Top Free Accounting Software

Check out our list of free Accounting Software. Products featured on this list are the ones that offer a free trial version. As with most free versions, there are limitations, typically time or features.

If you'd like to see more products and to evaluate additional feature options, compare all Accounting Software to ensure you get the right product.

Results: 47
(2,466)4.0 out of 5
Optimized for quick response
Entry Level Price:$20 per month

Easy Online Accounting to Organize Your Finances in One Place. Run your entire business with the #1 small business cloud accounting solution!

Steven F.
SF
We use QBO for multiple businesses and one specifically where we fully take advantage of the Estimate, Invoice, and PO functions. This all works... Read review
Marisa B.
MB
Quickbooks Online makes life a bit easier when new to the world of online invoices. They offer cloud storage. Which is more secure than other... Read review
(1,541)4.3 out of 5
Entry Level Price:$299.95

QuickBooks helps you organize your business finances all in one place so you can complete your frequent tasks in fewer steps. Easily get set up, learn and use. No accounting knowledge is necessary and you can quickly import your data from a spreadsheet. Easily create invoices and manage expenses. And, QuickBooks ensures you’ll have reliable records for tax time. Have questions? Step-by-step tutorials show you how to create invoices, record expenses and more. Includes a 60 day money-back guarante

Krishnan S.
KS
The most liked feature with qbd pro is that it suits the legacy users who are not familiar with qbo. Qbd licensing is cost effective when compared... Read review
Diana N.
DN
QuickBooks is one of the most advanced software that is suitable for managing all the activities related to finance and budgeting. Since its... Read review
(1,170)4.3 out of 5
Optimized for quick response
Entry Level Price:$0

Gain real-time financial and operational visibility throughout your business. Leverage comprehensive financial controls to ensure security and compliance. Streamline your business processes using extensive automation to reduces labor, and save costs. The Sage Intacct system includes accounting, cash management, purchasing, vendor management, financial consolidation, revenue recognition, subscription billing, contract management, project accounting, fund accounting, inventory management, and fi

UA
Simple interface and very user friendly. Was up and running in no time. Provides real time reporting. It is great to see the company has new... Read review
GH
Ease of use, the navigation and the fact that it is cloud based. This is wonderful for today's world. Read review
(654)4.2 out of 5
Entry Level Price:₹223 0 na Month

THE GAME-CHANGER YOU'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR. Packed with features for your industry. Enterprise is loaded with special features, tools, and reports for specific industries, including contracting, manufacturing & wholesale, non-profit, retail, professional services and accounting. Accurately track inventory from bin to sale. With Advanced Inventory, you can accurately track inventory from the bin to the sale across multiple locations. All you have to do is scan barcodes and Enterprise does

Mario C.
MC
Easy to understand and the setup is easy does not take that much time. Also, Charting is a great tool that I use in all my businesses, they also... Read review
AC
Multiple user functionality for larger businesses to be able to collaborate. Read review
(600)4.6 out of 5

FreshBooks is an online accounting and invoicing service that saves you time and makes you look professional - Fortune 500 professional. We believe financial record keeping should be easy and fast but still detailed enough to satisfy your accountant. Try FreshBooks free for 30 days.

UP
They have outstanding customer service which answers on the second ring, if not sooner. I have found that they go to great lengths to create an... Read review
VM
I use two separate credit cards for the company. One card is used for non-billable products and the other card is used to issue invoices for my... Read review
(362)4.3 out of 5
Entry Level Price:$70 per month

Xero is a beautiful, intelligent software platform designed to make life better for small businesses and their advisors, and to help them grow and thrive. Xero’s online accounting platform provides the foundation on which businesses can build a complete business solution. It connects businesses with their bank, accounting tools, their accountant, payment services and third-party apps, so everything is securely available at any time, on any device. Additionally, with Xero, accounting and bookke

AW
I like that it is friendly and easy to use software. it is updated in real time. Read review
Darren F.
DF
The ease of use of the software and how it makes accounting that little bit simpler. Read review
(165)4.0 out of 5

Sunrise is a hassle-free accounting platform for entrepreneurs who don't want to get a degree in accounting just to run their business. Our easy user interface lets users complete their tasks in fewer clicks than any other accounting platform out there so they can focus on what matters, their customers. We offer full double-entry accounting for easy tax preparation, automatic bank-syncing, invoice customization and receipt capture tools.

