Small Business Accounting Software Review

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Keeping track of payments, wages and other money matters can seem overwhelming, particularly to smaller businesses and independent contractors. Small-business accounting software can help you manage these essential tasks. This type of software ranges from introductory products that cover basic accounting tasks such as QuickBooks Pro and Sage 50 to comprehensive, scalable solutions that do nearly everything, like QuickBooks Enterprise or Sage 50 Premium. While we concentrated on the introductory products, most offer upgrades or add-ons to increase the functionality of the solution.

To help you make a decision, we show you which modules are included in each bundled bookkeeping software package, all displayed in a side-by-side comparison. We also list other available services such as electronic payment processing, general payment processing and payroll services, should you need to integrate those services with your software.

For this small-business accounting software roundup, we selected products based on their availability as downloadable software rather than only as online, subscription-based accounting services. As well, most of the products reviewed here can be networked within your company’s network to support more than one user. The top three products also have online versions. If you are looking for an online subscription-based accounting solution for managing your freelancing projects or startup, see our accounting software reviews.

Before you decide which accounting software is best for your company, read reviews of our top selections: QuickBooks Pro, Sage 50 and AccountEdge. These three accounting solutions offer the widest range of features in one package. Check for the software with the highest ratings in the areas that matter most to you. And read our articles related to small-business accounting for accounting tips, along with profiles of different accounting tools.

Accounting Software: What to Look For

To find the best accounting software for your company, you need to have a basic idea of what you want the software to do. That depends on the nature of your business. All companies, from independent contractors to large businesses, require a way to track invoices, expenses, customer interactions and payments. Smaller companies and individual freelancers probably won't need to manage employees or inventory, provided that product and service variety is limited. However, companies that need to manage a diverse inventory will need an advanced inventory module. Some companies will maintain their current size for years, while others are on a path of growth. When choosing software, consider what level of scalability will best suit your long-term goals.

Other considerations include how many people in the company need to work with the software at the same time, 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 factors in ranking the best accounting systems.

The best software provides all the modules you need in order to manage a small business, includes tools such as time tracking and employee management to make your life easier, offers extensive reporting, and can accommodate you as your business grows. For our accounting software reviews, we rated the top products according to general accounting tools; reporting and analytic capabilities; and added features such as payroll, inventory and automation.

General Accounting
All accounting software gives you basic accounting tools such as accounts receivable, accounts payable, invoicing, billing and general ledger capabilities. The difference comes in how well the products handle those functions and how much you can customize their modules. For example, some software provides accounts payable and accounts receivable as individual modules, and other applications provide them both in an integrated package.

Reporting & Analytics
Accountability – the ability to report to a board of directors, tax preparers, managers or investors – is for many a prime reason for relying on accounting software. The best accounting software provides a wide range of preconfigured reports and also helps users create custom reports. In addition, some accounting software provides small businesses with analytics features including budget and sales forecasting tools. We also considered how easy it is to share reports, change formatting options and create forecasted budget reports using the software.

Payroll & Employees
For those businesses that need to manage employees, we evaluated payroll and HR tools such as time sheet management, vacation and sick-time tracking, commission management and the ability to print tax forms. Our reviews assess 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 and projects. Inventory modules track a variety of items in addition to inventory, including vendor information, re-order points, stock locations, barcodes and costs. With job- and time-billing modules, you can bill and track services by time or by job (including a mix of time-billed services and physical products). Depending on the accounting system you choose, you may have to purchase inventory, time-billing or job-costing modules separately. Some products limit the number of inventory items you can manage; we note the limits, if specified by the provider.

Productivity & Integration Features
Good accounting software should simplify your life by handling tedious work for you to help you increase your productivity. Tools in this category make routine tasks simpler or even automatic. Software packages may offer remote access, automatic backup, search tools, batch processing and other convenience features. Other productivity tools include mobile apps for time and expense tracking. The software may also provide integration features, such as the ability to work with payroll services, add POS workstations and process credit cards.

The ability to integrate with your bank feeds and payment methods can also help you increase your productivity. Most can import your bank transactions but we also considered whether it can support electronic and direct deposits. The best also can facilitate bill and vendor payments as well as print traditional paper checks. These banking integrations can help you keep your books more accurately and bills paid on time.

Scalability
As companies grow, their accounting software packages need to adapt. Software should be able to incorporate new modules, adjust to more and different types of users, and accommodate a company's dispersion over multiple locations. If your company forecasts growth, check our scalability ratings, which note how easily, if at all, the software can support a growing company. We considered how simple it is to add modules or users, whether the software makes it easy to migrate data to an upgraded version, and whether the product can support more than one currency.

