Best Business Accounting Software Providers Shortlist
Here is my list of the top 12 best online accounting software programs and providers:
- QuickBooks Online - Best for ease of use & free training resources
- Xero - Best for consultants and small service providers
- Fresh Books - Best business invoicing software
- BlackLine - Best accounting automation solution for large firms
- Oracle ERP Cloud - Best for large firms and remote teams
- MarginEdge - Best business and finance software for restaurants
- Zoho Books - Best for mobile accounting
- Wave - Best free business accounting software
- Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance - Best for growing & evolving companies
- Sage 50cloud Accounting - Best for retail businesses
- Infor Enterprise Financial Management - Best for supply chain management
- CS Professional Suite - Best software for accounting
Keeping accurate books is vital to the success of any business, large or small. And fortunately, business accounting software makes it much simpler to keep track of your company’s financials. But how should you choose the right software solution?
I’ve got you covered.
In this article, I’ll summarize each software’s functionality, usability, price, and more to help you decide on the best business accounting software for your needs.
What is Business Accounting Software?
Business accounting software is a category of software tools designed to help companies of all shapes and sizes handle accounting, bookkeeping, and financial reporting tasks.
Some software solutions are designed for large corporations and offer advanced tools like tax preparation, financial forecasting, and modeling. Others are simpler and targeted more toward small business owners and contractors.
Overview of the Best Business Accounting Software for 2023
Based on the selection criteria described below, these are the best business accounting platforms on the market today.
1. QuickBooks Online - Best for ease of use & free training resources
While popularity doesn’t necessarily dictate quality, QuickBooks Online really has earned its reputation as a favorite among small business owners. There is a lot to dig into here, but I’ll start with this: QuickBooks is perhaps the easiest to learn. There is a huge library of training materials available from Intuit (the maker of QuickBooks), as well as thousands of third-party creators who offer tutorials and training programs for QuickBooks.
Plus, the popularity of QuickBooks Online makes it simple to integrate—not only with other software solutions but also with CPAs and other tax professionals. Any tax pro worth their salt will be familiar with QuickBooks, so if you outsource bookkeeping or tax preparation, you’ll face no issues there.
Why I picked QuickBooks Online
I selected QuickBooks Online because it’s feature-rich, simple to integrate with most industry standard business software, and the most popular accounting software by far.
QuickBooks Online Standout Features and Integrations
Standout Features include easy report and financial statement preparation tools, extensive learning resources and tutorials, and free guided setup with a QuickBooks expert.
Integrations include Amazon Business, PayPal, Shopify, Square, Gusto, and 750+ other popular business apps.
Pricing: From $30/month
Free trial: Free 30-day trial. However, prepaying qualifies you for free expert set up, as well as 50% off your first three months (accepting the free trial means you won’t get these perks).
- Extensive training materials
- Hundreds of integration
- Syncs with banks and credit cards
- Above-average price point
- Limited number of users
2. Xero - Best for consultants and small service providers
Xero is a popular accounting platform that’s widely used in Australia and Europe—and it’s quickly gaining ground in the United States. It’s fully cloud-based, with an intuitive UI on both desktop and mobile.
The basic functionality is simple and approachable. While its financial reporting features are somewhat limited, Xero easily integrates with tons of third-party apps for enhanced functionality. Xero partners with Gusto for seamless payroll integration starting at $40/mo.
Xero is also very cost-effective. The Early plan is just $13/mo and includes up to 20 invoices or quotes and up to 5 bills. This is ideal for new businesses, solopreneurs, contractors, and consultants. If you need higher volume or full features, the Growing ($37/mo) and Established ($70/mo) plans are competitively priced.
The premium plans from Xero include other unique features, like multi-currency support, bulk reconciliation, and in-depth analytics.
One useful feature that’s included in all Xero plans is Hubdoc, a data capture software that can grab key data from receipts, PDFs, bank statements, and more—and automatically import said data into Xero.
Why I picked Xero
I picked Xero as the best consultant accounting software because of its low-cost plans for small businesses.
Xero Standout Features and Integrations
Standout features include multi-currency support, simple bill and receipt capture, and an excellent mobile app.
Integrations include Square, Stripe, PayPal, Gusto, and more.
Pricing: From $13/month
Free trial: 30-day free trial
- Budget-friendly base plan for smaller companies and contractors
- Full-service payroll integration option with Gusto
- Slick receipt scanning and data capture tool
- Limited customer support
- ACH payment fees
3. FreshBooks - Best business invoicing software
FreshBooks is an intuitive invoicing and accounting platform that’s fully cloud-based. The backbone of the software is invoicing, but accounting, payroll, and bookkeeping features are also included.
