Home > Software Categories > Best Accounting Software for Business 2023
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Aron Vaughan, Staff Writer
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Reviewed by
Corey Noles, Managing Editor
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Aron Vaughan Avatar

Written by
Aron Vaughan, Staff Writer
Read more by Aron →

Corey Noles Avatar

Reviewed by
Corey Noles, Managing Editor
Read more Sales content →

What is accounting software? 

Accounting software is an electronic version of an accountant’s general ledger that also keeps your books accurate, organized, and searchable. Revenues, expenses, assets, and liabilities are digitally recorded and tracked to maintain a complete picture of your business’s financial health.

This technology can take various forms and offer a myriad of features based on the needs of a particular business or industry. However, most accounting systems share similar features and functionality.

The best business accounting software assists businesses with processes such as bookkeeping, payroll, accounts payable, and accounts receivable. 

We reviewed 25 top accounting software solutions and narrowed it down to the best of the best:

  • Zoho Books: Best for small businesses
  • FreshBooks: Best for freelancers
  • Xero: Best for growing businesses
  • Neat: Best for receipt and expense tracking 
  • Kashoo: Best for startups

Aug. 7, 2023: We reviewed our recommendations and refined each vendor’s pros and cons lists to preserve our editorial objectivity. We also simplified the page layout for easier navigation and implemented additional opportunities to connect directly with the software vendors we recommend.

At TechnologyAdvice, we assess a wide range of factors before selecting our top choices for a given category. To make our selections, we rely on our extensive research, product information, vendor websites, competitor research and first-hand experience. We then consider what makes a solution best for customer-specific needs. 

By defining business needs, we can determine the essential features organizations in various sectors require, and select platforms that will cover all bases. Reputable providers known for their ease of use and customer satisfaction are added to our compilation list for further analysis. We then evaluate each solution on the list based on the features they offer, considering the platform’s usability, integration capabilities, customization options, mobile access, and any other relevant functionalities. Price plans, hidden fees, customer reviews, and customer support are also assessed in the selection process. 

Technology Advice writers will often take advantage of free trials and demos to get a first-hand user experience of available software. Finally, we curate a comprehensive list based on the previously stated factors, ensuring readers have the necessary tools to make an informed decision.

Our picks for the best accounting software

Zoho Books: Best for small businesses


  • Intuitive interface
  • Free plan for businesses with annual revenue less than $50,000
  • Customization of invoices and connection to payment gateways for online payments
  • Feature rich


  • Limited users—even in top tier plan
  • Advanced features limited to higher-tier plans
  • Limited third-party integrations
  • Client portal: Provides a client portal where your customers can view their transactions, accept/decline estimates, make payments, or have a conversation about a transaction. This feature enhances customer engagement and provides a platform for transparent communication.
  • Automated bank feeds: Connects to your bank account and automatically fetches transaction data. It categorizes your transactions as income, expenses, or transfers, and matches them to the transactions recorded in Zoho Books.
  • Inventory management: Offers a comprehensive inventory management system. You can track inventory levels, set reorder points to replenish stock, and analyze supplier performance to make informed purchasing decisions.
  • Project time tracking and billing: Create projects, assign tasks to staff, log work hours, and bill clients. It allows you to track each project’s profitability and invoice customers based on the project’s progress or the project’s completion.
  • Automated workflows: Automate repetitive tasks like sending invoice reminders, acknowledging payments, auto-charging recurring invoices, and more. You can set up workflow rules to automate these tasks based on specified criteria.
  • Multi-currency transactions: Supports transactions in multiple currencies, which is beneficial for businesses with global operations. It provides real-time exchange rates and calculates gains or losses due to currency exchange rate fluctuations.

Free ($0 per month):

  • For businesses with revenue less than $50,000 per annum
  • 1 user + 1 accountant
  • manage clients, invoices (up to 1,000 per annum), 1099 contractors
  • Customer portal, online/offline payments, automate payment reminders, multi-lingual invoicing, credit notes, recurring invoices, expenses & mileage tracking
  • Add multiple bank and credit card accounts, import bank and credit card statements, bank rules & reconciliation
  • Chart of accounts & sub-accounts, manual journals, reports, invoice customization
  • Payment gateways, schedule reports
  • Integrations: Zoho apps, other apps
  • Support: email

Standard ($15 per month, billed annually):

