AccountingWEB editor John Stokdyk digs into our software satisfaction database to stake out the landscape for anyone considering a new small business accounting application.
For the past couple of years the accounting software market has been in flux. While it is still dominated by desktop products, their hold is beginning to weaken in the face of younger, faster challengers offering online “cloud” products.
How to use this SME software guide
This article is based on the results of last year’s Software Satisfaction Survey. SSA13 ratings are provided for products that gained more than 3% of the overall sample. Less widely used tools are listed with pointers to their strong and weak points. For convenience we have gathered similar programs together under the following headings:
- Desktop old faithfuls
- Desktop also-rans
- Leading cloud contenders
- Cloud challengers
- Lesser known cloud accounting challengers
The accountancy profession lagged behind the wider business market in embracing cloud applications, but 47% of the small business accounting software respondents in the 2013 Software Satisfaction Survey used online applications, continuing the momentum that has been building for several years.
With a sample size of nearly 5,000 SME accounting software users, we think our benchmark is robust measure of what is happening among online AccountingWEB members, and reflects similar findings from IRIS, Xero and Exact.
At 17% of our SSA13 survey sample, Sage 50 retains the biggest desktop accounting user base. But this dominance is under severe pressure, with FreeAgent achieving a higher share (22%) of our survey sample. As they continue to offer the smallest companies a simplified, low cost route into automated accounting, cloud applications are reducing the new business pipeline for Sage’s flagship application.
This article draws on the user feedback collected in the software satisfaction survey and to review the established names and leading cloud contenders. We will also try to bring forward some of the less well known names trying to gain a foothold in this highly competitive market.
A word about the ratings and scores
The product ratings are given as marks out of 5 for ease of use; functionality; support; and value for money (VFM). The user recommendation percentage is calculated by subtracting those offering scores lower than 6 out of 10 from advocates rating it higher than 9. Where the former outnumber the latter, the user recommendation percentage can be a negative figure.
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