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Online accounting software

Online accounting software

I have spent quite some time over the past few days looking at various online accounting software, and the overriding impression I have is that it is so slow to use compared to traditional offerings from QuickBooks and the like and actually quite difficult to use.

I really am keen to find a good online solution to recommend to clients, but am really struggling to find anything I truly think gives them significant advantages.

When I think of something like VT Transaction it is so much quicker and easier to use.

Am I alone in this view?


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26th Mar 2010 09:34

It depends

'Difficult to use' should be a factor of the design rather than the delivery mechanism.  There are no intrinsic reasons why a web-based user interface should be harder to use than an  on-premise one.  (It will be different, certainly, and some design aspects will be different, such as not having 'right-click' menus, but that shouldn't automatically mean more diffficult).

Slower?  Well this depends on your internet connection, the technical design of the software, and what you're trying to do.

Where you might notice a hit is if you're trying to do high volume data-entry, big  journals, etc.   A web application will very likely struggle to keep up with an experienced data clerk hammering away on the numeric keypad as they enter up the figures from a client's shoebox full of receipts (does that still happen much?)

Web-based products tend to be aimed at SME's with small or non-existant bookeeping departments - the focus is on hiding complexity (and the double-entry) from the users.

What products did you look at, and for what kind of usage?


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26th Mar 2010 10:30

I don't see this speed problem

I have been using Xero for a couple of years now and do not agree that web applications are slower per se, I think that's too much of a generalisation.  There are occasional troughs in performance, like one I and others experienced last September, but these are usually soon fixed and related to a specific issue.

It probably is true that a user can bash data into a desktop application faster but you must weigh that against time savings in other areas.  For instance, how much time is saved by the Xero automatic bank feeds and, almost, automatic bank reconciliation?  How much time is saved by having the accounting software available from any internet connection.  How much is saved by not having to take backups or move files between computers?

Your clients are likely to be slower at inputting data than your practice staff anyway, so they are less likely to be unhappy with speed.  Ease of use and productivity is what they will be more interested in.

We have just reached the 100 clients on Xero mark and the clients seem to love it.

Finally, I would guess that, as with everything internet, speeds can only go one way - faster.

Hope this helps a bit.

Adrian Pearson, Top Accountants

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By Anonymous
26th Mar 2010 11:00

It's too slow

See previous threads. I have found online accounting to be too slow for data entry. It's fine if you are using it for a business with few transactions. It's brilliant if you have a lot of small clients so that you can view their books, etc without having to obtain backups which need to be restored, etc and and adjustments can not easily be transferred back to the client. With online accounting you can corect the client's books very easily.

Volume transactions can be slow and cumbersome to input in online accounting solutions (I have tested 4 of the leading ones). Also the functionality is a lot less than something like Quickbooks.

Most of the online systems seem to try to emulate Sage 50. I think that is a mistake especially if they are advertising on AWEB as a substantial number of users do not like Sage 50.

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26th Mar 2010 11:09

It's not you - online software is slow and difficult to use

....especially if you are an accountant and don't want to be hanging around all day waiting for screens to refresh.  The one I've used most, Kashflow, is very slow if there are a number of transactions.  Also, very slow to use to correct errors in bank recs and so on because you have to go in and out of screens and can't just drill down or switch between open windows.

And to top it all, in the case of Kashflow it times out after 1 hour without warning and yesterday my assistant lost all her journal input because Kashflow does not recognise that you are 'active' when you are inputting the journal, only when you save it. So all of my assistant's work and time was wasted and I can't charge my client.  My client is already complaining about my fees because it takes so long for us to correct things in Kashflow.

Onliine programs may be fine for clients, because they don't need speed, but they are of limited use for accountants because it takes so long to resolve and correct client errors.

My connection is 12.1 mb download and 1.1 mb upload and my PC is only a few months old, so I don't think it is my system, I think it is the software.

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By Anonymous
26th Mar 2010 12:34

Data entry

Its data entry I find so tedious with online solutions - its not the internet speed its the way the packages are set up.

They are fine if you are entering a few transactions each day or so, but if you want to enter a large batch say on a monthly or quarterly basis they just arent cost effective.


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27th Mar 2010 13:00

Online speed - problem?

 I am somewhat bemused by this thread. Using online accounting extensively, I have never encountered speed or slowness in data entry as being a problem. I am assuming that a "normal" broadband connection is being used.

I have recently imported over 15000 Sage entries into E-conomic  without any difficulty and the system operates as quickly and efficiently as ever.

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27th Mar 2010 14:56

Maybe E-conomic is faster?

I can only go by my experience with Kashflow - it's not so much the data entry speed that is the problem; as far as I know the client doesn't have any problems with that, it's more the navigation structure of Kashflow and refresh speeds that cause loss of speed for us as accountants.  It is not possible to just drill down into the entry and change it (as you can with QuickBooks), you have to come out of the bank rec, go into the relevant screen for bank payments or receipts or the supplier payment or customer receipt (which can take a long time to chnage to the correct screen - you can be sitting there waiting for the blue refresh bar to reach 100%), change as necessary, go back to the bank rec screen (which can be slow), tick, wait for the screen to refresh to show the tick (which can be slow), etc.

