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Small business accounting software resources - index

29th May 2007
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An Any Answers question posted last week by Simon Lever highlighted the dearth of independent information on the web comparing bookkeeping applications suitable for small and start-up businesses. For the past six years, AccountingWEB's IT Zone and its readers have been exploring this area of the market, but as Simon noted, there is no single place where you can find all the relevant information.

This digest is an attempt to rectify that situation. If the material below is biased towards Sage Line 50, QuickBooks and MYOB, we make no apology - it merely reflects the level of usage and interest on AccountingWEB in these applications, which between them account for roughly half of the SME software marketplace (see our IT Zone 2005 survey results for more background).

Appliations with more sophisticated reporting, order processing and operational capabilities (often called ERP systems) designed for companies with more than five users are covered in more detail on our software Lab Test page.

At the entry level, small business software is a very mature market, dominated by a handful of large vendors. Sage Line 50 is the undisputed market leader, with close to a third of the market, but has traditionally lagged behind smaller rivals such as QuickBooks in the product satisfaction ratings it achieves. QuickBooks won the ease of use category in our 2006 Software Satisfaction Awards, while Sage was acknowledged by users for its reliability. Over the past couple of years, QuickBooks has lost ground slightly to the next challenger, MYOB, which has grown steadily on the back of good customer ratings - and the value for money prize in our 2006 satisfaction awards.

Special note should also be made of VT Transactions, a specialist bookkeeping application used by small accountancy firms as a companion to the VT Accounts final accounts system. VT's market share is on a par with MYOB's and the product regularly achieves high satisfaction ratings from practitioners. The focus of this article, however, is on the needs of small business users.

The costs of keeping up with regulatory and technological changes and supporting thousands upon thousands of users make it difficult for new challengers to enter this market. Over the past year or so, however, a new generation of accounting "software as a service" providers has appeared. By delivering their software via the web, they do not need to rely on the same distribution and support channels of the megavendors. So far, though, most of these new entrants have emulated Sage by trying to woo accountants as their natural route to market.

From small beginnings, these online software companies are growing quickly and over time may pose a serious threat to the established packaged software suppliers. AccountingWEB contributor Nigel Harris has looked over a number of the contenders in his guide to online accounting options.

Thanks are due to Nigel, David Carter and numerous AccountingWEB members for their contributions to the archive presented here. Feedback from frontline users is what keeps AccountingWEB ahead of the pack in this area.
John Stokdyk, Technology editor,

  • So you want a new desktop accounting package? by David Carter
  • A buyer's guide to accounting software for a start-up business (2006)
  • Online accounting services buyer's guide by Nigel Harris (2006)
  • Desktop accounting software guide (2003 edition)
  • Any Answers: Electronic cashbooks for the 21st century
  • Job costing roundup - MYOB, Mamut, TAS, Sage, QuickBooks
  • Electronic batch payments - Sage, QuickBooks or TAS?
  • First sight of Sage 50 Accounts 2008
  • Sage 50 Accounts 2008 - feedback
  • Sage Line 50 Version 12 - exclusive preview (2005)
  • New project costing features in version 11 of Line 50
  • Sage Line 50 Client manager - review by Nigel Harris
  • Sage Intelligent Reporting for Line 50
  • Reporting tips and techniques for Sage Line 50
  • Sage Line 50 tips and queries #2
  • Sage Line 50 tips and queries #3: Reporting
  • Review: QuickBooks 2004
  • Review: QuickBooks SimpleStart
  • QuickBooks tips and queries #1
  • QuickBooks tips and queries #2
  • QuickBooks tips and queries #3
  • Can you get a reliable daybook out of QuickBooks?
  • QuickBooks and job costing tips 1
  • How good is QuickBooks at job costing?
  • Any Answers: QuickBooks & Windows Vista
  • Any Answers: Can Quickbooks handle 10,000+ invoices a year?
  • Any Answers: QuickBooks VAT reports and cash accounting
  • Any Answers: How to configure ODBC for QuickBooks Pro
  • QuickBooks tips and tools - AccountingWEB partner page
  • Review: MYOB Accounting Plus v16 (2007)
  • Review: MYOB Accounting Plus v13 (pre-2005)
  • Review: MYOB BusinessBasics
  • (2007)

  • Review: TAS Books 2
  • Review: TAS Zebra
  • Internet accounting - the 2008 SaaS roundup
  • AccountsIQ
  • Aqilla (2008)
  • e-conomic (2008)
  • FreeAgent Central
  • Imberical
  • IRIS Accounts Office Online
  • Kashflow (2008)
  • Liberty Accounts (2006)
  • Liquid Accounts (2008)
  • Marginz (2006)
  • Online<>50 (hosted version of Sage Line 50 - 2006 review)
  • Pearl
  • Twinfield
  • Xero (2008)
  • WinWeb
  • Online accounting services buyer's guide (2006 edition)
  • What is ERP? by Neil Eglintine
  • How to choose accounting/ERP software by David Carter
  • How accounts packages are changing by David Carter (2006)
  • Software Lab Test page - archive of David Carter's detailed reviews
  • How to choose the right reseller
  • When IT projects go bad by Stewart Twynham
  • Comparison of bookkeeping packages
  • Bookkeeping packages
  • Software suggestions for a start-up
  • Small business bookkeeping
  • Accounts software for non-accountants (2006)
  • Which software should I choose? (2004)
  • Sage Line 50 2007
  • Access Analytics
  • AccountsIQ
  • Aqilla (2008)
  • DO$H Cashbook
  • e-conomic (2008)
  • IRIS Accounts Office - similar functionality to Exchequer (see detailed Lab Test PDF)
  • IRIS Accounts Office Online
  • Kashflow (2008)
  • Liberty Accounts (2006)
  • Liquid Accounts (2008)
  • Mamut StartUp
  • Mamut Business Software
  • Marginz (2006)
  • More (2006)
  • MyBusiness Version 3 (2006)
  • MYOB AccountingPlus v13
  • MYOB BusinessBasics
  • Online<>50 (hosted version of Sage Line 50 - 2006 review)
  • Pegasus Opera II Financials V4 – October 2005
  • QuickBooks 2004
  • QuickBooks SimpleStart
  • Sage Line 50 Version 12 - exclusive preview (2005)
  • New project costing features in version 11 of Line 50
  • Sage Start-Up (2006)
  • Simply Books Version 2
  • TAS Books 2
  • TAS Zebra
  • Twinfield
  • WinWeb
  • Xero (2008)
  • For more detailed product information, see David Carter's Software Lab Test page and the content published by developers on their AccountingWEB partner pages.


