Did you know that financial mismanagement is one of the top reasons for business failure? Managing finances is a critical task for businesses of whatever type and size. Processing, recording, and organizing financial data as well as tracking expenditures, monitoring cash flow, processing payroll, and preparing taxes are complicated activities. They are also prone to errors if done manually. Businesses utilize accounting software solutions to simplify, streamline, and automate these processes.
In this article, we’ll present the top 3 accounting software – FreshBooks, QuickBooks Enterprise, and NetSuite ERP – that have undergone our extensive evaluation. They have emerged as the leading accounting solutions because of their usability, best-in-class tools, unique capabilities, scalability, and flexibility. Unlike industry-specific solutions like construction accounting or accounting for nonprofits, these three can handle almost any industry requirements. We’ll take an in-depth look into their features and compare them against each other so you get a better picture of which one suits your business best.
Search for “top reasons businesses fail” and you’ll get a variety of results. But always on the list is something to do with managing finances. Score.org even zeroes in on a particular item – cash flow is the number one reason for small business failure. In fact, 82% of small businesses fail because of cash flow problems. The circumstance is not exclusive to startups and small business. Poor cash flow management is also the leading financial reason for the failure of established businesses. All these drive home the point: accounting software is useful to any business to properly handle company finances.
Businesses are cognizant of the important function of accounting software. For one, businesses big and small consider it as a foundational application in the technology stack. It is seen as a vital tool for growing one’s business and avoiding failure. With its significant role, accounting software is a must-have. Hence, the accounting software market is steadily growing at a rate of 7.2%. From a market value of $11.4 billion in 2018, the industry is projected to reach $17.3 billion by 2024.
The primary reasons for having accounting software is visualized above. We have made an in-depth analysis of accounting software if you need to further learn about its features, benefits, types, and pricing. For this article, we’ll focus on comparing the top 3 accounting software – FreshBooks, QuickBooks Enterprise, and NetSuite ERP – and go through their salient features and core capabilities.
All three solutions have more or less the same accounting and financial management features that accountants value. They help you to handle cash flow, expenses, billing and invoicing, sales orders and purchases, reporting, and more. But our best accounting software solutions also have a lot to offer beyond those basic functionalities such as customization, flexibility, and security. As common as they are in some areas, they are also as varied – one is a full-fledged ERP system, another is an industry-specific desktop/cloud hybrid platform, while yet another is an invoicing and accounting specialist rolled into one.
Of course, there are other reliable accounting software systems in the market that you can consider and you don’t have to confine yourself to the three that we have here. Suffice to say, however, that these top 3 accounting software are best-of-breed and can meet all your accounting requirements and more. Let’s get started.
Accounting is a tedious task if done manually. It is also open to errors. When it comes to money matters and financial transactions, reporting, and recordkeeping, mistakes are unacceptable. For a small business or self-employed professional, doing all these is laborious and time-consuming.
Accounting is made easy with FreshBooks which is used by over a million business subscribers from more than 120 countries worldwide. It is able to streamline financial tasks and accounting processes through robust yet easy-to-use features. Although it has big-name companies like CNN and The New York Times in its list of customers, the bulk of its users are companies with 1-50 employees. SMBs are drawn to the cloud-hosted accounting platform with its ability to organize expenses, accept online payments, automate income tracking, simplify payroll, and accurately prepare taxes, among others. It is also a favorite accounting software for startups.
FreshBooks is built for invoicing, a process that takes up nearly 90% of a company’s financial operation. Being able to precisely track productive hours, create billings for projects, and generate professional-looking invoices in no time means you’ll be paid fast and on schedule, which is a huge business advantage. The online platform offers a highly scalable and intuitive interface and can integrate with dozens of external apps and services. It is available in three budget-friendly plans with prices ranging from $15/month to $50/month.
The vendor also provides a free trial plan to let you test out its features. You can easily sign up for FreshBooks free trial here.