AM
Its free!!!! Well, part of it. I still would like to have greater capabilities on the free version. It also has a nice clean and modern... Read review
RT
Billy doesn't have all the bells and whistles of Xero et al but for a sole worker it's got enough and at a really good price. Link up your bank... Read review
(149)4.2 out of 5
Entry Level Price:$24 / user monthly

Odoo is a fully integrated, customizable, open-source software packed with hundreds of expertly designed business applications. Odoo’s intuitive database is able to meet a majority of business needs, such as: CRM, Sales, Project, Manufacturing, Inventory, and Accounting, just to name a few. Odoo is an all-in-one software solution designed to meet the needs of companies, regardless of their size (or budget). The unbeatable, seamless nature of Odoo helps businesses become more efficient by reduci

Emin K.
EK
It is very easy to use for an ERP system. It is really a flexible system, you can create new screens easily. Read review
Chris S.
CS
Odoo brings ERP at the best price point - without compromising on features! No other ERP comes close to this level of support and user... Read review
(99)4.5 out of 5
Entry Level Price:Free 14-day trial

Kashoo 2.0 is a time-saving accounting application that automates bookkeeping tasks for small business owners. Using machine learning, Kashoo categorizes and reconciles expenses with bank and credit card transactions, and provides accurate, complete, and real-time reports in one-click. In addition to automatic reconciling, Kashoo also provides OCR and receipt-matching. Simply drop an image of a receipt in the Inbox and Kashoo will automatically match it to a transaction. The platform also inclu

DM
The price is amazing. It is easy to learn and doesn't cost a fortune. Read review
UR
Simple layout, can use parts of the product or only aspects that you want to use. Read review
(103)4.0 out of 5
Optimized for quick response

Accounting Seed is a robust accounting platform that transforms the way you do business. Our product is a comprehensive accounting application that is both 100% native to the force.com platform and fully integrated into Salesforce CRM. Our accounting solution tracks data through the entire business lifecycle; from marketing, project implementation, product sales, back office accounting, to producing financial statements designed by you. It is the complete finance solution for small to enterpri

EI
The out of the box functionality get your org 75% of the way there at a reasonable price. Read review
LP
Fairly cost effective. Accesses customer data directly from SalesForce. Read review
(210)4.4 out of 5
Entry Level Price:$20-$35 per month

The world's fastest growing small business accounting software.

Rachel O.
RO
It's free, and does allow you to create reports Read review
EF
Wave offers me all the accounting features I need as a small business owner for free! Read review
(64)4.4 out of 5

QuickBooks Online Advanced is the most powerful QuickBooks Online solution, designed for growing mid-size businesses with more complex finance and accounting needs. QuickBooks Online Advanced offers deeper insights, peace of mind and higher productivity to focus on key decisions to hit the next level. QuickBooks Online Advanced is cloud-based, SaaS accounting software designed to simplify accounting for mid-size and growing businesses. QuickBooks Online Advanced includes all the core accounti

Kevin L.
KL
Quickbooks has been great for someone new to the accounting world like me. The software is easy to navigate, highly intuitive and anyone with a... Read review
JB
I love how easy it is to customize things to our company model while still keeping the options simple. This version is also nice that it tracks... Read review
(60)4.4 out of 5
Entry Level Price:$19 month

AccountingSuite™ is a powerful, all-in-one business application for accounting, cloud banking, order management, inventory management, project and time tracking into one cloud-driven platform. Our mission is to provide easy-to-use, no-nonsense, scalable business software for startups, entrepreneurs, and growing companies to manage their finances and day-to-day operations. Our vision for AccountingSuite™ is to give you, your employees and business partners easy, secure access to company in

Muhammad U.
MU
Accounting suite is just amazing for people who want to manage multiple financial reports and i love its feature which also allow us to add more... Read review
Monroe N.
MN
Accountingsuite software is an accounting solution globally.First, this platform is cloud-based software which is simple to use at all levels and... Read review
(61)4.6 out of 5
Entry Level Price:$9 per organization / month

Zoho Books is the cloud accounting platform for growing businesses today. It streamlines business transactions, tracks income and expenses, automates business processes, connects with systems like CRM, Inventory, Subscription tools and is available on all mobile platforms - iOS, Android, Windows. You can always be in touch with your business, wherever you are. Automation features like payment reminders, scheduling reports and setting triggers for certain workflows can save a business owner

Nishkarsh K.
NK
Books is cloud based. has a decent website with (limited functioning) mobile app. ability to connect your bank account directly to automatically... Read review
FL
Zoho Books is a very solid accounting software that has the opportunity to be very customized. It has the ability to connect to many 3rd party... Read review
(94)3.7 out of 5

