What is Accounting & Finance?
Accounting system is used by finance experts to observe firm accounts. Individuals may on the other hand pick easy, single-entry apps, while large companies ought to choose an outstanding double-entry apps that do the fine art of processing accounts payable, accounts receivable, inventory, and payroll, among other tasks. Accounting software cuts accounting expenses, and provides timely and accurate financial reporting which businesses may use to pursue smart financial decisions. Small firms most often invest in off-the-shelf accounting systems, while bigger scale users take the time to create individualized software to deal with their accounting goals. Accounting systems can be desktop-based or cloud-based. Cloud accounting systems are pushing their way to the leading positions because they are simpler to use and users can avoid maintenance costs. We advise you to consider the leading app in this category FreshBooks, and the other outstanding vendors listed in this guide.
Best Accounting & Finance
Best Accounting & Finance
A buyer's guide to choosing the best accounting software
Accounting software is today’s most valuable asset of finance professionals who wish to automate accounting processes in order to cut costs and boost productivity. Choosing the appropriate program, however, can be a daunting task, because there are many factors that need to be considered in advance. Here are some of the basic stuff you need to know about the best accounting & finance software before you start searching:
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The diversity of Accounting & Finance software is just outstanding, and so are the carefully crafted features specialized for a single or multiple industries. This is exactly why choosing the right product can either push your business to the top or be a costly pick that will complicate your financial operations. In order to overcome the challenge, you need to compose a check list of basic requirements and expectations, and consider multiple products that can respond to them. We recommend you to go for at least few free trials and to compare, starting with some of the top vendors that are currently leading the market: AppsForOps Expense Claim, Avangate, StockMarketEye, Float, Nichify Apps, W3B Management Solutions, e-SignLive, NetSuite OneWorld, Zoho Invoice, Chargify, Tipalti, Xero, WorkflowMax, KashFlow, Intacct, AccountEdge, and FreshBooks.
- Routine small business – your accounting needs are straightforward. These include: general ledger, accounts payable/accounts receivable, fixed assets, and bank reconciliation. In most cases, you only need the basic plan or core accounting with one or two add-ons to your liking. Vendor support is needed, but very rarely, perhaps only during setup.
- Growing business – you may have the same accounting needs as a small business now, but you’ll need more robust features in a few months or years. Look for accounting software with scalable options, that is, you can start with a core accounting module and add more modules later.
- Large enterprise – you will need more complex and robust accounting modules. For example, instead of getting a core accounting module with bundled budget & forecast or fixed asset features, it’s recommended to get full but integrated modules. Standalone modules can handle multiple data from different departments and consolidate them to get an overall picture. In many instances, vendors need to quote a price based on the large enterprise’ specific processes.
- Specific industries – some businesses like engineering and construction firms require features that enable them to break down costing and estimation by project or other categories. Software development companies also need features to match the development phases specific to launching new products. Likewise, nonprofits and fundraising entities need accounting solutions that incorporate reporting requirements specific to them. If your business has a specific need, check for accounting solutions that specialize on your field.
- FreshBooks: A smart cloud solution for small businesses that can streamline client invoicing. Its distinctive features are recurring subscriptions and the possibility to collect payment online (via PayPal, for instance).
- Brightpearl: A multi-channel retail management system that handles inventory and accounting at a single platform. It is highly recommended because of its strong integrations with major retail platforms (Amazon, eBay, Magento, etc.)
- Intacct: A recognized CPA’s financial-related applications provider, suitable mostly for growing businesses that require active financial monitoring.
- QuickBooks Enterprise: It has an intuitive and easy-to-read interface, which is why it is perfect for non-accountant users. Together with the basic packages, it offers industry-specific solutions.
- Xero: An online accounting app for small businesses and individual users which features a collaboration section for group financial activities.
Types of Accounting & Finance Software
Accounting & Finance software can optimize your business in many different ways, depending on who you are or what you’re looking for. Sometimes it’s better to take a look at the bigger picture first, and define the category you belong to before investing in a product.
- Payroll Software. Payroll programs are standard tools for accounting and drafting reports, which work with drag-and-drop capabilities and are usually easy to understand. Their main feature are cash-flow calculators applied by multiple users, and they are far more industry-specific than other accounting products.
- Enterprise Resource Management Software (ERP). ERP suites include all the standard reports and financial tools, the same as points of sale, inventory control, billing, purchasing, and customer relationship management. They can also be industry-specific,particularly for sectors such as construction and manufacturing.
- Freemium Software. The main difference between this type and the other two types is that accounting features are slightly limited, or require paid subscriptions in order to be accessed. Most of them are on-premise, meaning that you have to use your company data or your financial information to download them.
Key Features of Accounting & Finance Software
- Core accounting – it’s the basic component of all accounting software, so make sure you’re getting this module. Features include general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, fixed assets, and bank reconciliation. Most vendors offer this as their basic plan, while a few vendor even give it away as a freemium to get you on board for future paid subscriptions.
