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21 Accounting Software Reviews Found
Abila accounting software review
Abila
Vendor Name: Abila
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AccountEdge Software review
AccountEdge
Vendor Name: Priority Software
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AccuFund accounting software review
AccuFund
Vendor Name: AccuFund Inc.
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Adaptive Insights Accounting Software Review
Adaptive Insights
Vendor Name: Adaptive Insights Inc.
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Financial Edge NXT
Vendor Name: Blackbaud
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Budget Maestro Review logo
Budget Maestro
Vendor Name: Centage
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Certify
Vendor Name: Certify, Inc.
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Connected
Vendor Name: Accountek Solutions Inc.
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Denali Business
Vendor Name: Cougar Mountain Sft.
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Divvy
Vendor Name: Divvy Pay Inc.
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QuickBooks Accounting Software Review
QuickBooks
Vendor Name: Intuit Inc.
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Rydoo
Vendor Name: Rydoo
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Sage Intacct
Vendor Name: Sage Intacct
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SBS Financials
Vendor Name: Software Business Systems
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Shoeboxed
Vendor Name: Shoeboxed
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VersaPay ARC
Vendor Name: VersaPay
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Xero
Vendor Name: Xero
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BudgetPak
Vendor Name: XLerant
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Accounting Software Buyer’s Guide

Introduction

Are you a small business that typically keeps track of finances manually or in a spreadsheet? Or is your company looking to replace an existing accounting system? 

For any company looking to add accounting software, our buyer’s guide can help. It provides an overview of accounting software and breaks down the features, benefits and challenges. 

Accounting Stats

  • The global accounting software market had a revenue of $6.2 billion in 2018 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.9% from 2019 to 2028. Source: Market.Us. 
  • The cloud accounting software market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.6% from $2.6 billion in 2019 to $4.3 billion in 2024. Source: Market Study Report, LLC. 
  • 58% of accountants feel artificial intelligence (AI) will help them automate their finance tasks. Source: Sage Practice of Now 2019 survey 
  • Approximately 64% of small businesses use software for their accounting tasks. Source: Statista. 
  • 37% of businesses purchased accounting software for the first time in 2018. Source: Software Connect 
  • 33% of companies were looking to migrate from QuickBooks to a different solution in 2018. Source: Software Connect 

What is Accounting Software?

Accounting software manages a company’s financial data. It typically records all transactions, creates invoices, manages the budget and reports on a company’s financial health. 

This software is deployed either on-premise (where businesses host and maintain the data) or in the cloud (where the vendor handles all software hosting and maintenance). Some of the major players in this market include Sage, QuickBooks and Xero. 

Companies have the option of either purchasing a core accounting software suite or a more narrowly focused solution like billing software or expense management software. The right fit depends on the specific requirements of a company. 

Who Uses Accounting Software?

All businesses, regardless of size, can benefit from using accounting software. It can be especially useful for small businesses that still tend to rely on spreadsheets or an external accounting professional. There are a wide variety of accounting solutions oriented specifically to small businesses, including Freshbooks, QuickBooks Online, Zoho Books, Wave, Xero and OnPay. 

Medium, large and enterprise companies typically have many divisions and rely on multiple systems. They can benefit from purchasing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, which typically includes accounting/finance as one of its core modules. However, if a company doesn’t want to purchase an ERP, there are accounting solutions specifically for larger businesses, such as Microsoft Dynamics GP, FinancialForce Accounting and QuickBooks Enterprise. 

There are also accounting software platforms intended for specific industries like real estate, health care or manufacturing. For example, Aptitude Software’s Aptitude Accounting Hub solution is customizable for the healthcare, digital media, banking and insurance industries. 

Common Accounting Software Features

Accounting software includes many features that help businesses keep track of their financial transactions. We’ve listed some of the common features below. 

Core accounting: Many accounting solutions include four main features: a general ledger, accounts payable (A/P), accounts receivable (A/R) and bank reconciliation. A general ledger stores all financial transaction records. Accounts payable records all expenses the business owes and accounts receivable records all monies owed to the business. The bank reconciliation feature allows the software to connect to the company’s bank account, so users can reconcile transactions straight from the software. 

Invoicing: With this feature, users can create invoices from the software instead of using a separate system. Most vendors provide built-in invoice templates and allow the user to customize their own. Users can track payments from clients, send automatic reminders, and print or email invoices. Some vendors also support multi-currency payment. 

