Module-Based Computer Accounting versus Comprehensive Accounting Systems

By: Nazir1

Computer accounting is an important part of any business, and the fact that a company accountant generally holds a senior position is indicative of just how important a part it is. However, much of the accountant's traditional work is now being looked after by computers, and an ever-increasing array of programs and applications that automate a business's financial procedures.

If you are seeking a computer accounting system for your business you have two basic systems to choose from: a module based system and an comprehensive accountancy system. It's important that you consider each of these if you are seeking an accountancy solution, so that you are able to make the correct considered decision based upon which is the more appropriate for you.

Comprehensive accounting systems are currently being offered, and integrated accountancy systems are available for accounts payable and accounts receivable in the event that these suit your needs; practically any Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) application with integrated accounting will include these features, although an exception to this would be a cash-based business. You can purchase integrated accounting software in a fully comprehensive package, or in modules that you can plug together to design the system that you need.

Here is a comparison of both types of accountancy system.

Comprehensive Accounting Systems


1. A single accounting software system is easier and quicker to install. You have the whole package delivered at once rather than adding modules at various times as required.

2. A number of comprehensive computer accountancy packages are created specifically for small to medium businesses that yours is liable to be. The vast majority of UK and even world businesses are in the small to medium range, with emphasis on the small. Such comprehensive integrated software packages offer a greater depth of functionality than an individual module, frequently with alternative versions to offer a broad range of accountancy functions to meet the needs of a variety of business types.


1. The major problem of a complete comprehensive accountancy package is that it is not designed only for a small or medium sized business. Thus, some of the accountancy options will not be required and some of the functions offered will never be used. This suggests that you are not making the best use of the money you spend on such a package.

It will also take longer to load than necessary since you are loading functions you will never use, and they will also take up more of your valuable memory than necessary. If you opt for an comprehensive package, you will have to accept that you will not be using all that you pay for.

2. A separate software license will be needed for each of the users in your organization, so if you have two computers needing to use the system, such as one for accounts receivable, and another for accounts payable, you will have to pay for a license for each.

Module Based Systems

There are several module-based accountancy software packages on the market today, and they are ideal for the smaller business. Whether or not they are best for a medium sized business depends upon the size of the business


1. In a module based computer accounting system you purchase only the applications or functions that you need, and the relative cost between this and that above will depend upon how many modules you need to effectively run your business. Do need only one or do you need them all? The situation for you will likely lie between the two, and exactly where that balance is will determine whether you are more economical with this or with just going for the comprehensive accounting system from the start.

2. Data can be transferred from one module to another, since the modules are designed to integrate with each other. If you add a module later to expand your functionality as your business grows, make sure that they are compatible.


1. You could end up paying more in the long run than if you opted for an comprehensive system from the outset. If you are successful, your business will eventually need so many modules that you will eventually spend more.

2. You will not be able to mix data accounting systems. Your next module will have to be from the same system as your first, at least with respect to file formats. Therefore, prior to purchasing a module, make sure that the other modules in the system are compatible with each other. Also make sure that available modules will meet your future needs, or you may end up scrapping your accountancy software and starting again with a comprehensive system.

There is more to purchasing a computer accounting package than simply choosing one type of system or another. It is important to determine if a comprehensive accounting package suits your needs better than a module accounting system, particularly when you take your future expansion into consideration.

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