budgeting software also has features to track customer engagement online. With real-time data synchronization, you can see accurate financial reporting and make informed decisions faster.
4. Forecasting And Scenario Analysis
Accurate forecasting can help you identify issues with your business model and plan for future challenges. The best budgeting software platforms come with forecasting tools to shape your predictive analytics. This feature is especially important for startups — many startups don’t have enough financial history to analyze trends, so they have to look to the future to get a clearer picture of their finances and make informed decisions.
Another helpful feature is custom budget scenarios. By creating scenarios unique to your business, you can plan ahead and manage potential risks. The advantage of using budgeting software, as opposed to financial professionals, is that software can run multiple budgeting scenarios at once and provide detailed reports.
Relying on software for your forecasts and scenarios reduces the risk of human error. Even experienced professionals can make mistakes when collecting data and running complex scenarios. With the right budgeting software, you can trust that the data reported is accurate.
5. Integration With Financial Systems
Finally, it’s important that your budgeting software can integrate with your business’s other financial systems, including your CRM, payroll software, and POS system. That way, you won’t have to manually input data.
Some platforms offer all these tools — CRM, payroll management, POS system, and budgeting software — in one. But that doesn’t mean you have to opt for an all-in-one tool. Just check out your budgeting software’s available integrations before you buy a subscription.
Drive Your Startup's Financial Success With The Right Software
Effective budgeting is critical for a startup. Accurate revenue management, forecasting, capital management, and other metrics can help you create and manage a budget that will maximize your new business’s growth. The right budgeting software can help you accomplish that without wasting paid staff hours.
There are plenty of budgeting software programs out there. Some are linked to POS systems and other financial tools, some are cloud-based, and some are designed for specific industries. When comparing budgeting tools, make sure you pick a platform that’s intuitive, customizable and comes with all the features you need for your business. Try a demo of a digital financial management platform to learn more about your options.