  • Invite 3 users
  • Includes everything in Free + manage invoices (up to 5,000), recurring expenses
  • Connect and fetch bank & credit card feeds via bank feeds provider
  • Predefined user roles, bulk updates, transaction locking, custom views, custom fields, reporting tags, track sales tax
  • Payment gateways, 10 custom reports, custom financial report generator
  • Integrations: Avalara, Zendesk, Zoho People, Zoho Projects
  • Support: email, voice, chat

Professional ($40 per month, billed annually):

  • Invite 5 users
  • Includes everything in Standard + track project expenses and invoice, project tasks, timesheet and billing, sales approval, retainer invoices
  • Bills, payments made, vendor credits, recurring bills, sales orders, purchase orders, purchase approval
  • Basic multi-currency handling, automatic exchange rates, currency adjustments
  • Stock tracking, price lists, landed costs, custom roles, timesheet approval, timesheet – customer approval, contextual chat
  • Retainer invoices for projects, project profitability, journal templates, tasks, recurring journals, workflow rules (up to 10)
  • 25 custom reports
  • Support: email, voice, chat

Premium ($60 per month, billed annually):

  • Invite 10 users
  • Includes everything in Professional + custom domain, vendor portal, multi-transaction number series, budgeting, custom buttons, validation rules, related lists, webTabs
  • Workflow rules (up to 200), 10 custom modules, 50 custom reports, cashflow forecasting report, record locking
  • Integrations: Zoho Sign, Twilio
  • Support: email, voice, chat

Elite ($120 per month, billed annually):

  • Invite 10 users
  • Includes everything in Premium + unlimited custom reports, advanced multi-currency handling, advanced inventory control
  • Integrate Shopify stores (up to 2 stores), warehouse management (up to 5 warehouses), serial number tracking, batch tracking, print shipping label, shipment tracking
  • Support: email, voice, chat

Ultimate ($240 per month, billed annually):

  • Invite 15 users, 25 custom modules
  • Includes everything in Elite + advanced analytics: view real-time reports and dashboards, analyze and track key financial metrics, customize reports and dashboards, analyze Zoho Books data along with other data sources, collaboratively create reports with colleagues, export and print reports as excel or PDF, embed reports in websites/applications
  • Records/rows (5 million)
  • Support: email, voice, chat

Zoho Books is a darling for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) seeking a cost-effective alternative to larger, pricier software. It’s a user-friendly, cloud-based accounting solution that integrates invoicing, inventory, and project management systems. Zoho offers a competitive free plan and a plethora of features designed to streamline and enhance your processes. It’s particularly appealing for its mobile app and impressive support options. However, it does cap the number of users and requires investment in higher-level plans for advanced features. So, if you’re a SMB, Zoho Books might just be the accounting software for you.

Zoho Books, a product of Zoho Corporation, has been a trusted name in the accounting software industry since its inception in 2011. The software is designed to cater to the needs of small businesses, offering a range of features from invoicing and expense tracking to project time tracking and inventory management. 

Zoho Books has been continuously evolving, with the company rolling out new features regularly. Some of the latest updates as of June 2023 include the ability to drag and drop files while importing invoices, new fields in transfer orders, enhancements to the Timesheets calendar view, and new allocation methods for landed cost. The software also introduced enhancements to webhook creation, allowing users to choose from three types of supported webhook request body formats.

FreshBooks: Best for freelancers


  • Easy-to-navigate platform
  • Automated invoicing and billing
  • Expense tracking
  • Excellent customer support


  • Mobile app lacks full feature functionality
  • Limited custom reporting
  • Customizable invoices: Allows you to pick your template, add your logo, and even adjust colors and fonts to make sure your invoices wow your clients. It also includes features for automatic late fees, recurring invoices, and multi-currency billing.
  • Expense tracking: Attach receipts, categorize expenses for tax purposes, and track all of your business expenses no matter the currency.
  • Estimates and proposals: Create rich proposals that outline a project’s scope, timeline, and deliverables. It also includes features for e-signatures and easy conversion of estimates to invoices.
  • Time tracking: Provides daily breakdowns of your work, allows you to bill for tracked hours, and includes features for team time tracking. You can also log hours and use a timer for automatic tracking.
  • Project management: Lets you collaborate with your team on projects, share files, and have project conversations all in one place. It also includes features for setting project due dates and providing a project overview.
  • Online payments: Makes it easy to accept credit cards online, automatically records payments and transaction fees, and includes features for recurring payments and auto-bills.

