Accounting is one of the most arduous tasks a small business owner has to face – all you want to do is get on with the day-to-day running of things but each month you end up getting yourself lost in a mountain of receipts, bank statements, pay slips and credit notes.
The good news is, there is accounting software out there that can help, you just need to know exactly what it is you’re after to find the right software to suit your business needs.
What to look for in bookkeeping tools
The best bookkeeping tools, or accounting software, should help you become more efficient and less bogged down in the more tedious tasks – meaning your accounting tasks should take you no longer than a few hours every month.
When it comes to weighing up the pros and cons of each package you need to work out exactly what it is your company needs, so consider whether you:
- Manage employees or inventory?
- Work with freelancers?
- Need mobile expenses and time tracking?
And then also look at things like:
- Accounting and business features – Can the software be easily tailored to suit your business needs? All services should provide basic accounting tools to manage your estimates, invoices, billing, expenses and customer information as a minimum.
- Time saving features – If the software doesn’t improve efficiency and help you save time, it’s a waste of time and money. Online accounting services should provide numerous automated and convenient features, such as the ability to import bank feeds, automated billing features, preconfigured reporting options and online time sheets.
- Remote access and mobile – As more of us become accustomed to remote and flexible working so we need software solutions we can access when we’re away from the office. So make sure your software can be accessed remotely and has mobile compatibility.
- Additional business services – Although many additional services require an extra fee or subscription cost, it may be worth stumping up the extra cash if having features such as integration with eCommerce sites, payroll processing (including subscriptions configuring tax deductions), access rights for their accountant or CPA, and inventory management will all save you time and, in the long run, money.
So that’s what to look for, but what exactly is out there?
The best bookkeeping tools
Desktop bookkeeping tools
If you’re looking for a good, old-fashioned desktop solution to your bookkeeping, you may choose to stick with good, old-fashioned Excel – if you want a little more than this offers though, consider the following:
- Quickbooks Pro – Offering flexible and Excel-friendly reporting, Quickbooks Pro has been a go-to accounting application for a number of years now, but it’s been dropping in popularity due to most of its users being hyper-critical accounting practitioners who want more for their money. Still a good, solid offering though.
- Sage Instant – Catering for a wide variety of small businesses, this package includes features like stock control and departmental reporting and its user-friendly interface highlights why it remains Sage’s most competitive mainstream desktop product for small business bookkeeping.
- VT Transaction + – A favourite of any account looking to quickly cover a company’s accounts, this flexible program can be fully integrated with Excel, is easy to use and, crucially, has a really straightforward error correction functionality.
Online bookeeping tools
Online bookkeeping tool are rapidly growing in popularity, not least because their cloud-based interfaces allow them to be accessed from any device, anywhere there’s an internet connection – perfect for if you’re constantly on the move.
- Clear books – This has recently emerged as a serious alternative to some of the market leaders in cloud-based accounting solutions for SMEs. One of the best features is that its flexible design allows users to easily toggle between turning on and off the different pieces of functionality.
- Kashflow – Once you get past the unnecessary use of ‘K’ instead of ‘C’ you’ll find you have an excellent piece of prize-winning software on your hands with some of the best customer service around – Kashflow has a close connection with its customer base and responds quickly to demands.
- Xero – This application has a clear and easy-to-use layout and its automated bank data feed means it can grab transactions electronically and intelligently match them. This is constantly growing application that is forcing otehr developers to significantly raise their game.
What accounting and bookkeeping software do you swear by? And do you prefer desktop or cloud-based solutions? Let us know…