Budgeting software refers to business solutions with planning, budgeting and forecasting capabilities, collectively called PBF (or BPF sometimes). The solutions run the gamut of other related functions, such as core accounting, project management, billing and invoicing and time tracking.
In this guide, we’ll introduce you to the best solutions with PBF capabilities. We reviewed a mix of budgeting software solutions that cater to various business types and sizes and with varying focuses to come up with our list of best 20 budgeting software solutions of 2019.
We used variables like small business vs. large enterprise dynamics, on-premise vs. cloud deployment and general vs. use-specific. The result is a comprehensive list of budgeting solutions that, hopefully, will lend to your business at least one that fits your exact requirements. But first a little context.
A budget is no longer a tool that just forecasts annual revenues and expenses. It has become a strategic planning aid that points the company in the right direction, whether it’s how much the business can absorb risks or charting the path of least resistance.
That’s why Excel and, to some extent, the old QuickBooks no longer suffice if you want to optimize financial planning, notably, the reach of your projected cash flow and capital expenditures. Take a look at the photo provided to see the kinds of problems you may encounter when you use Excel for your corporate budget planning.
Today, businesses are looking for ways to consolidate disparate financial and transactional data to come up with accurate forecasts and insights. To do this, businesses have set their technology priorities to improve PBF in business over the next years: automation of budgeting processes, achieving process standardization, and transition to a more specialized PBF tool. Additionally, in a survey by Business Application Research Center, businesses are currently leveraging the integration of different sub-budgets to optimize financial planning.
Connecting planning, budgeting and forecasting is key to the business’ longevity. If the company is risk-averse it may miss growth targets and underperform in the long run. Conversely, if it undertakes risky projects with little analysis on hand, it may cost the company an arm and leg. A good budget planning tool helps companies find that sweet spot. With clear visibility on your cash flow, revenue streams and expenses, among others, it’s easy to assess the business’ future. Moreover, budget planning is now more comprehensive, taking into account granular details from day-to-day sources.
In the context of how important budget planning and forecasting is to your business, finding the right solution is paramount.
FreshBooks is one of the most popular accounting software solutions for small business owners. It’s also an excellent tool to account for all your transactions and keep tab of your budget. It has a rich feature set for expense tracking, invoicing, projects, payments and accounting reports. The modules are tightly synced and designed for small teams, which means you can easily monitor cash inflows and outflows even by yourself.
The app currently occupies the top spot in our list of top 20 budgeting software solutions of 2018 because of its robust features, capabilities and performance. The vendor offers a great free trial plan that allows you to try out all the key features of the software first. You can easily sign up for FreshBooks free trial here.
FreshBooks is popular for its Android and iOS apps, which are not pared down desktop versions, but fully functional apps that feel empowering when you’re on the go. You can access all the essential features and your data from your iPhone or Android phone, keeping you always on top of your budget.
Another key feature is its invoice-to-payment process. It addresses the pain points in collecting from clients, mainly tracking due dates and following up late payments without being confrontational. With a few clicks you can pull out outstanding invoices then set automatic payment reminders. The app even notifies you when a client opens your billing email, giving you a good time to follow it up with a call. The invoice-to-payment feature helps you account for your collectibles with little manual intervention and keep your cash flow protected.
Likewise, FreshBooks is good at tracking expenses, a handy tool to keep you within budget. Small things like unaccounted employee advances for client meetings can bleed you money over time. The app makes it simple for employees to capture these little expenses: snap a photo of the receipt and attach it to an item. FreshBooks logs and consolidates all related expense items per employee. You can also use the expense tracker to monitor your credit card and bank accounts by importing your day-to-day bank transactions directly to FreshBooks.
Small businesses that use contractors also find FreshBooks practical to track work hours to the tee. Field workers can log in on the app from their smartphones and the hours are captured in a timesheet and it’s ready for payroll processing. The time tracker is flexible–you can track time by the minute or be charged with a flat rate, and track time by individual or team.
Sage 50c is the new version of Sage 50 as the vendor added a cloud angle to the desktop app in 2016 (the ‘c’ stands for cloud). It still features advanced accounting tools, such as inventory management and module-level security, plus payroll management and expense tracking.
Sage 50 was a popular on-premise accounting software for small businesses, but it couldn’t match the accessibility and scalability of newer cloud accounting solutions; hence, the decision to tap cloud.
Today, the cloud functionality carries over with it Sage’s standard accounting, invoicing and cash flow management, which help you to manage your budget more efficiently. The hybrid version leverages the privacy control of on-premise and the accessibility and scalability of cloud. You can easily sign up for Sage free trial here.
