Best Accounting Software
Looking for the best accounting software for your business? GoodFirms has curated a list of best accounting software for small business to help you perform your daily accounting tasks efficiently. Investing in a top accounting system software means you can keep finances of your business like an invoice, bill payment, expense report and others in order. There are a lot of considerations when searching for the best online accounting software for business, so we researched and analyzed dozens of vendors to find the best ones in the market. Below you can find the roundup of our best picks for financial & small business accounting software:
Buyer’s Guide to Accounting software
Technological change is constant, especially in the business world. The Accounting industry has already accepted this transformation, as embracing automation is the key to unleash agility, speed, and longevity. Such a system helps profoundly in reconciling the torrents of financial data involving the company. With the demand for accounting software growing huge these days, it is essential to understand the best practices.
This buyer’s guide covers all the necessary information required by a person to pick a solution that suits best.
Managing the financial activities is very challenging in today’s complicated business climate. If you are a small business owner, then you have to manage the financial transactions and simultaneously have to analyze your business performance from various perspectives. The financial health of the business is related to your accounting tasks.
The data collected from financial transactions helps in generating reports and projections about the business growth and performance. You need a business tool to manage the financial transactions, operation’s cash flow, and other types of financial-related business practices. Accounting software can help you handle all these critical tasks.
- Details about Accounting
- Accounting management and its role in your business
- Accounting software and business growth
Accounting is a process of documenting the financial transactions of your company or your business. This systematic process involves recording data, sorting, categorizing, analyzing, and reporting.
It is the lifeblood of a business that helps in communicating the financial health of a business or an organization to the party concerned.
Accounting is the language of business - Warren Buffet.
How does accounting Work?
In a small firm, accounting is handled by the bookkeeper or an accountant, while the larger firms have the sizable finance departments with the number of employees to manage the accounting work.
A bookkeeper handles the essential accounting functions, while the qualified accountants like CMA (Certified Management Accountant) or CPA (Chartered Professional Accountant) manages advanced accounting.
In businesses, two types of accounting are essential- Managerial accounting and cost accounting. The business owners make use of cost accounting to know the cost of the product, and management teams make use of managerial accounting to make business decisions.
What are the different types of accounting?
There are different specialized fields in accounting due to economic, industrial, and technological developments. The process of accounting ranges from auditing to the preparation of tax returns. The accountant specializes in any one of the fields which are as follows:
- Financial Accounting - It prepares and presents financial statements to the internal and external users, in addition to recording and classifying business transactions. This primarily involves historical processing data.
- Management accounting - It includes financial analysis, forecasting, cost analysis, budgeting, and evaluation of business decisions. All the relevant users (management) get information from this type of accounting. It focuses on the needs of the administration.
Cost Accounting is a branch of management accounting. This type of accounting refers to monitor and control costs. It is useful in the manufacturing business.
- Tax Accounting - It deals with the tax-related matters and is governed by the tax rules which are prescribed by the tax laws of a jurisdiction. The tax professionals estimate the tax liability of a company and look after the tax planning process by gaining information about the financial statements of the company, which is prepared under financial accounting principles.
- Forensic Accounting - It manages the auditing, accounting, and investigative techniques for the cases related to litigation or disputes.
- Project Accounting - With the help of financial reports, this type of accounting system tracks the economic progress of a project. It plays a crucial role in project management.
- Social Accounting - This type of accounting reports the social implication of an organization’s activities. The other name of this type of accounting is Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting and Sustainability Accounting.
“Accounting does not make corporate earnings or balance sheets more volatile. Accounting just increases the transparency of volatility in earnings”.
- by Diane Garnick
Different layers of Accounting
In business, there are many layers or types of accounting. Each layer has its department in large companies and corporations which are staffed by many accountants. On the other hand, in small businesses, it might be the work of one accountant. The different layers of accounting are as follows:
- Taxes - Every type of business pays taxes, and they prefer to spend as little in fees as they have to. Good accountants always take care of it.
- Payroll - The businesses have to pay payroll taxes, workman’s comp, social security, retirement, and employees. The payroll accountant looks after this task.
- Accounts payable and accounts receivable - The bills and payments all have to be managed. The bills are paid to the contractors, vendors, and suppliers; and payments are received from clients, customers, and services.