SAP Business ByDesign (ByD) is a comprehensive cloud enterprise resource planning software (Cloud ERP) that is sold and operated as software as a service (SaaS) by SAP SE. It is designed for small to medium-sized enterprises as well as subsidiary businesses. The software is designed to provide business processes across application areas from financials to human resources with embedded business analytics, mobility, e-learning, and support. SAP Business ByDesign is built on the principles of a se

CB
It’s a saas business solution SAP Business ByDesign is an end-to-end cloud ERP solution designed to integrate your departmental silos into one... Read review
Yazan A.
YA
The system integrates all the business modules together under the same roof! Works great for small & mid-size companies. I also believe, that the... Read review
(43)4.2 out of 5

Odoo Accounting helps companies manage their daily accounting with the utmost ease and simplicity. They even offer a global view of the state of their business at any time. All financial activities can be managed in one single app, thanks to Odoo Accounting. Automation for primary day-to-day tasks is more than possible - it’s easier than ever! This app is synchronized with 24,000 banks, making it easier to link a payment with a statement, based on the transaction on your bank account. The recon

Corey S.
CS
I believe the best feature about this is the fact that one can run accounting analytics without much of a hassle. For someone who does not have the... Read review
JS
Integration with the rest of Odoo (Sales and Purchase) Automated Costing Standard Reporting Read review

Veryfi helps businesses automate their bookkeeping to meet statutory tax obligations and improve team productivity. Veryfi platform is real-time with no humans intervention (or augmentation). Veryfi mobile apps are crafted for teams so everyone in the company benefits. These apps include: 1. Veryfi Core app - manage expenses, & projects with real-time bills & receipts ocr to automate data-entry, 2. Veryfi Logbook app - track vehicle mileage and 3. Veryfi Timesheets app - employee time t

SA
I've been using Veryfi since it was called IQBoxy and have been happy since day one with their product and customer service. Their response is so... Read review
NW
The speed of Veryfi is perfect. Documents are uploaded extremely fast and the AI OCR is really reliable and constantly improving. Read review
(26)4.2 out of 5
Entry Level Price:£19 per month

FreeAgent is a multi-award winning online accounting software designed specifically to meet the needs of small businesses, freelancers and their accountants. FreeAgent helps businesses take care of their day-to-day admin, from managing expenses and running fully RTI-compliant payroll to creating and sending professional-looking estimates and invoices. It also allows businesses to keep track of their cash flow and profitability, showing who owes them money - and how much!. FreeAgent also has a

Dominic P.
DP
Relatively simple to set up and opearate. In- app help is good, community base and support team also excel. Dropbox integration is good. Also has... Read review
AM
Up-to-date view on current tax position, easily create and send invoices based on templates. Read review
(23)4.8 out of 5

TopNotepad is a super simple cloud invoicing, accounting and CRM software for freelancers and small businesses. A feature rich affordable, all-in-one software.

UH
I upgraded on the same day I signed up. It hardly took any time to decide. In less than five minutes I created my first invoice and an estimate.... Read review
UT
Let’s me create estimates and invoices in few seconds. I can always comeback are edit, update the estimates and invoices. Provides a variety of... Read review
(16)4.0 out of 5
Entry Level Price:$399 USD

AccountEdge Pro is powerful, easy to use, small business accounting software for the Mac and Windows desktop. 30-day free trial available. With AccountEdge Pro, business owners can organize, process, and report on their financial information so they can focus on their business. Its feature set is built to allow users to handle every aspect of their business including accounting, integrated payroll, sales and purchases, contact management, inventory tracking, online orders, time billing, and mor

SS
The tabs for different functions make it well-organized and easy to use. We are able to use this in conjunction with Lightspeed, which is our main... Read review
(15)4.8 out of 5
Entry Level Price:Free

Free Online Accounting Software for Small Businesses

Himanshu S.
HS
The best thing about SlickPie is its cost-benefit rate. Okay, the app is free, which is a great point from start. But the real beauty of the app is... Read review
AA
I absolutely love their interface. It’s so modern and trendy when compared to other accounting software that it’s hard to believe is coming from a... Read review
(12)4.1 out of 5
Entry Level Price:£7 per month

Accounting software that's easy to use, jargon-free and based entirely in the cloud.