The solution’s reporting is advanced and can generate myriad financial reports including sales, taxes, expenditures and profits. They help you assess your overall business health. As with the old desktop app, the cloud upgrade is designed for the non-accountant. Built-in checks and balances in its core accounting and other transactional operations like inventory and payroll ensure the integrity of your financials. It has Android and iOS apps, so you can take with you the system and your data and leverage the cloud advantage.
NetSuite is an end-to-end financial management solution with accounting functions as just among its key features. It fits the budget planning dynamics of mid-sized businesses and large enterprises. The system covers front-end and back-office processes including revenue management, billing, order management, fixed asset depreciation and inventory management. Businesses can view financial-related KPIs in myriad angles and for different user roles that make its reporting configurable to specific purposes. For instance, ecommerce admin can run order management metrics, while the logistics manager consolidates purchase orders and vendor payables. You can easily sign up for Netsuite free demo here.
NetSuite is not only useful for the organization’s budget management, but different business units within it can run their own forecasts. Transactional data can be segregated into metrics for sales, finance, fulfillment and other units, so various teams can crunch localized budgeting number on demand.
Xero is another popular accounting software for small business in various industries. Its features are noticeably more streamlined than our top software, keeping only to the most essential features to help you manage the budget. Its top functions include bank reconciliation to help you track your transactions in real time; financial reporting that gives you insights on different income-expense aspects of the business; automatic invoicing to ensure collectibles are closely monitored; and an integrated payroll that helps churn out accurate wages, no more or less than necessary.
These features are more than enough to keep you on top of your budget. To give you an idea of its merits, the vendor offers a fully featured and easy-to-setup free trial that we wholeheartedly recommend.
Despite being a small business app, Xero impresses with enterprise-grade tools that provide accurate feedback on your financial transactions. It’s easy to track historical entries, detail expense items, account for revenues and associated dates, items, actions and employees with a few clicks.
As a sales tool, the app helps you control inventory and manage purchase orders. As an invoicing tool, it streamlines and automates billing-to-payment processes.
Xero also excels in managing fixed assets and segmenting contacts based on purchase history and has reliable Android and iOS apps. Moreover, for U.S.-based users, Xero automatically adjusts taxes for over twenty states, a quick-fix solution if you’re weary of unattuned to tax regulations elsewhere in the country.
QuickBooks is still a shoo-in in any best budgeting software list, including ours. It is the brand most closely associated with accounting software. It has since eclipsed by our top cloud solutions in this list, yet the software still merits a place in our top budgeting software list for one reason: it’s perfect for companies opting out of Excel to manage their financial transactions.
The software brand actually consists of three versions: QuickBooks Online (cloud-hosted, for freelancer and small business), QuickBooks Pro (on-premise and cloud, for mid-market) and QuickBooks Enterprise (for large enterprises). They share similar attributes of the brand, mainly, streamlined, integrated and automated process flows.
The software popularized the dashboard that syncs all business financial transactions in one place, which is now a standard in accounting software solutions.
Its key features include an Accounts Management, which lets you create, edit and share data with other users; customizable feeds and charts; and security and backup tools, such as, Excel exporting, restrictions and error alerts. The software also features automatic banking, tax calculations and mobile receipt capture.
Intacct ERP is a good budget management tool for the fast-growing business. It’s ideal for companies moving out of entry-level accounting, but still has the flexibility to scale from the basic needs of the small business to the complex process flows required in a large enterprise. Intacct is used in industries like healthcare, wholesale and retail.
The accounting software has good compatibility with other accounting systems like QuickBooks, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, Lawson, Deltek and Oracle. If you feel you’ve outgrown these solutions, you can easily migrate data to Intacct.
With core accounting tools like general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable and multi-currency support, the software keeps you on top of your budget. Likewise, it features project accounting, sales tax automation and fixed assets tracking to cater to your more complex financial aspects that impact the budget.
Intacct also features template and customizable reports that enable you to present key financial metrics in charts and graphs that are meaningful to you. Visual reports make it easy to analyze your financial health, forecast budget and track KPIs. Likewise, payment transactions are closely monitored but restricted based on user roles for security.
FinancialForce Accounting is Salesforce’s midmarket solution that fits the budget management dynamics of small to medium-sized companies. One advantage that quickly jumps out at us is its native integration with Salesforce CRM. With CRM acting as the core system where other business processes revolve, budgeting included, FinancialForce can easily consolidate customer transactions and track their impact on your bottom line. These include purchases broken down into insightful bits, such as new orders, repeat orders and non-returning customers.