Lite: $13.60/user/month

  • Send unlimited invoices to up to 5 clients
  • Track unlimited expenses
  • Send unlimited estimates
  • Get paid with credit cards and bank transfer
  • Run reports for an easy tax time
  • Access from anywhere on iOS and Android

Add-ons: Team members ($11/user/month), Advanced payments ($20/month), Gusto Payroll (contact for details)

Plus: $24.00/user/month

All Lite features and:

  • Send unlimited invoices to up to 50 clients
  • Automatically track expenses
  • Automatically capture receipt data
  • Email receipts to your account
  • Send unlimited estimates and proposals
  • Set up recurring bills and client retainers
  • Run business health reports
  • Run financial and accounting reports
  • Invite your accountant
  • Mobile mileage tracking

Add-ons: Team members ($11/user/month), Advanced payments ($20/month), Gusto Payroll (contact for details)

Premium: $44.00/user/month

All Plus features and:

  • Send unlimited invoices to an unlimited amount of clients
  • Track bills, bill payments & vendors with accounts payable
  • Track project profitability
  • Customize email templates with dynamic fields
  • Customize email signatures
  • Automatically send late payment reminders and bill late fees
  • Get paid with checkout links

Add-ons: Team members ($11/user/month), Advanced payments ($20/month), Gusto Payroll (contact for details)

Select: Custom Pricing

All Premium features and:

  • Access to lower credit card transaction fees and capped bank transfer (ACH) fees
  • Start with 2 team member accounts
  • Get a dedicated account manager
  • Help migrating from other software
  • Get up and running with custom onboarding services
  • Remove FreshBooks branding from client emails
  • A dedicated number for exclusive Select support

Add-ons: Team members ($11/user/month), Advanced payments (included), Gusto Payroll (contact for details)

FreshBooks is a freelancer’s best friend, according to users. Its user-friendly interface and robust invoicing features make it a breeze to manage finances. The mobile app keeps you connected on-the-go, sending notifications for overdue invoices and client queries. Plus, with time and mileage tracking in all plans, it’s perfect for those juggling multiple projects. And if you ever hit a snag, their customer support is just a call away. However, do note the user and client limits, especially if you’re planning to scale up.

Founded in 2003, FreshBooks was designed to make billing easier for small business owners and freelancers. Over the years, FreshBooks has grown significantly, now serving millions of businesses in over 120 countries. The software offers features like invoicing, expense tracking, time tracking, and more. In 2023, FreshBooks added new features including the ability to adjust time zones for both business and user accounts, catering to teams working in different parts of the world.

Xero: Best for growing businesses


  • User-friendly interface
  • Cloud-based
  • Comprehensive feature set
  • Real-time updates on financial data


  • Customer support issues reported
  • Inventory management and multi-currency functionality needs improvement 
  • Everything in one place: Comprehensive set of features that cater to various accounting needs, including invoicing, reporting, and tax returns, all in one place.
  • Bank connections: Allows users to set up bank feeds from their accounts so transactions are imported securely into the software each business day.
  • Real-time collaboration: Enables real-time collaboration, allowing users to work with their employees, bookkeeper, or accountant online, even if they’re on opposite sides of the world.
  • Customization: Users can customize Xero to suit their needs by adding what they need to make it easier to run their small business. This includes connecting to third-party apps like Stripe and Vend.
  • Mobile app: Works in tandem with the software, allowing users to run their business from anywhere.

Early Plan: $13/user/month

  • Send quotes and 20 invoices, enter 5 bills, reconcile bank transactions.
  • Capture bills and receipts with Hubdoc, short-term cash flow and business snapshot.
  • Bulk reconcile transactions, use multiple currencies, track projects, claim expenses.

Growing Plan : $37/user/month

  • Send invoices and quotes, enter bills, reconcile bank transactions.
  • Capture bills and receipts with Hubdoc, bulk reconcile transactions.
  • Short-term cash flow and business snapshot, use multiple currencies.
  • Track projects, claim expenses.

Established Plan: $70/user/month

  • Send invoices and quotes, enter bills, reconcile bank transactions.
  • Capture bills and receipts with Hubdoc, bulk reconcile transactions.
  • Use multiple currencies, track projects, claim expenses.
  • View in-depth analytics.