UI
If I'm honest, very little. The user interface is fresh and quite nice to use and I like the bolt-on product Payroll which you can add to... Read review
JW
KashFlow makes it easy to manage financial processes, for example, calculating the salaries of employees, this software does everything possible to... Read review
(11)4.1 out of 5
Entry Level Price:Free

Manager is accounting software for small business which is free, works offline and is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. It includes key accounting modules, tax functions and features that streamline data entry and accounting procedures. The software is designed to be very easy to work with and is so intuitive, you will be up and running in no time without studying any documentation whatsoever.

Chris F.
CF
1. It's free! 2. It runs on Windows, Mac and Linux. 3. Developers are constantly adding new features and fixing bugs. 4. I have total control... Read review
PM
Robust accounting software, constantly evolving and adding features, supports Windows, Mac, and Linux - all desktop versions free to use and... Read review
(13)4.6 out of 5
Entry Level Price:$9 per month per user

Deskera Books helps you to create professional invoices, track bills, and get paid online. Create assembly products with Bills of Materials and optimize your inventory with a real-time view of stock at multiple warehouses. Fulfill customer orders on time with dropship, backorder, and pick pack & ship capability. Deskera Books gives you a complete online accounting tool with JEs, notes, all financial reports - P&L, Balance Sheet, General Ledger to Cash Flow, in-built tax compliance, and m

UE
Allows collaboration in solving customer cases, makes it easy to monitor and track all cases to ensure non is left unsolved, the feature that... Read review
Ruby V.
RV
Deskera Books has a complete software functionality with a very affordable price. It also has a very high degree of compliance with Indonesia... Read review
(8)4.6 out of 5
Entry Level Price:€50 / month

Increase your sales, reduce your expenses, and save time when you manage every element of your business from a single platform. Holded gives you all the tools you need to make better business decisions. Start using this world-class cloud ERP today.

Fred E.
FE
What I like most about this software is that it allows me to manage accounting, billing, inventory, CRM, projects and many other essential aspects... Read review
Christos C.
CC
Holded has a very complete set of features unlike other huge competitors who offer 1/3 at 5 times the price. The platform is not only well... Read review
(8)4.4 out of 5

Pioneer of simple to use cloud based bookkeeping and accounts software for UK freelancers and Small Businesses

UI
Easy to file VAT function, converting GBP to EUR so that you can pay VAT based on the converted amount, Option to pay for doing year end accounting Read review
Michael P.
MP
I love this software because it allows me to create invoices and clients easily and totally online, allowing me to work remotely with my work team... Read review
(8)4.4 out of 5

Pioneer of simple to use cloud based bookkeeping and accounts software for UK freelancers and Small Businesses

UI
Easy to file VAT function, converting GBP to EUR so that you can pay VAT based on the converted amount, Option to pay for doing year end accounting Read review
Michael P.
MP
I love this software because it allows me to create invoices and clients easily and totally online, allowing me to work remotely with my work team... Read review
(6)4.5 out of 5

SoftLedger is your master record of all things financial, fiat and crypto, all in one place. We have a full suite of accounting and financial management tools, to manage every aspect of your accounting and financial reporting. We've built SoftLedger to scale as your company grows. Our modular system allows you to upgrade the pieces you need, when you need them.

Khaled N.
KN
We had been using Quickbooks to create financial reports for our investors, which didn't give us much flexibility over the presentation. In... Read review
Lee O.
LO
Really good forecasting capabilities Great tools for tracking metrics Very good reporting options Read review
(6)4.9 out of 5

AccountsIQ's award-winning cloud accounting software is used by 4,000 companies worldwide and accountancy practices such as PwC, BDO and Grant Thornton. AccountsIQ simplifies how finance functions capture, process and report the results of multiple location businesses. Built for the cloud, AccountsIQ is ideal for dynamic businesses that are growing locally or internationally, via subsidiaries, acquisition or through a franchising model, enabling anytime-anywhere processing, while allowing easy

Mary J.
MJ
It's online cloud thus is faster with technology and price benefits. Read review
DT
Fully cloud, incredibly easy to use user interface. Powerful reporting and dashboard functionality, incredible consolidation and multi currency... Read review
(14)4.3 out of 5

Open source, cloud and web-based ERP and CRM. Available integration on demand with VIENNA Advantage DMS and POS system. Available integration with numerous external services such as: Magento, Google, MailChimp...

Arjun M.
AM
Look and Feel about this product really awesome. This Vienna Base module itself satisfied the small industry. Not much customisation required.... Read review
Muneer PM M.
MM
being a consultant, following are the few best thing which I liked the most in Vienna Advantage as compared with any other Tier-I ERP. All ERP will... Read review

Top 10 Free Accounting Software in 2021

  • QuickBooks Online
  • QuickBooks Desktop Pro
  • Sage Intacct
  • QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise
  • FreshBooks

Learn More About Accounting Software

What is Accounting Software?