Fixed asset management: The fixed assets management feature tracks all the relevant information about a specific asset, such as acquisition, depreciation, maintenance scheduling and audit history. Some vendors include this as a standard feature in an accounting solution, while others sell it separately. 

Inventory management: The inventory management feature lets businesses accurately track their materials and supplies to eliminate wasteful spending. Specific functions may differ based on the type of business, but the most common ones are inventory control, purchase orders, automatic ordering and inventory scanning. 

Project accounting: With the project accounting feature, businesses can keep track of a specific project’s overall budget, revenue and expenses. Users can set budgets (e.g., labor, materials, vendor fees) at the beginning of each project, and track both the budget and expenses incurred during the life of the project. If there were similar projects done in the past, the project accounting feature provides historical data to help set budgets for current projects. 

Payroll: Several accounting software vendors offer payroll processing as either a standard feature or an option. Some vendors will include just basic payroll processing features, while others will provide full-service payroll and tax filing services.  

Expense management: Companies can use the expense management feature to track, process and reimburse employees for business expenses. This feature also streamlines the many elements of the reimbursement process, like expense approvals, and eliminates paper-based expense tracking. 

Reporting: With the reporting feature, users can run financial reports, such as profit and loss statements. Most vendors include built-in and customizable reporting templates. After reports are generated, users can export them to Excel and PDF, or even send them via email. Some vendors add business intelligence functionality, where users can create a dashboard on key financial data with a drill-down capability for further analysis. 

Top Benefits of Accounting Software

There are many benefits of using accounting software, including: 

Higher productivity with automated processes: Instead of users having to manually enter financial data, many accounting software solutions connect with a business’s bank accounts so financial transactions are automatically pulled into the solution. Users can also create invoices, automatically pay expenses or run payroll. The automated processes leave additional time for users to focus on other critical tasks. 

Better accuracy in financial data: Manually entering financial information in a spreadsheet increases the risk of errors and inaccurate calculations. Because financial data is processed automatically in accounting software, there’s less room for mistakes and users can ensure the information is accurate. 

Increased security: Spreadsheets and manual ledgers carry the risk of financial data being compromised or stolen, especially if spreadsheets are stored on users hard drives without much protection. Accounting software has many security features to reduce risk, such as two-factor authentication, the ability to control user access to data and secure socket layer (SSL) encryption. 

Improved compliance with IRS and other legal and regulatory mandates: Complying with tax laws is critical. Accounting software can help companies with compliance by monitoring data, keeping audit trails and making updates that accommodate any changes in tax laws. 

Total transparency into financial health: It’s important for companies to have a full picture of their financial health at all times. Accounting software allows them to do just that with reporting and analytical tools that provide real-time access to financial data. Users can share dashboards and reports with executives by email or invite them to securely access the information. 

How to Choose Accounting Software

There are many accounting solutions out there that vary in features and pricing. It’s key to research all of your options before making a purchase. We’ve listed four important steps below. 

1.) Knowing your company’s needs 

Before researching any vendors, you’ll need to consider your needs and requirements. Perhaps you only require a few specific features, or maybe you need a full-featured solution. You’ll also want to take stock of your existing software applications and see if the accounting solution can integrate with them. Also, make sure that the key players at your company (e.g., top executives, IT, accounting staff) are on board with implementing new software. 

2.) Creating a shortlist 

Once you’ve established your objectives for an accounting solution, create a shortlist of vendors that best fit your needs. We recommend listing out the must-have features, as well as the nice-to-have ones, to help determine the type of solution you’re looking for. 

In addition to features, you’ll need to consider the vendor’s deployment options, implementation processes and customer support. 

3.) Contacting vendors 

After making a shortlist of vendors, it’s time to reach out to them. Explain your objectives and the features you require in a solution. You’ll want to request a demo of the software with real-data scenarios, if possible. Vendors offer virtual demonstrations, but it can also be useful to ask if a vendor is willing to meet with you at your office. Another way to test the software is to participate in a free trial, if there is one. Most vendors offer a 14-day or 30-day free trial. 

It’s also important to compare different price quotes you received. We explain more on pricing in a separate section below. 