We highlighted Xero for its cloud-based platform that’s specifically designed for small businesses, making it a scalable solution as companies expand. The platform’s features, such as the ability to send invoices, reconcile bank transactions, and capture bills and receipts, are particularly beneficial for growing businesses. Plus, Xero’s continuous updates ensure that businesses have access to the latest accounting tools.

Xero, founded in 2006, is a cloud-based accounting software designed for small to medium-sized businesses. Its suite of financial management tools, including invoicing, bill payment, and bank reconciliation, are accessible from any device with an internet connection. 

Xero’s user-friendly interface and feature set have made it a favorite among growing businesses. Recently, the platform has added new features such as bulk reconciliation of transactions, short-term cash flow projections, and business snapshot tools. Additionally, it now offers project tracking and expense claiming capabilities, further enhancing its value to businesses seeking to streamline their financial management processes.

Neat: Best for receipt and expense tracking


  • Paperless organization
  • Ease of use
  • Efficient search functionality
  • Add up to 5 users for one account 


  • Inability to access data after canceling subscription
  • Decline in accuracy of OCR scanning over time reported
  • Fast receipt upload and matching: Mobile app allows you to quickly upload and match receipts, helping you stay organized from the start.
  • Customizable receipt sorting: Sort your receipts based on categories you create, giving you a better understanding of your capital flow.
  • Interactive cash flow charts: Provides a clear view of your net cash flow based on your income and expenses. You can sort these interactive charts by date.
  • Detailed dashboards: Dashboards show your top expense categories and cash balance. You can also run custom reports on expenses, spending details, spending summaries, sales tax, and tax categories.
  • Secure document management: Cloud-based financial document management system scans your receipts for data and stores them securely with bank-level security encryption. You can sort documents with filters and keyword searches.

Base Subscription: $200/year

  • Unlimited file storage
  • Data capture with human verification
  • Track your expenses
  • Easily filter and search for documents
  • File sharing and collaboration
  • Bank-level security encryption
  • Accessible from anywhere
  • Access to Help Center Knowledge Base
  • Unlimited email & chat support

VIP Service Additional $50/year

  • 1:1 training guided by Neat Experts
  • Dedicated support team 
  • Early access to new features

Automated Insights: Additional $150/year

  • Import bank account activity
  • Automatic accounting reports
  • Real-time insights and trends
  • Pair receipts with expenses
  • Send custom invoices and receive online payments

We chose Neat as the best option for receipt and expense tracking for several reasons. Neat’s top feature is its ability to upload and match receipts instantly using a mobile app, keeping you organized from the get-go. It also allows you to categorize each receipt, making it easy to track where your money is going. 

The software provides interactive charts for a clear view of your net cash flow based on income and expenses. Plus, it’s a cloud-based financial document management system that securely stores your receipts with bank-level security encryption.

Neat started as a desktop software application for managing expenses and documents and has evolved to focus on cloud-based solutions, exiting the hardware market in 2016. In 2017, it shifted its focus to automated bookkeeping solutions. In 2019, Neat enabled automatic syncing of bank accounts and credit card transactions into its desktop application. 

The most recent addition in 2021 was NeatBooks and NeatInvoices, transforming Neat into a full-service bookkeeping tool. This evolution reflects Neat’s commitment to innovation and meeting the changing needs of its users.

Kashoo: Best for startups


  • Simple, straightforward tool
  • Create and send invoices directly from platform
  • Helpful live support
  • Multi-currency support


  • Could benefit from more automation capabilities
  • Onboarding process could use improvement
  • Anywhere, anytime access: Send invoices and manage expenses from anywhere
  • Real-time data sync and backup: Syncs with over 5,000 banks for easy bank reconciliation and provides real-time data backup
  • Comprehensive reports: Provides access to essential reports like Profit & Loss and balance sheets
  • Multi-currency support: Invoice clients in various currencies including dollars, pounds, euros, and more
  • Integration capabilities: KIntegrates with various applications like 1Password, Payment Evolution, Google Workspace, Square Point of Sale, FreshBooks, SurePayroll, and Stripe

Automated & Easy Accounting: $216/Year

Advanced & Personalized Accounting: $324/Year

Both plans include:

  • Invoice sending, tracking, and payment collection
  • Check printing, accounting, and reports
  • Income & expense tracking, auto categorization, and bulk editing
  • Mobile app, direct support access, and payroll integration

The Advanced plan also includes:

  • Customizable chart of accounts and auto matching/reconciliation
  • Business reports, visual dashboard, and items (inventory)
  • Projects

Kashoo takes the top spot for startups due to its simplicity, accessibility, and security. The cloud-based software offers real-time reports on income, expenses, accounts receivable, and payable, providing startups with valuable insights for decision-making. Users also appreciate the ability to collaborate securely with team members and accountants. While it may not offer as many advanced features as some competitors, its comprehensive suite of tools, excellent customer support, and affordable pricing make it a solid choice for those needing an affordable accounting solution.