Accounting software helps businesses of all sizes streamline and automate finance management processes, ensuring accurate records and increasing operational efficiency across basic recurring processes such as invoicing, general ledger (GL) reconciliation, accounts payable (AP), and accounts receivables (AR). Depending on the scale of the product, accounting software can include more advanced features such as financial consolidation, fixed asset depreciation, and multicurrency support.

While all accounting tools include basic features for financial management, there are significant differences in functionality between different products. It is therefore vital to understand how robust a solution is by evaluating how its features can help a business with their specific needs. Requirements for accounting software can vary per company size and industry, as well as the geographic presence of the company.

What Types of Accounting Software Exist?

There can be vast differences between types of accounting software. Accounting programs can be very generic, providing essential features that any company can use or extremely sophisticated, including industry-specific functionality for medium and large companies. The delivery model and the way the modules of the solution are delivered are also relevant.

Suite vs. best of breed

Accounting systems can be used to manage any aspect of business finances that involves payment, but many are just the barebones: AP and AR. Suite systems often offer many modules that integrate inventory management, expense tracking, time tracking, payroll, etc., and make reconciliations between these accounts easy and automated. Companies that are more specialized may make better use of a system that caters just to their needs. For example, a service provider may only need a general ledger that includes time tracking information; an accounting system that also manages expenses might best serve a consulting firm.

Cloud vs. on-premises

Cloud accounting systems offer a software as a service (SaaS) pricing model and work inside a browser. On-premise tools are installed on hardware owned and maintained by the customer.

  • Cloud: Most new accounting tools were born in the cloud; their pricing models are usually based on the number of users. Cloud-based solutions are easy to implement, don’t require hardware investments, and allow users to pay over time based on usage. Often, cloud tools have difficulty providing robust offline functionality that will enable users to complete actions and access accounts while disconnected from the internet. The cloud is usually a better option for small business accounting due to its lower cost.
  • On-premises: Many vendors that offer on-premises solutions also provide a cloud version of their software. Most customers who use on-premises tools purchase a perpetual license based on the number of users and pay an annual maintenance fee. On-premises systems might be client-server tools that require software to be installed on each user’s PC or could otherwise be browser based. On-premises tools require IT support for installation and maintenance and also require investments in hardware. These systems may offer added security and usually can be customized without vendor involvement.

Based on the size of the company

Small business accounting teams will often seek out a less expensive, easy-to-use interface that covers typical use cases such as billing and invoices. These might be single-entry bookkeeping with simple, standard financial reporting capabilities, but most are typically cloud based and include mobile apps, offering a level of convenience to the harried small business owner. Larger companies will need software that can handle many complex accounts requiring input from multiple roles. These should have more rigorous reconciliation measures because higher volume and more complexity means a higher likelihood of mistakes. Additionally, audit trails and security measures help larger companies ensure the integrity of accounts maintained by many different employees.

Based on the industry

Tax codes, regulations, and best practices vary across industries. Buyers will need to determine whether a product that specializes in meeting the standards of their industry is the best solution or one versatile enough to be customized to their needs. This may apply to companies of all sizes, from small businesses to large corporations.

What are the Common Features of Accounting Software?

All accounting solutions include features for GL and chart of accounts (COA). Since GL and COA make up the foundation of any financial system, an accounting solution cannot be used without them. Other features, such as AP and AR, are also included by default, but not all accounting solutions offer the same level of support for them.

More advanced features, such as budgeting and forecasting, are included in accounting solutions for medium to large companies and are usually not included in accounting software for small businesses. These features can also be delivered as point solutions that can be used with any accounting system, but they include out-of-the-box integrations with the most popular accounting solutions.

The best accounting software includes robust core features and is flexible enough to allow companies to integrate with other solutions for advanced features.

General ledger (GL) and chart of accounts (COA)

  • Journal entries: Journal entries increase user efficiency by auto populating based on previously entered information, schedules future entries, and allows journal entries to be uploaded from an external source.
  • Tags and dimensions: This feature gives the ability to tag all transactions in the general ledger with customizable dimensions, classes, categories, etc. These dimensions should be available on any transaction, in any module in the system, and able to be reported upon.
  • Audit trail: An audit trail provides an automated, chronological tracking of activities that have affected a specific operation, procedure, event, or record.