Moreover, a CRM-integrated accounting helps you to focus your core accounting on generating revenues than on cutting down expenses to increase margins, the mantra of forward-looking startups. It’s not to say though this software lacks for cost accounting, which is standard in accounting solutions. In fact, FinancialForce is noted for a unique General Ledger costing tool, its intercompany journal, which allows you to transfer cost between your business units.
Meantime, its accounts payable features automated invoice-to-pay processing with rules on credit terms and caps per vendor account to manage your outgoing cash.
Conversely, the software can be set for customer credit terms to manage accounts receivables. A built-in IM tool, Chatter, lets you coordinate late payment collection with customer service and sales reps. The software also has tools for tax compliance, fixed asset depreciation and time tracking.
Expensify keeps a tight lid on your expenses, an ideal tool for businesses that need to rein in on runaway costs. Expense being a major factor in budget planning, we feel this app deserves a spot in our best budgeting software rundown. It’s easy to create summaries of various accounts and calendars for better transparency in your costs. This helps you avoid budget leaks that happen to loosely monitored expenses, including trivial everyday employee expenses that accumulate over time.
Companies that contend with recurring business trips will find it easy to track travel miles or time spent on each project or activity and keep tabs on overall travel costs. Not surprisingly, Expensify also allows capturing of receipts through photos and attaching them to an expense report.
Moreover, the app integrates with credit cards and other payment gateways. This isn’t only convenient for employees to pay for services on duty, but you can consolidate and evaluate their purchases. Unauthorized expenses are easily spotted.
The software also integrates with other business systems to extend its expense management tools for other uses, such as, for CRM, ERP and ecommerce platform.
AccountEdge is one of the few remaining purely on-premise accounting solutions for small businesses. It works on both PC and Windows platforms. A double-entry system, the solution ensures your financial data’s integrity and consistency across various transactions. These include invoicing, bank reconciliation, purchase orders, payroll, inventory and ecommerce.
With a one-time licensing fee, AccountEdge lends to your budget management more privacy and user access are at your terms. This can be limiting however to other users who prefer cloud accessibility.
The app is arguably one of the richest feature sets we encountered for small business accounting. It covers core accounting, banking, sales, payroll, purchases, inventory, time tracking and inventory. With all these processes consolidated in one place, your budget forecast or a historical view of it covers all the important bases.
Likewise, creating quotes, orders and invoices is fast and smooth. You can automate these stages into one seamless process for repetitive services. With integrated banking, the solution makes it simple, too, to prepare bank deposits, make electronic payments, print checks and reconcile accounts right inside the system.
ZipBooks is a free accounting solution for freelancers and small businesses. It covers the most basic accounting and bookkeeping needs, and related processes that impact on budget planning, such as, invoicing, expense tracking and income projection. It also accommodates payments through credit cards and checks.
For a freemium, the app does a good job at creating financial reports, reconciling bank statements and integrating with other key business productivity apps, including Google Apps, Asana, Chrome and Slack.
Should your accounting requirements get complex, the vendor charges for accounting services through its financial partners. In the meantime, it is as free as it gets, allowing you to perform core accounting and a few extra processes (invoicing, time tracking, team management) and view all your financial transactions in one place.
TimeCamp is a time tracking software that can be used as an excellent project budgeting tool. It ensures accurate client invoicing for billable hours, which aids in calculating the ROI of your project. As a budgeting tool, it gives you clear visibility on your margins.
Likewise, if your service is reliant on time, this app ensures you’re fully compensated. It lets you bill by task, project or employee. Conversely, if you contract jobs by the hour, TimeCamp helps you measure total work compensation versus your gross margin. The result is a net that can be plowed back in for budget planning.
The app is also helpful to consistently monitor employee productivity, a key factor to your bottom line. Work hours are tracked automatically and from any device the employee logs in into the system. It gives you a concrete way to put value on skills and how much they contribute to overall profitability.
Riskturn helps manage your cash flow with budgeting and forecasting tools using time and transactional data. It caters to project and business of any size and type. The app is available through monthly subscription or perpetual licensing.
As a project budgeting tool, it lets you model various scenarios to assess the financial and time elements. You can run risk assessments across defined project timelines and see how the budget is impacted.
The main budgeting feature is the built-in cash flow template, which captures costs versus revenues and displays them visually. Cost and revenue items can be defined as fixed or variable, marked with depreciation and amortization plans and categorized by quantity or unit price. You can import or export data to Excel.
Budget Maestro by Centage is a robust accounting solution with budget forecasting and management functionalities. It’s highly adaptive to the requirements of small and mid-sized businesses across a wide range of industries, such as healthcare, manufacturing, wholesale, business services, retail and nonprofits.