Kashoo, a Vancouver-based company, has been simplifying accounting for small businesses for over a decade. Their cloud-based software, popular in over 180 countries, was born out of a need for a modern, user-friendly accounting solution. Kashoo’s team, who also use the software for their own businesses, have focused on automation and simplicity. They’ve recently introduced features like automatic matching and reconciliation, and customizable invoice design. Kashoo’s commitment to listening to their users and providing a product that meets their needs has made them a favorite among small businesses and accountants alike.

Find your new accounting software

What are the categories of accounting software?

Accounting software comes in many forms. The tools listed below will help you understand which type you’ll need and give you some information on which features to look for.

Core accounting

Core accounting software retains the company’s general ledger and performs accounts receivable and payable, basic tax filing functions, payroll, bookkeeping and bank reconciliation. With these functions, companies can improve their organization and move beyond just tracking accounts on paper or in a spreadsheet.

The combination of these features allows the small business accounting software to provide benefits to the company including consolidated reporting, easier tax filing, and deeper insight and control over the company’s money. Core accounting systems and small business accounting software come in both cloud-connected and on-premise versions, so you can choose the right fit for your company. Cloud-connected core accounting software consolidates real-time data from invoicing, ecommerce, POS, and other online data like bank statements to provide better visibility into your accounts.


Payroll software can be combined with general accounting tools or run as a standalone system. Teams looking for the best payroll software should look for a system that integrates with or includes time and attendance software, automates payroll for salaried and hourly wage workers, and complies with tax and regulatory statutes for the company’s locations.


Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software is a feature-rich tool that combines many categories of accounting software including core accounting, inventory, ecommerce, supply chain management, and even business intelligence solutions. Many companies can centralize all of their data in one complete ERP system, providing better organization and greater functionality.

Due to its extensive functionality, ERP software may not be right for every company, as it often comes with a higher price tag than basic small business accounting software. For growing companies, a few integrated best of breed apps is probably a better option than a complex ERP system.

Billing and invoicing

Deceptively simple in theory, billing and invoicing can be complicated and frustrating if you don’t have the right tools. Billing and invoicing software manages the complex accounting gymnastics that many accounts payable and receivable departments perform. The best billing and invoicing tools come in all levels of complexity, but most provide the ability to automate formerly manual tasks and reduce manual entry errors. These tools come as part of a larger financial management software or can be found in standalone best of breed options. If you’re researching best of breed billing, bookkeeping, and invoicing tools, look for options that integrate with the other accounting, sales, and quote to cash software that your company uses.

Project accounting

Project accounting software streamlines complex, interdepartmental or inter-company projects with sensitive resource and capital allocations. Providing time and expense tools, human and material resource management, and billing and invoicing features alongside project management task management and analysis, project accounting tools bridge the gap between basic task-oriented project management tools and core accounting software.

ALSO READ: 4 QuickBooks Alternatives for SMB Accounting

What are the key features of accounting software?

No matter your industry or business model, the top accounting solutions offer the following standard features or functionality.

Accounts payable/receivable

As the most commonly used feature of any accounting solution, electronic management and tracking of A/P and A/R is included in every system with varying levels of automation. The accounts payable features track payments to vendors, suppliers, and other financial outlays to ensure your payments are prompt. The accounts receivable feature includes billing, invoicing, and collections to help you track missing payments.

Asset management

Electronically tracking and realizing depreciation costs for a company’s material fixed assets is a major function of most accounting systems. While less important to small businesses without expensive capital assets such as production machinery, vehicles, or other forms of property, plant, and equipment (PP&E), manufacturing businesses especially need these tools.

Bank reconciliation

The key to automating many of your accounting functions is to connect your software directly with your financial institution. This allows you to reconcile the accounting transactions you’ve recorded with your bank’s records for your company’s credit, checking, or savings accounts. Most systems include pre-built reports for both month-end and year-end closing to streamline reconciliation.

