Online accounting review: KashFlow
Launched in 2005, KashFlow is one of the more established online accounts services available in the UK. It is a couple of years since I last reviewed it and I was frankly blown away by the depth and breadth of the current version. At only £15.99 + VAT per month – which is guaranteed NEVER to increase in future once you sign up – it represents outstanding value and has to be on the shortlist for any SME looking to go online.
- Initial setup is quick and easy, and no credit card is required to create a free 60-day trial account.
- Your user credentials comprise a user name, password and “memorable word”, from which you have to enter three randomly selected letters each time you log on. Unlike other services, your business has only one login which must be shared between users, so you cannot give restricted access to some users.
- Initial data can be imported from a CSV file or Sage 50, and customer and supplier details (only) can be imported from QuickBooks.
- The program opens with a good looking Overview screen with charts of bank and sales movements, quick links to commonly used areas and a useful RSS feed of recent changes and additions to KashFlow.
- KashFlow doesn't handle full multi-currency accounting, but you can invoice in foreign currency and use automatic currency conversion with constantly updated exchange rates and automatic posting of currency gains and losses.
- Bank postings are straightforward. Non-ledger transactions, whether balance sheet or P&L, are posted from the same screen; you simply specify whether it's a receipt or a payment.
- KashFlow does not support automatic bank feeds or bank data import from standard electronic bank statements.
- KashFlow has adopted a plain English approach, so if you want to post a purchase invoice you need to go to the menu option entitled Add New Receipt. You then have an unpaid “receipt”, which seems contradictory! I am not convinced that this makes the software any easier for the lay person to understand.
- There is good integration with PayPal and most merchant account providers, so users can take card payments for sales from within KashFlow.
- If you use quotes or estimates these can be used as the entry point for all orders, and can be converted into invoices later.
- The bank reconciliation routine was recently improved in response to the strength of feeling expressed in the AccountingWEB.co.uk KashFlow discussion group. I didn't see the previous version, but the current bank reconciliation looks robust and easy to use. There's a facility to “Lock Transactions” to prevent editing of a reconciled period, although this can be turned off again by the user so is of limited value but it's better than nothing.
- The reports list runs to some 47 reports, including all the normal examples once would expect. There are reports at Job level (which you can re-name as departments, projects, etc) but nothing for budgets as there is no facility to set budgets within KashFlow.
- The reports list clearly reflects user requests, and includes a few specialist items such as a Princes Trust “Business Progress Summary” and a CSV export file for Digita users.
- All reports support full drill-down to transaction level.
- VAT reporting covers all options, including Flat Rate Scheme and EC Sales Lists.
- A fixed asset register and CIS reporting are also included.
- There are integration options with a range of third-party providers, including PayPal and card processors, FreshBooks (time recording, expenses and invoicing), ViaPost (who will print and post invoices for you) and MailChimp (email marketing).
- For accountants wishing to promote KashFlow to their clients the company offers a separate service called OrbitAccounts. This enables a firm to control, view, manage and monitor its KashFlow clients. From Orbit a firm can restrict access to some areas of KashFlow – such as the chart of accounts and transaction locks – and can customise certain aspects, such as the Overview screen.
- A separate desktop application, RapidFire , can be bought by Orbit subscribers to enable them to enter KashFlow data offline and for batch entry of sales and purchase invoices, making data entry much faster for larger businesses.
- While your data is regularly backed up “in the cloud”, as you would expect with an online service, KashFlow is unusual in offering users the ability to set up an automatic email backup of all data on a weekly or monthly basis in a CSV format that can be imported into Sage 50 (or viewed in Excel), which will reassure potential users that they are not locked in to the service once they commit to it.