In any business there is the requirement to manage the company accounts, never a fun thing to do but absolutely necessary if you actually want to stay in business and don’t want the dreaded taxman breathing down your neck. The old way was to hire an accountant and possibly also a bookkeeper, either in-house or an external service, to manage the whole mess and you just had to send that shoebox full of receipts along every month or at the end of the tax year (typically at the last minute!) to whoever you hired for that.
These days though we have computers and “the cloud” and we (sometimes) know how to use them. Needless to say the advent of modern computers also brought with it computerized accounting tools which eventually matured enough to become useable by people that were not raised on a diet of Pi to 200 places. This is of course great for small businesses, particularly IT business because we (in theory) are smart cookies who know how to use a computer and can quickly learn any new fangled software that crosses our desk. The reality is not always like that though and accounting can still be something of a dark art even with such software.
One of the most widely used accounting applications is of course QuickBooks which has been around for a long time now and integrates with pretty much every other business application on the planet such as PSA’s, Quoting tools, Helpdesk apps, Time Tracking tools and on and on and is in fact the one I use in my IT business. In more recent times QuickBooks has also made the move into the Cloud, no doubt due to the increasing success and popularity of young upstart cloud accounting services which were snapping at their heels and now threatening to run off ahead.
Freshbooks appears to be very popular with millions of users and is available through a (somewhat limited) free version as well as a bunch of reasonably priced paid plans which also include “Awesomeness”, or so they say. They also aim to make the accounting process as painless as possible and it can be accessed from just about any device these days.
Xero is a slick looking system which they call “beautiful accounting software” – can accounting be beautiful to regular people and not just accountants? I’m not sure but they certainly give it the old school try. Not ones to be modest, they also claim to be “the world’s easiest accounting software” which I’m sure is highly debatable but they do seem to have a good reputation.
Zoho Invoice – is there anything that Zoho doesn’t do these days? At this rate they’ll soon progress to actually running every business out there so us biz owners can get on with more important things like sailing around the Mediterranean. They also have a free plan as well as paid and it is pretty much what you’d expect to find with a Zoho app in terms of look and feel and functionality.
Outright, now known as GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping, is as the name suggests an online accounting application now owned by domain registrar GoDaddy.
Intacct is not what I would call a budget system since the price for what they call “smaller companies” starts from just $400 per MONTH! Compare that with others such as Xero and Freshbooks which charge around $20 – $30 for the starting packages, workingpoint starts from just $9 and even QuickBooks (online version) starts from around $13 – quite a significant difference!
Whichever accounting tool you choose, you’re still going to have to invest some time in learning how it all works to get the most from it. Also if you’re in IT services (which you probably are if you’re reading this blog!) you’re going to want to make sure it integrates with your other business apps such as your PSA or Ticketing system. Many such apps these days are certainly working towards hiding the complexity as much as possible however proper accountants are not about to be put out of work any time soon, if anything they just have an easier time now sorting out the mess their clients bring to them!