Working with your professional accountant to determine which program best meets your business needs is your most efficient decision. Chances are they’ve used them or have heard reviews around the water cooler. However, before you have that chat, it’s good to do a bit of homework first.
A few of the most popular options are compared below to give you an idea of what’s out there and hopefully narrow down (and reduce the stress caused by) the number of choices.
Although many programs offer similar services, there are different functions available and some strengths in specific areas shine through. In basic terms, your accounting program should offer tools to help manage your finances, make it easy to accomplish routine tasks and help you see the bigger performance picture.
Three of the most common considerations when selecting accounting software are:
- Cost. Pricing options span from inexpensive, basic software to something that costs more and includes extra “bells and whistles”.
- Usability. Most new solutions are cloud-based with the flexibility to use them anywhere but desktop software is still available. Will it adapt as your business grows and becomes more complex?
- Features. What functions your software performs will determine what features you need. Do you want to get insights into your overall financial performance or simply want to conduct transactional services?
Three accounting software programs that are very popular with small businesses are QuickBooks, Xero and Sage Business Cloud (formerly Sage One).
Although not all of Brander’s clients use them, we compared them using the three criteria above and here’s what we found:
With some of the best pricing offers, QuickBooks Online has four service tiers (from the Self-Employed to the Plus) catering to the unique needs of your business type. The company offers a 30-day free trial, but if you skip it, you can receive a 50 per cent discount on your subscription for six months.
- It’s simple to get started and to add data
- An intuitive dashboard gives you a snapshot of your financial information – from outstanding invoices to expenses to bank and credit card balances (if you’ve connected them to your account)
- One of the top advantages is the automation – including recurring invoices, bill payments and payment reminders, built-in reports and electronic invoicing
- You can create and manage multiple budgets
- Manage your cross-border budgets with multi-currency support
With a variety of plans (Starter, Standard and Premium), you can choose the right amount of support for your business. Each option includes the basics like integration with third-party apps and 24/7 customer support. Additional projects and expenses over and above your plan can be purchased. They also offer a free 30-day trial for all plan options.
An online accounting dashboard is available, which monitors all of your key information in one place. You can also customize this data so you can track only the trends important for you
Your data is protected by a two-step authentication process, which adds an extra layer of security. Each time you log in, you’ll be asked to enter a unique code generated by an app on your smartphone
You have integration with more than 700 third-party apps that connect with your program. These are all searchable on the Xero website by function and business type
The program automatically tracks gains and losses across multiple (160 to be exact) currencies. You’re able to accept bills and receive payment or send invoices or quotes
Depending upon your plan, you can give your professional accountant or bookkeeper access as an “Advisor User”, to work within your account
Sage Business Cloud
Their plans include a Sage Business Cloud Accounting “Start”, for the single entrepreneur or start up with only one user. Or they have a plan for larger businesses, Business Cloud Accounting, with an unlimited users option. Both plans have a free 30-day trial.
- As with the other two programs discussed, all information is available in a single dashboard, so users stay up-to-date on their cash flow and pending payments
- Sales teams can process quotes, orders, or take payments from mobile devices
- They offer several desktop accounting options (i.e. Sage 50cloud), which still have the security of cloud connectivity
- Integrations that link the software to other business programs like POS systems and payroll are available
- Your data is stored in Canada, and support is provided for GDPR compliance
- If you run into issues, they have 24/7 online assistance
As we’ve said before, there are a wide variety of accounting programs out there. While many have the same or similar ease of use and benefits as the ones detailed above, one essential remains true.
Making sure you have the right product for your business will make your life – and bank account and year-end – less hectic. It is important to research which products will best serve your business. Now and into your (bigger and brighter) future.