What’s a QuickBooks alternative for your business? It might be QuickBooks
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Originally Posted On: https://quickbooks.intuit.com/r/growing-complex-businesses/quickbooks-alternative/
Take some time to compare accounting software
Successful businesses are always in a state of refinement because no operation is perfect. There’s always a better way to work, improve services or products, cut costs, heighten data security, heighten flexibility (think mobile apps)…and the list goes on.
Technology is typically at the top of the refinement list. Just think about how quickly technologies change. The release of something newer, faster, and more intuitive is constant—whether that’s in the form of a brand new accounting solution or application updates.
If it’s been a while since you evaluated your current small business accounting software, even if it’s QuickBooks, you may be doing your business a disservice. You owe it to yourself to make sure you’re using the right accounting tools to support your needs.
Using the right technologies to automate processes and run an efficient operation is paramount. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of analysis points to help you conduct a thorough evaluation of your existing accounting system and compare QuickBooks alternative solutions (e.g., Sage, Sage 50 cloud, Xero, Freshbooks, CRM solutions, Zoho Books, Excel).
Where do you start?
You start with a well-thought-out list. This ensures that you are asking the right questions and evaluating the best QuickBooks alternatives thoroughly. Your list should be separated into two key categories and cover the following points:
Basic features and fundamentals
- Ease of use (is it exceptionally user-friendly?)
- Pricing (is it within your budget?)
- Customer support
Advanced features and functionality
- Customization (how customizable is the solution?)
Now, let’s dig into each.
Comparing QuickBooks with basic solution alternatives
There are many alternatives to Intuit QuickBooks out there for cloud accounting. And no matter what solution you’re currently using (QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Advanced, QuickBooks Desktop), the goal is to identify the system that best fits your business needs right now, offering both the accounting features and other advanced features.
For more basic systems, the key measures for comparison include ease of use (is it intuitive and easy to get up and running?), price point (what is your max budget?), and support (will you have the proper level of customer support after you purchase?).
Ease of use
As one of the longest-term and most popular accounting systems in the market (supporting large, mid-sized, and small business owners, self-employed people, freelancers, and e-commerce), QuickBooks understands the necessity of developing software that is easy to use. As you compare solutions, get a feel for ease of navigation and check out the sophistication of settings and options.
Consider each point of comparison:
- Dashboard: Does the system offer an intuitive dashboard that is organized and easy to navigate? For example, does the system make it easy to capture and organize invoices, recurring invoices, receipts, purchase orders, and any other bookkeeping source docs? Is tracking income, expense tracking, managing credit card balances, and bank reconciliation straightforward? Do you have full transparency into bank accounts, bank feeds, bank transactions, financial reports, the balance sheet, time tracking, and accounts payable and receivable? Remember, having real-time access to all your data supports smart decisions that better ensure a healthy cash flow. Overall, make sure you are comfortable with the system’s main hub (dashboard).
- Settings and options: Does the system come with more complex settings such as user roles, permissions, and other control features—while also making it easy to find and use them? The best solutions will offer more complex settings to control what users can see and do.
- Record creation: Creating product and service records should be fast and efficient. Make sure your solution of choice guides you through the processes of creating records, including selecting the type of record (e.g., inventory, non-inventory, service, bundle), quantity on hand, purchasing information, description, and so forth. Compare record creation in other solutions with QuickBooks Quick Create feature for a proper measure of ease of use.
- Chart of accounts: Your chart of accounts is an index of all your financial accounts, broken down into organized subcategories. Your accounting system should support easy setup of the chart of accounts, complete with standard accounts and the ability to create your own. It should also allow you to quickly categorize accounts, add and edit accounts, hide and delete accounts, and add account numbers if required.
There are less-established and cheaper accounting solutions that offer similar functionality to QuickBooks, but these systems can lack refinement in terms of ease of use. Be sure to test all systems thoroughly. Getting up and running quickly is important to businesses—new and established—so be sure your system of choice offers the intuitive factor.
It’s a good rule of thumb to never base purchase decisions on price alone—especially when it comes to software. It’s a big and important decision, so you have to weigh many factors. You’ll want to maintain your accounting solution for several years, so be careful and consider all relevant comparison points beyond just price.
Keep the following in mind when considering price:
- There’s a big difference between price and value: You really do get what you pay for, so make sure your online accounting software can deliver. A good suggestion is to choose a system that is scalable—one that can grow with your business. This prevents you from allocating resources (human and cash) to switch solutions down the road.
Be sure to also look into the different pricing plans for alternative solutions and check if there are unlimited user options.
