Choosing the right accounting software

For any small business owner, keeping track of your incomings & outgoings is one of your most important tasks. Due to recent government initiatives around MTD (or Making Tax Digital), having a strong digital record of your finances is essential. Thankfully, there is a wide range of online software options available to help you do this, all claiming to offer you the best possible service. Some advertise more often and are more well-known, like QuickBooks and Xero.

At Rosemary Bookkeeping, we know that businesses are as varied and unique as the people that run them. What works for one person’s business doesn’t work the same for another. To make the best move for your business, you need to look at what each service offers and figure out what works for you. That’s why we’ve done the research for you and compiled a list of factors you should consider when selecting your accounting software.

What are the costs?

One of the key things to think about, is, of course, price. And for accounting software, the prices can vary considerably. There are packages at the lower end of the price range but these will often be a more basic package. Think about your business requirements now and in the future. Will a basic package be enough, or will you need more features further down the line?

Usability

The size and structure of your business will affect how many users there will be accessing your accounting software. Do more users mean more cost? Is it scalable if needed later?

Do you want your accounting software to be installed on a particular desktop, for example? Something like this affects your pool of available choices considerably, as most systems are now cloud-based. Especially with the new MTD regulations, we recommend a cloud-based system that you can access anywhere, without limiting your number of users. However, if your preference is a desktop, there are still some good options such as the free, open-source, desktop software GnuCash.

Features

Work out what you really need from the accounting software and what you need it to do. Do you need both accounts receivable and accounts payable tools? Which reports do you need it to generate? Do you need it to track inventory? Do you need it to include ancillary services, like time tracking, project management, and payroll?

Which to choose?

Of course, as bookkeepers ourselves, we have our preferences when it comes to software. We work with all sorts of platforms and packages but there are a few we see time and time again:

Xero:

Widely acknowledged as one of the top pieces of accounting and bookkeeping software – especially if you’re working on a Mac. Xero is great if you’re just starting out, or if you need your accounting to be simple and straightforward. Another plus of Xero is that it is designed to grow as your business does. We like that it’s affordable, easy to use, offers a ton of add-on features and integrates with hundreds of third-party business solutions, many of which you likely already use. There is also a 24-hour email and live chat support function, meaning there’s always someone there to help you whenever you need it.

FreeAgent:

Unlike a lot of bookkeeping and accounting software products which limit your transactions unless you purchase a more expensive package, FreeAgent supports unlimited users, clients, invoices and transactions for one monthly price. Like many of its competitors, it is a cloud-based software, but it also comes with a built-in project management feature. These make it ideal for keeping track of billable hours and expenses. As a FreeAgent partner, we recommend it for freelancers, consultants and other project-based businesses.

QuickBooks:

QuickBooks is another of the most popular accounting software packages out there (and for good reason). QuickBooks works for all types of small businesses, with three different small business plans to choose from, plus a separate plan for the self-employed, freelancers and contractors: it’s got something for everyone. Both new start-up businesses and bigger, established businesses have benefitted from its range of features, which cover basic bookkeeping to advanced accounting and business analytics.

Sage: Sage is one of the bigger brands, and it’s been around a lot longer than most. Sage Business Cloud Accounting has two plans for small business owners, starting with invoicing, expense management and reporting, as well as the creation of quotes, estimates, tracking, and inventory management. It’s most popular with retail-based businesses due to its ability to integrate with POS systems. Sage also appeals to businesses with large finance departments thanks to its support for multiple users and payroll systems.

Each online bookkeeping aid offer something different, with their own strengths and weaknesses. This might make one a great fit for the way you run your business, or by the same token: a really terrible fit. At Rosemary Bookkeeping, we work with you.

We know that every business is different, and our bespoke service reflects this. By consulting regularly with a Rosemary bookkeeper, you’ll be able to receive support specially tailored to you and your business, and we can take care of your bookkeeping for you. From helping you choose the right software to use, software supply, training and data migration, to a complete outsourced bookkeeping service – we can help.

Whether you’re just starting out, or looking to hire a bookkeeper to support your growth, we’d love to support you on your journey to becoming the best business you can be. To take your first step towards a stress-free bookkeeping experience, find your nearest Rosemary Bookkeeping branch to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.

Written by Tom Page, Digital Content Writer