kashflow

Cloud accounting software for start up businesses

All businesses have to keep records of their income and expenditure. If the business is a limited company they have to abide by the rules of the Companies Act. Just because a business is trading as a sole trader or partnership it doesn’t preclude you from keeping proper records. HMRC require all businesses to keep proper records and will penalise if your records are not adequate.

All isn’t lost there is plenty of entry level cloud solutions. Quickfile is the simplest great for contractors or consultancy type businesses. Freeagent and Freshbooks are favoured by creative style businesses. Then we have the Kashflow, Xero and Quickbooks being the major players in the UK markets. Sage are now beginning to recognise they are losing clients to the big three. New entrant to the UK market is Exact Business solutions.

When choosing a cloud solution watch out for the apps the provider support. They may not always be compatible. [table id=21 /]

Cloud accounting software part 2

Two years ago I wrote about cloud software in the UK market. It’s now a lot more prevalent. A survey that was shared with me recently was 70% of business wanted cloud accounting but only 10% of practice accountants offer support.

There are new players operating in the UK market, Exact Business Software came to my attention earlier this year. They offer a CRM as integral part of the starter package. I think they are positioning themselves somewhere between the market leaders to SME and the ERP providers. Some of Exact’s advanced solutions I think could offer solutions if a trader is looking for a one stop shop rather than going down the app route. 

There are now apps for anything and everything, Receipt Bank are being very proactive in their marketing and interface with all the main players. It does take the hassle out of recording receipts and you no longer have to keep paper copies. 

Just concentrating on the main features for cloud accounting platforms the main new features include Auto Enrolment, though I have to say not all of them are that user friendly.  I like Brighpay as a solution but again my personal preference. The other new feature is mobile apps for the accounting platforms.  Word of warning make sure the software you choose is android friendly, not everyone has an Apple

  QuickFile Quickbooks Exact Kashflow Xero Sage 50 Professional FreeAgent Freshbooks
Sales Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Sales order processing N Y Y Y Y Y N Y
Quotes Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Purchases Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Purchase order processing Y Y Y Y Y Y Y N
Stock N Y N N Y Y N Y
Payroll N £1 Per employee PM N Y Y £4-20 PM Y N
VAT Returns Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Reporting Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Annual Accounts Y Y Y Y Y Y Y N
Debtors reports Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Creditors reports Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
Multi Currency Y Y Y only business package Y Y Y Y
Chart of accounts Y Y Y Y Y Y N Y
CRM N N Y N N N N

N

Auto Enrolment

N

Y N Only on business & payroll package Y Y Y N
Mobile App? N Y Y N Y Y Y Y

Pricing depends if the end user pays or the accountant. We generally include the price as part of the package.

 

QuickFile

Quickbooks Exact Kashflow Xero Sage 50 Professional FreeAgent Freshbooks
Customer

Free-£45 PA

£6-£25 PM £19-£29 PM £5-£15 PM £9-£25 PM £50 PM £19-£29 PM $9.95-$39.95 PM
Accountant

portal

£1.27-£297.29 PM Free Free Free

 

Practice Studio Free Free Have to login

Have to login

If you want to know more about cloud accounting solutions give us a call we provide support only for the main player in the UK. Not one solution fits all businesses.

Cloud Accounting Software

Over the last few years, the way businesses record their data and keep their books has changed considerably. In the good old days they would have a server in a dedicated room with AC and miles of cables, with computer screens taking up half your desk, but no more. In a relatively short time, the accounting software houses have gone virtual. All the software packages still have desktop versions, but frankly why bother? You can be on the beach drinking pina coladas and still keep your finger on the pulse running the business. Better still, with cloud software if there’s a problem your accountant or IT person can go straight in and have a poke around.

But with loads of solutions out there (most of which I’ve used), how do you make a decision?

Taking the top sellers in the UK market, I have broken down their main attributes based on functionality, feel and price. I’ve also tried not to be biased. A lot of the software is you will see does the same thing. Which software to choose comes down to personal preference and the needs of the business at the time. Luckily the software is generally quite portable, so if a solution is no longer adequate you can easily move on.