- Cost of consulting: Make sure to factor in added consulting costs. For example, if you choose to move to a full enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, you’ll likely need an ERP consultant to oversee implementation. Costs can add up quickly. Also consider accessibility to consultants and experts via the vendor. With years serving businesses of all sizes, QuickBooks has built a large team of experts who are readily available.
Whether you’re an established business with a bookkeeper on staff or just starting out, support via live experts or how-to documentation is key to keep you on track and using the system to its full capacity. Compared with other solutions, QuickBooks offers a wider variety of support—from live bookkeeping experts and chat, email, and phone-based support to webinars, tutorials, a comprehensive library of how-to docs and QuickBooks Online community. Be sure to ask about support as you are vetting other vendors. You should also read user reviews for customer support as you check out alternative solutions.
Comparing QuickBooks with more complex solution alternatives
As your business complexity increases, you will ultimately need more powerful functionality from your accounting solution. From experience, we can tell you that you’ll want your accounting system to deliver on reporting, customization, and scalability for your growing accounting needs.
Don’t accept a system that offers less than exceptionally powerful reporting. As your company grows, so does the number of data points. Advanced reporting features enable you to pull data from multiple locations to create custom reports and conduct deeper analysis of the numbers.
Advanced reporting features are beyond basic accounting systems, so be sure you are up-to-speed on what other systems offer in this area. For example, consider QuickBooks Advanced Custom Report builder. This built-in feature allows users to select the data they want to see and create the reports that are most impactful to their business. Further, reports can be filtered, grouped, and summarized to highlight the KPIs and data that is essential and unique to each customer’s operation. Also offered are:
- Limitless lists: In order to slice and dice data for the purpose of identifying opportunities and other key information, you first need access to the data. QuickBooks offers limitless lists capabilities for items like classes, charts of accounts, and projects to give your reporting that extra boost of power.
- Dazzling dashboards: With the number of data points growing as your business does, you’ll need to synthesize information to support informed, actionable decisions. Dashboards allow you to aggregate multiple data sources in a single space for a complete picture of performance.
- Custom benchmarking: Not all metrics are created equal. With the ability to customize your KPIs, you can easily zero in on the ones that impact your business the most.
As you vet other solutions, make sure they stack up in terms of reporting.
Every business is different and supported by unique processes. As such, you’ll need a solution that offers sophisticated customization functionality and integrations. As you compare solutions, make sure they offer:
- Industry-specific modules: Premium modules developed for your industry allow you to add hyper-specific functionality that automatically ports into your online accounting software. For example, QuickBooks Online Advanced offers a premium inventory management module for detailed inventory tracking to support retail, manufacturing, wholesaler, and other inventory-based verticals. Use custom invoicing templates to fit your industry.
- Operations-specific modules: Streamline business operations that make the most impact by integrating premium business apps that run through your accounting system. For example, the ability to integrate premium project management apps helps you to create a system unique to your requirements—beyond just accounting needs offered via an accounting app.
- Added compliance and security: As your business grows, so does the need to assign roles and set user permissions. Maintain control of who sees what while also enjoying top-level security.
If growth is your goal, and it is for most businesses, you’ll want an accounting system that scales with you. Advanced solutions provide powerful automation that enable you to streamline repeatable processes. Standardization of workflows is the name of the game if you want to scale your business with far more ease. Look for solutions that offer features designed to scale with you:
- Process automation: Turn time-draining manual tasks into standardized, streamlined processes by automating functions end-to-end. For example, automation of the accounts receivable and payable functions (highly repetitive) will make scaling your business much smoother.
- Advanced cloud security: Processing financial and business data requires a safe and secure space to store information. Be sure your solution of choice is rated high in the area of cloud accounting security.
- Greater audit controls: Allow auditors or consultants access to the financial data they need so, in turn, they can deliver the deep data analysis you’re paying for. Check into audit controls as you vet and compare solutions.
Systems that offer these advanced features will better position you to scale—as they have the capacity to grow with your business. Don’t settle for less than a system that supports advanced reporting, intuitive dashboards, custom benchmarking, and powerful automation functionality.
Searching for a QuickBooks alternative may be pretty easy
If you haven’t conducted a technology evaluation in the last few years, it may be time. As your business grows, so do your technology requirements. Is your current system meeting your accounting needs? You don’t know unless you ask the hard questions and do some side-by-side comparisons.
Make sure you’re using the right accounting solution for your business. At the end of the day, it’s all about using technology that offers the accounting tools you need today and over the long-term. Your success, sustainability, and scalability depend a great deal on the technology that runs your operation. Happy hunting!
Learn more about the sophisticated online accounting software features of QuickBooks Online Advanced and how it can scale with your business.