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2016 Review of Small Business Accounting Systems

No longer a cumbersome, expensive investment, modern accounting software is designed to appeal to the entrepreneur that has little time to spare on simply running a business, and would rather focus on growing that business.

business accounting

While the sole proprietor or small business owner may not realize their impact on the U.S. economy, small businesses account for 55 percent of all jobs in the U.S. Since 1982, the number of small businesses has risen 49%, with no signs of slowing down. While some of these small businesses will never grow past the sole proprietor stage, if the business owner’s intention is to grow their business successfully, they need to be using accounting software.

No longer a cumbersome, expensive investment, modern accounting software is designed to appeal to the entrepreneur that has little time to spare on simply running a business, and would rather focus on growing that business. In fact, the systems today bear little resemblance to the bloated, complicated products of ten and twenty years ago: Systems that often required an IT staff to install and maintain, plus a complicated array of hardware to support it.

2016 Reviews

Cloud-Based SMB Accounting

AccountantsWorld – Accounting Power

Accounting Suite


QuickBooks Online

Sage One



Installed (On-Premise) SMB Accounting

Acclivity – AccountEdge

Red Wing Software – CenterPoint Accounting

Cougar Mountain – Denali

A-Systems – Visual Bookkeeper

With so many products now available via the cloud, small business owners need only have a fairly modern computer or tablet, and access to the Internet. Likewise, small business accounting systems that are still available as installed-programs also offer much more streamlined structures, advanced workflow features, and easy product installation and setup.  

Here are just a few advantages to using the right accounting software:

  • Real time access to business and financial data is available at any time
  • Reduced error incidence versus using spreadsheets or other ‘manual’ accounting methods
  • An increased number of add-on modules and applications that are available to run just about any business more efficiently
  • Better tracking of both payroll and sales tax

Clearly, the benefits of using accounting software far outweigh the downsides. Clearly, with over 28 million small businesses operating in the U.S. today, software vendors have stepped up their game as well, looking to attract a piece of that pie. But increased vendor competition can have advantages and disadvantages to the small business owner, particularly when presented with so many more options than were available only a few short years ago. The reviews in this issue are truly aimed at the small business owner – those with between 1 and 100 employees. And while the solutions may vary tremendously, the fact remains that businesses have many more options today when it comes to accounting software.

The review is divided into two sections: On-Premise products and Cloud-Based products. While some small business owners prefer a product that is installed on their desktop or server, others are looking for accessibility – whether that be from laptops, tablets, iPhones, or Android devices. Entrepreneurs and their accountants can both agree that the choices are better than ever – but making that choice can be difficult.

We looked at the same features and functionality in both on-premise, and cloud computing products, which includes the following areas:

Basic System Functions – this area includes system installation (if needed), product intuitiveness, the availability of industry specific solutions, as well as what platform(s) the product was designed for.

Core Accounting Capabilities – The heart of the product, we looked at GL, AP, and AR functionality within the product. Other key areas such as sales tax tracking, payroll, and employee management capability were assessed as well. Finally, we looked at multi-currency capability, multi-language capability, and whether the product could be accessed by multiple users.

Day-to-Day Operations – This area assessed the availability of both sales and point-of-sale functionality within the product. For those with online or mail-order businesses, we also looked at shipping integration options. Customer, vendor, and employee tracking capability were examined, as well as inventory management and purchasing capability. Any e-Features such as electronic payments or electronic banking were examined as well, as remote access capability.

Management Features – We examined the availability of management and analytic features such as dashboards, business overviews, and other tools designed to assess the health of a small business. Reporting capabilities were also looked at, as were system security and audit trail options.

Integration/Import/Export – For those using other third-party applications, this area looks at how easy (or possible) it is to import or export data from other applications. Another area of importance is accountant accessibility to the product.  

Help/Support – In this area, help and support functionality is assessed, as well as what product support options are available. We also take a look at system updates and their availability.

So many factors are taken into consideration when looking at purchasing software of any kind. So whether a business has one employee or one hundred, helping you and your client determine what is best for their business is what we do.


See inside June 2016

Business Leaders Juggle a Host of Demands in Today’s Economy

When chief financial officers (CFOs) in a Robert Half Management Resources survey were asked to rate the level of difficulty their jobs pose now compared to five years ago, 66 percent of respondents said their roles are more challenging today, and 30 ...


Small Businesses Have Many Accounting Options

While the reviews included in this issue offer a good selection of both on-premise and cloud products that can work well for small to mid-sized businesses, there are other alternatives available to accountants and CPA’s that wish to offer bookkeeping ...