It centralizes all your financial and transactional data and processes them using sound accounting principles. For instance, the balance sheet is derived from profit & loss data, which allows the former to churn out accurate cash flow statement. Likewise, the app hosts forty GAAP/IFRS-compliant report templates, which you can configure for different reporting requirements. The reports can be exported to Excel.
The app is available in two editions, Advanced Planning (on-premise) for organizations with more complex budget planning and performance management needs and Cloud for those attuned to a SaaS model.
IBM Planning Analytics offers a comprehensive feature set that includes tools for budgeting, forecasting, analysis and planning. The system is built on IBM Cognos TM1. Companies with sophisticated budget planning requirements can turn to this system to help them aggregate their disparate financial data into operational insights. It can be deployed and customized to the department-specific needs of your cost center.
The system matches the dynamics of driver-based planning and rolling forecasting. You can generate multi-dimensional calculations to analyze different variables, such as product or customer profitability, price variance and sales orders.
As a budgeting tool, it helps you discover insights buried in tons of financial and transactional data. Furthermore, IBM Planning Analytics features scorecards and dashboard quick lookups to help you see at once the big picture of your KPIs.
Poindexter is a free business modeling app that helps you prepare financial forecasts and budget plans in your business case. It’s designed in the plug-and-play mold, targeting users with no technical skills. Still, the app is robust and comes with core accounting functions that let you generate cash flow statements, income statements and balance sheets.
The app helps you see the profitability of your business case in varied scenarios. For instance, you can simulate customer acquisition models from engagement to conversion in myriad channels. Likewise, you can model different revenue streams with clearly defined milestones and metrics and see how your business progresses even before it starts.
The free app allows for one project; should you require more, a monthly plan is available. You can also ask for a custom-fit solution via quote.
Questica Budget is a popular budgeting software solution among K-12 schools, healthcare organizations, colleges/universities and government. They utilize the system to streamline their budgeting cycles. The app addresses the pain points of disparate and disconnected spreadsheets and an outdated process of manual entries common in these sectors. Questica Budget allows these organizations to run sophisticated reporting and analytics for smarter forecasting and budget management.
The system is mainly used for budgeting salary, capital and operational costs. Furthermore, the software features a collaboration space to share files and exchange messages and is designed for multiple users. The system also uses scorecards to help you monitor the overall financial performance.
Prophix is a corporate performance management system with tools for planning the budget, revenues, project and cash flow. It’s a comprehensive solution aimed at medium and large enterprises. The multi-user, on-premise solution helps businesses understand their financial workflows with analysis tools for more accurate budget forecasting.
Likewise, the system can automate the process of generating standard accounting reporting, such as income statements, balance sheet and cash flow. It’s also useful for capital expenditure planning and consolidating your financial data from various sources. Prophix also uses visual analytics to present insights in digestible bits that can be utilized for short-term or long-term decisions.
PlanGuru is a budgeting and financial planning system capable of high-level forecasting that’s not readily available in standard accounting solutions. It aids in planning for and managing the operating budget of different departments. The system is deployed as an on-premise solution.
Aside from budgeting and forecast, it features off-the-shelf core accounting tools, such as balance sheet, cash flow statement and profit-loss statement. Likewise, you can customize dashboards and reports to display KPIs of your choice.
The system has an integrated HR and payroll tool. You can estimate staffing requirements and calculate the costs of new hires. Moreover, PlanGuru also features inventory management, which tracks the depreciated values of your fixed assets.
Other key features include bank reconciliation, credit card payment and integration with productivity apps.
Float is a good small business app for cash flow forecasting and management. It’s an indispensable tool for budget planning, letting you to forecast cash flow well into years from now. This insight helps business owners and managers to steer away from costly initiatives and point the company to a conservative direction.
You can construct short-term and long-term cash flow projections while setting up the current budget. Likewise, it’s easy to track the cash on hand with daily, weekly or monthly monitoring. For details, you can drill down to granular files such as invoices, POs and sales orders.
Float can also integrate with accounting solutions to enhance their cash flow forecasting capability. Conversely, Float can leverage the live data being fed by the accounting system and enable you to accurately track your running cash.
A spend management software built to optimize one’s profitability, Resolvr simplifies the way businesses handle their mid and back-office expenses. The software enables companies to graduate from cumbersome spreadsheets-based processes in favor of a centralized platform that streamlines and automates one’s responsibilities.
With Resolvr, businesses are able to easily scale their spending as needed while keeping all their spending under control. All information is kept up to date to ensure that everyone works with accurate data. Furthermore, it provides users with clear visibility on their spend so they are able to easily optimize their practices and discover investment opportunities.
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