The best accounting software at a glance

When it comes to business, keeping your finances in order is of utmost importance. This ensures that your invoices are sent out on time as well as being paid on time. You can also predict cash flow and have a record of your finances in case the taxman ever needs to see them.

Luckily, accounting in this day and age is a lot easier than it used to be. Nowadays there is a huge array of accounting software and the great thing is that it caters to business owners rather than accountants so it’s a lot easier to understand and barely needs any familiarization time. There are now cloud-based services, which allow you to monitor your business from anywhere on any device you’re connected to. Luckily most offer a free trial so you can try before you buy.

What different types of accounting software are available?

Accounting used to be done automatically, but now there have been so many technological advances that processes have now been automated and improved. Many can be integrated with other IT systems such as CRM software or e-commerce platforms to make tasks even easier.

Once you have an overview of the different types of accounting software available, it’s easier to decide which one is more suited to your business. Choosing the best financial management software depends on the size of your business and what it needs. The various types of software include:

Enterprise Accounting Software

This kind of software is designed for large businesses, financial companies, and banks. It can be thought of as an all-in-one system that is able to streamline time-consuming tasks. Its advanced features make light work of POS operations, customer relationship management, and comprehensive reporting. Since it comprises so many processes, it may require quite a bit of familiarization time for employees. Examples include Odoo and QuickBooks Enterprise.

Cloud Accounting Software

Many programs are available online and are accessible through the cloud. They are most popular among startups and small companies thanks to their flexibility and low price. Cloud solutions are easier to implement, but are less secure than other options since your data is processed in the cloud. This type of software enables you to access data on the go and easily share it with others. Examples include Xero, FreshBooks, and QuickBooks.

Payroll and Accounting Software

This kind of software appeals to small companies since it can be used to calculate bonuses, automate year-end reporting, and create pay slips. These programs can store your company’s financial data and provide forecasts. Some are so advanced that there’s no need for you to understand how taxes work. This option is often targeted by cyber criminals and has an increased risk of data loss and theft due to the simplicity.

Installed Accounting Software

These are ideal for startups and small companies since they come in a CD or DVD format, meaning it doesn’t matter if you have unreliable internet or no connection at all. They might be easy to install, but can’t be used remotely or even customized. You also cannot share data since it is saved on physical devices.

Commercial Off-The-Shelf Software

Also known as “COTS”, these programs are built and delivered via a third-party provider. They are mostly designed for specific industries and cannot be customized. Some programs are available online and can be accessed on the provider’s website. Although this software is mainly aimed at large businesses, freelancers and small companies can also make use of the basic accounting plans.

What should you consider when choosing accounting software?

Every business is different and that is why there isn’t one type of accounting software to suit everyone. When considering which software to choose, keep these points in mind:

  • Can the system calculate all payroll requirements (PAYE, annual leave, etc.)?
  • Can the system track stock, orders, jobs, and anything else you might need?
  • Can the system handle multiple bank accounts?
  • Can the system work with other computer systems e.g. online payments?
  • Can the system handle foreign currency if you need it to?
  • Can the system keep records on customers including what they buy, how often, and when?

Here are ten of the best accounting software on the market

With so many different offers on the market, it can be quite daunting trying to choose the right bookkeeping software for your company. We’ve narrowed it down to the ten best options to make it a little easier for you to make your decision.

FreshBooks

FreshBooks was founded in 2003 and has its headquarters in Ontario, Canada. It’s featured in Forbes, Bloomberg, The New York Times, and CNN. The great thing about FreshBooks is that it’s suitable for the self-employed as well as agencies and larger companies. Its features include invoices, expenses, time tracking, projects, payments, estimates, and reporting. You can try the software free for 30 days or jump right in and purchase one of the plans: Lite ($15/month for 5 clients), Plus ($25/month for 50 clients), or Premium ($50/month for 500 clients).

Advantages

Disadvantages

30-day free trial available

Lacks enterprise-grade capacity

Detailed client tracking

Invoices aren’t transferred: must be entered manually to make any changes

Optimized project management

Single user: costs $10 for each additional user

Sophisticated time tracking

Quite expensive compared to others on market

Easy to use and get familiarized with

 

QuickBooks

The US company, Intuit, released QuickBooks Online, which offers four different packages: three for small businesses, and one for freelancers. Simple Start is $20/month, Essentials is $35/month, Plus is $60/month, and Self-Employed is $10/month. The company regularly has a 50% off sale so their packages are often half price. There’s also a 30-day free trial option. With QuickBooks, you can track income and expenses, capture and organize receipts, invoice and accept payments, run basic reports, and lots more. So far, the software has over 5.6 million customers globally.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Easy mobile inventory scanning