- Bookkeeping - The bookkeeper records every little transaction in the business though they don’t have any control over money. In companies, the income goes in one column, and outflow goes in another. Both these columns are essential to maintain the smooth running of the business.
Accounting vs. Bookkeeping
In business financial management, both the process of accounting and bookkeeping plays a significant role.
- Accounting - It refers to the recording of the financial information to gain insights about the company's current and future prospects that get converted into useful reports for business people and tax agencies. This process manages financial forecasting, financial audits, strategic planning, tax returns, and performance optimization.
- Bookkeeping - This process deals with the day-to-day financial transactions and administration of a business. It manages accounts receivable and payable management (invoicing), bank reconciliations, expenses, petty cash management, production of financial statements that involve cash flows, income statement, balance sheet, and payroll transactions.
The differences between these two processes are as follows:
- Accounting - The accounting process looks after financial forecasting, tax strategy, tax planning, financial analysis and strategy, and complete income tax returns. It prepares to adjust entries and financial statements.
- Bookkeeping - The bookkeeping process records and categorizes financial transactions, rearranges debits and credits, produce and send invoices, maintains and balances subsidiaries, general ledgers, and historical accounts. It completes payroll and works on recordkeeping.
Role of accountant in the business operations
As per the size of the company, the role of an accountant varies.
- Smaller business - The accountant deals with the financial data collection, entry, and report generation.
- Mid and large size organizations - The accountant works as an adviser and financial interpreter who present the financial data to people that are within and outside of the business.
- Miscellaneous - The accountant also deals with third parties like vendors, customers, and financial institutions.
The accountant can make the accounting system effective, effortless, smooth, and convenient with the help of accounting software.
Gaining the trust of your clients is critical for any type of business. With the help of an account management solution, you can maintain strong client relationships.
What is the importance of Accounting in business?
Accounting is essential in businesses as it helps in a number of ways: Have a look at the following points;
- Evaluates the performance of the business – Accounting process allows you to keep track of the expenses, gross margin, possible debt, compare the current data with the previous accounting records, and appropriately allocate the budget.
- Ensures statutory compliance - The accounting system helps in ensuring statutory compliance and ensures that liabilities like sales tax, income tax, pension funds, VAT are appropriately addressed.
- Create a budget and future projections - You can make or break a business with budgeting and future projections. The business trends and projections are based on historical financial data that helps in keeping the operations lucrative. A well-structured accounting process provides appropriate financial data that can be used to analyze the future business and financial status of the company.
- Files financial statements - Accounting plays a vital role in filing the financial reports with the Registrar of companies, listed entities with stock exchanges, and tax filing purposes that can be direct or indirect.
Accounting Management is the way to deal with the income, expenses, and other types of financial activities of the business. This system allows businesses to keep a record of all the financial transactions that comprise costs, sales, and liabilities. It produces a comprehensive statistical report that provides a clear set of data to the management or party concerned that helps in the decision-making process.
In any business or firm, two primary titles surround the process of account management- Account Manager and Account Executive.
- Account Managers - The account manager plays a crucial role between the client, customer support, and internal sales team. They are often known as “farmers” that believes in nurturing the long-term growth by managing the client relationship. The account manager helps in building a positive partnership with the clients.
- Account Executives - The account executives are on the front end of the business and client development. They are in charge of viewing, cultivating, and following up the leads. At times, they are known as “hunters” as they move out to look for new business opportunities. They aim to convert leads into clients.
What is the importance of accounting management?
Accounting Management serves as a proactive set of activities that are generated to analyze the financial data in order to assess and develop a business strategy. The proper accounting management system helps in the following ways:
- Proactivity - It allows access to the data. The dedicated account manager knows every detail about the account that includes the information regarding budget, who all are the decision-makers along with the competition, what the pitfalls are, and what will be the organizational strategy. The account manager establishes a proactive cadence to gather all the data and information on the accounting system.
- Revenue - The revenue commitment from the customer is taken due to a proactive account management system. It serves as an agreement on the expected spends with the company.
- Cadence - The account management allows all the members concerned in the accounting process to mutually agree upon the account cadence that helps in minimizing the problematic situations of facing the crises that may occur due to clashes between the members of the party concerned.