- Billing & Invoicing – this module can be part of the basic module or as a separate component. It lets you to automate routine collections. Billing & Invoicing can vary by industry based on payment methods, industry standards and practices, and scale of operations.
- Budget & Forecasting – often packaged as an add-on, this module lets you estimate next year’s budget based on historic data and sales targets. A standalone module can consolidate different departmental budgeting and forecasts for an overall company estimates, while a bundled feature usually only allows a single budget and forecast tool.
- Fixed asset – whether as an add-on or bundled with core accounting, fixed asset lets you manage financial information on important company assets. Features include depreciation calculation; audit history; and cost. This module is critical if the business has a lot of assets in different forms. Otherwise, a bundled fixed asset may suffice.
- Payroll system – lets you process employee payrolls, print checks, automatically withhold and pay taxes and create legal and tax reports on schedule. The module is often packaged as an add-on or standalone product. A practical feature to look at is an automated reminder when to issue government payments to avoid penalties.
- Project accounting – it’s usually packaged as a standalone product targeted at businesses with project-oriented operations like construction and software firms. This product is usually bundled with core accounting on top of costing and estimation of overheads, labor, materials, and equipment, among others. Project accounting solutions range from simple systems that can manage projects one at a time, or complex solutions for multiple and simultaneous but interrelated projects.
- Fund accounting – targeted at nonprofits and government agencies, which have a separate set of financial reporting requirements. Features include: tracking donation expenditures; grant management; and Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) regulations.
- Inventory management– it’s a specific module to manage inventory. The system allows you to manage the movement of products to avoid over or under stocking. It features tools to track orders, sales, and deliveries. More specific inventory systems have a tool to calculate stock depreciation if your business has a low shelf-life product line.
Benefits of Accounting & Finance Software
Automating finance and accounting processes is driven by the need to cut costs and to improve productivity, relying on a transparent financial picture to reveal trends and opportunities. These are some of the most important advantages and benefits of Accounting & Finance software:
- Improved productivity. The role of a proper A&F program is to drill deep into your daily routine and to take over complex processes that take hours to complete. What it does is to collect data, organize it, and analyze it for you, automatically meaning that you can focus on more important tasks in the meanwhile.
- Savings. It doesn’t mean that you have to start all over – A&F products are made to be integrated into your existent financial framework, so you don’t have to worry about adjusting them to standards and revenue frameworks. Thinking about it, having an A&F system that will integrate multiple data operations in one platform is more cost-effective than running multiple systems and transferring data manually.
- Resource Transparency. The magic of A&F systems is that they make finance management easy, and are usually packed with explanations and simple interfaces for non-accountant users. For you, this would mean that you don’t have to train staff to use them, and that everybody in the company will be familiar with your financial capacity even without explaining.
- Automatic Production of Documents. Together with the fact that it wraps data into comprehensive views, an A&F system can also generate reports based on it. Invoices and credit notes will be produced automatically, and the risk of human error will be completely eliminated.
- Smarter Strategies. Remember that your intention is not only to have bills clean at the end of the month, but to use your current financial state to develop smarter strategies for the future. A&F systems will enable you to forecast possible scenarios and to follow trends, because they are fast enough to meet the needs of the growing financial markets.
Nobody knows what the future will bring, but that’s not a reason to be fraught by close misses and half-truths. Therefore, we can’t expect a huge outbreak in the case of Accounting & Finance Software, but rather an extension of what has been happening so far:
- Cloud storage will become the only storage. Yes, local storage is on its way out, and it doesn’t take to be a fortune teller to predict it. That’s the only way mobile technology will make sense for people to access their files on the go, being sure at the same time that they are protected.
- Smart scanning for less data. That’s where innovation becomes visible. The introduction of Optical Character Recognition will enable us to transform printed materials into digital data in minimal time, meaning that accountants can forget about manual checks.
- General vs. industry-specific accounting – An accounting software designed for your industry outperforms a general accounting solution. But consider other factors like vendor support, integration, and scalability to ensure the industry-specific software is truly superior.
- Cross-process integration – other business processes like CRM, sales software, and project management solutions often work best when integrated with your financials. A reliable accounting software should not be capable of integrating to its own modules, but also across other processes. If the accounting software can export data to standard file formats like CSV, TXT, or PDF, it’s likely compatible with other business solutions.
- Scalability – even if you’re a small business, give scalability a serious look. You can never tell if your business needs to expand, along with your financial needs. At the least, the accounting software should let you export data in case you need to get a more robust solution in the future.
All Accounting & Finance Reviews
Every review in our Accounting & Finance category is researched with a couple of goals in mind. To ensure top quality and make each review as meaningful as possible we always collect information related to an app from a broad selection of sources. We do not restrict our research to official vendor website, but also examine reviews from other users and experts and enrich that with our own unique experience with the software. We make it a crucial factor to examine how a given service performs in standard problem scenarios and we work to show its strong and weak points. It is also crucial to study such elements as mobile device support and quality as well as response time of customer support provided by each vendor. All such data enriched with our SmartScore and User Satisfaction scores creates a reliable overview of the app that so many of our users appreciate.
Page last modified on 24/07/2016