Is quite expensive, especially upgrade fees

Ability to customize invoices

The user’s work must be adapted to the software’s needs

Free 30-day trial

Features better suited to larger businesses

Minimum accounting knowledge is required

Extended outages

Easy to use; uses familiar applications

Limitation on number of users

Flexible with third party applications

Lack of direct professional support

Xero

Xero is a New Zealand-based company, which offers cloud-based accounting software for freelancers, and small to medium-sized businesses. If you already use QuickBooks, it’s possible to convert these files to Xero if you prefer to use this software instead. The packages are Starter ($9/month), Standard ($30/month), and Premium 10/20/100 ($70/$90/$180/month). These packages enable you to send invoices and quotes, enter bills, reconcile bank transactions, organize payroll (from Standard onwards), and work with multiple currencies (Premium 10 version onwards). You can also make use of the 30-day free trial.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Many versions to choose from

Limited base-level version

Payroll capabilities

Expensive higher-level versions

Free 30-day trial

Mediocre customer support

User-friendly and easily accessible

Slow when high number of transactions

Can be integrated with other cloud applications

Initial set-up and linking accounts is quite challenging

Safe data backup

 

Sage Business Cloud Accounting

The Sage Group is currently the UK’s second largest technology company and has an accounting software on the market: Sage Business Cloud Accounting. This accounting software for small businesses can help you improve your cash flow with invoices, payments, and expense tracking. By facilitating many processes such as admin and automating routine tasks, this means you have more time to concentrate on other aspects of your business. You can try out the software for 30 days free, or buy one of the packages: Accounting Start for $10/month or Accounting for $25/month.

 

Advantages

Disadvantages

Easy to add people and find others’ accounts

Server often overloaded: Sage not reachable

Excellent customer support

Upgrading is an additional cost

Free 30-day trial

Difficult to import data

Easy to use; not much familiarization time

Not compatible with Mac, iPad, or iPhone

Easy to export to Excel

 

Zoho Books

Zoho Books with its US headquarters in California, provides accounting software for small businesses as well as medium-sized ones to help them grow and stay on top of their cash flow. After the 14-day free trial, you can choose from the Basic ($9/month), Standard ($19/month), or Professional ($29/month) package, and if you buy the yearly plan, you get two months free! Even the cheapest plan includes bank reconciliation, custom invoices, projects and timesheets, expense tracking, sales approval, as well as recurring transactions.

 

Advantages

Disadvantages

Good support

Unsuitable for large businesses

Very affordable

Fewer integrations that competition offers

Free 14-day trial

No payroll services

Easy to use; not much familiarization time

No budgeting feature

Add-on features available to expand

 

Operates in multiple languages

 

Wave

Wave is a little bit different from the other options in that it doesn’t cost a cent. It’s been named the “Best free accounting software for businesses” by several different companies. This free accounting software has no hidden charges and has just as many features as the fee-based alternatives. Users can expect features such as bill and invoice reminders, instant updates for invoicing, payroll, and payments data, income and expense tracking, and many more. It’s also possible to run multiple businesses in one account and accept payments in foreign currency.

 

Advantages

Disadvantages

Remains free

Unsuitable for large businesses

Easy to use: user-friendly interface

No tax support

Good customer support

No credit notes feature available

Simple setup

Slow loading times

Accepts payments in foreign currency

No cash-basis accounting

Customizable add-ons available

 

Kashoo

Kashoo was released in 2008 and claims to be “designed for business owners, not accountants” and uses easy-to-understand language to help you navigate the software more easily. The accounting software can handle your invoicing, expense tracking, and double-entry bookkeeping on your computer, iPhone, or iPad. The most popular package is $16.65 per month, with the first 14 days being free. A money-back guarantee can encourage even the most skeptical of people to take the plunge. There’s also a “pay as you go” option, costing $29.95 per month.

 

Advantages

Disadvantages

Cheap compared to the alternatives

No automatic payment reminders

Banking integration: connects to over 5000+ banks

Mobile app doesn’t have all features of the web-based program

Permission-based sharing: collaborate with employees, business partners, accountants

Not suitable for medium to large businesses

Quick-entry feature: enter data in one click

May lack certain features for more specific accounting needs

Unlimited users

Limited integrations and limited mobile apps

14-day free trial

 

WorkingPoint

WorkingPoint’s mission is to “help small business owners establish, manage, and grow their companies by providing the best online business management systems, content and community”. The two plans, Lightning ($9/month) and Thunderstorm ($19/month) include double-entry bookkeeping, standard financial reports, payroll service, cash management, bills and expense tracking, and many more. The 30-day free trial can help you decide if this accounting software is for you. WorkingPoint has also formed strategic alliances with world famous companies such as PayPal, Dropbox, and Etsy in order to offer the best solutions and services.

