Top 3 Accounting Software: Comparison of Freshbooks, Intacct, and NetSuite ERP
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Choosing one of the top accounting software systems can be overwhelming when the market is inundated with more than fifty different solutions offering different strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes, the best way to shortlist your choice is to aim for the leading products. In this case, we are highlighting our three top accounting software based on the overall score they merited from our B2B software experts and user satisfaction rating generated from aggregated user reviews across the Internet. Based on these metrics plus a closer inspection of the best features of the three accounting solutions, FreshBooks emerges as a top choice followed by Intacct and NetSuite ERP. Below, you’ll find more details how each of the three software products match against each other.
2. Intacct – Score: 9.6 | User Satisfaction Rating: 99%
3. NetSuite ERP – Score: 9.3 | User Satisfaction Rating: 99%
Top 3 Accounting Software Solutions of 2016
1. FreshBooks – Score: 9.8/10
FreshBooks is an award-winning accounting software company based in Toronto, Canada. It’s a cloud-based financial management solution designed for the non-accountant. Founded in 2003, it started as a SaaS for freelancers and consultants. Over time, FreshBooks has grown to expand its features and integration capabilities that now even larger companies can rely on the software.
It focuses on intuitive delivery of core accounting functions, such as, invoicing, expenses, time tracking, payments, and reporting. Its core aspects are: it’s easy to use, it saves the small business owner time, and it helps him get his financials organized.
For usability, scalability, and value for money, FreshBooks earned the first place on our list of top 10 accounting & finances services. It got the highest total score of 9.8/10 among all accounting apps that we tested and received a very high user satisfaction rating of 99%. FreshBooks also won the FinancesOnline Best Accounting Software Award for 2015 and the Supreme Software Award for 2015. The app provides great flexibility when it comes to pricing plans and even offers a great free trial plan that will allow you to check if their services are really fit for your company.
You can easily sign up for FreshBooks free trial here.
For more information about the software you can skip to the FreshBooks features section below or read our detailed review of FreshBooks.
2. Intacct – Score: 9.6/10
Founded in 1999 as a cloud-based alternative to on-premise solutions for small and medium businesses, San Jose, CA-based Intacct is one of the pioneers of the SaaS model using the multi-tenant approach to lower cost and make powerful systems accessible to smaller companies. It is regarded as the next step for QuickBooks users who have outgrown the most basic accounting tools; hence, Intacct features additional robust tools like contract management, revenue recognition, vendor management, reporting, and financial consolidation. Intacct has a 99% user satisfaction rating and got an overall score of 9.6/10 in our test which makes it the second best option after FreshBooks. We were really satisfied with its wide range of out-of-the-box features that are also highly customizable.
For more information about the software you can skip to the Intacct features section below or read our detailed review of Intacct.
3. NetSuite ERP – Score: 9.3/10
San Mateo CA-based NetSuite is an enterprise platform of different solutions that manage business processes, one of which is financial management. Founded in 1998 and owned by Oracle, NetSuite is one of the biggest cloud accounting software today, acquiring a host of relevant solutions–from timesheets, e-commerce, and HR, to warehouse management and email service–to integrate its product. It also has a high-profile partnership with Salesforce.com, a direct competitor, through Oracle. NetSuite ERP is generally targeted at large enterprises, but as with most SaaS solutions, it also promotes to secondary market segments, in this case, small businesses. NetSuite ERP enjoys a high user satisfaction rating of 99% and received a very good score of 9.3/10 in our test in recognition of its sophisticated accounting features and time-tested reliability.
For more information about the software you can skip to the NetSuite features section below or read our detailed review of NetSuite ERP.
Features of FreshBooks
FreshBooks may be known as a simplified yet useful accounting software that small and medium businesses like, but the software has since included more robust features, such as, time and expense tracking, reports and analytics, and a wide array of add-ons and apps that extend its functions. The feature expansion reflects FreshBooks’ growing popularity even for larger companies, mainly for its scalability, easy pricing terms, and usability. Despite this, FreshBooks remains a user-friendly tool for the small business owner.
Contacts and Items
One of its better features is its contacts and items. Contacts follow a standard format, but there is also a secondary page that allows you to link additional data relating to the contact. A screen shows important data like logged hours, emails sent, account statements, and invoices that concern the contact. Interestingly, the screen also displays the average number of days the client usually pays, a handy feature to help you manage the cash flow.
FreshBooks also allows for second-tiered users for people who can only access certain sections of the accounting records. However, additional users are billed as an add-on each. For example, you can give contractors access to invoicing and time-tracking for their billing, or limit your accountant to read-only access for journal entries and reports.
Meanwhile, items support both product and service with fields for cost, description, quantity, name, and taxes. Track Inventory automatically subtracts the number of stocks every time you add an item in an invoice, but, conversely, you need to add the number when you replenish stocks. Although it is not a full inventory management, it is what most small and medium businesses need. As with contacts, items feature a secondary page that displays related data, including invoices, sales reports, stock level, and estimates.
Another great FreshBooks feature is creating invoices. It’s intuitive and neat, alerting you for missing critical fields like your address and billing type (item vs. time vs. both). You can edit the fields, such as, purchase order number, date, items, etc. Moreover, calculations are automated once you’ve assigned rates like taxes and unit cost; you need only to enter hours or quantity. FreshBooks also lets you set recurring invoices and credit receipts and payment options such as FreshBooks’ own merchant account, Stripe, and PayPal.
Time and Expense Tracking
FreshBooks is also well liked for its flexible tracking tool for time and expenses, which allows for daily, weekly, and monthly views. The tool fits a simple project record that shows the project name, billing method, client, and estimate hours to finish the project. Similarly, expense records display important information such as vendor, date, category, sales tax (two levels tops), and client. You can also set it as recurring and quickly convert the expense claim to an invoice.
