AccountingWEB member Glenn Martin has spent much of the past year assessing the merits of different cloud accounting engines and wanted to share his findings with the wider community.
After putting in all that effort, he did not want his work to go to waste and thought other accountants might benefit from his conclusions. Feel free to add your observations and thoughts about the marketplace below.
AccountingWEB would like to thank Glennzy for his generosity in sharing this report and look forward to further contributions from our accounting citizen software reviewer.
*NB: Cloud software prices are often subject to short-term discount offers. Prices marked with asterisks currently have such offers in play, but the article shows the non-discounted monthly rates.Xero
Prices*: £10 Starter (5 invoices/bills, 20 bank transactions), £22 Standard, £27.50 Premium (*introductory offer currently in place for £5-£13.50 rates in first three months)
Standard package includes: Unlimited users, automatic bank feeds, budgets, smartphone apps
Optional extras: Payroll - £1/month per employee
Add-ons: 400+ listed in Xero.com UK add-on marketplace
Xero is a very good bit of software. It is often used by ambitious clients who are going places, and they genuinely love and gush about the product.
Xero has a big UK user base, but I don’t personally get all the marketing hype. It is currently claiming to be the market leader, but its dominance has waned over last 12 months.QuickBooks Online (QBO)
Prices*: £6 Self Employed (1 user), £7 Simple Start (1 user), £15 Essentials (3 users), £25 Plus (5 users)
Standard package includes: Bank data imports, quotes/estimates, smartphone apps, budgets (Plus version only)
Optional extras: Payroll - £1/month per employee
Add-ons: 144 listed in intuitapps.com UK directory
QBO is the main rival to Xero, so I’ll be keen to see what its UK user numbers are in 12 months’ time. But if you take away the marketing horsepower being put behind the product, there’s not much to set it apart in terms of operational use. Nevertheless, I could see QBO becoming main my main software if Xero pricing keeps heading north.Sage One
Prices: £5 Start (1 user), £20 Accounting (unlimited users)
Standard package includes: Quotes, bank feeds, cash flow forecasting, smartphone apps
Optional extras: £20/month per additional company; Payroll - £5-15/month (for 5-15 employees); Partner Edition for accountants at £10/month integrates with accounts production, CT and other Sage Impact tools
Add-ons: 23 listed in uk.sageone.com/add-ons/ directory
Sage One continues to be the most likely option for desktop Sage users who want to convert to a cloud system. The Cashbook version is great for small jobs.
Sage One has the resources of a big software developer behind it, but still has a way to go to catch up with more mature products from Xero and Intuit.KashFlow
Prices: £5 Starter, £10 Business, £15 Business+ Payroll
Standard package includes: Bank feeds, quotes, departmental accounting, CIS, integration with IRIS Open tax and practice tools
Optional extras: Payroll available as system upgrade
Add-ons: 50+ apps available in online catalogue
Clients stuggle to use KashFlow without a lot of help from me and bank rec problems present a major hurdle. With the exception of those in the construction section, it’s not an ideal system for my clients.ClearBooks
Prices: £7.40 Together, £16.50 Together+, £POA Enterprise
Standard package includes: Unlimited users, bank data imports , quotes, budgets, cash flow forecasts, P11Ds, stock, CIS, smartphone app
Optional extras: Payroll available as system upgrade to Together+ or £5.20/month, also HR for £5.50
Add-ons: 12+ app integrations listed in online catalogue
Basically, I just don’t like ClearBooks and neither do my clients. Suspect it will be absorbed by a bigger player soon.FreeAgent
Prices: £19 Sole Trader, £24 Partnership, £29 Limited Company
Standard package includes: Self assessment filing, tax timeline and P&L view showing tax liabilities, estimates, time tracking, project reporting
Optional extras: Dividend vouchers & CT tools available in Ltd Co edition
Add-ons: 36 listed on integrations and add-ons page
Great software, but doesn’t seem to have a following in the North East. I would certainly use FreeAgent if my firm managed to get into serving higher-level freelance sectors like oil & gas or IT, but at present it’s too expensive for lower value jobs. But I also suspect FreeAgent clients will be the most likely and able to do quarterly reporting themselves under MTD.Capium
Prices: £15 Small (<100 clients), £30 Medium (101-300 clients), £45 Large (301-500 clients)
Standard package includes: Bookkeeping & payroll
Optional extras: Accounts Production £15-45, Corporation Tax £15-45, Self Assessment £15-45, P11Ds & Auto Enrolment £15-45, Practice Management £25-75
Add-ons: None listed; Capium has a one-stop shop approach
This is the young pretender in the chaos that is likely to accompany MTD. Because it’s free for clients it could provide a real alternative for those clients that you have to bring in house because they will not able to tackle the bookkeeping themselves.Exact
Prices: £5 Starter for Accountants (for sole trader clients), £19 Accounting Standard (3 users), £29 Accounting Advanced (5 users)
Standard package includes: Bank feeds, CRM, document management, receipt scanning (fee incurred per scan), smartphone apps
Optional extras: £7.50 per extra company; £5 Accountancy upgrade includes client portal, budgets, document management, bank feeds for unlimited client numbers; also modules for wholesale/distribution from £109, project management from £139, time & billing from £69, and manufacturing from £189.
Add-ons: 50+ listed in Exact Online Apps Centre
Exact may be very well established in Europe, but is quite a latecomer to the UK market, so they’ve got a lot of ground to catch up The built-in smartphone data capture facility gives it huge potential. If it works well, that will be a very slick option. I am surprised other accounting engines have not tried to develop something similar.
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