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Best Accounting Software

What is the best accounting software??

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Hey Guys,

So my question here is simply, what is the best accounting software? I understand KPMG are pioneers of Xero. I use Sage 50 for my clients work but I am now starting to think is it worth looking at a different software. What are peoples views, should I stay with Sage? Should I look at the likes of Xero, Kashflow, Free Agent? Sage is very detailed and they claim 2 in 3 accountants use Sage. But I have done free trials with other forms of software and I must say they are so easy and simple to use but still effective. My current thought is to change software, if one of the big four are investing in Xero surely this gives a huge indication that it may be the way forward. Really keen to here your views on this one...

Regards

Tom

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RLI
By lionofludesch
08th Oct 2016 16:32

Personally, I'd think twice about changing at the moment.

Who knows what MTD might bring ?

You may need to change again in 2019, with all the upset of another learning curve.

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By arthurallan
08th Oct 2016 18:17

I spent a year agonising over which software to use when I started my small practice 3 years ago and ended up going for VT Transaction Plus which I find is terrific to use; very logical, very easy and very efficient for data entry. I just wish they offered VT as an online product.
I do use quickbooks where clients want an online system and to be fair it is reasonably good but In spite of always training clients comprehensively they still find ways to completely mess it all up which can be very time consuming to correct; however I do find the data input can be clunky and slow compared with VT

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Replying to arthurallan:
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By Manchester_man
08th Oct 2016 20:33

arthurallan wrote:

I spent a year agonising over which software to use when I started my small practice 3 years ago and ended up going for VT Transaction Plus which I find is terrific to use; very logical, very easy and very efficient for data entry. I just wish they offered VT as an online product.
I do use quickbooks where clients want an online system and to be fair it is reasonably good but In spite of always training clients comprehensively they still find ways to completely mess it all up which can be very time consuming to correct; however I do find the data input can be clunky and slow compared with VT

Agreed. Data input on pretty much any software is slow and clunky compared to VT!

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By jbaccsol
08th Oct 2016 22:21

And another vote for vt. Fast data input, reports in excel format, cheap ...I could go on. Only flaw is no online version which is a draw back for some clients.

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blue sheep
By NH
09th Oct 2016 08:39

I presume that "for my clients work" means that you use it to do book-keeping for many different clients?
If that is the case, then the first question I would ask is what about cost?
I like Freeagent the most but I could not use it for clients because it costs too much, and tbh Quickfile is almost as good and costs virtually nothing!
I have moved to Sageone because on the partner program we get Start for £1 a month, but it is by no means the best

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Paul Layte
By Paul Layte FCA
09th Oct 2016 09:17

I think there are a couple of things to consider in this debate. Both the actual software and the setup.

From the software standpoint the actual capability, useability, ability for collaboration with client and connect ability to other services are all important to a greater or lesser degree depending on your practice and client. We for example do quite a lot of live collaboration with clients so it is important we can both see, work and understand things in real time to make the best decisions. These range from which customer and which invoice might be best to factor/discount and other operational finance considerations. For me some software does border on excel online whilst others are really quite powerful.

The other consideration is setup. As with everything in life you can have the tools but not know how to use them. My golf clubs are reasonably nice but I still can't manage anything less than outright embarrassing when on the course!

Personally I never want to scan/upload bank statements for clients so I pay for direct bank feeds for all clients. Not to be confused with less reliable and less secure yodlee based feeds which is the only option in some software. Bank feeds are the foundation so I personally don't want to compromise here.

Then other areas of setup such as online invoice, attachment of payment services etc all help the client get paid quicker. If they get paid, you get paid.

Where clients want to do their own bookkeeping I want it to be as easy for them as possible so I don't spend a lot of time correcting it. I want auto suggestions for them and I also want the ability to setup bespoke rules for annoying and regular items for which an invoice will never be presented such as bank interest, charge, non-sterling charges etc etc Heck even regular salary amounts can be 'ruled up' to ensure they post to wages payable and not NIC/PAYE or any other salary based account.

The setup and training I have found is as important as the software and that is before the quality of training you give clients. 30 minutes quick tour when they start probably is not enough for most. Indeed we have had to resort to sending out videos of 'how to do tricky things' such as split reconciliations which clients refer to every month because of the low frequency of doing it.

Overall I think you need to decide whether software is a back office tool or a front office tool for you and your clients. We chose the latter but were also conscious of how it connected to everything else we wanted to run as with all tech their is a danger of islanding yourself unable to get things to talk to each other. Nothing out there is 100% perfect at the moment so you need to weigh up your choices carefully and decide from there. We have perhaps gone down the more expensive route with software and have not regretted it as are now seeing the benefits in time/productivity and uniformity of offering.

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Replying to Paul Layte FCA:
blue sheep
By NH
10th Oct 2016 09:29

you fail to mention what software you use for these bank feeds that dont use Yodlee?

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Teignmouth
By Paul Scholes
10th Oct 2016 13:26

A simple question but no simple answer.

