The Best (Free) Accounting Software for CPAs, Accountants & Bookkeepers
Are you on the hunt for the best accounting software for CPAs, accountants and bookkeepers? Preferably one that is either free or very cheap? Are you a CPA, accountant or bookkeeper? With all the features available today, how can you possibly choose the best one for your business?
We’re answering some of the most important accounting-app related questions you should ask yourself before deciding here!
It’s hard to nail down which software comes is the best - because there isn't one. The software needs of different industries vary dramatically. Instead, CPAs, accountants and bookkeepers can and should focus on choosing the best software to suit the business in the industry they are working in.
By working through the questions in this post, you’ll be a lot closer to finding the best accounting software for you. So without further ado, let's take a look at most important questions CPAs, accountants and bookkeepers should ask themselves before purchasing accounting software.
Is It Easy To Use?
Accounting software should be a lot of things. It has to be accurate and reliable, cheap, and more. However, it should also be easy to use. If an accountant is spending more time trying to figure out how to record a transaction than actually entering the data, it’s not a very effective software.
Easy to use accounting software can help simplify the accounting duties, no matter the industry. Software is evolving to meet user needs and it has become more user friendly over the past decade. Having an easy-to-use software helps increase efficiency and stay on top of deadlines.
What Are The Best Features?
The best software for accountants has to come with the best features. Sure, every accounting software comes with some standard features like income and expense tracking. However, what features are available that could make your business run even more efficiently?
Features like inventory management can take accounting software from good to great. Having seamless integration between accounting data and inventory data can reduce the amount of time accountants spend migrating information between systems and departments. It can help the business run more smoothly by housing all of the most current data in one place rather than scattering it across multiple platforms.
Keep an eye out for other time-saving features, like automatic expense recording and automatic grouping of similar transactions related to the same purchase or sales order. It may not seem like much, but these small features can make a huge impact on the way you process your business’s financial transactions.
To help you get an overview of what to look for, we have assembled a list of popular features of an ideal accounting and inventory management software within 6 main categories every proper accounting SW should have: Customers & Account Receivable, Vendors & Account Payable, Productivity, Advance Inventory, Accounting, and Reporting.
- Customers & Account Receivable
Manage the status of your estimates & sales orders by customized Order Status
Offer Payment Terms & Early Payment Discounts to your customers.
Text or email your customers automatically or manually when the status of their order changes
Credit Limit & Credit Hold
Automatically enforce credit limits at order entry and at invoicing. Customer configuration options can block invoice processing or issue a warning. Automatically release a credit hold when a payment is entered, or put a manual credit hold.
You can define your own customer entry fields and individually tag them and their transactions for easier tracking and better organizational control.
Example: Get tour Customer PO or Side Mark for their orders
Print, Email or Fax Invoices in Seconds. Add your logo and even your customized contract.
Get paid x2 faster by accepting credit cards, debit card payments online.
Streamline your sales process by improving the management of orders. Manage the statuses of your orders and invoice them upon delivery.
ZarMoney makes it easy to accept a deposit or early payment for your customer’s order, then apply it seamlessly to any consecutive purchase-related invoices.
Simplify your invoicing by Quick Sales Use Quick Sale for cash and carry orders. Enter all the information in one screen and eliminate two-step of Invoicing and Receiving Payments by Quick Sales.
- Vendors & Account Payable
Record anything you buy from your bank account or credit card and categorize them for expense tracking and end of the year tax filing.
Track early payment discounts and auto-apply discounts.
Say goodbye to discolored, ripped receipts. Attach supplier receipts directly when processing an expense to ensure accuracy, and builds a comprehensive audit trail.
With purchase order manage the complete order process with an audit trail, track any items ordered, as well as the agreed-upon price with the vendor and simply convert them to bill.
Track the bill status and create payments against them on time. With account payable center you can record the transactions that you will pay in the future.
No need to manually manage and monitor your coming and going in the bank, Match your bank's transactions with yours with just a button.
Manage Cash Flow Through Advanced Payables, A convenient payables calendar enables you to better manage cash flow at an optimum level.
Arm yourself with an extra layer of security and reduce your odds of a costly mistake by giving authorized users the option to approve bills before they are paid.
Automatically link all related Purchase Orders, Sales Orders and Bills.
Notification via Text & Email
Keep your customers abreast of any order status changes with automatic notifications that provide an extra touch of personal service.
Put in internal notes or send messages to co-workers in any transactions
Protect your business by limiting the people who have access. Set permissions and restrict access based on computer location and user roles.
Built-in messaging and alerts let you communicate at any time, from any location, to troubleshoot or to simply update other team personnel.
Attach PDF or Image documents to orders, invoices and other transactions.
Enjoy the ultimate in mobility and remote connectivity for optimum management agility.
Give user access from specific location-based on location IP address. You might not want some of your employees to access your company data from their homes.
- Advance Inventory
Track inventory in real-time, Quantities is updated automatically as you work.
Stock level is updated automatically as you work. Always know what’s on-hand, what's reserved and what's coming to prevent stock shortages.
Organize Items by Brand or Product line for added versatility in your tracking process.
Make sure nothing is missing and the prices are all correct.
Instant access to your inventory counts from multiple locations, individual items, sales, and purchase histories and more gives you a global view of your entire operation for quick multi-tasking.
Offer a different prices to different type of customers, not every customer is a VIP customer.
