For Some Clients, Less is More Effective
This article accompanied the June 2011 Review of SaaS Accounting Systems for Small Business.
In the last few years, a new market has been taking shape for web-based small business accounting systems that are geared toward users with simpler business needs. The programs, often centered on invoice tracking and management, take direct aim at the traditional do-everything bookkeeping systems as being too complex, or at least overloaded with features and functions that most small businesses don’t need and won’t use.
LessAccounting has emerged as a favorite in this new field of simplified small business management. The product offers an easy to understand browser-based management with a clean user interface. Key features include invoicing, expense tracking, and contact management. The service also has e-banking functions which sync transaction data from financial institutions and credit card accounts nightly.
The system can work on Mac or PC and all major browsers, including mobile devices. The centerpiece of the product is the main company dashboard view, which shows overviews of account balances, overdue invoices, recent transactions and expenses. This view includes a vertical system menu for accessing GL information, contacts and bank data. Additional sections of the menu offer access to “money in” tasks (such as viewing or adding invoices and proposals (estimates), creating notes and recording deposits and payments), or “money out” tasks (such as tracking expenses and mileage, transferring funds, and performing bank reconciliation).
The reporting options in LessAccounting include choices for payables, chart of accounts, receivables and payments, along with general reporting for transactions, mileage and sales tax. The system can record the expenses associated with payroll, but does not offer any payroll preparation, employee reporting or time tracking capabilities. It can handle multiple sales tax rates, and users can convert an estimate to an invoice with one click.
LessAccounting offers integration with web-based applications such as Gmail, BaseCamp, Highrise and 37Signals for contact management. The system also offers online payment acceptance via PayPal. Invoices can be emailed, emailed as a PDF, printed or saved as a PDF.
A unique offering from the company is live bookkeeping assistance, which is offered with two of its bundled plans. Through this virtual bookkeeping service, which essentially consists of monthly or quarterly reconciliations, reporting and transaction categorization, small businesses have the added security of an experienced eye cleaning up their books, and that person is available to interact and work with the business’ tax professional.
Since LessAccounting is focused on service businesses and contractors, it does not provide any inventory capabilities or point-of-sale integration. Because the system intentionally does not offer these and a few other features for larger small businesses, it did not fit well into any of our review categories.
However, LessAccounting could be a great fit for very small business clients who need a truly simple management system for creating and tracking invoices and recording expenses, plus a few extra conveniences such as the bank account integration and basic contact management. The online access capabilities make it easy for their professional accountant to assist them or draw reports necessary for compliance services. Pricing starts at $30 per month, and includes accountant access and unlimited live support from a staff of experienced bookkeepers.