If you’re asking “what’s the best accounting software?” you might want to rethink your question.
What you should be asking is which accounting software is best for you.
That last part makes a world of difference. Really, any accounting software will do the job. Whether you’re looking at QuickBooks Online, Xero or any other top player, you’ll find they provide the basics. They just do so in different ways – with their own little quirks.
Some quirks won’t matter so much; others will get in the way and complicate your processes. In the end, you want the option that’ll make you more efficient, not cause more problems.
So what’ll make one stand out above the others comes down to your business and what will end up saving you time and money in the long run?
Ask these questions first
Before you take the leap and sign up for some software, we recommend you consider the following:
Is it easy to use?
The software should feel intuitive. It’s not designed well if you or the others on your team need to dig through help files or crack open an accounting textbook to use it.
Does it support automation?
Automation takes repetitive, manual tasks like logging transaction details off your plate so you can get back to what matters most. AI, for example, can predict your entries or extract data from your uploaded invoices so you don’t need to enter data yourself.
Does it integrate?
By linking the other third-party applications you use day-to-day (and the ones you’re planning to use in the future) for things like payroll processing, expense management and recurring billing, you can simplify your processes and save real time.
Is it powerful?
As your transactions get more complicated, your software needs to keep up. Your accountant also needs power under the hood to work their magic on manual journal entries, account reconciliations, general ledger reports, trial balance and more.
What are the reports like?
Not only should they be easy to understand, but they should also help you understand your business. Can you present information based on functional areas of reporting, or do your reports spit out the full thing without organization? Can you save custom reports for specific readers, compare them to previous periods and check against your budget?
Will it scale?
If your software doesn’t grow with your business in the next three to five years, you’ll be switching faster than you’d like.
What’s not on this list? Price. As tempting as it may be to sign up for low-cost or even free software, think about the efficiencies you’ll lose or gain. The features that cost a little more upfront can end up saving much more in time and effort.
Why we use Xero
The playing field is a big one, and we don’t want to discount any option because they all have a place in the ecosystem. But for ourselves and our clients, Xero is the clear favourite. We switch clients from other platforms to Xero far more often than we switch them from Xero to another provider. In our opinion, it’s the best fit for the startup world.
Why? It hits all the criteria we mentioned above. It’s beautifully made and easy to use, it packs the powerful accounting punch that accountants need, it produces comprehensive reports and much more.
There’s a reason it’s part of the Element CPA approach, after all.
Not sure? Ask an accountant.
We know picking the right platform off the bat is a tall order. We also know a lot about the platforms that are out there.
For example, remember those little quirks that make each platform different? You might not find them until you’re neck-deep in your new process. But we can shed light on them ahead of time so you’re prepared and make the best decision for your business.
Part of our job is helping clients figure out which is the best option “for me.” After all, we’re not just number crunchers; we’re advisors too, and finding the right technology is one area where we shine the brightest.
So if you’re not sure what software you should be using, or you’re not happy with what you’ve already got, get in touch. We’re happy to help.
About Element CPA
Element CPA is an innovative accounting partner that’s 100% focused on helping Canadian startups and small businesses get their books in order, operate more efficiently and plan for the future. We handle the day-to-day financial operations that make your business run, tell the story behind your numbers and provide advice as you grow.