Accounting software - how to choose the right one for you (pt 3)
29/09/2017 by Ean Brown Partners Limited
Part 14 of our blog article series: "Strategies for business success"
(and part 3 of 3 of our mini blog series on "Accounting software - how to choose the right one for you")
Following on from part 1 and part 2 of this mini blog series, in part 3 we will compare the software features and functionality being offered up by four of the more common providers.
So let us begin by introducing the software providers and their products:
About the providers ...
MYOB is a well established Australian company with no intentions to move global. The focus will remain on Australia and New Zealand.
Xero is big and growing. There's a vibrant marketplace for add-ons and things which can help you tailor your experience.
Reckon is a well established international brand with over 600,000 users.
CRS tailor their product specifically to New Zealand farmers.
All the reviewed products offer:
Automatic bank feeds - no more manual data input
Auto-coding - set up rules to allocate much of your bank transactions automatically
Cashbook functionality - for your GST
Basic reports - to see how your business is tracking
Budgeting - tools to manage your cashflow
MYOB BankLink and CashManager Rural both require you to install a program on a Windows PC.
BankLink stores your data on your PC and only needs the internet once in a while to download new data. It is fine on dial-up or slower rural connections.
CashManager stores your data in their cloud and needs to be connected the whole time you're using the program. They recommend low broadband speeds at a minimum.
MYOB AccountRight and Reckon Accounts give you the choice of online or offline.
Nowadays most users don't think twice about running on-screen reports, whilst others still prefer handling printed reports. Whatever your preference may be, all of the software examined has some form of built-in reporting.
If you want custom reports, you'll have to look at the higher-end offering from each. MYOB AccountRight, Xero Standard, Reckon Accounts and CRS CashManager all allow you to build your own.
Invoicing and debtor/creditor tracking
Moving in to the mid-weight arena; MYOB Essentials and AccountRight, Xero Standard, Reckon and CRS all offer debtor invoicing. Invoices you create seamlessly integrate with the program, and allow you to track what you are owed.
Creditor tracking, ie keeping an eye on what you owe others, is also important. MYOB Essentials, MYOB AccountRight and Xero Standard allow you to save your invoices right in to the program for easy source document reference. These ones can also "read" the invoices to speed up bill creation, though this isn't polished yet.
Reckon and CRS also allow creditor tracking.
Like invoicing, payroll is a feature reserved for mid-level and above. MYOB Essentials and Account Right, Xero Standard, Reckon and CRS offer payroll options.
We haven't had the pleasure of working with Reckon or CRS payrolls, however we can say that, in our opinion, of MYOB and Xero payrolls, MYOB just edges ahead at the technical end of the scale.
For small businesses each of the above will be perfectly adequate, however we recommend for larger clients to do further research. Payroll can get exceedingly complicated and basic software doesn't always cut mustard at the extremes.
MYOB Essentials and AccountRight, and Reckon offer apps for your employees so they can fill in their own timesheets on the go.
Whether it's preparing GST or helping you troubleshoot, it's much easier when you and your accountant can both be looking at the same screen.
All of the online programs allow an accountant's log-in. The offline programs, MYOB BankLink and offline AccountRight and Reckon Accounts, are a little more involved when it comes to getting information in and out for your accountant, and also for general support.
MYOB, Reckon and CRS boast business hour phone support. Xero offers only online documentation and community crowd-sourcing of help.
In some cases you might like to choose a basic software, then upgrade as your business progresses. MYOB Connected Ledger and Essentials, Xero, and Reckon One allow fast "one-click" transitions to add or remove features on the go.
Point of sale
You can have your POS transactions integrate with the business ledger to save even more time.
MYOB Essentials and AccountRight have optional add-ons and mobile card payment devices at great rates. You can accept card payments anywhere your mobile gets reception, perfect for selling ice-creams at the beach this summer.
Xero has numerous approved 3rd party add-ons and you'll be able to find one that suits your business well.
Inland Revenue communication
MYOB Connected Ledger, MYOB Essentials and Xero offer IRD filing. When your GST is ready, you can click a button to have the information sent straight to Inland Revenue. Cut down on time and errors in copying numbers from one form to another.
The above are also developing the same for payroll filing and we hope to see this in action shortly.
CRS CashManager Rural's time to shine! The number one reason to choose CashManager Rural is its recording and reporting of livestock. You can make useful insights and identify strengths and weaknesses in your livestock management when these tools are used well.
The drawback is that you only get out what you put in. Use it every day and see the benefits.
Related to livestock, a farmer should aim for software that allows general quantity reporting. Fonterra milksolids produced, and livestock purchases and sales, all need to be reported on at least annually, and a software with quantities makes this much easier.
MYOB BankLink offers this right now, and it's scheduled to roll out to their other products this year.
Useful for professional firms, builders, and other service industries; grouping transactions in to jobs can help you identify what service line needs improving and how much you really made from a particular job.
MYOB AccountRight has this built in. CashManager Rural has a variation, in that separate farm units can be set. Reckon and Xero Standard have the option for an additional cost.
Retail operations can benefit from up-to-the-second accurate inventory tracking. In particular you can make sales while away from the warehouse and not have to call up to check your stock quantities first.
MYOB AccountRight, Xero Standard and Reckon Accounts provide this as standard.
The cost of your accounting software, by and large, will be a pretty small part of your operating expenses, regardless of which option you pick. In saying that, you also don't want to throw away money on features you don't use.
Listed below are some prices for the various packages (current as at 29/9/17, GST excl):
To wrap up ...
You will see, from all the information we've covered, there are multitudes of considerations and factors which may affect your decision to choose one program over another. Ultimately, whatever choice you make really only needs to fulfill one vital criteria; your satisfaction. If a software program has you doing better business more efficiently, you have succeeded in choosing the software best for you.
This was the final instalment in our blog article mini-series on 'Accounting software - how to choose the right one for you'. we hope you've found the information we've compiled for you helpful. Please feel free to share this article on Facebook, or leave us a comment below - we love your feedback!