May 6, 2018 0

Which is the Best Accounting Software & How to choose one?

Which is the Best Accounting Software & How to choose one?

Having a very extensive range of free and paid options to choose from can sometimes be a bittersweet experience for individuals tasked with the responsibility of taking a decision. However, it is possible to easily home in on the best option by using a few filters and assessment criteria to identify the most suitable option. And this applies to individuals looking for the best accounting software for medium sized business from among the deluge of options available in the market.

Here is what needs to be checked among the different types of accounting software to be able to single out the best among the lot.

  • Features – The software should be feature rich, offering the right kind of features required for a medium sized business.  It can also include an invoicing or bookkeeping software which will be an add on.
  • Pricing – The pricing needs to be reasonable, whether as an outright purchase or as a monthly fee for an online package. Several free accounting software’s are available as well for news businesses.
  • Support – The developers need to offer the right kind of tech support, as and when required, irrespective of an outright purchase or subscription based service.
  • Compatibility – It needs to be compatible with all systems, without the need for complicated technical installation manuals.
  • Updates – Updates need to be automatic and should never be left to the choice of the user/buyer, as this is likely to result in delayed updates, which can compromise the application.
  • Automatic reminders – Reminders regarding the dates for filing of returns, and remittances need to be triggered automatically and displayed on the screens of resources handling the responsibilities.
  • Reports – The generation of reports should be in formats which will be acceptable or compliant with regulatory requirements.
  • User interface – The user interface needs to be simplified and hassle free, permitting resources handling the software to fully use all features without finding it complex.
  • Customisation – The modules should permit easy customization by end user, without the need for indepth technical knowledge or expertise.
  • Compliance – The software needs to be compliant with the requirements as laid down by regulators, especially of the software is used for directly transmitting returns.
  • Security – The security of the data should be of paramount safety, especially in the light of GDPR and Data Protection Act of the UK.
  • Access – The platform should have features permitting access to reports and queries from mobile devices, which will give greater flexibility and oversight to management.

Review of the top 10 Software

Now that you have a broad idea of what you need to look for in an accounting software, here is the list of top 10 accounting software in the UK, collated from various resources and first hand experiences recounted by practicing accountants. This is not an attempt at rating the accounting software, but a list that populates the most used accounting software.

List of top 10 accounting software in the UK

  • Sage
  • FreshBooks
  • QuickBooks
  • ClearBooks
  • Nomisma
  • FreeAgent
  • Xero
  • Tide
  • KashFlow
  • Wave

#1. Sage

This is a feature rich suite available both in installed and subscription based versions. It covers the entire gamut of accounting requirements including VAT, raising and maintaining records of invoices and stock, helps in preparing budgets, managing cash flow and maintaining payroll as per HMRC requirements. As an accounting package, one of the advantages of this software is its seamless compatibility  with MS Office, Office 356 Suite, in addition to exporting data into Excel for easy referencing.  It offers remote access and has a robust financial management module that takes away the burden of routine tasks. It is the perfect software for mid sized businesses, with advanced tools that make compliance a reporting a lot easier.

#2. FreshBooks

This is one of the online software packages, which means that you will not require installation on your systems. A comprehensive offering, Freshbooks has made it to the list of best accounting software by virtue of the number of features and the ease of access it offers to users. Ideal for mid-sized businesses, the modules cover all aspects of invoicing, tracking of expenses, in addition to assistance in generating personalised financial reports. The dashboard based interface makes it easy to update and receive reports/triggers.

#3. QuickBooks

This another of the dual version software which gives users the options of either installing it or using it on the cloud. Like most of the other solutions in this list of the most used accounting software, this covers all aspects of accounting that will be required in a small or medium sized business. It permits users to fully access all the features and modules in both the versions, facilitating the full range of accounting services, tax planning, and financial management.

#4. ClearBooks

Yet another cloud based solution, ClearBooks covers all aspects of invoicing, management of taxes, integration of banking transactions, in addition to being an open ended solution permitting online payment options. It stands out for the notifications regarding payments and alerts that regarding payment collections.

#5. Nomisma

Another of the comprehensive and well rounded solutions, Nomisma is one of the best accounting software for medium sized business. This stems from the fact that it has been developed by a team with vast hands on experience on accounting. Consequently, each of the modules, viz., Self Assessment, BookKeeping, Payroll Management, Corporation Tax Planning, and Practice Administration offer versatile and highly technical solutions that make accounting and bookkeeping a breeze.

#6. FreeAgent

This is designed for businesses and individuals who do not possess any basic accounting knowledge. It is user friendly and simplified and makes it easy for users to manage their accounting requirements  easily. It more or less covers all the modules that will be necessary for a small business or an individual who needs accounting assistance,. The dashboard operation makes it easy to see and manage the tasks, and the software comes with a link to a directory of qualified and certified accountants. This makes it possible for users to directly contact accountants on the directory, when in need of assistance or specialised services.

#7. Xero

Another one of the popular solutions among different types of accounting software. Xero has highly customisable features that make it easy to generate, record and manage invoicing, payroll, purchase orders, time tracking and various reports necessary for accounting and bookkeeping. It is a highly popular solution, with a large number of small and medium sized businesses relying on the solution for their routine accounting and bookkeeping requirements.

#8. Tide

This is another of the advanced software solutions that include banking requirements.  The modules permit users to integrate their banking business transactions smoothly with the accounting modules. In addition to the standard modules offered, the standout features of this solution is the ability to use the tools from mobile devices. Highly secure, the platform offers comprehensive solutions including bookkeeping, invoicing, tax planning and financial management. It is reportedly priced lower than other solutions with comparative offerings.

#9.KashFlow

Best known for automated account handling, KashFlow is ideal for small businesses, taking the burden of accounting tax management with highly integrated modules. As one among the forerunners in accounting software, it has developed considerably with the accretion of many features and options that make it highly user friendly.  It covers all the aspects required in accounting practice from banking, quotations, records of transactions, reports and with highly advanced automated invoicing options.

#10. Wave

In terms of popularity, this free tool (for most features) ranks high offering users limited free access to online invoicing requirements. For additional requirements, users will have to pay for the cloud based solutions, such as payroll, technical support and specialised accounting requirements. It is perfect for mid sized businesses, and is perhaps most suited for limited or basic requirements of traders and individuals, .

Red flags to look out for in an Accounting Software

While all the solutions typically cover most requirements, some solutions include modules that meet the advanced accounting requirements. However, advanced accounting requirements through a tool, an online solution or an installed software will inevitably require the services of a qualified accountant to use the tools. Without domain expertise, certain tools will be ineffective. Some of the filter worth using in singling out the best accounting software could include the little red flags that need to be identified.  For instance, the solutions or the software needs to offer customisation to facilitate the use of the modules as per the dynamic or changed requirements of the user. Remember, despite accounting being a compliance related activity, with a certain set of standards, there are differences among different domains and business activities.  Therefore, the solution needs to be flexible enough, because it is not a made to order solution.

Installation woes are another important aspect that needs to be considered. For instance, a software that needs complex installation and frequent visits for updates on site, would certainly interfere in routine operations. Therefore, the installation and updates needs to be swift, easy and should not typically require a technical resource to handle it always, other than the initial installation. Hidden costs are one of the most common issues faced by users. While the offer of free accounting solutions is to be welcomed, it needs to be verified, if the more important activities are priced stiffly or unreasonably to balance the free offer.

Also read – Main differences between Umbrella Company vs Limited Company UK

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