- New opportunities - The adequate accounting process provide knowledge of the new opportunities in the accounting system that may include the information regarding new commitments, new directions, new strategies, and sharing the upfront variances that belong to the previous year with the customers.
- Dashboard or Measurement process - The accounting management system allows creating the dashboard for evaluating the account. Bi-annually or quarterly, it helps in providing feedback against the success measurement. It will enable creating a scoring system that helps in assessing the performance and allowing for course corrections as per the requirement.
In businesses, accounting management provides financial information that helps managerial decisions. The proactive management of accounts allows identifying the expectations of the account quickly.
The process of accounting management helps in planning and formulating policies, controlling performance, reporting to the administration, coordinating among departments, administering the tax, and interpreting the financial statement.
On the contrary, poor account management brings negative impacts to the business.
Negative impacts of poor accounts management
Poor accounts management will harm the organization. Let’s discuss how:
- Miss the crucial opportunities in strategic accounts – The weak account management system will fail to set the essential opportunities in the strategic accounts. It will cause chaos in the accounting process.
- Loss of the important accounts - There can be a loss of the essential accounts in the business due to improper accounting; ultimately, it will affect the whole financial aspect of the organization.
- Delay creditor payments – The late payment in the credit reports can spoil the credit score of the company. The late payment in the credit report will be present for seven years that show the mistake to anyone who checks the report within that duration.
- Poor commercial credit rating – The weak commercial credit rating can bring harm to the growth of the business. The business owners and managers can face the potential loss of reputation.
- Inadequate accounting can cause criminal and civil penalties - Fraudulent reporting in the account management system will cause criminal and civil penalties.
- Business failure - If the funds of the company are mismanaged or the budget is overextended as against the revenues earned, then the organization has to face the losses. The business fails due to insufficient business reserves and consistent losses in the company.
- Customers leave and new customers stay away - The customers will not deal with the company anymore due to improper accounting management system. Even the new customers will lose interest in that company.
- Revenues and Profit shrinks - The loss of customer retention in the company will substantially harm the revenue and minimize the profit in the business.
So to avoid all the difficulties that arise due to a weak account management system, it will be great to have a proper account management system by following the best practices in the business.
Account management best practices
The well-planned account management strategy will help in keeping the customers satisfied and provides the opportunities to grow the relationship with them. The companies following the best practices in the account management system will:
- Assign dedicated account managers - The dedicated account managers can build rapport with customers, talk to top stakeholders along with decision-makers, can handle the cross-functional team, and strategically think about partnership opportunities and solutions.
- Build cross-functional teams around account manager - The cross-functional teams serve the clients in a well –organized manner. To execute this, one needs to have a dedicated set of skills, disciplines, and expertise
- Strategic Account planning - It includes strategic recommendations like partnerships with other companies and creative solutions, resource requirements, and, finally, the long-term goals with short-term benchmarks.
- Provide insights to create value for the client’s business - The account manager creates value for the client by helping them in saving money, making money, and managing risk.
- Validate the plan - The process of account management is essential to identify the resources that help in achieving the growth objectives of the business.
- Measure the account’s engagement and loyalty - Consistently, the accounting process measures the account’s engagement and loyalty and believes that both the aspect should trend upward.
- Schedule recurring check-ins with the account to have the feedback - To gain the feedback of the account, the accounting management system can address any issue and find the areas for improvement.
- CRM to track the communication with account stakeholders - The accounting process makes use of CRM to give visibility to everyone regarding what is happening in the business dealings.
- Implement an email tracking and notifications tool - It can exactly make out when the recipients have opened the emails and click any links with the help of email tracking and notifications tool.
- Have a video platform for prospecting and relationship-building - The accounting system believes in investing in a video platform so that personalized video can be created for prospecting and relationship-building.
Accounting Software is an application that allows bookkeepers and accountants to record and report the financial transactions of the firm. It serves as the primary tool that assesses the financial health of the organization.
Have a look at the types of accounting software along with their core functionality to understand the system better.
- Small - Business Accounting - It looks after small-scale operations, that don’t require much payrolling and invoicing process.