Industry / Sector

All the software I’ve reviewed will work across most sectors from retail to the service industry. I have a couple of online retailers who obviously use various versions. They wouldn’t be suitable though for construction, manufacturing or tourism and hotel businesses.

Modules

So what can they do?

On a first view they all pretty much do the same thing. To try and find some differences one has to look at the GUI.  They all say they are intuitive, but my view is that some are more so than others.

FreeAgent, Freshbooks, Kashflow and Xero all look the same; they have very similar colour schemes (what’s the thing about the blue?) and layouts. It can be confusing switching between them. Quickfile uses a white background. Both Quickbooks and Sage 50 have the traditional look you find on the desktop versions which unless you’re an accountant is awful to navigate.

Quickfile

FreeAgent

Freshbooks

Kashflow

Xero

Quickbooks

Sage 50 Professional

Sales

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Sales Order processing

Y

N

N

Y

Y

Y

Y

Quotes

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Purchases

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Purchase Order Processing

N

Y

N

Y

Y

Y

Y

Stock

N

N

Y

from AUS$10

Y

Y

Y

Payroll

N

N

N

+ £420 p.a

Y

£42 p.m package

N

VAT returns

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Reporting

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Annual accounts

Y

N

N

Y

Y

Y

N

Platforms

Interestingly, they all have versions for iPhones and iPads as well as android except Quickfile and FreeAgent.

Interfacing

They all have interfaces with banks allowing CSV files to be downloaded and by tagging can allocate to invoices, be that customers or suppliers. In fact if there isn’t a matching invoice they will set it up, brilliant!

Another handy function is the customer receipts. They all will allow you to take payments from PayPal and often other platforms including Sagepay. Just like the bank download these can be tagged.

What I really like is that you can file returns with HMRC. Why is that great? Audit trails: you can download or refer back later.

Dashboards

This for me is the best reporting tool. It’s the home screen when you go into the software, so sometime needs to ensure that only the pertinent information is shown. I like to see bank balances, debtors and creditors, and key dates for tax returns. Most will do this to a greater or less extent but my least favourite has to be Sage.

Pricing

I know that’s what it’s about but don’t be fooled. Are you’re getting what you pay? Watch the cost of add-ons these can be expensive.

Quickfile Freeagent Freshbooks Kashflow Xero Quickbooks Sage 50 Professional
Customer Free £15-£25 $0 to $39.95 p.m. £18 p.m. + VAT £12, £19 or £24 p.m. +VAT £9 -£29 pm £1,400 p.a
(£117 p.m.)
Accountant "Affinity" dashboard  £94.90 p.a. per client +VAT (from 10% to 40% volume discount, if you register 80 clients) Has to log on as user Has to log on as user "Orbit" client manager - free "Practice Studio" - free "QuickBooks Online Accountant" - free N

I really like Quickfile for its simplicity but have a problem with their pricing module, why charge the accountant for passing business their way. The competition often pay us accountants to introduce, oops, did I let that slip.

From FreeAgent to Quickbooks, there’s not much in it. Although FreeAgent, Freshbooks and Sage don’t have Accountants’ portals.

The drumroll goes to Sage: it’s not even web based, it’s a hosted service.

Payroll costs seem to be wildly different. Some providers have in-house solutions others have partnerships.

Finally

We’ve helped loads of businesses migrate to the cloud. It’s not just about price but what is right for the business.

When making the move, don’t try doing it without professional assistance. If you mess it up it can be extremely costly to fix.

Testimonial from one of our clients, Carl Hughes of IT Hound

ODFS really has the knowledge in the cloud accountancy sector. I manage my business completely online and I wanted a product that could compliment this so I could do all my invoicing, sales and accounting in a browser and not have to install a program on my computer.

ODFS recommended Quickfile and helped me setup invoicing templates and a way of working so that I could manage outstanding invoices, use reports to give me a picture of how my business was doing and at the same time understand the various accountancy terms with ease.

I don’t feel the above could have been done as quickly using a traditional desktop accountancy program and the fact that ODFS could log in to my online account saved the endless emailing of reports and spreadsheets.

Its unusual to find an accountant who has such a vast knowledge of how to do finances in the cloud; so if you are looking for an efficient company to help you manage your accounts I highly recommend ODFS.

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