The top eight accounting software solutions

Accounting software
By Nicola Sinclair, CA Today

18 November 2015

Cloud accounting has truly taken off, and no wonder: modern software combines powerful tools, real time data and a slick user experience. But which to choose? Here’s our picks of the best accounting software on the market, in no particular order.

1. Xero

Xero promises “beautiful accounting” and with online reviews averaging 4/5 or more it seems most users agree. Ideal for small to medium businesses, its simple and intuitive interface is its most praised feature, along with good customer support.

The software does pretty much everything you’d expect from cloud accounting, with the exception of some of the more advanced business management tools such as timesheets. It offers unlimited users, no installation, free upgrades, automatic backups and a mobile app.

  • Good for: Small businesses seeking simple accounting solutions.
  • Drawbacks: Large, complex businesses with contractors and complex payroll may need more powerful software.
  • Price: Tiers of £4.50, £10 and £12.50 per month.

2. Quickbooks Online

The ‘number one in small business accounting’, Intuit’s Quickbooks Online serves 1.1 million businesses and has a clutch of awards on its virtual mantelpiece.

It has a large suite of features (though some are only available at the higher pricing tiers) and CAs have access to tools such as a client dashboard, bookkeeping tab and document centre. Online reviews are mixed, suggesting that QBOnline is less powerful than its desktop companions and suffers from slow running times.

  • Good for: Striking a balance between a simple user interface and sound accounting tools.
  • Drawbacks: Many negative online reviewers report bugs, slow running times and poor customer support (though it rates highly in overall review scores).
  • Price: Tiers of £4.80, £7.20, £13.30 and £17.40 per month (currently discounted).

3. FreeAgent

Designed specifically for freelancers and small businesses, FreeAgent’s slick design and powerful functionality has earned it 40,000 users.

It has all the functions you’d expect from a cloud system and users can also file tax returns directly to HMRC. The software attracts rave reviews online for its intuitive design.

  • Good for: Beautifully designed, intuitive tool that won’t scare clients away. CAs online write that it makes year-end quicker and easier.
  • Drawbacks: More expensive than many competitors. The automatic tax calculation tool is a red flag for some, who worry it will over-simplify and create errors.
  • Price: Tiers of £19+VAT, £24+VAT and £29+VAT per month.

4. Sage One

Sage seems to be trying to please all markets with its Sage One accounting and payroll software. Cashbook and Accounting, at £5 per month and £10 per month respectively, are cheap and cheerful.

Easy to use, without too many confusing bells and whistles, and appealing for startups with fewer than 20 employees. Meanwhile the Accountant Edition is far more powerful, enabling CAs to manage multiple client accounts and payroll in real time.

  • Good for: Accountants Edition for the CA combined with basic package for the client could offer the best of both worlds.
  • Drawbacks: Relies on client and accountant each purchasing versions of the software, which feels unnecessarily complex.
  • Price: Accounts Edition is £250 per annum or free for Sage Accountants Club members.

5. Kashflow

Kashflow was one of the first cloud-based systems on the market, and it still prides itself on being simple, jargon-free and effective for clients. Meanwhile, the Accountants version offers a fully brandable, integrated management system including payroll.

Online reviews by CAs suggest that this combines a simple client frontend with a highly customisable and powerful tool for the practice.

  • Good for: Simple for clients, white-label potential for accountants
  • Drawbacks: Some online reviews suggest the interface is less slick and intuitive than that of its competitors, and the iPhone app received poor ratings.
  • Price: Tiers of £5, £10 and £15 per month. No price publicised for Accountants version.

6. ClearBooks

Created by a CA, ClearBooks offers a simple front-end for clients while accountants will like the feature-rich system.

ClearBooks offers a fixed asset register, multi-currency, micro final accounts production, payroll, tailored user permissions, account code templates and more.

  • Good for: Lots of functionality.
  • Drawbacks: Some reviews suggest that all this functionality does impact on the user experience, which is not as simple and intuitive as its competitors.
  • Price: Tiers of £7.20 or £16 per month – payroll and HR are £5 per month each.

7. FineBooks

Unusual in the cloud accounting market in that they only sell to accountants, and offer a fixed price for unlimited users. Developed by a team of practice accountants and software experts, FineBooks has a wealth of features and offers a white label option.

The software is brand new and yet to launch, so watch this space for a more detailed review.

  • Price: Base price of £250 per annum, £75 per annum for additional accountant login and £7.50 per month for client login.

8. Reviso

Formerly known as e-conomic, Reviso is the largest online accounting system in Europe, with 60,000 customers. Features include General Ledger, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable and Sales modules.

Accountants are provided with free access, and prices start at £20 per month.

  • Good for: Offers a surprisingly broad list of functions for a cloud system.
  • Drawbacks: Online reviews suggest the front-end is less slick and user-friendly, with none of the colourful dashboards and graphs of its competitors.
  • Price: £20 per month for small package, £35 per month for standard.

Topics

  • Technology
  • Accountancy

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