In a previous bulletin we discussed the general reasons of Why Cloud Accounting, and now it’s time to get down to the scintillating specifics about the actual software options available. If you’re about to stop reading and go elsewhere on the World Wide Web (do people still call it that?), then consider this:
Accountants are to Star Trek Nerds as this article is to the THRILLING and ACTION PACKED JJ Abrams Star Trek movies.
So grab some popcorn and an 84oz soda, strap on your 3D glasses and hold on… 3D glasses not included, popcorn and soda sold separately. Alternatively you could just skip to the bottom where everything is summarized in bulleted lists.
Unfortunately for us, we’re not sponsored by any of these software providers, so all recommendations have been selected based on experiences we’ve had after thoroughly testing out many of the available options.
Since the explosion in popularity of cloud-based accounting software, we’ve seen many players come to the table with bookkeeping solutions. Of these, there are two options that we recommend on a regular basis: Freshbooks and QuickBooks Online.
Freshbooks is a basic bookkeeping and invoicing system that has a short learning curve and allows for efficient recording of transactions by importing line items directly from your bank and credit card statements. It also has a slick and intuitive invoicing system that produces professional looking invoices and allows your clients to easily log in and pay invoices directly through the software. As with most bookkeeping software you can produce an array of useful reports that will help keep track of your finances and complete compliance filings with the Canada Revenue Agency.
What really sets Freshbooks apart from other software offerings is its ease of use and fantastic customer support. It can be learned as you go and if there are any questions, just call customer support. I’ve called customer support on a number of occasions and it has never taken more than three rings for a REAL HUMAN to pick up on the other side.
The pricing structure is similar to other offerings in which you subscribe and pay a monthly amount based on the usage level you require. There is a free trial period of one month, after which you can expect to pay between $19.95 and $39.95 per month depending on your needs. Typically, we’ve seen the $29.95 per month price point as the sweet spot for many users.
Freshbooks is a good choice for businesses when the user has limited experience with bookkeeping and when simple transactions such as recording revenue and operating expenses are required. However, Freshbooks does struggle when trying to record more complicated accounting transactions in which case we might recommend looking at QuickBooks Online instead.
Intuit, the company behind QuickBooks has been providing accounting software for many years and has a proven track record. QuickBooks Online is Intuit’s cloud-based software and it is a great option for bookkeeping when transaction complexity increases from only basic day-to-day expenses and revenues. It has a steeper learning curve than Freshbooks, but more can be accomplished once the user has gained experience with the program. Like Freshbooks, QuickBooks Online can also create invoices, import transactions from your statements for efficient recording and create reports as needed. It also has additional useful features such as:
- Accurately recording payroll within the software
- Inventory tracking
- Integration with Point of Sale systems
Pricing is quite similar to Freshbooks and includes a free trial. The lower end offering starts at $12.95 per month while the top end for small businesses will run you $39.95 per month. The mid-range price point of $26.95 per month is usually a suitable usage level for small businesses.
Conclusion and Summary
To continue with the Star Trek theme that we departed from after the first paragraph, you might say that Freshbooks is like Star Trek The Next Generation: easy to get to know and a good basic starting point, while Quickbooks Online is more like Star Trek Deep Space Nine: it takes more time to understand but provides deeper content… Or, you might say this analogy is a bit thin. Either way, here’s the summary as promised for those short on time, or those who find my writing less amusing than I do (everyone):
- Easy to use and excellent customer support
- Produces professional invoices and allows for clients to pay directly through the software
- Costs between $20 and $40 per month depending on your usage level
- Good choice when transactions are simple
- Large set of features to accomplish most bookkeeping needs
- Steeper learning curve than Freshbooks,
- Costs between $13 and $40 per month depending on your usage level
- Good choice when transactions are more complicated than just recording day-to-day revenues and expenses