Which accounts package should I use?
Choosing an accounts package is no longer about finding a software to simply tick a few boxes to make HMRC happy. Gone are the days of buying a box off the shelf and installing it on your PC. Now, you have a buffet of online options to choose from. The only problem being, everything looks good and there are contradicting recommendations all over the web. You need a proper analysis.
So with that in mind, what's at the heart of this choice?
- You’re worried about Making Tax Digital. Over the coming years, HRMC are going to be monitoring small businesses a lot more closely by bringing in quarterly online accounting submissions. This big change may force your hand when it comes to updating your software, as it could mean the death of the beloved spreadsheet and a tricky journey for anyone using a software that doesn’t fit with HMRC’s criteria.
- Your traditional software isn’t cutting it. With all the sparkly new online options out there, that software package you’ve been using since the beginning of time just can’t keep up. You know friends and peers are getting more than just number crunching, better business benefits at a better cost, and you want that too.
Thankfully, accounting in the cloud doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful. In fact, it’s designed to make your life easier by allowing you to access your data at the touch of a button, wherever you are in the world.
Here’s a look at three accounting software packages we’re asked about the most:
Using Xero will eliminate:
- The limitations of one desktop, one user : Xero can be accessed anywhere, at any time from your desktop, smart phone or tablet. You’re always connected to your data, so you deal with your finances on the go.
- The fear of losing all your records: We had a devastated client lose years of transactions with Sage when her house was burgled, and her laptop was stolen. Security is key to financial data, and Xero have spent vast amounts on developing bank grade security to ensure your data is safe. Back-ups are always taken, so your data will never be lost.
- Access issues between you and your accountant: Xero improves communication between you and your Advisers all year round, by giving them an instant overview of up-to-date financial data. Less time hunting down missing expenses, and lots more time to help you make proactive business decisions.
- The painful upgrade process: Having implemented over 500 updates a year, Xero is constantly improving, adding new and improved features without you having to do anything.
- All that time spent working in your business, rather than on it: One of the elements we’re always shouting about to our clients is the Xero marketplace. It is open-source, meaning that software developers worldwide can integrate all kinds of innovative apps that you can use to automate areas of your business.
Are there any disadvantages?
- As with all new software, it can be difficult to get your head around at first, but with Xero’s intuitive design and step-by-step help guides, it can be painless and easy to get up and running.
Using Sage will eliminate:
- The fear that comes with change: For a long time, Sage have been the leaders in desktop accountancy software, and continue to be, despite new popular options coming along.
- Any concerns that your business is too big: Sage has a range of packages to accommodate for all sizes of business, from small and self-employed to large manufacturers.
- Hassle when you need to adjust your payroll: Sage provides a payroll software that will require little training if you know the Sage structure already. Once you are running the payroll, you’re able to make changes during the process – a feature you don’t find with all packages.
- The challenges that come with multi-currency trading: Sage helps companies both large and small to to manage transactions in multiple currencies and get the tax rates right.
Are there any disadvantages?
- Sage has been slow to embrace cloud technology and can be seen lagging behind its competitors in innovation.
- Those unfamiliar with Sage would need to consider training to get up to speed on the quirky aspects of the software.
- Sage is adopting a subscription-based model, which is not considered price competitive when reviewed against other software providers.
- Sage initiated “The Big Turn Off”, whereby they switched off automatic VAT filing on the 14th February 2018.
Using QuickBooks Online will eliminate:
- Wasted time on a complex set-up – Intuit’s QuickBooks Online is browser based, so there’s installation process to take up valuable time.
- Big Spending: If you’re a small business with very few users just needing the bare bones of an easy accounting software, then QuickBooks Online is a cheap option.
- The limitations of desktop only: Like Xero, QuickBooks Online can be accessed anywhere, at any time from your desktop, smart phone or tablet. With a popular pre-existing desktop version, QuickBooks quickly earnt trust in their online evolution, and continue to develop.
- Difficulty handling inventory: This software makes it easy to manage your stock, with automatic updates when you buy and sell products, and real-time inventory valuation.
Are there any disadvantages?
- Whilst QuickBooks Online does allow for more than one user, it is limited. Costs increase the more users you need.
- QuickBooks Online does provide third-party apps like Xero, however the current offering is underwhelming compared, with less apps across all accounting functions.
- The software is ideal for small businesses and is promoted as such. You may find it lacks reporting functionality for larger businesses.
OTHER SOFTWARE PACKAGES
Apart from the big three that we have concentrated on above there are literally hundreds of other software packages.
These break down into two broad camps. The first are other general accounting software packages targeted at really big companies where there are significant costs involved or really small companies where the packages are fairly cheap. Some of the cheaper packages are quite popular with start ups for obvious reasons but there are often reasons why they are so cheap and in the long run they might not actually save you any money because they may just result in more work for your bookkeeper or accountant.
The second camp are industry specific packages with operational aspects designed to work for a particular industry. Because they inevitably involve purchase orders and sales invoice functions then to avoid exporting data into another software package, the software company has built an accounts module. This often means that whilst your business has a piece of software which is great for your staff to use on a day to day basis, it is not quite so good producing monthly reports for the directors or being the basis for the end of year accounts.
Some of the programmers for industry-based bits of software have realised that rather than producing an entire accounts module, it’s much cheaper to create an interface between their package and Xero. This is why there are now hundreds of bits of software which are technically classed as Xero add-ons even if they weren’t originally designed as such. There may be one bit of software out there for you which does the job and links with Xero as well.
Whatever you have, we are able to help. The fundamentals of any accounts package are based around the trial balance which is a summary of everything which has happened in your financial system. Understanding the trial balance is key to getting your bit of software doing what you needed to do and that is where we can help.