Cash management

Though many small businesses today are handling less cash — or none at all — managing your company’s cash or cash equivalents is a key function of all accounting software and one that is necessary for preparing the standard Statement of Cash Flows report. Many accounting systems also simplify managing multiple currencies by automatically converting foreign transactions into the currency your business uses.

Departmental accounting

Most best-of-breed accounting software offers support for recording transactions across multiple offices, branches, or divisions. This allows you to treat each subset as its own entity on paper, yet maintain a comprehensive view for tax purposes.

Time and expense management

In addition to tracking your business expenses via Accounts Payable, most accounting solutions offer a separate area for tracking individual employees’ expenses and reimbursements. This includes the ability to easily accomplish expense tracking as well as reconcile expenses with various projects and departmental budgets.

Time and expense management features are critical for reducing manual accounting errors by favoring cloud based accounting software and digital systems over paper timesheets. Time clock software generates digital timestamps based on employee clock in/out data and automatically combines the hours and pays accordingly. This automation reduces the chance of entry errors and the total amount of time payroll accountants spend on data entry.


Besides electronically recording transactions, the most-cited reason for purchasing accounting software is the automated reporting feature. There are templates for income statements, profit and loss, sales tax return, and even outstanding balances. Reporting is a great way to ensure you know exactly what’s going on with your accounts and can make corrections as soon as something goes awry. The most advanced accounting software will integrate with business intelligence software or an ERP to give you a view of the company’s financial health within the context of the entire business.

Budgeting and forecasting

Critical to the forward-thinking company, budgeting and forecasting tools give companies insight into their past revenue and spending habits to help them better use their resources and plan for future financial success. The top accounting tools can take advantage of financial records data to build intelligent insights that accurately judge a company’s earning potential. These tools allow C-levels and sales teams to build better revenue goals. Some even include artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve these forecasts.

What are the benefits of accounting software?

These accounting software benefits can have far-reaching effects across the entire company’s financial systems.

Time savings

The most immediate change many companies notice when they move from paper ledgers or spreadsheets to accounting software is a major reduction in the time spent entering and balancing ledgers. When comparing payroll systems, prioritize those that connect to bank, credit card, and investment accounts directly and port over financial data without human intervention. That changes the job of the accountant from record-keeper to funds approver and can allow the accountant more time to help direct financial strategy.

Reduction in manual data entry errors

When using tools like MS Excel, the risk of human error when working with spreadsheet formulas is much greater compared to using accounting software specialized for a client or industry. Accounting software takes the guesswork out of the equation, no matter the size of your client’s business. It automates many of the formulas for taxes, benefits withholding, and more, so you won’t have to worry about making calculation errors in your financial report.

An accounting system will reduce the amount of paperwork required to sufficiently run the financial department of any company. Look for these features or connections to these apps included directly in the software:

  • Invoicing
  • Time and attendance
  • Quote to cash
  • Financial institutions
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Tax compliance and submission
  • Inventory management
  • Financial reporting

Greater account visibility for all internal stakeholders

Top accounting features and tools provide visibility into the balance sheet and the financial workings of a company for accountants, executives, and management teams. Each team may use the data differently, either within the online accounting software or exported to business intelligence software, so it’s important that they have all the information they need.

Higher professionality

Most people believe what they perceive, and a company with a more professional appearance is perceived to be more successful and trustworthy. You want to put your best foot forward with your clients, and you can do that by using accounting software as it relates to things like invoicing and payroll.

Dos and don’ts of professional invoices


  • Keep your invoices simple
  • Include a breakdown of all charges, discounts, and prepayments
  • Include your company name, address, and phone number
  • Add a simple thank you line (e.g. Thank you for your business!)


  • Make invoices overly complicated or long
  • Send invoices late
  • Be rigid in how you send your invoices if your customers prefer them a certain way (i.e. by email instead of by mail)

Multi-device access

As a business owner, you can’t always be in the office. You have offsite meetings to attend, and you’re likely working at home long after business hours have ended. Because of this, you need to be able to access your accounting records from a variety of devices, including your cell phone. Accounting software can make this easy by offering mobile-friendly formats and applications.

Real-time engagement

Every business owner, small or large, wants to know what their bottom line looks like. They should have the ability to see where they’re at in real time so they have the option to correct course immediately if something goes awry or to capitalize on something working out favorably. Accounting software can offer this visibility. In this case, being a small business is an advantage, and with the right information, they can be more agile than their larger counterparts.

