Since its inception in 1494, bookkeeping, now more commonly known as accounting, has evolved tremendously from the simple record keeping to advance reporting and complicated statements, to the present-day AI-powered Accounting systems.
Fast forward to date, the Accounts Department of any business holds a certain authority and power due to their access to company financials. However, with power, comes great responsibility. In today’s fast-paced globalisation world, human errors in accounting are costly and simply not allowed – not even the slightest! This is where accounting software comes in handy. Phew!
The contemporary Accounting software come with a variety of features that are designed to support organisations of different sizes in different geographical locations. Hence the question come: ‘How to choose the best accounting software that suits us?’ (or more specifically, suits our business requirements). Let us shed some light on this.
Choosing Accounting Software
Here are some features on what you should keep a look out for in choosing an accounting software for your organisation:
- Ease-of-use – Simple user interface often in the form of dashboard. Tasks could be easily performed from a panel of buttons.
- Invoicing and estimation generation – Keep a lookout for the quantity limits allowed per month or year, whichever is applicable.
- Recurring receivables – Especially important for companies with subscription-based products or services.
- Direct online payment – Ecommerce to take note.
- Local tax calculation supported.
- Option to sync accounts with bank statements, also known as bank reconciliation.
- Essential financial reports and cash flow statements generation within a few clicks.
- User permission setting to define access limitation such as for Accountants, Contractors, Head of Accounting etc.
- Mobile or small device supported (ideal for working at home or on-the-go).
- For software hosted on Cloud, consider the amount of storage spaces and cyber security features.
- Time tracking – To track number of service hours to clients.
- Payroll automation.
- Integrations with other apps – Quite essential for many work software in order to expand its features which might include CRM, Ecommerce, HRM, etc.
- A free trial – In order to try it out before committing.
In this article, we will be comparing the top 5 accounting software in the market, namely- FreshBooks, QuickBooks, Webgility, ZarMoney and Bench Accounting.
FreshBooks is one of the industry’s biggest name for the everyday accounting software. It boasts features that support client-facing accountants and have every right to – top off its very competitive pricing. Its range of features by itself is comprehensive. Yet, users could still add on further with integrations.
- Easy and professional invoice designing with its invoice generator
- Time tracking
- Online payment directly with FreshBooks Payments (charges separate and per transaction)
- Built-in Project Management and Team Collaboration tools such as centralized file storage, permission setting on sharing, Chat, set project dates, etc.
- Mobile App version available
- Invoice customization adds to business credibility and brand.
- Tracks not only you, but your whole team’s billable time so that you can focus on working knowing that your rates are running.
- Direct online payment supports lesser defaults, and make customer experience smooth.
- Useful built-in tools help users meet project deliverables to deliver client satisfaction.
- Mobile App version, which allows users to access their books on-the-go and service any client’s enquiries straight away.
- Possible integrations with over 100 apps.
- Pricing plans support businesses of any sizes.
Things to Note:
- Cost extra for more than one user – Each Plan only include one user but most organisations need at least one user and one accountant.
- No offline version means require internet access in order to use.
Pricing (annual subscription with first 3 months at 70% discount)
- 30-Day Free Trial
- Lite (US$4.50/mth each for minimum 5 clients) – Unlimited invoices, unlimited estimates, online credit card payments, business health reports, etc.
- Plus (US$7.50/mth each for minimum 50 clients) – Everything in Lite Plus accept e-signatures, unlimited proposals, bank activity syncing, etc.
- Premium (US$15/mth each for minimum 500 clients) – Everything in Plus Plan plus late payment reminders, checkout links, run financial reports, etc.
- Custom (for more than 500 clients) – Full features with dedicated Account Manager and Data migration services.
Developed by intuit, QuickBooks is another top accounting software option suitable for small-medium businesses. Its current 7 million users are testament to this software’s industry grade standards features. On top of, it is hassle-free to setup and use. Not convinced? Try it out HERE.
- Full comprehensive accounting suite
- 1099 contractors management
- In-built App builder
- (NEW!) Digital business banking
- Desktop version available (different charges from online subscription)
- Mobile App version available
- Invoice builder, unlimited invoice generation, mileage tracking, bank reconciliation, reports tools, custom permission, inventory management – You name it. All accounting features under one roof.
- Easily track payments to 1099 contractors with ready-to-send 1099 forms ensuring compliant.