Convert Units of Measurement, A powerful feature that allows you to buy and sell in different units of measure, like buy by box and sell per piece.
You can define your own item entry fields, making them germane to your specific business for easier understanding.
Use this versatile feature to efficiently track your inventory on hand, review sales trends and check available to promise, so you can stay current and make changes where necessary.
Take advantage of First In - First Out inventory cost method to have more accurate inventory valuation information.
Import bank transactions
Import your bank transactions and match your bank's transactions with yours with just a button.
Connect to over 9,600 financial institutions in the U.S. and Canada. So ZarMoney automatically imports the bank transactions each day then you can approve them or edit them.
Identify bank discrepancies & Get a clear view of your cash positions so that you can make better decisions.
Chart of Accounts is a list of all of the accounts used by your organization to categorize them for financial reporting.
Automatically calculate sales taxes and prepare tax filing reports. Assign a default tax zone to each customer or store location.
The easiest way to transfer funds between bank accounts or credit card accounts.
Adjust or correct financial transactions and post entries that can't be performed in other ways.
Create advance, visual and professional customizable reports for your business.
Accumulate 1099 information for any designated vendor. Track 1099 payments and produce the appropriate 1099 reports.
The balance sheet reveals the financial status of your business as of a specific date and shows what your business worth.
Trial balance is a report that lists the balances of all the accounts to ensure debits and credits are equal.
Easily manage and track the unpaid bills for what you purchased and avoid missing the discounts for early payment.
A profit and loss statement, (income statement), is a financial report that displays your total income, total costs, total expenses, and net income for any given time period.
Easily monitors the balance of money owed to your company by your customer for purchase made on credit.
Is It Secure?
When housing all of a company’s financial data, it’s extremely important for accounting software to provide top-rated security measures. In addition to preventing cyberattacks, accounting software should also allow you to limit which employees are able to access different portions of the company’s data. This is done through user roles and permissions.
Pro tip: We have a great post about keeping your data secure. Check it out to learn all the best tips and tricks to preventing cyberattacks.
Assigning users with custom levels of access will limit which sensitive data is visible to each employee. You don’t want the accounts receivable associate to have access to the same information that the CFO sees, for example. Accounting software should allow you to customize the roles so you can choose who sees what.
Furthermore, it is important to determine whether your software is stored locally in your computer, or remotely in the cloud. Generally, the cloud will provide you with better safety measures than having your laptop on the desk.
Among basic safety measures that cloud companies implement we can find:
- Advanced firewalls.
- Intrusion detection.
- Event logging.
- Internal firewalls.
- Physical security.
And how safe is your laptop? Read more about the security of your data in the cloud in our detailed read What is Cloud? How Does It Work With Accounting Software? here.
What About Integration?
Another feature of great accounting software is the ability to integrate with financial institutions. Instead of manually entering all of the company’s bank transactions each month, accounting software can import transactions automatically using integration technology. Then, the transactions will be ready for review and categorization.
It’s also useful if your software can integrate with other applications that your company needs. Perhaps you’re looking for software to integrate with your online shop portal, such as Shopify, or your email marketing campaign software, like Mailchimp.
Great accounting software can integrate and work seamlessly with other apps. A great example in this field is Quickbooks Intuit that can integrate with 650 popular business apps.
Is It Customizable?
Customizable accounting software can really change the way accountants go about their roles. Most software offers canned reports that only pull in certain categories of data. However, the best accounting software allows you to build and customize your own reports to fit the needs of your role in the business. Instead of exporting data into a spreadsheet and trying to manipulate it into telling you what you need to know, you can just create a fully customized report directly in the software.
Then, you’ll have a clean and professional report to print and send to leadership. These customizations can help create reports for specific teams or departments as well as certain products or services. Better reporting means better visibility into the company’s financial health.
Is It Accessible?
Cloud-based software is becoming the new normal for the world. More and more employees are working remotely for convenience, safety reasons, increasing costs of living in cities and that feeling of working every day from somewhere else. Monday you work from the beaches of Alicante in southern Spain, and Tuesday you start in a cafe in Berlin.
Remote work can save companies a lot of money on overhead expenses, but companies need software that can accommodate the increasing amount of remote work.
Using a cloud-based accounting software will provide employees access to the software from wherever they are as long they’re connected to the internet. It keeps the data accessible to anyone who needs it and has permission at any time and from anywhere. Plus, multiple people can access the software at the same time and work collaboratively with up-to-date financial information.
What’s The Cost?
At the end of the day, every business has a budget to stick to. The best accounting software provides the right features for your business at a cost that fits your budget. Luckily, many accounting software providers know that it’s especially important to provide cost-efficient solutions to accounting. That’s why many basic subscriptions today are well under the cost of a cup of coffee.
Of course, the most robust your needs are for the software, the more you can expect to pay, and for quite large customers there is practically no roof with prices. For instance, Cisco's NetSuite is expected to cost $999/month + $99/month/user + ($25,000 - $75,000 for implementation).
The best accounting software for CPAs, accountants, and bookkeepers really comes down to the needs of the business. What works for the restaurant may be different from what the manufacturer of shirts needs.
Where can you start?
- Decide on your budget for accounting software
- Choose the features your business needs
- Select a few software options that meet your accessibility needs
- Evaluate the security of each option
- Determine which options integrate with your bank
- Take advantage of free trials as we have here at ZarMoney, to see the ease of use and customizable options