Accounts receivable (AR)

  • Invoice customization: The layout of the invoice template is fully customizable, and users can add or remove fields, which helps to optimize the invoicing process by personalizing templates.
  • AR automation: AR automation helps the user be more efficient by populating default customer data, setting up automated payments from clients, and automatically matching customer receipts to outstanding transactions.

Collections automation: This feature automates the tedious process to help drive collections.

  • Payment reminders: Reminders automatically email advance reminders or past due notices according to days past due, along with keeping a record of notes for each customer.
  • Send invoices: Easily create, send, and track invoices and reduce time spent on manually sending and receiving payments. This feature also helps ensure that each payment is accurately recorded.
  • Balance sheets: A balance sheet is a financial statement that reports a company's assets, liabilities, and shareholders' equity at a specific point in time.
  • Cash flow statements: Cash flow statements are financial reports that include cash made or lost by the business through operations, investments, and financing.

Accounts payable (AP)

  • AP automation: AP automation helps to streamline invoicing by auto populating invoices with recurring or predefined vendor values.
  • Purchase orders (PO) processing: PO processing supports purchase orders and provides purchasing personnel, management, and AP with the visibility needed to streamline the procure-to-pay process.
  • Payment processing: Payment processing gives the ability to manage, track, and report on numerous payment types, as well as customize and automate complex purchase to pay workflows.

Cost management

Companies use cost management features to capture, classify, and analyze different types of costs to determine how much they spend on each product and service they deliver. The final cost of a product or service, as well as the overall profitability of a company, can be influenced by many factors, both internal (waste or misallocation of resources) and external (market fluctuations).

Cash flow management

Cash flow management is used by companies to collect, manage, and use cash. Since cash management doesn’t only refer to cash but also to any assets that can easily be converted into cash, this module can also be used to track the liquidity of the company.

Reporting and KPIs

General financial reporting offered covers all of the standard financial statements and meets the basic needs of the business. Other standard reports usually included in most accounting tools are AR aging reports, inventory valuation, cash flow reports, and so on.

Mobile apps or mobile-friendly reports are critical for managers and business owners who require the ability to access their accounting system anytime, anywhere.

Additional features of accounting software

These features are usually not included in accounting solutions for small businesses because they aren’t always required. There are exceptions to the rule, and many vendors provide add-ons, point solutions, and integrations with software to complement their offerings.

  • Multi entity or consolidation: This feature allows for multi ledger and multi-tenant architectures, automated consolidations, inter-entity transactions, and eliminations.
  • Recognition rules: Recognition rules automate the recognition of revenue and expenses by defining recognition templates.
  • Reconciliations: Transactions are imported from source systems, and automated matching features reconcile a majority of transactions. This includes user-flexible, user-defined matching, and grouping rules to help reduce the time needed to produce accurate reconciliations.
  • Time and expense and payroll processing: The processing of payroll and time and expense includes automated time and expense approval, reimbursement, and reporting. Payroll integration with an external payroll provider can help automate the recording of payroll.
  • Custom reporting: Custom reporting offers functionality for reports to be created by the user to cater to specific requirements. 
  • Budgeting and forecasting: Budgeting and forecasting features allow the user to create and revise an unlimited number of budgets, and plan and forecast scenarios. Basic budgeting can be useful for companies of any size, including freelancers and small businesses, while forecasting is a must-have feature for enterprises.
  • Dashboards: Dashboards provide an easy to read, often single-page, real-time user interface, showing a graphical presentation of the current status and historical trends of an organization's key performance indicators (KPIs) to enable instantaneous and informed decisions.

Platform

  • Customization:  Customization allows administrators customization capabilities to accommodate their unique processes. This usually includes the ability to create custom objects, fields, rules, calculations, and views.
  • Workflow capability: This feature automates a process that requires a series of steps that typically require intervention by several different users. Administrators can write rules to determine who and when a user needs to complete a step. Additionally, the feature for sending notifications to users when they need to take action is also included.
  • User, role, and access management: Access management gives the ability to grant access to select data, features, objects, etc., based on users, user role, groups, etc. Some solutions provide advanced access rights such as the option to allow users to only view or change a part of sales or purchasing invoices.
  • Internationalization: Internationalization enables users to view and transact business with the same content in multiple languages and currencies. Sometimes local regulations may require specific formats and detailed information to be included on invoices and other financial documents.
  • Output document generation: Output document generation allows administrators to create templates that enable users to quickly generate dynamic documents in various formats based on the data stored in the application.

