Small business accounting software ranges from introductory products that cover basic accounting to comprehensive, scalable solutions that do nearly everything. To find the best accounting software for your company, you need to have a basic idea of what you want the software to do. If you are an independent consultant, for example, you need to be able to invoice and track customers, but you do not need payroll or inventory modules. If you sell product, you need inventory tracking and the ability to track vendors. Although your needs may match up to a few accounting systems, we ranked products that excel in all areas the highest.
To help you make a decision, we checked the modules that particular versions include in the bundled bookkeeping software package. If the module can be added or is offered in another package, we marked the box with a dollar sign to indicate that it is available at an additional cost. We also listed other available services such as payment processing, electronic payment processing and payroll services should you need to integrate those types of services with the software.
Within this site, you will find an extensive side-by-side comparison above, up-to-date product reviews, system requirements, screenshots of the latest versions and articles related to small business accounting. To help you decide which accounting software is best for your company, read more about our top selections QuickBooks Pro, Sage 50 and DacEasy Small Business.
Accounting Software: What to Look For
Determining the best accounting solution for your company depends on the nature of your business. All companies require a way to track invoices, expenses, customers and payments. However, not all companies need to manage employees or inventory. Some companies plan to grow and others are content to stay small. Other considerations include how many people need to work with the software, whether you need to access the software from outside the office and what types of reporting capabilities you need to satisfy compliance or investor requirements. We considered all these things when we ranked the best accounting systems.
The best software provides all the modules you need to manage a small business, includes tools to make your life easier, offers extensive reporting and can grow with your business. For our accounting software reviews, we rated the top products using the following criteria:
Reporting & Analytics
Accountability is a prime reason for employing accounting software. Whether it is accountability to a board of directors, tax reviewers, managers or investors, reporting is essential. The best accounting software provides a wide-range of preconfigured reports and the ability to create custom reports. Some accounting software also provides small businesses with analysis tools, business-plan creators and forecasting tools. How easily you can share reports and formatting options for those reports are also important to consider.
All accounting software in this review includes basic accounting features such as accounts receivable, accounts payable, invoicing, billing, general ledger and purchasing. The products vary in how well they handle these functions and how their modules can be customized. Each module included in general accounting features may also vary between products. For example, some software provides accounts payable and accounts receivable as individual modules, and other applications provide them both in an integrated package.
Payroll & Employees
For those who need to manage employees, we evaluated payroll and HR tools. We looked at the variety of information that you can store, such as multiple pay levels or skill sets, as well as automatic features such as the ability to calculate payroll tax, make automatic deposits, pay into 401(k) accounts and track hours worked.
Inventory & Services
This criterion includes sellable items such as physical inventory, services or projects billed by time or job. Inventory modules track inventory, vendors, quantities, re-order points, stock locations, barcodes, costs and more. Job and time billing modules include the ability to bill and track services by time or by job (including a mix of time billed services and physical product). Depending on the accounting system you choose to manage your product, you may have to purchase inventory, time or job-costing modules separately. Some products have a limit on how many inventory items they can manage; if an amount is stated by the provider, we note that number in the review.
Automated & Integration Features
These tools include convenience features that make routine tasks simpler or even automatic. Convenience features include things like remote access, automatic backup, search tools and batch processing. They also include integration features such as the ability to work with payroll services, add POS workstations and process credit cards.
Scalability measures how easily, if at all, software can support a growing company with evolving needs in terms of the modules it requires, the number and type of users, and the company's geographical dispersion. If your company is targeted for growth, you require an accounting program that can easily grow with your company. We considered how simple it is to add modules or users, whether the software makes it relatively simple to migrate data, and whether it can support more than one location or currency.
Whichever accounting solution you decide on, it should make your daily tasks easier, manage your concerns and grow with your company. There are quite a few considerations to think about when you select an accounting solution, but the time is well worth investing because your company and you will use the software every day.
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