Finally, it’s almost December, which means that Christmas, and tax season is just around the corner. The stress induced anxiety of tolls and dues are the last thing we all want to think about while sipping hot cocoa and watching It’s a Wonderful Life, but it's never a bad idea to be organized and prepared.

With so many accounting options online, it’s hard to know what to choose when it comes to you, your business, and your taxes.

Thankfully, we have gone through the database and found the most popular accounting software programs available to the general public and listed their pros and cons according to your needs.


Xero - Recommended for medium sized businesses

Pros:

  • Bank Feeds: Makes banking and reconciliation easy and quick
  • Clean interface
  • Includes Cloud computing which means there is easy integration with third party apps
  • Easy access to the same files as your clients
  • Constantly upgrading with automatic updates
  • Built in payroll with and automatic superannuation payments
  • Relatively easy to use and has great customer support and services

Cons:

  • Can be very slow if your company is ran online or your company makes a high volume of sales through PayPal
  • Does not support ETP’s, otherwise known as exchange trade products (you basically need to keep a running Excel sheet or use Xero’s tracking code system)
  • No built in “Debtor Chasing”, which is something a business needs in order to ensure payments are made on time


QuickBooks - Recommended for small businesses

Pros:

  • Highly Popular: according to BusinessKnowledgeSource.com it was voted the most popular accounting software program package in 2010.

Features include:

  • Accounts payable and accounts receivable
  • Payroll
  • Inventory and invoice
  • Checks/credit processing features
  • Provides direct online access so you can network with others to get any questions or complications addressed immediately
  • Relatively low cost ($199.95 for the desktop version) and definitely cheaper than hiring an accountant
  • Free trial period to see if the program will fit your business needs

Cons:

  • Specifically designed for small businesses, which could be a “pro” for some and a “con” for others depending on what is needed for your company
  • Caters to companies with very limited accounting needs, and therefore, doesn’t offer many accounting processes used by professionals
  • Has had several problems with online security: if you use the online version of QuickBooks (which most people do) you run the risk of exposing important financial information to internet hackers and the general public
  • Limited in the number of products you can list for inventory purposes


FreeAgent - Recommended for small to medium sized businesses

Pros:

  • Cheap depending on your business needs ($24 per month… so $288 a year, if my calculations are correct)
  • Famous for its incredible invoice templates
  • Shows your real-time profit position and it automatically updates your accounts.
  • Cloud-based, so there is no software to download or install

Features include, but are not limited to: 

  • Estimates and proposals
  • Invoice templates 
  • Simple payroll and automatic back feeds
  • Tax timelines (you’ll never miss a deadline again!)
  • Self-assessment tax return filing
  • Unlimited users and transactions
  • Support accountants are available to answer any questions
  • First 30 days are free!

Cons:

  • Online help, known as “My Business Works Support” has been known to be rather unhelpful and excessively rude
  • Tends to receive “bugs” or “glitches” that often take time to repair, if fixable at all
  • Even though this program offers Multiple Currency options, the proper support for this feature is seriously lacking
  • Not very quick with software updates (some have been waiting years for new and desired features)


Outright - Recommended for small businesses

Pros:

  • Great at keeping track of sales, expenses, and estimated taxes
  • Relatively easy to use and understand
  • Accurate fiscal information: there is an automatic expense-importing feature for more than 4,000 banks, credit cards, and PayPal info via the web
  • Easy to export information to Excel
  • For just $5, an Independent Contractor will fulfill your IRS obligations and forms
  • FREE!!! Yes, this general program is absolutely Free! I’m not kidding

Cons:

  • Caters to small business owners and their needs, so this accounting program is good for the “little guys” but not much else
  • Only keeps tracks of payments that were cleared, but nothing that was rejected, and it does not keep track of cashed items or items purchased via checks
  • Limited functionality for a larger business or those looking for a detailed analysis of their accounting
  • Seriously lacks features of accounting, such as the costs of goods sold
  • It only supports federal returns: state and local taxes are not included


Aplos Software - Recommended for churches and nonprofits

Pros:

  • Easy to use anytime, anywhere, and no prior accounting experience is necessary to grasp the concepts and program features
  • Specifically designed to quickly input transactions and generate professional reports
  • Easily able to accept online donations and track them for contribution statements

Features include:

  • Accounts payable and receivable
  • Activity tracking
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Budgeting and forecasting
  • Donor management
  • Good tracking for people databases
  • Relatively good pricing depending on what you need. (Basic package is $25 a month, Standard is $40, and the “The Works” package is $60)
  • Free support training! Free Trail! Highly recommended and warmly praised customer service

Cons:

  • Relatively simple… almost too much to the point where it lacks in specific and vital accounting elemental areas
  • Does not support assets management, compliance management, partnership accounting, or purchasing and receiving
  • Not readily available in any other country except the United States
  • Does not support multi-currency features (which I personally believe is essential for non-profits and churches who receive donations on a worldwide basis)
  • Runs on PayPal integration only
  • Cannot export into Excel (only PDF)


Peachtree (Sage) - Recommended for small to medium-sized businesses that manufacture their own goods.

Pros:

  • Retains an impressive amount of inventory features and reporting
  • Well known and highly reliable
  • Allows users to set up non-inventory parts and service items, such as items that are bought and sold but not stocked
  • Highly sought-after accounting service provider for companies that manufacture their own goods
  • Offers a wide range of programs that are specific to business types such as businesses that operate several departments
  • Offers payroll features such as accounting for salaried, hourly and tipped employees
  • Provides solid tutorials on how to get started with the program

Cons:

  • Weak on the reporting side of stock and inventory services
  • Costly compared to other competitors. (Peachtree is $395 for a standard package but nearing $2,000 for Peachtree Premium)
  • Items that are not on hand do not have information available within the program (some recent updates have added a report to show what items are sold by customers but not by item)
  • Very difficult to grasp for new users, especially for those without an accounting background or formal training


In general, every accounting software program has its absolute gems as well as it’s rusty rocks, but each may offer a particular quality that may be specific to your personal needs. Hopefully now you have enough information to choose your crowned jewel.

If you happen to have any unanswered questions or comments about any accounting software, or simply need help on your next tax spreadsheet, let us know at Basis 365 or give us a call at (855) 236-5669 x711. We are experts in the field of accounting and would love to hear from you!

Comment