Integration

  • Data import and export tools: These tools give the ability to input, modify, and extract data from the application in bulk through a structured file. Accounting vendors provide their own tools or third-party applications for data import and export.
  • Integration APIs: These types of APIs specify how the application communicates with other software. APIs typically enable integration of data, logic, objects, etc., with other software applications.
  • The breadth of partner applications: Partner applications typically provide complimentary, best-of-breed functionality not offered natively in a product.

What are the Benefits of Accounting Software?

There are various benefits of accounting software that can help track and organize financial data, producing an accurate, real-time look at business finances. It also contains features like automatic invoicing, which saves time by automating tedious accounting tasks, and more advanced features or add-ons like payroll, shipping inventory, and project management that can streamline other aspects of a business. 

Data accuracy: The software increases data accuracy by removing the risk of human error in calculations.

Compliance: Accounting solutions help maintain government compliance by enhancing the activities that impact regulatory standards.

Automation: Accounting automation speeds up the entire accounting process through automated calculations and streamlined workflows.

Data organization: The organization of data allows data to be accessed in a central location.

Reporting: Reporting gives the ability to quickly pull together various accounting reports.

File sharing: File sharing efficiently conveys accounting data to various departments across an organization.

Who Uses Accounting Software?

Accounting software is used by accountants, controllers, chief financial officers (CFO), and other members of accounting departments. Depending on the company size and the complexity of its operations, the accounting department varies in size and can include one person responsible for everything or many employees in charge of specific financial operations such as AP, AR, cash management, or expense management.

Accountants: Accountants use accounting software for financial reporting, such as forecasting, profit and loss reports, balance sheets, and cash flow statements.

Accounting firms: Accounting firms manage finances for their customers. External accountants may use their own software to help clients or they may need to use the software of the customer.

Controllers: Controllers use this software to oversee accounting activities and ensure that ledgers accurately reflect money coming in and out of the company.

CFO and managers: Executives use accounting software to ensure that controls are built into the way their system compiles data, and assess the financial situation of the company. Executives usually need to access financial reports and dashboards and rarely manage transactions or any other accounting activities.

Software Related to Accounting Software

Point solutions fill the gaps left uncovered by accounting programs or modules of ERP systems. Their purpose is to provide additional features for modules that already exist in accounting, such as AP and AR. Some examples of point solutions for accounting are: AP automation, AR automation, budgeting and forecasting, financial planning, cash flow management, etc. While small companies can use them, these solutions are a better fit for medium and large businesses.

Advanced accounting refers to complex software designed for sophisticated financial analytics. Usually known as corporate performance management (CPM) or enterprise performance management, these solutions provide features for data collection, deduplication, processing, and analysis, which are generally not included in accounting systems. CPM software can also be used to create complex budgets and provide forecasting information based on historical financial data.

Challenges with Accounting Software

Business owners and executives looking for accounting tools should be aware of some of the possible challenges and limitations of this type of software:

Internationalization: Not all accounting services can handle operations outside of one country. If a business conducts transactions in other currencies or languages, they will need to narrow their search to systems that have been internationalized efficiently.

Compliance: There are many accounting standards and financial regulations; not all accounting systems cover them all. Basic financial statements and reports for compliance purposes are usually included, but buyers need to make sure that financial compliance features specific to the industry are covered.

Consolidation: When accounting systems are used across multiple locations, all financial information needs to be consolidated to be processed at the company level. This is not a problem when all users are using a single accounting solution, but it becomes a challenge when separate solutions, or different versions of the same software, are being used.

Access to sensitive data: Accounting systems store personal and business financial data such as bank accounts and credit card information, as well as other confidential information, including social security numbers. It is therefore vital to ensure that only a limited number of users can access this type of information and that it is protected against external threats such as viruses or hacking attacks. A significant challenge that vendors need to address is the bring-your-own-device trend, which means that users access accounting apps on their personal mobile devices, which aren’t always secure or protected against viruses.

Integrations: Much of the information managed in accounting software is shared with, and can be leveraged by, larger ERP systems; oftentimes, these systems may offer their own accounting modules. Ensuring accounting information integrates well with current systems or expanding the search to more complex systems that can manage all of the company’s resources can be the key to choosing the right software.

Which Companies Should Buy Accounting Software?

Companies of all sizes that have an accounting or finance team can use accounting software. Accounting software comes in all shapes and sizes and is designed for small-sized businesses through enterprise companies, as well as nonprofit organizations.