The best accounting software helps you positively engage with your customers about their payments. Some software tools provide a portal where your customers can pay online by credit card or through their bank account, rather than having to mail you a check. Not only does this make your business look more professional, but it also keeps your customers happier, providing a stronger business relationship.

Easier auditing

With the use of accounting software, you’ll have an audit trail, so you can simply and easily see what changes were made to the books, by whom, and when. If you are audited, that information can be retrieved easily and simply, without question as to how things were handled in the past.

On-demand reporting

Most business professionals have become accustomed to on-demand insights. Software tools allow you to generate reports in an instant rather than manually generating reports from a spreadsheet tool. This also gives you the flexibility to check into a client’s account in an instant when they inevitably call to ask about something on their invoice. It’s also a good tool to have for employee performance reviews, so you can easily determine pay increases and bonus offerings. Inventory tracking and inventory management becomes much easier with the right tools.

What are some accounting software challenges?

These are challenges you might run into if you choose accounting software that isn’t the right fit for your company. Consider these as you compare accounting software.

Multi-currency and multi-country support with tax and regulatory compliance

Some accounting systems are only built to manage finances within a specific country or in a select few currencies. Companies that often do business across two or more countries or in a separate currency should look for an accounting tool and software solution that meets those requirements.

When comparing accounting software, check to ensure that the software supports multi-currency and multi-country regulations as well as your local tax and financial regulatory statutes, so you can use those valuable tax features without much manual intervention. If they don’t, you’ll need to input exchange information by hand which could lead to errors.

Data security

Your accounting records are precious data and need to be protected. While paper ledgers aren’t hackable, they also aren’t secure from everyone inside your organization. Accounting software such as QuickBooks Desktop or QuickBooks Online provides greater data security for your business.

Cloud computing provides more security for accounting software than paper ledgers because they can be password protected and teams can assign granular user roles to ensure that the right people have the right access to the right data. The best cloud accounting software also provides the physical security of offsite databases, automatic data backups, and data encryption to protect the company’s privacy.

Reporting and analytics

Without the right data, it can be difficult to know exactly where your accounts stand and even tougher to make budgeting decisions and predictions. When looking for accounting software, you need to look for tools that offer in-depth reporting and analytics features.

In addition to providing export features to business intelligence software that gives stakeholders a full-spectrum view of how the company’s data impacts the overall business environment, many accounting software tools also provide dashboard reporting and financial analytics right in the tool. These features help accountants and bookkeepers track spend vs. income, outstanding and recurring invoices, cash flow, inventory management, financial statements and other KPIs critical to the company’s financial health.

What kinds of businesses use accounting software?

Accounting software is available in nearly as many shapes and sizes as there are company types. These are the main types of businesses that use accounting tools to manage their financial accounts.

  • Commercial accounting: The most common type, commercial accounting software is used by both individuals and for-profit businesses to manage transactions, equity, etc. Commercial accounting software is often best-of-breed software designed for SMBs, mid-size businesses, and large companies that don’t deal with complicated regulatory or tax requirements.
  • Nonprofit accounting: Nonprofit software is tailored for the specific needs of not-for-profit organizations. Sometimes called “fund accounting software,” it helps manage grants, tax-exempt transactions, and the stringent reporting requirements most nonprofit organizations face.
  • Enterprise accounting: The majority of enterprise accounting solutions are designed for entities doing business internationally, which means they need to manage regulatory and tax compliance with widely varying requirements. Frequently, enterprise accounting software is deployed as an ERP. Theoretically, an enterprise-level accounting solution could be required for a nonprofit organization.

These three types of accounting software are used across the following major business types. When comparing accounting tools for your business, look for an accounting system that fits your particular needs, the complexity of financial records, and feature requirements.

Accounting firms

Accounting firms provide outsourced financial services to small businesses as well as those of all sizes that don’t have an in-house accounting department. Firms can either require businesses to use their preferred accounting software or request access to the company’s general ledger. Some accounting software is designed for agency use, while other software will require a new license for each company, making it more expensive for agencies who handle more than one company.

Small businesses and nonprofits

Small businesses will find increased financial visibility and easier records reconciliation when they switch from spreadsheets to a general ledger or core accounting software. Small businesses usually don’t start out with an accountant working in-house, but business owners who manage the company’s accounts unassisted will find that core accounting tools with available feature add-ons like payroll and invoicing can ease their pain. These systems place industry-standard financial accounting features behind the user-friendly interfaces, easing the transition when the team decides to contract with an outside accountant or bring a dedicated financial professional in-house.