- For the coder or wannabe programmer, build apps with QuickBooks to perform special functions relevant for your organisation. You can also list your App on the QuickBooks App Store to share with other users.
- Users can choose to open a special digital business banking account inside QuickBooks to support their online payments as well as enjoy the many benefits of digital banking such as earning interest, make investment directly, a debit card that could be used in AllPoint ATMs etc. at zero monthly fees.
- The Desktop version supports working without internet access although payroll and online features will temporarily not be possible. Data are stored in the desktop instead of the Cloud which might be more ideal for the traditional users.
- The App version supports working anywhere and anytime with its real-time sync within the account.
- Wide range of third-party App integrations in the QuickBooks App Store expand its features, making long-term use viable.
Things to Note:
- No team collaboration features
- Not suitable for large businesses with more than 25 users
- No business performance (except with QuickBooks Commerce) or project-related reports
- The Self-employed and Simple Start Plan only include 1 user which is insufficient for most organisations’ need for 1 user and 1 accountant.
Pricing (online version monthly subscription with first 3 months discount rates)
- 30-Day Free Trial
- Self-Employed (US$7.50/mth for 1 user) – Invoice and accept payment, track income and expenses, run basic reports.
- Simple Start (US$12.50/mth for 1 user) – Everything in Self-Employed plus manage cashflow, send estimates, track sales tax, run general reports etc.
- Plus (US$35/mth for 5 users) – Everything in Simple Start plus manage and pay bills, inventory tracking, project tracking, etc.
- Advanced (US$70/mth for 25 users) – Everything in Plus Plan plus business analytics, workflow automation, role access, dedicated Account Manager, etc.
- Add-on – Choice of three payroll plans from US$22.50/mth
Webgility brands itself as the number one accounting automation platform for ecommerce. The software by itself is not an accounting software and requires integration with one of the accounting software; either QuickBooks, Xero or NetSuite. Users could then decide to sync their online store hosted in various other third-party software such as Shopify, Woocommerce, Etsy and eBay among others. The sync in data between these integrations means that there is lesser manual work (most notably in data entry, invoicing, and spreadsheets) and as such, lesser mistakes from manual work (e.g. overselling, billing errors, accounting mistakes etc.). The overall results are better bookkeeping, deeper insights into business performance, and a strong everlasting business-client relationship.
- Built-in automation
- Uses third-party integrations to make it a complete Ecommerce suite, not just accounting
- Inventory Management (Pro and above plan)
- Supports data-driven decision-making with analytics tracking tool (Pro and above plan)
- Mobile App version
- Reduces manual work and related-errors.
- No hassle with custom building of automations.
- Less buggy and glitches from integrations as the software focuses third-party integrations with only a few.
- Integration with payment gateways, CRM and even shipping platforms builds a complete ecommerce system that is agile and lean.
- Easily add or subtract quantities and track them across multichannel inventories.
- The Mobile App version provides a real-time view of the business analytics. Users can access key data and insights from their mobile and small devices to quickly track and make decisions driven by data.
Things to Note:
- The software is heavily reliant on integrations so there will be additional costs associated with using these third-party software.
- Could get costly if multiple sales channels are required or monthly orders by the thousands stacks up.
- Onboarding support is likely required to ensure a smooth integration that is also stable and usable for years to come.
Pricing (annual subscription and based on 1000 monthly orders)
- 15-Day Free Trial
- Starter (US$15/mth) – Only 100 monthly orders, ecommerce accounting features such as order posting, refund processing, auto tax calculation, and transactional accounting, etc.
- Lite (US$39/mth) – Everything in Starter except with 1000 monthly orders limit
- Pro (US$79/mth) – Everything in Lite plus inventory sync with accounting, ecommerce analytics, etc.
- Advanced (US$199/mth) – Everything in Pro plus advanced inventory sync, advanced analytics, product listing, advanced customizable options, multi-users with permission setting, Premium support, etc.
- Premium (US$249/mth) – Everything in Advanced plus dropshipping capabilities, generate Purchase Orders, etc.
- Add-on x3 – Order management and shipping features (from US$50/mth); Customisation of plans (from US$200/hr); and Onboarding Support (from US$150/setup)
ZarMoney is a cloud-based accounting software for enterprises of all sizes. It is a full suite platform with comprehensive features; i.e. accounts payable and receivables, inventory management, payment, productivity tools and reports. It is a good option especially for users based in the US due to their US-based customer support. The costs are very competitive, although it could scale quickly depending on the number of users.