- Business Management Accounting - Manages medium to large-sized enterprises, looks after resources like inventory control, customer relationship management, point of sale.
- Web-Hosted Accounting or Cloud Accounting - Believes in growing trust across industries in technology’s ability that secures online financial information.
- Database Accounting - Offers customized business accounting solutions and database-backed accounting tools to corporations and global enterprises.
You can have real-time reporting and visibility throughout your organization with the cloud accounting system. The cloud-based accounting software allows small business owners to remain in touch with their data along with their accountants.
Why should businesses invest in accounting software?
The online accounting software conducts simple programs in the complicated areas of the business by assisting in a number of ways.
- Saves the time – The accounting software will save you valuable time and helps in simplifying the overall system of accounting. By saving your precious time, you can focus on various other factors required in the running of the business.
- Accelerate Working Speed – With the help of the accounting system, you can automatically have the result regarding the calculations. You can easily record the transaction history with this technology.
- Automates Business Reports - The accounting system provides the invoices, details of the stock, and transaction history so that you can access the business reports efficiently. It not only provides efficiency but accuracy too. You can minimize the mistakes with this technology.
- Take care of Tax - The details of the financial documents are essential for taxes. Businesses can overcome the taxing complexity with the help of automated reports provided by the accounting software.
- Cost-effectiveness - It helps in reducing the cost that comes with the appointment of an expert and in the maintenance of the manual system. At a low cost, you can start working with this app and can also upgrade along with the advancement in the business.
- Secures the data - The data gets locked into the device, and only a few people can access the information. It is an apt solution for protecting your relevant data.
- Real-time data - The accounting app provides real-time data that streamlines your business transactions. With accuracy and speed, you can track the performance of your business that provides perfection in your work.
- Back up the data - If the data is in the cloud, then it can be accessed from anywhere, and you can effortlessly back up your data with this computerized app. You won’t face any risk of losing the data.
- Financial Monitoring - It is easy to create and maintain the financial records and get the in-depth reports with the help of computerized bookkeeping process. The management of the company can monitor the financial records of the business and can efficiently resolve issues that might turn into a huge problem.
- Management of Cash Flow - You can access the current and future cash flow status with the accounting software. It will help you in avoiding late fees and overdraft charges by keeping records of invoices and bills.
- Scalable Solutions - Many of the top accounting software systems provide scalable databases and sophisticated customization. Such features fit well with small businesses and expanding start-ups.
The small businesses and expanding start-ups can meet their growing demands by making use of these features.
- Tracks Inventory - This facility helps in tracking product inventory and offers up-to-date details regarding the amount of stock in hand. Even when you are running out of stock, then they can forecast you about the same so that you can make arrangements in advance.
- Mobility – The users can carry relevant information regarding invoices, expenses, billable time, and client details with the help of mobile applications. The vendors of the accounting app provide all the crucial information to the users on their phones.
- Centralization – You can centralize the critical business processes and tasks like customer relationship management (CRM), inventory management, payroll, and invoicing with the help of accounting products.
- Short Learning Curve - The advanced accounting system software allows business owners to get acquainted with the solutions that provide a short and easy learning curve. It helps in minimizing the reconciliation issues and accounting errors.
What features one should look before buying Accounting software?
Typical accounting software for business should have the following features:
- Accounting - It is the primary function of the accounting system software that manages fixed assets, accounts payable and receivable, bank reconciliation, and general ledger. The users can have more sophisticated features with the advanced accounting management system.
- General Ledger & Charts of Accounts - Includes journal entries, tags/dimensions, and audit trails.
- Accounts Receivable - Incorporates invoice customization, AR (Account Receivable) automation, collections automation.
- Accounts Payable - Manages AP (Accounts payable) automation, purchase orders processing, and payment processing.
- Billing and Invoicing - The accounting system has a billing and invoicing system, which helps users in automating mundane collections. The users can prepare accurate and in-time invoices for their clients. The users are allowed to adjust operations to the new and effective payment methods along with industry standards.
- Budgeting and Forecasting - The finance performance for the current year is calculated and interpreted with this element. It also estimates the budget for the upcoming year. The companies are allowed to set up viable and optimistic sales targets by preparing the estimates.