I've been using Cloud accounting for about 5 years and, as the benefits really suit the way I work, I've been refusing desk-bound clients for the last 4.

The prime reason to switch to the cloud is in the ability to share the bookkeeping with clients and to be able to train on and monitor it, in real time, whenever, and wherever you are. So my clients now handle over 95% of their own book work, including payroll, something I/they would have found impossible 5 years ago, especially as most of my clients would have been lost with deskbound Sage/QBs/TAS etc.

Despite the above, I know, and have met, several firms that retain the predominant bookkeeping role, but have moved to the Cloud because they like the ability to let clients in to do just the bits that is best for them to do, eg invoicing, credit control, expense claims and being able to see their own VAT returns, P&L, Balance sheets etc.

It's in this second situation where cost may be prohibitive but then, as I've found, sometimes it's worth the extra cost just for the increased efficiency.

If you think that this way of working will benefit some clients (and there's no rule that says you must switch every client) you now have the problem of assessing up to perhaps 30 systems.

I started with two but, as the years have gone on, have had to learn another 3 as new, good quality clients came along and this will become the norm for most firms as more businesses move into the cloud (especially new ones who don't bother to get an accountant/bookkeeper when they start out).

I still believe that, to do this properly, you have to do some leg work to test out some of the major players to see which provide the features you and your clients will need but, more importantly, provide them in a way that's easy for you and your clients to use. For example, they pretty much all provide automatic bank rules but how easy are they to set up?

When I started out, I picked two clients who I thought would best suit cloud accounting and used them as test cases to get used to not only the software but the completely different culture of working in the cloud.

With regard to going with Xero because KPMG have chosen them, there are Xero users I've spoken to (and who comment on here) who see this as a backward step as far as small firms are concerned, fearing that Xero's emphasis is being directed away from their needs, I have no idea whether this is the case.

As it happens I'm just about to move my last Xero client away to another system, I like the software and I know many firms, who do the books themselves, who value it but it's too involved and inflexible for my clients, plus I resent paying for bank feeds when I can get them free, using Yodlee, on all the other systems (neither I, nor my clients, nor millions of other users have a problem with this facility).

Sorry this has been a long response to admit I can't tell you what the best software is, you might as well have asked the simple question, what is the best car to drive.

As always I declare an interest in being a consultant to Clear Books.

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Replying to Paul Scholes:
blue sheep
By NH
10th Oct 2016 13:36

[quote=Paul Scholes]

A simple question but no simple answer.

using Yodlee, on all the other systems (neither I, nor my clients, nor millions of other users have a problem with this facility).

Paul, I am intrigued by your justification of using Yodlee, there may have been no problems so far but none of the banks indemnify users if they use it. As such (so far) I have not felt able to endorse this method for clients even though it would make my life much easier.

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Replying to NH:
Teignmouth
By Paul Scholes
10th Oct 2016 21:48

Hi NH

You're absolutely right. Taking it back a step it's the same reason people (accountants and users) give for avoiding Cloud accounting in general, ie they don't trust the security.

So I, and my clients, have been using Cloud accounting, Yodlee and the M25 for many years, yes, they can be flaky but, because the benefits far outweigh the risk, I (and my clients) are prepared to live with it......"he who dares Rodney"

Now where's that bit of wood!

PS: If anyone is interested in an expansion of this topic, here is a riveting discussion (starting with Gary Turner's comment 11 September) - have some coffee ready:
https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/any-answers/so-have-xero-finally-gone-up...

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Paul Layte
By Paul Layte FCA
10th Oct 2016 13:48

There is probably a reason why Intuit just bought bank stream for its direct feed relationships with Banks. Whilst Yodlee is not bad at all an in some cases the only option a direct feed indemnified by the bank is clearly better. The value of being a significant player in the big data world is only going to increase so I should expect more deals like this and more data connectivity over time.

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Stuart Walker Yellow Tomato Copy
By winton50
10th Oct 2016 14:14

Software choice is one of my specialties and I've looked at lots of different systems for clients and for myself.

The most unhelpful answer I can give is that there isn't a 'best'. In the same way as there isn't a 'best' car.

Systems all do the same thing, some are better at certain aspects than others and some people will have reasons for preferring one brand over another.

I always tell my clients to start off where they want to get to. Sit down with a blank piece of paper and write down all the things that you would like in a system.
Then rate each item as either vital or nice to have.

Only then will you start to look at different options. You'll have a guide as to what questions you need to ask and if a particular piece of software can't do something that's in your vital list then it can be struck off.

You can ask people for their experiences in practice with the company for things like support and upgrades. Posters are always pretty helpful here with real world experiences.

I'd also say that you can spend forever waiting for the best to turn up, sometimes you just have to choose the least worst and then put up with the bits you don't like!

NLB makes really important point - you can have the best system in the world but unless it's set up and used correctly then it will behave like the worst.

FWIW - I use a desktop install of Quickbooks because it does the things I need it to do at a reasonable price.

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