FreshBooks provides all the accounting tools you need to ensure accuracy and prove compliance in your financial reports. It also enables you to understand the cost of operating your business, forecast your earnings, and make business and financial decisions based on actual data. You can identify revenue items and related expenses to give you a precise picture of profits and losses. It offers balance sheet, general ledger, trial balance, chart of accounts, journal entries, and accountant access. It comes with automatic checks and balances to ensure that credit and debit amounts are equal and reduce the chances of errors when you file your taxes.
FreshBooks simplifies the process of billing and invoicing. You can swiftly create invoices simply by filling out preset fields in the invoicing form or, if you want, customize the fields with your own information. You can also personalize your sales invoice with your logo or thank-you message. The system takes care of automating calculations once you’ve entered the unit costs, tax rates, and other pricing data. It also puts on auto-pilot everything else – from sending payment reminders to clients, requesting a deposit on your invoice, and preparing recurring invoices that can be used with payment processing services such as PayPal or Stripe.
The software allows you to transform custom estimates into invoices to save you time on billing and get paid faster. With the estimating tool, you can make job cost estimates and begin projects with a quote. The system will keep a tab of any running expenses as the project goes along, eliminating the need to make manual adjustments to your fee and to create separate invoices. The feature also lets you track estimate status from the time it is viewed and accepted by the client, send estimates in the currency you prefer, and create email estimates on the go with a FreshBooks mobile app. Likewise, you get the ability to customize proposals that outline the project timeline, scope, and deliverables.
FreshBooks comes with a time tracking tool that lets you monitor the number of hours or days and weeks that your team is putting on a project. This way you can maximize productivity and have an accurate tally of how much to bill clients for project time spent. You can have at-a-glance views of the working time, breakdown of work hours, precise time logs, and ability to add time entry notes. All these billable time can be automatically inserted into your invoices so your client is informed.
The software facilitates receiving payments from clients and paying vendors and suppliers. FreshBooks payment processing capability lets you create single-click payment setups, enable programmed deposits to banks, and undertake credit card processing. It lets your customers pay directly via invoices and records automatically every payment in your account. The system is linked to your bank accounts which auto logs and reflects any transactions into your dashboard.
A dedicated expense management feature allows you to track business expenses and know at a glance what you’re spending on and whether you’re profitable. With your credit card and bank account connected to FreshBooks, you get rid of manual entry. Your FreshBooks account will be updated daily and automatically to show your latest spending. You can likewise take a picture of a receipt and log with the system which will take care of organizing things in the cloud. The feature also lets you track and record important details of every spending including purchase date, sales tax, vendor, product category, and other information such as tax-deductible expenses for easier filing when the time comes.
The system gives you powerful but simple reporting and dashboards so you can immediately see business and financial performance. FreshBooks will do the number crunching for you, generate insightful reports, and accurately organize everything for tax season. You can have all types of reports to keep you on top and on track of your business such as profit and loss report, sales tax summary, accounts aging, payments collected, expense report, invoice details report, and more. You can filter and categorize reports by date or client and export and print these reports for your accountant.
FreshBooks comes with native Android and iOS mobile apps to help you keep your business running even if you’re outside of your office or your employees are in the field. You can stay connected with your clients and handle your accounting even when you’re on the go. You can create professional-looking invoices and send them to clients wherever you are. It lets you snap pictures of receipts and capture your expenses in an instant. You can also respond to client queries and keep your conversations in place anytime from anywhere.
QuickBooks Enterprise is the more powerful version of the popular accounting software QuickBooks. It is designed for businesses that have outgrown their need for entry-level accounting platforms and require a more robust, industry-specific solution. QuickBooks Enterprise fills in that need through end-to-end financial services software with ERP-like functionalities without the complexity in implementation. It is currently used by 130,000 companies worldwide.
QuickBooks Enterprise comes with advanced features designed for the requirements of particular industries such as manufacturing, wholesale, retail, construction, and non-profits. As such, it comes with sophisticated tools and capabilities such as advanced pricing, payroll, and inventory tracking. While it is a desktop/on-premise solution, it has a cloud-hosting component for backing up and storing your data online. It also offers advanced inventory management, advanced pricing management, and support for multiple entities.
