When you're running your own small business, you have plenty to keep you busy, but small business accounting software can help simplify and streamline parts of your workload. With accounting software, you can manage billing, wages and other finances. From basic software that simply manages your spending and revenue to more compressive software that covers dozens of employees and multiple warehouses of inventory, you have many choices. While the focus of this site is on the base packages, most services offer add-ons for additional features and upgrades.
The accounting software products we include on our lineup are available for online download rather than only subscription-based, online services. With many of the services, you can network them within your company and grant more than one user access to the program. The top three products have online versions, so you may access the small business software from any computer with an internet connection. For online and subscription-based software for project startups or freelancing, you can also look at our accounting software site for more options.
The best accounting software for small businesses – including QuickBooks Pro, Sage 50 and AccountEdge – offer a wide range of solutions and features in a single package. All services offer something different and have strengths in particular areas. For additional information, check out our articles on small business accounting software for suggestions, tips, features and tools.
Depending on your business, the type of software that will be most beneficial to you will vary. All services on our lineup include general accounting features, such as tracking accounts payable and receivable, invoicing, and customer and vender profiles. Many software programs offer employee, payroll and inventory features as well. An important consideration is also the scalability if you expect growth in the future. The number of users and the way in which you can access the system are also important considerations.
A final consideration is if the software offers the functions standard within the software, whether they are separate modules or if they are add-ons. The best software includes all of these features and modules so you can better manage your small business and focus on other facets of your company.
All of the services we review provide general accounting features, including tracking accounts payable and receivable as well as billing and ledger features. Many services offer customer and vendor management along with profiles to store information and notes. Some more involved features may be included or available as add-ons. These include job costing, time billing and fixed-assets management.
Reporting & Analytics
One of the most important reasons for accounting software is to have your finances in order and organized to report your company's performance to other parties: investors, board of directors, tax preparers or auditors. All of the services on our lineup come with preconfigured reports and customizable reports. Some services have hundreds while others only offer a few dozen reports. Also, the way in which you can deliver those reports is important, such as exporting to Excel or file formats compatible with your needs. Some services allow you to share folders with tax preparers or accountants, which is a helpful feature.
Payroll & Employees
Not all companies need to manage employees, but for those that do, a solid system for keeping track of profiles, time sheets and payroll is key. We looked at payroll and HR tools when considering this section. Along with time sheets, many services track vacation time, sick time and commissions. We considered if a service includes the ability to calculate payroll tax, utilize direct deposit or contribute to 401(k) accounts.
Inventory & Services
While not all software we reviewed automatically include inventory, all offer at least an add-on module to manage your inventory or track services. Inventory-capable software allow you to enter items, track their sales performance and monitor reordering needs. Modules also track vendor information, stock locations and prices. Some software allow barcode entering and adding a product image in the software for items. Most services allow an unlimited number of items, but some have caps, which is important to consider if your inventory is extensive. Job billing and project billing track services by job or by time and are offered by most services on our lineup.
Productivity & Integration Features
The best accounting software streamline your day-to-day workload, simplify your processes and helps you increase productivity. Features such as search tools, remote access and automatic backup are included by most services on our lineup. Many services offer mobile apps, which are extremely useful with increasing use and functionality of smart phones. Most services offer modules or add-ons for credit card processing and POS systems.
Integration with other software is beneficial, including Microsoft Office or payroll services. Being able to connect and sync with your bank saves time and effort for processes such as importing transactions, electronic and direct deposit, bill pay, and account reconciliation to ensure your records are accurate.
As your business grows, so should your software. The addition of modules and add-ons is one way to grow, by adding features as they become relevant to your company. The number of users for your software is an important consideration as there will likely be more delegation as a business grows. If you foresee growth in your future – including multiple locations and warehouses, extending to foreign countries with foreign currency or even opening a second business – take the scalability of a software into consideration, including if they offer a more comprehensive package as an upgrade if and when you need it.
There are many choices with varying features for managing and simplifying your accounting and other needs within your small business. The one you choose depends on your business, the solutions you need and the features that benefit you. While there are considerations and decisions to be made by you and your company, our small business software reviews can lead you in the right direction.