The products competing for AccountingWEB’s 2019 Accounting Excellence Software Awards reveal the intensely competitive nature of this market as rivals old and new go head-to-head across 11 application categories.
AccountingWEB’s community-powered software awards are the most sought-after prizes in the industry because they are based on thousands of user ratings. The information collected is also used to help other members of the community by sharing the findings and user ratings in our Software Reviews section.
The awards are decided by the average user ratings in four areas: functionality, support, value for money and ease of use.
We also use the Net Promoter Score method favoured by software companies as a tie-breaker in close races.
To make it through to the final round, suppliers need to establish a representative share of the overall category vote, but once the product has crossed that threshold, the number of users doesn’t count - it’s down to which one is the best-rated product.
Core accounting awards
Attention will always turn first to the Small Business Accounting category, which this year attracted nearly 2,500 individual software ratings.
Xero drew the biggest pool of respondents, and the New Zealand-based developer is up against global rivals Intuit QuickBooks, Sage and Zoho alongside UK suppliers Capium, FreeAgent and VT Software.
Below are this year’s finalists in the main accounting categories:
Small business accounts
- QuickBooks Online
- Sage 50cloud Accounts
- Sage Business Cloud Accounting
- VT Transaction+
- Zoho Books
Overall, cloud applications accounted for just over 80% of ratings in this category. However, strong turnouts for Sage 50cloud Accounts and VT Transaction+ show that there is still life in the desktop accounting community in the age of Making Tax Digital (note: desktop accounting software is a digital record-keeping system!).
The transition is slower among mid-market and enterprise organisations. The dial is moving towards the cloud here too, but Pegasus and Sage 200cloud prove that the on-premise generation still has loyal and satisfied users among mid-market and enterprise accounting software users.
Mid-market and Enterprise accounts
- Oracle NetSuite
- Pegasus Opera 3
- Sage 200cloud
- Sage Enterprise Management (formerly X3)
A similar cloud-desktop split is evident in the payroll category, where BrightPay, IRIS Payroll Moneysoft and Sage 50cloud Payroll go head-to-head with Capium, Sage Business Cloud Payroll, The Payroll Site and Xero Payroll.
- IRIS Payroll
- Sage 50cloud Payroll
- Sage Business Cloud Payroll
- The Payroll Site
- Xero Payroll
Tax and practice tools
The rivalries are just as marked in the tax and practice software categories, where cloud contenders such as Capium, Taxfiler, Senta, AccountancyManager, Practice Ignition are challenging the likes of BTCSoftware, IRIS, Sage and TaxCalc. Most of these developers are edging closer to the cloud with hybrid storage and online MTD filing tools.
- Inform Direct
- Practice Ignition
- Xero Practice Manager
- VT Final Accounts
Desktop software is still putting up a strong case for keeping customers satisfied in the 2019 Accounting Excellence Software Awards, but the continuing trend towards connecting applications in the cloud is evident in some of the associated product categories that inhabit accounting software’s rapidly growing cloud ecosystem.
Because of the self-serve and mobile nature of the category of expenses management, this was the first area of the profession to migrate online and all of the shortlisted products are online.
Data and Expenses Management
- FreeAgent Mobile
- Receipt Bank
- Xero Expenses
- Zoho Expense
It has taken longer than expenses, but forecasting, planning & analysis tools that connect to online accounts have wrested control of the accounting market from the likes of IBM Cognos, SAP Business Objects and Oracle Hyperion.
This year’s all-cloud FP&A list confirms that online accounting really has democratised business modelling, forecasting and analysis.
Forecasting, Planning & Analysis (FP&A)
- Spotlight Reporting
There are apps that plug into online accounting engines to handle activities ranging from credit control to collecting payments and applying for online finance.
The Cloud app category caters for these ecosystem programs and shines the light on a group of developers now establishing themselves as the clear leaders in the respective niches.
Our final category opened the door to a less well-developed corner of the accounting software ecosystem – digital banking.
While Capitalise and Satago carry the flag for fintech apps in the Cloud category, the interconnections between accounting and banking are becoming tighter and tighter and opening doors to new players.
Our aspiration was to find out how the online business banking facilities offered by high street banks compared to the new generation, but only users of the latter group turned up to rate their banking apps.
This year’s banking app list is a short one containing accountancy’s three leading digital bankers. We’ll have to see how well the bigger banks respond to this competitive threat in next year’s awards.
The winners of the 2019 Accounting Excellence Software Awards will be announced at our celebration dinner on 12 September at The Brewery, London EC4. If you want to be there when the awards are handed out, reserve your place now.