QuickBooks Enterprise targets growing and mid-sized businesses. However, the enterprise edition still carries the regular accounting features, keeps the simplified language, and maintains the easy navigation and interface that QuickBooks is known for. It is sold as an all-in-one package, complete with features and functions like Inventory, Reporting & Finances, Sales & Customers, Purchasing & Vendors, and Payroll & Employees.
What makes QuickBooks Enterprise a great option is its custom offering and the ability to scale to the demands of the specific business or industry you are in. It lets you manage not only your financials and transactions but also all other processes vital to growing your operations whether you are into production, distribution, warehousing, contracting, and retailing. The software is offered in three subscription packages starting at $119/month for the desktop edition and $111.20/month with cloud hosting.
You can further explore the software to see how it works when you sign up for QuickBooks free trial here.
QuickBooks Enterprise is by far the most powerful QuickBooks with six times the capacity of other editions and support for up to a million list items. It is built to manage your financials, giving you an end-to-end view of all income, expenses, and transactions from multiple banks and accounts. You can export QuickBooks reports to Excel and save them to whatever format.
In addition, you can download credit card and bank transactions into QuickBooks, combine reports from various company files, create professional financial statements, track expenses and pay bills automatically, instantly prepare taxes, and automatically track tax-deductible expenses. You can also access industry-specific report templates built by other QuickBooks users or utilize over 100 standard reports in order for you to get real-time visibility into your business performance.
QuickBooks Enterprise is offered in industry editions with dedicated versions for contractors, wholesale and manufacturing, professional services, retail, accountants, and nonprofits. Each edition is specifically designed for your industry and comes with specialized features such as reports targeted for your business type as well as a customized chart of accounts.
For accountants, for instance, you get tools to let you work faster with the QuickBooks files of your clients. You also have features like version control, batch upgrading, general journal entries, and client data review. Meanwhile, contractors will be able to manage project costs through end-to-end tracking from estimates to invoices. They’ll have reports created for contractors and can consolidate these reports coming from multiple company files.
Inventory management is one of the critical challenges for enterprises. QuickBooks Enterprise harnesses automation so you don’t have to enter items individually to build subassemblies and come up with a final build. It takes the hassle out of maintaining stock levels and lets you create unlimited advanced price rules according to items, customers, vendors or a combination of these and other variables. You’ll be able to maintain reliable inventory counts and easily locate inventory items right from your dashboard.
You can easily track and follow up on sales leads, assign agents on leads, and view agent performance on the QuickBooks Lead Center. You can instantly find key customer information, edit multiple customer profiles, and manage multiple customer addresses. You get to level up your sales process through batch invoicing, setting custom pricing and billing levels, automatically set dollar amount markup, use foreign currencies on sales transactions, and instantly calculate sales tax.
Managing vendors and purchases are made easy by QuickBooks Enterprise. It allows you to instantly find important vendor information and quickly edit them. The system lets you define custom fields to track unique information, generate and send purchase orders, apply any foreign currencies on purchases, and track manufacturer or vendor’s item/part number. You can also easily set up and integrate with TrueCommerce EDI.
Integrated payroll tools enable you to streamline and automate the payroll process. You’ll be able to find key employee information in an instant from a secure and centralize location, track contractor or employee time, and get comprehensive employee management reports. The solution provides built-in legal documentation, compliance, and requirements for HR functions including hiring, benefits, compensation, and other employee-related issues. You’ll also be able to print various state, federal, and employee management forms.
The system provides over 115 advanced user roles and permissions. With this feature, user profiles can easily be created utilizing basic user templates. From a centralized screen, you can grant employees user or role-based access to vital information such as those relating to their performance and professional growth.
NetSuite ERP is an integrated cloud solution that brings together ERP, financial management, CRM, ecommerce functionalities in one platform. It is built for companies that require not just standard accounting solution but a robust, multi-functional platform that can handle various enterprise-level operations.