    Replies (10)

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    By julianshaw
    27th May 2009 15:34

    Arithmo Accounting
    Also recently launched is our online accounting software, nominated in the 2009 Software Satisfaction Awards, can help both accountants and small businesses.

    One great great benefit to accountants is the branding capabilities. You can present to your client a full accounting package in your practice identity - which is great for your customer care. And it can save time and money in your office.

    Have a look here to find our more about Arithmo accounts software.

    Thanks (0)
    By jonvaughan
    06th Apr 2009 11:24

    New product - Bionic Books

    We've recently launched a new small business accounting software package - We have specifically designed the application for small businesses, startups and contractors, particularly to make bookkeeping as easy and painless as possible.

    It is still early days but we have had some glowing reviews:

    "The definitive choice for the cash-struck entrepreneur." -

    "Bionic Books is an excellent piece of software with nearly limitless potential in a clean, clear, easy to understand package that's actually appealing! This could be the best Small Business Accounting Package for REAL PEOPLE I've ever tried." -

    Find out more about us here

    Thanks (0)
    By craigmclellan
    01st Jun 2007 15:52

    ICAEW Accredited Software
    You can also look at the ICAEW Accreditation Scheme - software: which independently evaluates software. Go to the information is available to members and non members of the institute.

    Thanks (0)
    Dennis Howlett
    By dahowlett
    07th Jun 2007 23:48

    splitting my sides
    Craig - do you know ICAEW criteria? Do you think end users care?

    Thanks (0)
    By axw001
    11th Jun 2007 21:03

    ICAEW accreditation criteria
    Dennis - I think ICAEW accreditation criteria boils down to 2 items, firstly do you have anyone in your own organisation with enough intelligence to correctly tick the list of features you actually support, and secondly, do you have enough cash spare to cough up approx £15k to keep the suits sweet?

    At least it keeps a few accountants off the street, much like the British tax system which looks increasingly like a job creation scheme out of a Monty Python sketch.


    Thanks (0)
    By michaelrose
    02nd Jul 2009 16:26

    Great list... but missing
    Just reading about Crunch:

    Definitely one to watch and one for the list.

    Thanks (0)
    By Xina
    02nd Aug 2010 14:13

    MYOB should be removed from the list...

    I appreciate this is an old thread but in my search for new software it still seems to be one of the few lists around.

    I have been using MYOB for > 10 years and in that time have upgraded 3 or 4 times.  In the UK at least the files will no linger be usable after end 2011. I found it bizarre that MYOB saw fit that my accounts data files had to be 'activated' on an occassional basis but it never occured to me  that having bought a permanant licence for the software they coule (or would) remove activation thus rendering data files read only.  The company that bought their list insists I do not have to upgrade - I beg to differ - I either have to upgrade to their product or change to anotere supplier. As a software vendor ourselves we have considred the 'what if' we were unable to continue in business and removing our customers ability to use software for which they have a permanent licence was not one of our options. Uninpressed with MYOB? You bet.


    Thanks (0)
    By mikmac
    14th Aug 2011 14:44

    best small business accounting software - freeagent central

    I’d like to recommend a phenomenal business accounting software called freeagent central. It is a UK based online accounting software system.  I run a small business but always struggled to keep my accounts in order, often leaving it to the last minute and by that time I’d forgotten half the transactions and lost the receipts etc. Freeagent has revolutionised my accounting. It is so simple to use. It is an online accounting tool so it can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection.  The interface is slick, quick and intuitive, far better than its competitiors like kashflow and clearbooks.  Much easier to use than sage etc.  Its language is simple and not too technical making it a doddle for people without a degree in accounts.  I run a lot of transactions through paypal, which integrates flawlessly with the system, uploading all my transactions on a nightly basis. It also allows you to upload statements from your bank.

    This software is brilliant for any small business or freelancer, and has the facility to upgrade from a sole trader to a limited company easily.  The support team are excellent. I had a call in the first week to go over any queries I had with the software.  When I had an issue, the technical team worked on it and had it fixed within a day! Superb, friendly and local (based in Edinburgh) customer service.  Best of all the price is 15 pounds a month, but if you use my referral code you get 10% of this 417k1es3I also get 10% off my account and if you refer other people you will subsequently also get a further 10% off your account!  Freeagent central is remarkable, and may I say actually quite fun to use. Look no further for a small business accounts software package.

    Thanks (0)
    By Nelly
    26th Feb 2012 16:18

    Accounts software

    Hi all, please I am looking for the best accounts + payroll software that is not expensive and can do the job properly. Thanks

    Thanks (0)
    By Adminsoft Accounts
    01st Jul 2013 17:48

    Inexpensive accounts software with payroll

    Sorry, this post is a bit late to answer Nelly's question!


    But as the developer of Adminsoft Accounts (which includes payroll), I can highly recommend it!


    And it can be used for free.



    Thanks (0)