As a small Business owner myself I have used a number of Accounting packages over the years, starting with installable CDs, then downloadable software and now cloud-based solutions. in fact I originally started with a Excel spreadsheet, but realistically the additional effort and time in maintaining that is not worth the cost saving.
In the good old days you paid once for a package and could choose whether to update as the years went on. As long as there were no major bugs and no significant changes to the way Accounts were used, there was no need to for small businesses. Software writers have cottoned on to this and now most packages are cloud based with a monthly or yearly subscription.
If you are in need of a suitable package, then here is a list of some of the popular packages and my personal opinion when testing them. I have (mostly) not listed prices as a) they vary, b) it is difficult to compare features and prices and c) they are mostly within £5-10 of each other per month anyway. I hope this is useful to someone. Comments welcome. It is not a comprehensive test – more a list of reasons as to why I rejected the specific packages. If you are likely to need the missing features it might just save you a wasted trial.
- Ease of use. Time is money and all that.
- No unnecessary compulsory fields. Some packages I have rejected as it insists that an entry is made in fields that don’t really need an entry. It clutters things up and slows me down.
- Logical layout. Whilst I may get used to a package layout, if it is intuitive to start, that is preferable.
- Decent number of features without having to subscribe to the top package. I run a small Business. I don’t want to subscribe to multi-currency, multi employee packages but I do want to have something that is useable.
- UK based or at least UK friendly. One package was rejected as US-centric.
- No unreasonable restrictions. One package was rejected as the number of Clients was limited to 50 in the standard package. As a small Business with lots of individual clients, that would soon get used up. Even the top level only offered 500.
- I run a Ltd Company, so packages that help me prepare for year end will be helpful.
The packages tested
“Accounting software that sorts out the mess and the stress of managing business finances”
Insists on a Reference for Transactions, even when not necessary. Rejected.
“The all-new FreshBooks is accounting software that makes running your small business easy, fast and secure. Spend less time on accounting and more time doing the work you love.”
Limits the standard package to 50 clients. This is a deal-breaker for me as I have many clients and I would be having to upgrade to the top tier package very soon (even that is limited to 500). That is £38/month. Crazy price for basic needs. Didn’t even start the trial.
“Zoho Books is online accounting software that manages your finances, gets you VAT ready, automates business workflows, and helps you work collectively across departments.”
Another package that insists on optional fields (in my opinion) being completed. Rejected
This is interesting. It is free (donations notwithstanding) and also open source. The interface has a dated look to it. You cannot save directly to a Network Location (such as Onedrive) although you can by using the c:\users\name\onedrive route.
This is another package that insists on fields being filled. I tried to create a client and it insisted on a postal address. That brought the trial to a halt for me. Rejected. If you are looking for a free package and can put up with a few niggles, do check it out.
“It’s About Time Someone Fixed Accounting Software. Accounting apps don’t have to be complex and frustrating.”
US-Centric (written/supported in Canada I believe). With more internationalised packages available I didn’t spend any more time on it.
“Accounting software that gives you that cool, calm and in control feeling”
Yet another that insists on fields being filled. In addition, the pop-up windows that appear for new customers etc. are not big enough so scroll bars appear making the User Experience not good. I definitely did not feel cool, calm and in control.
“Refreshingly simple bookkeeping. Intuitive and easy to use accounting software designed to save you time.”
Very simple Accounts package. Standard package is totally free, however I found it just a bit too basic for my needs. Rejected for me, but if you have straightforward invoicing needs, do take a look at it.
“Smart, simple accounting software – built around you.”
I have been using this package for about three months now and, whilst not ideal, it met many of my needs until recently. What has tipped me over the edge are a couple of annoyances. Firstly, no means to add a Bank charge to a payment receipt. in these days of PayPal and iZettle (both of which I use and am happy to use) it should be easy to apply this on receipt. Nope. QB acknowledge the need on the Forums, but say there are no plans to implement. My only options are to either add a separate invoice for the charges or to add the amount as a £ discount to the payment. These both work. The first is timeconsuming. The second ‘loses’ the costs in the transaction so I cannot make a valid comparison of charges from suppliers. The final straw was when I went to apply a refund from a supplier. This is a seriously complex process and not at all intuitive. If intuit (the clue is in the name), a long-standing financial package software developer cannot achieve this, then I despair. As of today I am abandoning it in favour of……
“Online Accounting Software Made Simple”
Interface seems clean. It is easy to do credits and refunds. Bank charges aren’t completely simple but not a showstopper.
I will transfer the Books across and report back in a couple of month’s time.
If you have any thoughts, suggestions or feedback, please do comment below.