Growing and mid-size businesses and nonprofits

A growing business has potential and hopes for future expansion, which can be confusing when buying accounting software. These teams need increased functionality and the ability to upgrade quickly but without the financial burden of buying a fully-featured enterprise solution that requires payment for features they do not yet use.

Some mid-size and growing businesses may find that an ERP designed for mid-size businesses will fit their needs while providing the opportunity for expansion in the future. Other teams may decide to put together a financial software stack built of best of breed software that shares data via API. A careful comparison of available features, add-ons, and pricing can help clarify these choices, as do recommendations for the best accounting software for your needs.

Enterprise and multinational businesses

The specific requirements of enterprise and multinational organizations include multi-currency and multinational regulatory requirements, supply chain, manufacturing, and business intelligence needs. Large or complex businesses should look for a fully-featured accounting tool or ERP that meets as many requirements as possible. Some enterprise businesses may even choose to work with a vendor to customize their ERP solution to ensure it has the functionality they need.

Enterprise-ready accounting software will automate and bring together many of the company’s financial tasks: invoice, supply chain, franchise, manufacturing management, transaction point payments and much more. These systems will also include valuable accounting analytics tools that will help with budgeting and forecasting and improving the company’s overall financial status.

How to create executive buy-in for accounting software

If you’re leading the initiative on software procurement, you’ll need to build a compelling case to company stakeholders on all of the advantages the new solution will offer. Below are a few talking points tailored to specific executives to help you get started.


Your CFO is the single most important person you’ll need to convince. They will likely be heavily involved in the new system, so you’ll need to ensure it offers a significant upgrade in functionality and lower price point than your current software. If you’re paying an outside accountant to manage your books, calculate the cost savings that moving your accounting in-house with a new solution will have.


Your CEO, like the CFO, will be concerned with the dollars and cents of this procurement effort. How many labor hours will the new system save? What will the month, quarter, or year-end close processes look like, and how long will it take to get those reports? Make sure the CEO and CFO agree because, without them, it will be difficult to make your case to the final stakeholder.


Your CTO likely doesn’t care about the features or functionality of the accounting solution you select, just as long as it can be easily integrated with the remainder of your technology stack. Look for solutions that offer an open API and a robust online knowledge base. You should also try to find software that shares a similar technical framework as your other mission-critical systems like your CRM.

Choosing the best accounting software


To truly understand which accounting software is best for your company before you buy, you, as a small business owner, will want to look for software vendors who are willing to let you peek behind the curtain with a free trial. With an application as complicated as accounting software, you’ll want to look for a trial that will provide you with enough time to port in some sample data, get a feel for major features, and test out the ease of use among multiple users. A free trial can be the difference between choosing an accounting software that meets your needs and spending all your time formulating workarounds for problem areas.

Case studies and referrals

Accounting software sales reps and marketing websites can tell you all about the benefits their software provides, but where’s the proof? Where’s the reassurance that they understand what a small business owner needs? The best accounting software vendors will be able to show their worth via case studies and referrals to current power users. If you’re not given access to real-life user feedback and ROI calculations, don’t be afraid to ask for it.


Your software selection team should formulate a request for proposals (RFP) early in the selection process and have it ready to send to accounting software vendors that you’re interested in. A good software RFP should contain:

  • Specific business goals your team would like to reach with this software
  • A list of must-have and nice-to-have features you’re looking for
  • A list of specialized industry or regulatory requirements that this software will need to fit.

Finding the right accounting software for your business (conclusion)

Accounting software is a vital tool for businesses of all sizes, offering a range of features from core accounting to payroll, ERP, billing and invoicing, and project accounting. The key features of accounting software, such as accounts payable/receivable, asset management, bank reconciliation, cash management, departmental accounting, time and expense management, reporting, and budgeting and forecasting, provide numerous benefits. 

These include time savings, reduction in manual data entry errors, greater account visibility, multi-device access, real-time engagement, easier auditing, on-demand reporting, and more. However, businesses must consider challenges like multi-currency and multi-country support, data security, and reporting and analytics when choosing the right software. Remember, the choice of accounting software should be based on the specific needs of the business, the complexity of financial records, and feature requirements.

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