Software reviews: Speed up your shortlist decisions

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John Stokdyk explains how to use AccountingWEB’s new resource to navigate around different software sectors including accounts production, practice management, forecasting, and expenses management.

Anyone looking for a particular software solution typically starts out on Google, where they end up getting slapped with a bucketful of paid ads and all manner of review sites and random posts.

Another route is to ask colleagues and peers for their thoughts, as many AccountingWEB members do via Any Answers.

To make the whole process quicker and more coherent, however, AccountingWEB introduced our new Software Reviews service this autumn. This new approach aims to streamline software decisions by helping accountants narrow down their searches to those products.

This week, we have unveiled our accounts production Software Reviews page, to go with the expenses management, forecasting/analysis and practice management categories published in September.

Our comparisons typically include 10-12 suppliers that have established themselves in a particular market, based on data from our Accounting Excellence Software Awards survey ( if you haven't already done so this year, you can rate the products you use here).

The product comparison list usually include the nominees for our awards, plus suppliers who have sizeable user groups within our community, but for whatever reasons did not make the shortlists.

How to use Software Reviews

AccountingWEB editor Tom Herbert recently recorded a video to explain how the reviews work, but if you want to find out what you can get more quickly, here’s a brief overview:

  • The first stop for accounts production would be the main comparison table, detailing integrations, functionality and price details.
  • The listing can be filtered by clicking boxes on the pull-down menus for firm size, integrations and functionality. Templates are a key element for accounts production, so they are listed separately and can be filtered so you can find all those suppliers who can give you a farm accounts template, for example.
  • The functionality listing is made up of keywords describing the main features within a program. For accounts production, common features include “Tag” and “Submit” - they key tasks required to send iXBRL accounts to Companies House and HMRC. Most products will “Import” a trial balance too and some will allow users to “Adjust” final accounts within the program. The ability to drill-down from the finished accounts (“Drill”) to individual summaries and transactions is less common, while some products include “Audit” features such as lead schedules.
  • Once you have narrowed down your shortlist to the products that interest you most, you can click their names on the comparison table to get more information on each product. The comparison table and basic product overviews are open to all and all you have to do is enter your details to access user ratings and detailed feedback on the functionality, support, ease of use and value for money of that program, as determined by people who use it.

Software reviews for small business accounts/bookkeeping programs, MTD for VAT apps and mid-market/enterprise accounting systems will follow soon, with a total of 10 categories planned for release in the New Year ahead of our next round of surveying for the 2019 Accounting Excellence Software Awards.

Insights on accounting software trends

As well as detailed product reviews and guides, the data collected as part of the awards and Software Reviews process gives AccountingWEB valuable insights into what’s happening in the marketplace.

With accounts production, for example, we’re beginning to see the incursion of cloud applications into this desktop-dominated specialist practice sector. This trend is also loosening the hold of the established practice suite suppliers on the market - though developers including Taxfiler, Capium, Wolters Kluwer, IRIS and now Xero and QuickBooks are all looking to offer cloud-based bookkeeping/practice/compliance suites.

Have a look around the current Software Reviews and tell us what you think. The entire project has been shaped by the promptings and suggestions of AccountingWEB members. With more of your feedback, we can try to make our Software Reviews even better.

About John Stokdyk

John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight

AccountingWEB’s Head of Insight has been with the site since 1999 and likes to spend his time studying accountants’ technology habits. When not nerding out, you can find him exploring obscure indie music and searching for the perfect organic sourdough loaf from his base in Brighton, UK.


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By djn24
29th Nov 2018 13:28

Are we able to leave reviews on these software products?

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to djn24
29th Nov 2018 14:39

Yes you are. The survey is the same one we used for this year's Accounting Excellence Software Awards and you can rate products across 10 different categories. I'll add the link in an appropriate spot in the article - thanks for reminding me!

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