4.) Conducting due diligence 

When you’ve selected your top two or three vendors, ask for references from their current or previous clients. While vendors tend to give you the clients with the most glowing recommendations or experiences, ask to speak to clients that are in the same industry or are the same size as your company. You’ll want to see not just the positives of the solution or vendor, but any issues the client has experienced as well. 

Pricing

Accounting software vendors use two popular pricing models: perpetual licensing (on-premise) and subscription hosting plans (cloud). Here’s a look at each. 

Perpetual licensing – Companies that prefer to host their own data can purchase licenses that last for the software’s lifespan. On-premise deployment requires the business to purchase hardware, servers and other infrastructure, as well as use IT resources to host and maintain the solution.   

Perpetual licenses can be an attractive option for companies that are larger in size, have complex systems and are concerned with data security. Even though licenses and infrastructure are paid for upfront, maintenance and product upgrades typically aren’t free. Companies have to consider IT labor costs, vendor support and potential system breakdowns in price factors.  

Subscription hosting – Companies that don’t have the time or resources to host their own solution can consider deploying it in the cloud. They then only need to pay a monthly or annual subscription cost.   

Subscription costs can include the specific features the company needs, support and maintenance. Cloud-based deployment can be a good choice for smaller companies, as it typically costs less than an on-premise solution.  

Regardless of deployment, some vendors offer their software as modular components, meaning companies can choose and pay only for the modules or features they need. The software Abila MIP Fund Accounting, for example, provides up to 25 modules that companies can choose from. Other vendors provide pricing tiers that have different features under each tier. 

There are also a few vendors that offer free software (or free versions of paid plans) with basic features. One such vendor is Wave, an accounting solution that lets small businesses take advantage of its accounting, invoicing and receipt scanning features for free. Wave offers paid payroll and financial services that are pay-as-you-go (no contracts). 

If you’re looking for more specific vendor pricing information, check out our pricing post. 

Challenges of Accounting Software

While accounting software platforms have their benefits, they also come with challenges, including: 

Securing buy-in from key players: Getting buy-in from top executives, IT, managers and accounting employees is critical to purchasing software, but they may have resistance or concerns. For instance, IT may have questions about data security if a vendor hosts the solution, or they may not want the responsibility of hosting and maintaining the software on company servers. 

Top executives could also be wary of spending the money on a solution, especially if a company uses a dedicated accountant. And in-house accounting teams may be resistant to software if they’re used to spreadsheets or consider the solution difficult to use. 

Only needing specific features: A company that’s figured out its goals for using accounting software may not need a robust solution. For example, if it already has a dedicated payroll solution, it wouldn’t need the payroll feature in the accounting software. Also, companies that want an industry-specific solution may not want a one-size-fits-all software, but rather a solution that specifically customizes to their needs. 

Implementation issues: Cloud-based accounting software tends to have shorter implementation times than on-premise solutions. However, expensive issues can still come up that delay the go-live date. For that reason, it’s important to get a detailed timeline of the implementation process and what happens in each stage. 

Market Trends

Like other software, accounting solutions are always changing. We’ve listed a few market trends below. 

Artificial intelligence will play a key role in accounting solutions: Vendors in such markets as business intelligence or customer relationship management have introduced artificial intelligence (AI) into their solutions. So, it’s no surprise that AI will become a key feature in accounting software. In fact, Forbes predicts that accounting tasks, such as payroll or tax management, will be more automated by 2020. Accounting software vendors have already started on this trend. For example, the Sage One solution integrates with Pegg, a chat-bot that works as a smart assistant to help users better track their expenses. 

Cloud deployment and mobile functionality: Within the last several years, more accounting software vendors have aggressively been marketing cloud-based deployment options. As remote workforces grow, mobile functionality is becoming more common. Users can create invoices, pay expenses or access reports from their smartphones or tablets. These mobile features are available via apps or within a device’s web browser. 

Larger businesses require advanced accounting features: Big companies looking to replace their current accounting system strongly prefer more advanced features to core accounting. According to SoftwareConnect’s 2018 Buyer’s Trend Report, 72% of large businesses want business intelligence as a feature, and 71% specifically want a fixed assets accounting feature. Nowadays, businesses want to be able to visually analyze financial data to help them make important decisions. 

Recent Accounting Software Blog Posts

To stay up to date on what’s happening in our accounting software market, check out our blog posts.