 

Advantages

Disadvantages

Cheap compared to the alternatives

Difficult to navigate at first

Customizable business dashboard

No mobile app: purely browser-based

30-day free trial

Too basic: better for individuals rather than businesses

Schedule C and estimated quarterly tax payments

PayPal transactions don’t count as fees

Double-entry bookkeeping

Sometimes runs slowly

Expensify

Oregon-based company, Expensify, offers plans that are suitable for any type of company. There’s even a plan for individuals that want a tool to help them keep on top of their own finances. This plan is free, but there’s the Team plan ($5/month) and the Corporate plan ($9/month). Both plans come with a 7-day free trial. They all offer unlimited expense reports and receipt uploads, personal reporting, the option to delegate tasks to others, as well as the ability to integrate the software with other accounting software. The popular solution boasts a “SmartScan” feature where the user simply takes a photo of a receipt and it can read information from it such as dates and prices.

 

Advantages

Disadvantages

Easy-to-use and intuitive interface

Mediocre customer support

Quite inexpensive

Not fully customizable

SmartScan feature

Splitting expense function needs improving

Submitting an expense report requires little effort

Receipt scanning takes a while, sometimes can’t be read properly

Integrates well with other products

Can be slow when there are too many users at same time

7-day free trial

 

Odoo

Odoo is an all-in-one management software, founded in 2015 and suitable for freelancers and small, medium, and large-sized companies. You can pick and choose which apps you require for your business and the price will increase accordingly. The accounting app is $25/month for one user, but you can first get to grips with it thanks to the 14-day free trial. With Odoo, you can schedule a demo so that your business processes can be audited and the needs of your company can be analyzed. The timesaving tools include bank synchronization, easy reconciliation, invoicing, and managing bills and expenses. You can integrate with other applications, saving you a lot of time doing it manually.

 

Advantages

Disadvantages

14-day free trial

Bug fixing can take a while

Easily expandable with over 7,000 apps

Weak customer help and support

Easy to use and simple to master

Limited features

Open source therefore actively maintained

Expensive monthly cost

Double-entry accounting

 

Comparison of the ten best accounting software

Software

Suitable for

Type

Platforms supported

Price

Free trial available

FreshBooks

Freelancers, small-medium sized businesses

Activity tracking, billing & invoicing, client management, expense tracking

Web-based, iPhone app, Android app

$15-$50

✓ 30 days

QuickBooks

Freelancers, small businesses

Accounts receivable, accounts payable, double-entry accounting, small business accounting, etc.

Web-based, iPhone app, Android app

$10-$60

✓ 30 days

Xero

Freelancers, small-medium sized businesses

Accounts receivable, accounts payable, double-entry bookkeeping system, small business accounting, etc.

Web-based,

iPhone app, Android app

$9-$180

✓ 30 days

Sage Business Cloud

Small businesses, accounting firms

CRM, payroll

Stand-alone

$10-$25

✓ 30 days

Zoho Books

Small-medium sized businesses

Double-entry bookkeeping system, invoice management, cost tracking, project management

Web-based,

iPhone app, Android app,

Windows Phone app

$9-$29

✓ 14 days

Wave

Entrepreneurs, freelancers, small businesses

Accounts receivable, accounts payable, double-entry bookkeeping system, small business accounting

Web-based, iPhone app, Android app

 

Free

n/a

Kashoo

Freelancers, small businesses

Invoicing, expense tracking, double-entry bookkeeping

Web-based,

iPhone app

$16.65-$29.95

✓ 14 days

WorkingPoint

Small businesses

Double-entry bookkeeping, standard financial reports, payroll service, cash management, bills, expense tracking

Web-based,

iPhone app, Android app

$9-$19

✓ 30 days

Expensify

Entrepreneurs, small–large businesses

Invoicing, expense tracking, receipt management, ERP integration

Web-based,

iPhone app, Android app,

Windows Phone app

Free-$9

✓ 7 days

Odoo

Freelancers, small-large businesses,

Performance reports, bank reconciliation, activity management, collaboration tools

Web-based,

iPhone app, Android app,

Windows Phone app

$25+

✓ 14 days

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