The scalable cloud enterprise resource planning solution is equipped with tools and features to manage accounting, fixed assets, payments, billing and invoicing, demand planning, warehousing and inventory, vendors and purchases, and manufacturing processes. It comes with customizable permission options which are ideal for companies with multi-tiered organizational structures. The system also gives users the capability to develop their own add-ons and configure existing features in order to address business or company-specific requirements. The ERP system is available through quote-based plans. This is to make sure that you get a customized plan tailored to the specific modules, user capacity, and add-ons that you will require for your operations.
NetSuite ERP offers free demonstrations of their platform should you feel the need to learn more about the product. Simply sign up for NetSuite ERP free demo here.
Widely considered as a leading cloud financial management solution, NetSuite ERP is designed to help you accelerate daily financial transactions, ensure compliance, and provide real-time visibility into business performance. Accounting is the heart of any ERP system and NetSuite provides core finance and accounting functionality including general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, and management of tax, cash, payment, fixed assets. Also included are features for financial planning, revenue recognition, financial reporting, global accounting and consolidation, and NetSuite’s Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) solution.
NetSuite ERP offers world-class billing and invoicing capabilities. It lets you create and manage invoices and enable payments automatically. It can even schedule bill payments in advance to ensure that you are meeting obligations in time. The billing management capabilities are able to integrate your finance, sales, and fulfillment process to improve accuracy, eliminate billing errors, boost revenue recognition processes, and drive fulfillment efficiency.
NetSuite ERP offers an end-to-end solution for running your entire manufacturing operation, from sales order, order processing, routing and scheduling to product costing and order fulfillment. It gives you real-time visibility into every stage of the production process so you can make better-informed business decisions and get your products quickly to anywhere in the world market quickly in the most cost-effectively manner.
This automates your order-to-cash processes to improve your cash flow. It helps streamline your order processing by getting rid of manual bottlenecks, avoiding errors, and instituting a smooth flow starting from sales quote right up to order fulfillment. It also comes with multi-pricing handling across all channels, returns management, workflow approval, real-time gross profit analysis, and automated transitions from quote to order to ship.
NetSuite ERP gives you a sophisticated warehouse management system (WMS) to help you improve visibility and labor efficiency as well as enhance overall warehouse operation. You’ll be able to optimally manage all resources within your warehouse and distribution centers while reducing total cost of operation (TCO) features like custom user-defined pickings, cycle count, cartonization, and RF device-directed put-away. You’ll get to view, manage, and control inventory across your organization and different locations with tools that can automate and calculate lead times, re-order points, and stocking levels.
NetSuite ERP is equipped with BI tools that combine data with visual analytics to provide you with crucial business insights. With BI capability, the system can dig into numerical data, find patterns and trends, and transform them into visualized results so you can get insights into your operations. With the findings, you can continually monitor your business’ financial health and get updated via customized reports on any aspect of your business.
The ERP platform provides dashboards that you can configure with different screen layouts to see data at a glance or to suit viewing particular reports. Customizable dashboards are useful when tracking KPIs, assessing overall or individual performance, and going over system data. You can also use them as command centers for admin activities like scheduling meetings, doing follow-up calls, assigning tasks, and checking deadlines.
Any investment you do needs careful study. Buying accounting software is no different. Remember, it will be one of your most crucial business technology tools that you’ll likely be using on a daily basis. And ultimately it may spell the difference between a successful business operation or otherwise. You may go for the most expensive accounting solution that money can buy but if it does not meet your business needs then it will be of no value at all.
Alternatively, there are also several free accounting tools if you prefer that route. Take note, however, that you’ll eventually need a premium option once your business grows. A zero-cost solution may be too limiting to address your expanding operation. Moreover, paid accounting software will pay for itself in the long run when you realize increased productivity, improved efficiency, and savings in time and resources. These will positively impact your bottom line.
Examine your options and make sure to make the right buying decision by picking the right software. Balance your requirements with the software’s features and capabilities and see if they match. A good way to do this is to test the software through the free trials and demos vendors usually offer. If you demand flexibility and scalability without straining the budget, we highly recommend FreshBooks. You can sign up for FreshBooks free trial here.
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