Whichever accounting solution you choose, it should simplify your bookkeeping and accounting tasks and grow with your company. All that adds up to quite a few considerations when selecting an accounting solution, but choosing the right software will be time well invested.

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Software » Finance & Accounting » Accounting Software Review » Small Business Accounting Software Review
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Rank #1#2#3#4#5#6#7#8
10-9  Excellent
8-6    Good
5-4    Average
3-2    Poor
1-0    Bad
QuickBooks Pro Sage 50 AccountEdge Cougar Mountain CYMA Bookkeeper Business2Go Express Accounts
QuickBooks Pro Sage 50 AccountEdge Cougar Mountain CYMA Bookkeeper Business2Go Express Accounts
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Lowest Price
        
Ratings
10.00
9.88
8.85
8.07
7.95
5.88
4.20
3.38
10
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
10.00
10.00
10.00
10.00
10.00
10.00
10.00
10.00
10.00
10.00
8.75
10.00
8.75
9.38
10.00
8.75
7.50
7.50
7.50
8.75
7.50
7.50
7.50
10.00
10.00
6.25
8.75
8.75
5.00
7.50
6.25
6.25
6.25
6.25
6.25
2.50
6.25
5.00
0.00
5.00
2.50
3.75
5.00
5.00
0.00
2.50
2.50
2.50
 
Modules Included in Package
General Accounting
$
Payroll & Employees
$
$ $
  
Banking
$ $
Inventory & Services
$ $
Customer Management (CRM)
$ $
$
Time & Job Billing
$ $
  
Vendors & Purchasing
$ $
Industry Specific Modules Available
$    
Online Versions Available
    
General Accounting
Accounts Payable & Receivable
General Ledger & Journal
Invoicing & Billing
Customer Tracking
Vendor Management
Tracks Expenses
  
Job Costing
$
 
Time Billing
$
  
Manages Fixed Assets & Depreciation
$   $
   
Reporting & Analytics
# of Preconfigured Reports 150+ 140+ 200+ 200+ 300+ 125+ 100+ 24+
Customizable Reports
Creates PDF, JPEG & HTML Reports
Exports Reports to Excel
Customizable Formatting
  
 
Predicts Budget Based on Prior Year
    
Forecast Reports Based on Prior Year $
    
Company Overview Dashboard
 
   
Payroll & Employees
Creates Employee Profiles
  
Manages Time Sheets
$
  
Prints Tax Forms
$
  
Manages Deductions
  
Manages Commissions
 
 
Supports Pay by Contract
$
  
Tracks Vacation & Sick Time
   
Calculates Payroll Tax $
$
$   
Inventory & Services
# of Inventory Items Supported 14,500 Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unknown 2GB+ Unknown
Monitors Re-Order Points
 
Supports Inventory Images
 
FIFO, LIFO & Average Cost Methods
 
Multiple Price Levels Per Item
 
Supports Assemblies or Kits
  $  
Creates Pick Lists
   
Compares Rec'd Inventory w/ PO
   
Job & Project Billing
$
  
Converts Estimates to Invoices
 
Tracks Billable Expenses
$
  
Creates Time & Expense Tickets
$
  Mileage
Multiple Billing Rates Per Resource
  
Tracks Inventory Bin Locations $  
 
Manages Multiple Warehouses $
 
Custom Inventory Fields $
  
Prints UPS & FedEX Shipping Labels $ $   $ $    
Productivity & Integration Features
Compatible w/ Microsoft Office
 
Backup & Restore Tools
Compatible w/ Payroll Services
  
POS Solution Available
 
  
Comprehensive Search Tools
 
Credit Card Processing
 
  
Compatible with Barcode Scanners
 
    
Mobile Apps Available
   
Document Management
   
 
Accountant Copy
    
Calendar View of Tasks
       
Banking
Imports Bank Transactions
 
Electronic Deposits
  
Supports Direct Deposit
$
   
Prints Checks
Pays Bills
$
Scalability
# of Simultaneous Users Supported 3+ 5 10 Unlimited Customizable 1 Unlimited  
Supports Multiple Businesses
Supports Additional Users
 
Advanced Versions Available
  NA NA  
 
Options for Multiple Locations
 
Role-Based Security
 
 
Audit Logs
  $  
Supports Multiple Currencies
$
   $ Using different business profiles
Data Migration Tools or Services
 
  
The ($) symbol denotes that the feature is available but it may require an additional fee.