Small- and mid-sized businesses need all-in-one accounting solutions to handle their invoicing, payroll, accounts receivable, inventory and other cash flow items. Especially for those who opt to handle the books themselves rather than hiring an accountant, accounting software goes a long ways in keeping your finances in order. Choosing the best accounting software for you is a matter of finding a solution that is easy to use, has good help and support, has helpful reporting features and integrates with your bank account. We've narrowed down some of the top accounting software suites and rounded them up for your perusal below.
QuickBooks Pro 2010
Developed by Intuit, QuickBooks has a massive share of the market in terms of small business accounting software. That represents one of QuickBooks' greatest strengths. Because so many businesses use QuickBooks, you'll find more banks and services that export directly to QuickBooks and more trained professionals who are familiar with QuickBooks. Intuit has its own QuickBooks certification program, but most universities in the U.S. train on QuickBooks as well.
QuickBooks commands a vast market share for a couple of good reasons. The user interface is pleasing to the eye and intuitive, with a step-by-step wizard interface guiding you through the initial setup with painless ease. QuickBooks handles invoicing, accounts receivable/payable, time billing, payroll, inventory, general ledgers and reporting incredibly well and integrates with other business-friendly services, such as UPS and FedEx. Intuit also offers a few add-on services, such as POS services, credit card processing and banking supplies.
If QuickBooks has a drawback, it's their business model. QuickBooks releases a new version every year, and file types made with newer versions aren't backwards compatible. So, if you want to stay current, you'll have to buy a new copy every year, which can be a significant investment, depending on how many accountants you have.
Sage Peachtree Complete Accounting
QuickBooks' closest contender is Sage Peachtree Complete Accounting. While it has less of a market share in the U.S., Sage Peachtree is very popular in the U.K. Sage Peachtree brings the all-in-one inclusiveness of QuickBooks, but overall, it may be even more feature rich. Sage Peachtree offers printable forms and the usual necessities - payroll, inventory, general ledger, etc. But it outshines QuickBooks in terms of fixed assets management. One of the best features of Sage Peachtree is its audit trail reporting. It tracks users, transactions, dates, amounts and other vital details to make your accounting more accountable.
Sage Peachtree Complete Accounting is a little bit more challenging during the initial setup phase, however. But once you get up and running, the software is every bit as intuitive as its competitors.
The major drawbacks of both Sage Peachtree and QuickBooks are their price tags and their lack of cross-platform support. Speaking to those two deficiencies, GnuCash provides a logical solution. As an open source (free to use), cross-platform (Linux, Mac, Windows) accounting software, GnuCash makes sense for many users as an alternative to QuickBooks. GnuCash supports double-entry accounting, check printing, general ledger, multiple currencies and some basic reporting. However, GnuCash isn't quite as user-friendly as QuickBooks and Sage Peachtree,as the community is more user-driven, rather than offering staffed customer support. GnuCash works best for small businesses or personal finance, as it features stock/mutual fund portfolios and a checkbook-like register.
While not nearly as feature rich or well-supported as QuickBooks and Sage Peachtree, GnuCash deserves recognition as a killer free application for accounting.
While there may be some pros and cons here and there, it's hard to go wrong with QuickBooks or Sage Peachtree. These two giants in accounting are practically industry standards, and there are very few business types they can't handle. However, depending on your needs and priorities, another solution may work best for you. Your best bet is to download some free trials and find out which makes the most sense with your accounting needs and workflow.