On top of that, we have to contend with logging out with no warning after an hour of 'inactivity' (even though my assistant has been actively entering data in a journal), so we lose the work and have to start all over again.

If Kashflow had multiple windows open and drill down life would hopefully be easier.

Not that I'm particularly knocking Kashflow as a product for clients - it's the only one we've used to any extent so I don't know how it compares with Xero, E-conomics, etc. so I wouldn't want to give the impression that I've anything against it per se.  Just that QuickBooks is far faster for accountants to use for correcting bookkeeping errors, etc.  Kashflow seems to be reasonably good for client usage and offers a number of useful features for clients to use in their business.  Iit's just that clients think that accounting costs should come down and don't appreciate that is slow for accountants to use when there are corrections to be made, journals to be entered, etc.

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27th Mar 2010 21:16

No speed problems with Kashflow here...

I recommend Kashflow to most clients and get a very high "happiness" rating from clients who love the way it's aimed at business owners rather than accountants/book-keepers with user-friendly and easily understandable input screens.

In the same way that non-accountants hate Sage, the average client loves the likes of Kashflow.  I can see why an accountant or book-keeper wouldn't like Kashflow because it's not laid out the way they're accustomed to and I appreciate speed issues only where you're doing large batch entries.

If I'm doing an incomplete records job for y/e accounts, then I'll use VT as it's far quicker, but when I'm setting up a system for a client that they'll be using as well as me, i.e. maybe for sales invoices etc, then Kashflow is my first choice.

I don't really understand the speed issues comments for normal (non batch) usage - reports etc are quick once you're accustomed to the menus and options.   You'll never find speed as good whenever you first try any new system.  I used to think Kashflow was a little clunky, but now I use it day in and day out and know how it all fits together, I'm whizzing around it and don't find it any slower compared with Sage and Quickbooks which I used to use.

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05th Apr 2010 18:20

need 4 speed

BryanS - we have a broadband speed around 10mb down, 1mb up, and have none of the issues you describe with Kashflow speed, perhaps something else is amiss?

Kashflow has its failings, and yes speed of volume entry is one (we use VT for those jobs), and multi user access limitation is another. But as previous poster says, it is simple, clients like it and it is intuitive in a way many other packages just aren't. 


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22nd Apr 2010 20:08

Modern tools are for modern services

I started to post a comment here but, after 10 minutes, realised that it would be too long for this thread - so I have blogged it here.

In summary, my argument is that web-based accounting systems are modern tools to enable delivery of modern services. Accountants can stick to traditional desktop tools if all they want to deliver is a traditional service.

Adrian Pearson, Top Accountants

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03rd May 2010 21:06

Netsuite works fine

We have installed Netsuite for two of our larger clients and I have to say I am very impressed with this software.  No problem with speed providing you have a good internet connection.  Netsuite is a good investment but the high cost tends to rule it out for very small companies.  Perhaps Netsuite will launch a small company system sometime.  Meanwhile its seems small companies in the UK are stuck with software that belongs in a museum.

Quite agree that VT is first class. If only they did an online version. If only the online version of Quickbooks was available in the UK.  We tried Sage Online 50 but couldn't work with it. It was too slow, too expensive and some features didn't work. 

Most of the other online accounting software available in the UK for small companies looked a bit basic to me.  I have however just started to review Mamut which has partial internet capability. This looks quite good. Has anyone any experience of the package?

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03rd Jun 2010 23:58

New package Launch

Call to anyone really but what would you like to see in the online packages? We are about to launch our own SaaS package very soon, ERP for the SME sector but initial package will be purely book-keeping and accounts, our design criteria so far has been to focus on the business owner and delivering sector specific metrics from a single system which they use to run their business.

This reduces duplication of effort and a single application suite at a price level that even start-ups can afford.

A key principal is to be able to grow with the company without having to migrate to another platform or version.


If anyone has any ideas or wishes to start a discussion on it please get in touch with me directly.


Ian Gilfillan

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07th Sep 2010 14:07

Arithmo Online bookkeeping system for Accountancy practices

Not all online systems have the look and feel of Sage (as commented in earlier posts).   Arithmo has been designed for accountancy practices with micro business cliental.

This means the frontend of the Arithmo system focuses on being intuitive to use and the double entry is done in the background.


To trial and for more information, click on


Cost effective too, at £40-£45plus vat per annum per client; which includes hosting costs and upgrades.


Generally, I find true online systems are great as they give me the flexibility to logon anywhere without the need to carry my laptop around.


The only online systems I find slow and frustrating to use are the ones which are on-premise software hosted remotely such as Sage’s hosted solution.  Surprising considering that the traditional Sage system is a good system for companies with headcount of 6 to 20 people who want a stand alone accounts package.



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