There are so many options available when it comes to Cloud Accounting software and platforms and deciding what’s best for your business can be confusing. We work with all the main providers of cloud accounting software such as Xero, Quickbooks Online, Sage Business Cloud Accounting and FreeAgent. However, when a client already has a different accounting software package set up, we are more than happy to support them.

In this article we have taken a look at some of the benefits of the leading packages to help you decide what works best for you.

How much does cloud accounting software cost?

For each of the cloud accounting options listed above, pricing tends to be fairly similar. For example:

  • Xero, QuickBooks and Sage Business Cloud Accounting all offer three packages, with the most basic of these costing around £10-£12 per month, and the most advanced costing around £30 per month.
  • FreeAgent also offers three packages, however rather than increasing according to the range of available functions, all their options are priced at £29 per month and are tailored to different business structures.
  • FreeAgent offers the option to purchase an annual licence for £290. Furthermore, thanks to their part ownership by the RBS group, this software is also available free to businesses who have an active account with any of the banks within that group.

Which cloud accounting software is best for employees to use?

Cloud accounting programs allow businesses to invite their employees to become users, their access and use of the software can usually be tailored to their individual job role. 

  • Quickbooks Online limits the number of billable users you can add, with only the account holder allowed in the basic version, and up to five users in the Plus version. However, you can have more users that are non-billable. This might include, for example, employees that only have access in order to log time billed to projects.
  • Xero, Sage Business Cloud Accounting and FreeAgent do not restrict the number of users. 

Access levels range from read only, to giving full access across the whole of the accounting system.  Each product allows users’ roles to be tailored to suit the individual circumstances, restricting access where necessary for individual users. 

What kind of information can be stored using cloud accounting software?

All the cloud accounting software packages we use now have functionality to set up direct bank feeds where Open Banking is in place, or the ability to import statement information where it is not. Payroll and Expenses reporting are also available within the systems, usually at an additional cost. Each of the cloud based systems are MTD ready for online filing of VAT returns. Other services such as project and stock management also come within the cloud software, although these usually have quite basic functionality. 

Where more complex functions and detailed reports are required, there are a wide range of external apps available which can be integrated and send data and transactions directly to your accounting software. Some of the most popular among these kinds of apps are tools for data recognition which aid with the input of purchases and so on, reducing the need for manual data entry.  

  • Sage Business Cloud Accounting now has AutoEntry on board
  • Xero owns Hubdoc which is free to all licence holders
  • Quickbooks Online has receipts functionality within the accounting system.

Each of these apps can be used to email in bills for processing or to upload pictures of receipts via free mobile apps.  There is also Dext, previously called Receipt Bank, which can be integrated with most cloud accounting solutions and is one of the leaders in this field. 

An internet connection is all that’s required to access cloud accounting software. They are extremely user friendly owing to clearly headed functions within each system and inbuilt guides and help facilities. Most provide great support either via a chat function or by raising tickets through your dataset.  Cloud accounting software is geared towards real time information, enabling you to raise quotes or sales invoices for a job while with customers, monitor your accounts easily with up-to-date reporting enabling you to free up time to concentrate on running your business. 

With so many options now available, cloud accounting is the way forward for many small businesses. The ability to login to your accounting system anywhere and on any device eliminates any waiting for financial information and, with so many apps designed to help automate each part of the process, admin is much less of a chore.

by Nicola Scofield

Cloud & Digital Solutions Advisor, Rayner Essex