Small business: Accounting software for small businesses is usually more user friendly, and offers available add-on features such as invoicing and payroll. Small businesses can find increased financial visibility and more easily record bank reconciliations if they are switching from spreadsheets to accounting software.

Enterprise: Large organizations that often do business internationally can benefit from accounting software because they need to manage regulatory and tax compliance with varying requirements. Enterprise accounting software is often integrated with ERP software and helps to automate and consolidate many of an enterprise-sized company’s financial tasks, including invoicing, budgeting and forecasting, and reporting.

Nonprofit: Nonprofit accounting software, also referred to as fund accounting, assists not-for-profit companies in managing tax-exempt transactions, grants, and reporting. Besides standard accounting tools, this type of software also helps nonprofits accept and record donations, manage trusts, and maintain compliance.

Accounting firms: Companies providing accounting services should also buy accounting software. This type of software is used to organize the service offerings of a company, as well as to track delivery using workflows and task management. Software for accounting firms help accounting professionals increase productivity and improve the relationships with their customers. These software products can be implemented and used across the entire company but are most beneficial for independent accountants. This type of software often needs to integrate with accounting software or small-business accounting software.

How to Buy Accounting Software

Requirements Gathering (RFI/RFP) for Accounting Software

When selecting accounting software, it is important to first look at how the business operates, and then familiarize oneself with the different types of software available. There are a variety of options when it comes to accounting software products, including those designed for the business needs of small- and medium-sized businesses.

Compare Accounting Software Products

Create a long list

Depending on the industry, the buyer might want to first create a long list of software that is designed to help businesses in the particular industry. For example, there are platforms specifically built for businesses in retail, manufacturers, restaurants, etc., as well as for many other types of commercial organizations.

Another factor to consider when creating this list is how user friendly the software is in bookkeeping and reconciling. Even though accounting software can make certain tasks easier, it still requires a certain amount of financial understanding. Oftentimes, accounting software built for small businesses is more user friendly but has less features than enterprise software.

Create a short list

After reviewing and researching the software on the long list, the buyer can widdle down this list based on the budget. Accounting software is available to suit all budgets and some general accounting applications may be downloaded free or bought off the shelf at a lower price.

Buyers must keep in mind, however, that the more specialized a software is, the more expensive it gets. This is the case because the user base for specialized software is usually relatively small. If the company wants something specific to their industry or customized for the business, they should be prepared to pay a premium.

Conduct demos

As a rule of thumb, companies should make sure to demo all of the products that end up on their short list. During demos, buyers should ask specific questions related to the functionalities they care most about, for example, one might ask to be walked through all of the bookkeeping features, how to run reports, or how to import financial data from other systems.

Selection of Accounting Software

Choose a selection team

It is important that the accountants who will be using this software are involved in the selection process. The accountant may prefer an application that is compatible with the ones they currently use. Every business is different and the accountant is most likely in the best position to offer an educated opinion about which one is the best choice for the particular needs of the business. The accountant may even be able to help the company install and set up the software of choice.

After choosing a software, buyers must remember that they don’t have to be stuck with this selection forever; most platforms allow for add-ons or modifications. However, this decision shouldn’t be made lightly because no matter what software is chosen, it will be a big time and money commitment. In order to see ROI, buyers can’t change their minds a few months later and switch software again.

Negotiation

Negotiating a software contract is important to minimize risk, whether it is in terms of performance protection, security protection, or simply making sure that both parties are in complete agreement with what to expect from the other. 

If the business has the cash flow, they could ask for a discount in return for annual upfront payment, and many software providers are happy to make that deal. Other times, a software provider may offer unlimited usage if the buyers pay upfront instead of paying a monthly or quarterly package price.

Buyers should also determine if they will need help implementing the accounting software or integrating with another system. Usually, a software provider's first offer will include some implementation services in a given timeframe. Buyers can ask for these services to be removed if they can manage it themselves, or if a third party can do it for cheaper.

They also need to decide for how long they will need this software. If the company will use the software for years and years, the buyer can negotiate longer terms which sometimes results in more favorable pricing.

Final decision

The final decision should be based on all the information gathered previously. Businesses should try to prioritize needs and select the solution that meets most of, if not all of, their requirements. Companies must remember that there is no one perfect software, but there is one that is best for their business.

If possible, buyers must conduct a pilot program with a smaller sample size of users to gauge how well the software is received. If the platform gets high marks, they can buy with more confidence. If the tool is found to be inefficient or not performing as expected, it might be time to test another software.