- Complete suite
- Useful productivity tools including a customizable dashboard, built-in chat, file sending directly, note pinning, task scheduling, and auto notification by email and text etc.
- Advanced inventory management features
- Taps on the Security strength of Cloud
- Comprehensive features value-add to the business, not just in accounting. Makes accounting work satisfying, not tedious.
- The in-built productivity tools are certainly welcome and takes off the hassle from users and accountants having to juggle multiple platforms.
- Advanced inventory management supports customizable units of measurement, customizable products fields and even barcode scanning! Uses the FIFO Costs Methods.
- Cloud technology security offers advanced firewalls with layers of strategic protection, and encryption. Its data centres are monitored and heavily protected.
Things to Note:
- Few third-party integrations noted at 7 apps only may make long-term use unviable as user needs get more demanding.
- No mobile version to support work on-the-go or analytics viewing.
- Requires internet to access the system hosted on Cloud.
- Customer support is based in the US which makes users in the eastern hemisphere challenging to reach.
Pricing (monthly subscription)
- Small Business (US$20/mth for 2 users; US$10/mth for each additional user) – Unlimited transactions and full features
- Enterprise (US$350/mth for 30+ users) – Unlimited transactions and full features plus onboarding, training, dedicated Account Manager and priority support
Last but not least on our list is Bench Accounting. In taking up Bench Accounting, users get the best of the software and a dedicated bookkeeper at a monthly fee. The dedicated bookkeeper helps get things setup, performs the bookkeeping for you, and deliver tax-ready financials for filing. It’s just so simple for the user! At a monthly fee starting from just 3-digit figures, users could save heavily from hiring another staff, whether full-time or temporary. Most importantly, it helps free up resources so that businesses (small ones especially) could spend it on other essential areas! Of course, users can log into the platform itself to check their financials. Unfortunately, this service presently serves US-based businesses only, so users outside of United States will not get to enjoy it.
- Dedicated bookkeeper with knowledge of performing bookkeeping
- A dashboard view and reports generated with the Bench Accounting software
- Support and advisories readily available with ‘promised’ reply of one day or less
- Tax preparation and Historical bookkeeping services also available at separate costs
- No need for hiring another staff for the bookkeeping work
- Quality controlled and peer-reviewed financial reports.
- Real-time tracking of financials via desktop or iPhone app which supports urgent decision making.
- An in-house team stands ready to support. Book a return call or send a message via the app.
- Stay updated and fully compliant on the books. Get peace of mind knowing you will not get caught in the checks!
- Cost savings from manpower and skip on other employee management issues.
- Third-party integrations possible, although only 9 software across payment, ecommerce, invoicing and banking available
Things to Note:
- Require strong on-boarding to ensure dedicated bookkeeper understands the business. This becomes a huge issue if bookkeeper change regularly.
- The services are basically outsourcing. With outsourcing, there is always a risk of sensitive information being leaked. If strictly required, get non-disclosure agreement signed.
- All plans come with cash basis bookkeeping only which is limited and not ideal for most contemporary businesses which require accrual basis bookkeeping. An add-on for specialized bookkeeping services is possible from US$100 per month but costs will add up.
- Bench Accounting serves only US-based companies at present.
Pricing (based on annual subscription. All Plans come with Software usage in tracking financials only plus own bookkeeper)
- Only serves US-based companies
- Starter (US$159/mth for companies with expenses below US$3k)
- Micro (US$199/mth for companies with expenses from US$3k to US$20k)
- Boutique (US$249/mth for companies with expenses from US$20k to US$50k)
- Venture (US$299/mth for companies with expenses from US$50k to US$100k)
- Corporate (US$419/mth for companies with expenses from US$100k to US$1M)
- Add-on x2 – Tax filing (from US$99/mth); Specialised Bookkeeping (from US$100/mth)
Bookkeeping is a decade-old art which had been transformed by technology. However, the principles remain largely the same, and that compliance of local regulations need to be adhered. In choosing your accounting software, consider your usage. Research deeply to find what is available, then tie it with how they best suit your business while at a fee acceptable. We hope our review of the top 5 accounting software in the market sheds some light into these.
Read Next: This complete business suite comes with billing and proposal capabilities as well.
If you are starting an Ecommerce, but still deciding on your host platform, how about Shopify?
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Which software of the 5 mentioned do you think work for you? Discuss below with a COMMENT.
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