- Inventory Management - This component allows controlling the availability and movement of the business products and helps in avoiding all sorts of delivery issues like overstocking or understocking. It serves as a toolkit that is developed for stock control. It provides the necessary feature that helps businesses to have a higher shelf-life product line.
- Cash Flow Management - It allows companies to collect, manage, and use cash. The companies can track liquidity with the help of this module.
- Reporting and KPIs - It covers all the standard financial statements, reports related to accounts receivables, aging reports, inventory valuation, and cash flow that help in meeting the basic needs of the business.
- Payroll Management - This module allows calculating and processing employee payments, helps in preparing and printing the checks without any delay, and errorlessly responding to legal and tax commitments. The enterprises and high-tier performers can remember their financial obligations with the help of payroll management in the accounting management system.
- Manages fixed asset - This particular element allows to manage the financial data accurately. It includes features like audit history, cost records, depreciation calculation, and resource allocation.
The other common features of an accounting software management system include automation, automatic updates, customization, internet connectivity, interoperability, expandability, scalability, security, and analysis capability.
What is the average cost of accounting software?
The price of the accounting software is based on the business size, along with the needs of its operations. The pricing of the accounting software for small business is more affordable as the features that they would require mostly come in the basic plan of every accounting software. But, for large organizations, the wiser option is to invest in advanced plans that offer more powerful features.
The cost of the accounting software can start as low as $15/year (for example Patriot Accounting) and can reach as high as $18996/year approximately (for example HostBooks Accounting). Small and start-up businesses can also try free and open source accounting software.
Things to consider before buying an accounting software
Before investing in accounting software, ensure that the following aspects are taken into consideration;
- User-friendly software – Make sure that accounting software you are supposed to buy should be user-friendly that provides a dashboard from which you can have the financial status of your company. It will help you in simplifying the bookkeeping and accounting process.
- Secure Data - The web-based accounting software will allow you to save the financial data of the business on the external servers. With the help of the latest technology, the security experts secure your data on external servers.
- Cost of the accounting app - If the company has a budget constraint, then it becomes essential to consider the cost of the accounting software. The user can get the top-end features with costly applications.
- Customer Support - While selecting a software package, it will be great to have good customer support from the manufacturer of the accounting app. You need the proper support to get acquainted with the user-friendly or advanced app.
- Multi-Currency Transitions – Even the small enterprises serve overseas clients, so the accounting app should facilitate multi-currency transactions. As per the requirement, the app should be able to handle foreign exchange rates and conversions. In your base currency, it will be great to have the details of these transactions.
- Integrates with other business apps - for the smooth running of the business, make sure that if you are upgrading to the features of the latest accounting software application, then it integrates seamlessly with the suite of other business applications. With this practice, you can boost the efficiency of your business. The accounting app, which is flexible and easy to integrate, will surely be helpful for your organization.
The small businesses can try freeware, freemium, or free accounting software if they have low budget cost.
The primary deciding factor for small business owners is that the software should be easy to use, provides better customer service, and holds the fair cost for the services.
Other than the above-mentioned factors, here are some other key points to consider especially if your business set up is small.
- Is the targeted account management system meant for small business owners?
- Is the accounting app goes well with the type of your industry?
- Will there be any limit to the number of employees and work on the clients’ data?
- Is the app meets the terms of IRS regulations, Taxes, and laws?
- How is the backup system of the data?
- What will be the cost of the software and extra fee connected to it?
- How is the customer support service?
- How the company has to keep the data secure for the web-enabled software?
Advantages of cloud-based accounting software
The benefits of cloud-based accounting software are as follows:
- World-class Security - No one can access the data and log in to the cloud account with the help of a cloud accounting system. It protects your data from natural disasters and continuously makes updates to ensure it.
- Paperless - The risk of manual errors get minimized, and results can be seen quickly and efficiently that help your business to stay on top of the finances.
- Real-Time Updates - It provides real-time updates of the financial situation that helps in making informed decisions regarding the financial aspect of the business.
- Customize the accounting solution - At one place, you can access your invoices, customer engagement needs, and sales by using cloud-based accounting solutions.
- Maintains relationships – It is effortless to maintain good relations with vendors, distributors, and co-workers with the cloud accounting system. Regularly the business owners can collaborate with the accountants smoothly.