Navigation and Integration
It’s the accounting software’s signature, the ease of navigating its features and functions. A series of tabs run horizontally at the top, where subtabs show you more related features. For example, under Invoices you see Recurring, Received, Payments, Credits, and Items. The same relational organization can be found in other tabs for estimates, expenses, reports, and time tracking. Navigation is made easier with drop-down menus, buttons and icons, and interactive elements.
On another note, FreshBooks has a wide range of add-ons and integrations that extend your accounting functions. On top of its flexible API–it lest you connect FreshBooks to your applications–FreshBooks integrates with popular and standard business solutions, such as: help desk; e-commerce; payroll; project management; and payment gateways.
Features of Intacct
Like FreshBooks, Intacct features intuitive top-level navigational view and scalable functions, making it an very good accounting software for small and medium businesses. However, some of its features require a bit of time to learn because the app is also more complex with its modules aimed at bigger companies. It falls short of FreshBook’s usability (simplicity combined with practical use), but Intacct makes up for it with midrange features. Intacct is a good next step for QuickBooks users, who require additional accounting tools for their growing business, and a good match for NetSuite ERP for functional extensions.
One notable Intacct feature are its dashboards and customizable screens. You can immediately see all important financial data based on what you set as urgent. Intacct dashboard will be familiar to QuickBooks users who are accustomed to standard accounting features. At the same time, you can expand the section for additional modules or ones based on your industry, such as, accounting firms, franchise, healthcare, hospitality, and nonprofit.
Intacct has preconfigured roles for user types, for example, CFO, controller, and department head, but you can also set your own configurations. Likewise, the software allows you to slice data and access according to user role. This feature is aimed at mid-range companies, where the accounting head can edit and has access to all data and reports, while the staff can only view specific areas. However, creating user role involves a detailed process to adhere to security standards. Moreover, if you don’t have that many different users in your company, this feature may be underused, in short, be an unnecessary cost.
Intacct caters to a wide range of clients from small business owners to mid-range companies with numerous user roles. Expectedly, the software has to be scalable to meet the different needs of its users. The basic package includes standard modules, such as: General Ledger, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Order Entry, Purchasing, Cash Management, and Employee Expense. From here, you can add more robust modules for a fee, for example: Salesforce.com integration, Global Consolidations, Project Accounting, and Revenue Recognition. It also features multi-currency management, credit card processing, e-commerce, automated journal entries and bank reconciliation. However, despite the add-ons, the software lacks support for audit trail and depreciation, which are core accounting features. As Intacct tries to cover more market segments, features that are important to one segment (small business) but are not critical to another (large companies) may be missed out.
Features of NetSuite ERP
NetSuite ERP has an extensive range of accounting management tools, state-of-the-art interface, robust navigational tools, and is compliant with numerous global accounting rules. It has a sophisticated infrastructure, which may be also its weakness in the cloud-computing landscape, where scalability in both features and pricing is more important than robust features. In many respects, NetSuite ERP is slightly better than Intacct when it comes to more advanced accounting tools.
Designed for large companies
NetSuite ERP features a financial management module, the app itselft being composed of several other business solutions as well. Although Netsuite ERP is also targeted at small and medium businesses, it’s clearly mostly meant for large companies. In fact, its core package consisting of standard accounting–General Ledger, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Inventory, Fixed Assets–is at the higher end of the price scale of other basic accounting solutions. Likewise, beyond financial management, NetSuite ERP supports CRM, order support, customer support, and marketing automation processes.
Dashboards and user roles
NetSuite has numerous preconfigured dashboards for different users, plus you can also customize your own screen display. Compared to Intacct, user roles and permissions are easier to set in NetSuite and you have more options. For instance, admin can allow employees to customize their dashboards. When integrated with your other business solutions, the dashboard can generate real-time data to help you track data like KPIs when analyzing organizational efficiency. Then again, if you don’t require that many user roles or configurations, you may underuse this advantage while still paying the extra cost.
Strictly speaking NetSuite is an ERP, which goes beyond just basic accounting. It has standard features like records, transactions, invoices to inventory, purchase orders, and billing. At the same time, it integrates and automates back-office processes beyond bookkeeping. For example, it incorporates international accounting regulations in its multi-currency module; it manages the entire fixed asset lifecycle, not just keeps a catalog of it; and it facilitates revenue recognition beyond merely tracking income vs. expense.
NetSuite ERP also allows custom inquiries based on nearly any criteria that you set and gives real-time access to system-wide data. It also features custom report templates and permits an unlimited number of what-if cases. Having highlighted its robust features, NetSuite ERP may be the most powerful accounting software that you’ll never need, but that power will come at a steep price.
Our Final Verdict
Among our top three accounting software solutions we found FreshBooks to be the most user-friendly and having the best value for money. Best value means you get to use all its features on regular basis and you won’t be paying for features that you don’t need. While it is regarded as a useful accounting software for small businesses, FreshBooks has enough robust features and integration capabilities that medium and large companies can safely rely on it as well.
On the other hand, Intacct and NetSuite ERP have more advanced tools for its main market: larger companies. However, both solutions have difficulty scaling down the features and pricing to cater to its other market: growing small businesses. In fact, some Intacct functions demand a learning curve and some of its screens display arcane language, while NetSuite is clearly too much of a good thing (unless you need that much of a good thing of course). Intacct and NetSuite are closely matched, but both are targeted at complex accounting needs, while FreshBooks, overall, benefits more companies with basic accounting needs with enough room to expand for additional useful features. FreshBooks also has a very good free trial plan that can give you a realiable overview of all its features before you decide if it can meet all the requirements of your company. You can easily sing up for FreshBooks free trial here.Category: B2B News