- Organizes the finances - In your business, every department can easily and efficiently find data and invoices and simultaneously update expenses.
- Tech support available - It provides tech support with the help of the phone, chats, and forums. With the help of forums, businesses can have access to the other small business owners in the country that helps in discussing the various industries related issues.
- No installation required - You don’t have to purchase and install a program directly to your computer as it is hosted online. Even if you don’t need an IT team to update the cloud-based accounting software.
- The software enhances accuracy - At one commonplace; you have all the financial information, which is easy-to-use. It allows you to categorize all the transactions and can have accurate reports.
- Formulates secure collaboration - This system can be accessed from anywhere, and it is easy for the accountant to obtain any information as per the requirement. You can have controlled access for your employees.
Accounting software and business growth
The accounting software provides lots of benefits to any size and type of business. Even the smallest businesses can gain an advantage from the wide variety of small business accounting software products available in the market. In short, accounting software-
- Reduces human errors in the calculations
- Helps in gaining insights into the businesses like generating sales forecasts for the next quarter, can determine which items are overstocked and pinpoint the least valuable service.
Latest trends in Accounting Management
Modern businesses take up innovative accounting technology solutions to enhance the productivity and operational efficiency. The latest accounting trends that can affect financial dealings are as follows:
- Using the power of the cloud - The cloud-based accounting solutions have made the accounting process efficient and the accounting information more accessible.
- Accelerating Automation - The automated accounting system helps in utilizing the capital of the company efficiently. It allows the better management of resources.
- Focus on data analysis - Advancements in data centres and database techniques is required to make appropriate financial decisions.
- Proactive Accounting - Proactive accounting allows understanding the potential implications of any significant business initiative that includes tax impact too. It helps in running a business efficiently.
- “Mobile” Accountants - With the advent of cloud computing, the accountant can work remotely. The team prefers to share the tools to enhance remote collaboration and work.
- Social Media Integration - Accounting professionals make use of social media interaction to form communication with peers and colleagues that helps in providing updates related to business, accounting, and political developments. All these updates may impact the work of these professionals.
- Changes in accounting standards - to keep up with the times, the accounting standards are continuously revised and updated. The new business model brings an important impact on the accounting process. Even the accounting professionals have to keep pace with the changes that are occurring at a faster rate.
- Transparency with the customers - Due to the severe prevailing issues of accounting irregularities and scandals, it becomes essential for the accounting professionals to restore trust and credibility by following transparency in the accounting process.
- Outsourcing - The companies follow the trend of outsourcing the accounting process that allows them to have access to the experienced accountants. It helps businesses to have quality services in their accounting process.
How to choose Accounting Software for your business?
First, understand your accounting needs before buying accounting software for your business. Analyze the managerial and financial needs. It is important to explore the important questions related to the future aspects of your business requirement in terms of growth. You can take your time before finalizing the deal of accounting software systems. If you are expecting tremendous growth in your business, then go for the top accounting software for your organization.
Even you should discuss with your accountant (whether in-house accountant or outside consultant) and staff before confirming any deal of accounting software. The fiscal concerned person can recommend you the best accounting software that goes well with the programs operating in your business.
Also, understand your hardware situation, age of your operating system, back-up procedures along with storage media.
Why refer to GoodFirms’ list of top accounting software?
GoodFirms is continuously growing in terms of listing categories along with the authenticated reviews. This platform believes in conducting rigorous research based on the latest business trends. If you want to have the curated list of best accounting software for your small business, then explore GoodFirms coverage.
The list of accounting software will provide you the insights of the top-notch accounting software available in the market. You can grab the opportunity to delve into the list before finalizing the best accounting software for your business.
Now your call!
Now it is you to decide the accounting software system that is best for your business requirements. Make sure you prioritize your needs, and the accounting app which you choose should go well with your expectations. You can select the accounting software that provides you basic features required to run your business accounting-related task efficiently.
Even start-ups and small businesses can explore the GoodFirms platform for a thorough understanding of the top accounting system software available in the market.
Simultaneously, you can even talk to the experts at GoodFirms, explore the third-party reviews or vendor literature to gain more information on the accounting system software.