You can create a professional-looking invoice with FreshBooks in seconds—but what really sets it apart from the competition are its advanced features, like upfront deposit requirements, which allow you to require a portion of the payment upfront (25%, for example).
It’s also easy to invoice for billable expenses by simply marking qualified expenses as billable to a certain client. Plus, you can even track billable time with built-in time tracking (a feature that’s rare in accounting software solutions).
Proposals and quotes are also simple to create and send with FreshBooks. And remember, FreshBooks does also have full-fledged bookkeeping and accounting features. Its most impressive features are invoicing-related, but FreshBooks has expanded to be a full-service accounting, payroll, and invoicing solution.
Why I picked FreshBooks
I picked FreshBooks as the best business invoicing software because it offers advanced invoicing tools (like upfront deposit requirements), while also being very simple to use.
FreshBooks Standout Features and Integrations
Standout features include fully customizable invoicing, advanced proposals and quotes, and integrated time tracking.
Integrations include Acuity Scheduling, Gusto, HubSpot, and third-party apps via Zapier.
Pricing: From $17/month (with custom solutions for larger firms)
Free trial: Free 30-day trial
- Advanced invoicing and proposal features
- Affordable plans
- Free trial with no credit card required
- Limited functionality in the mobile app
- Not well suited to large firms
4. BlackLine - Best accounting automation solution for large firms
BlackLine is a cloud software solution for finance and accounting automation. It’s designed primarily for mid-sized to large firms. The company does not publish pricing information, as quotes are custom and based on client needs—but suffice it to say, this is a comprehensive solution designed primarily for large companies.
While it can be used on its own, BlackLine is designed to augment existing software solutions—namely ERP platforms, including Oracle and Microsoft Dynamics. BlackLine focuses on helping finance and accounting teams free up valuable resources by automating various processes in three key areas: Financial closing, accounts receivable, and intercompany financial management.
In addition to automating manual accounting processes, BlackLine also helps to unify diverse systems, data, and processes to deliver greater efficiency and accuracy for finance teams. Its analysis and reporting tools also enable teams to make real-time decisions with up-to-date company-wide data.
Why I picked Blackline
I selected Blackline as a top option for large, data-heavy firms that could benefit from the software’s advanced automation features.
Blackline Standout Features and Integrations
Standout features include financial close management tools, AR automation and analysis, and advanced tools for disputes and collections.
Integrations include common ERP platforms from Oracle, NetSuite, SAP, and Microsoft Dynamics.
Free trial: None
- Advanced automation features in accounts receivable, closing, and more
- Improves efficiencies and accuracy for finance teams
- Tax-efficient processes for multi-company and multi-industry firms
- Steep learning curve
- Designed to augment, rather than replace, other software tools
5. Oracle ERP Cloud - Best for large firms and remote teams
Oracle ERP Cloud is much more than business accounting software—it’s a full-fledged ERP solution.
ERP tools enable firms to oversee, analyze, and manage business operations with a birds-eye-view. They are a useful tool to plan out operations, HR, finance, supply chain management, and more, all in one centralized location.
Oracle Cloud ERP is one of the best ERP software solutions on the market. It’s fully cloud-based, making it a good fit for distributed teams. The software is designed to handle the workload of the largest firms out there—so it may be overkill for smaller firms with simpler operations.
Like most ERP solutions, Oracle Cloud ERP is offered at custom pricing determined during the onboarding process.
Where software like Oracle really shines is in planning and resource management. Its accounting features are robust, with predictive algorithms, advanced automation, and the capability to handle massive transaction volume.
But the real value of Oracle Cloud ERP lies in its tools that allow managers to gauge how a firm’s current financial situation fits in with the bigger picture across operations, finance, HR, procurement, and more.
Why I picked Oracle Cloud ERP
I picked Oracle Cloud ERP as a top option for large firms because it’s far more than just an accounting tool—it’s a full-fledged ERP platform and one of the best on the market.
Oracle Cloud ERP Standout Features and Integrations
Standout features include advanced automation for over 80% of financial processes, rapid processing speed for high-volume firms, and predictive algorithms for cash flow forecasting.
Integrations include Oracle Cloud products and various third-party SaaS tools (via Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP).
Free trial: None
- All-in-one enterprise resource planning solution
- Birds-eye-view of your firm’s entire operations
- Advanced automation and predictive analytics
- Steep learning curve
6. MarginEdge - Best business and finance software for restaurants
MarginEdge is a unique software that’s specifically designed for the restaurant industry. It’s not quite accounting software—but it can help automate many common accounting tasks while providing insights to enhance your restaurant business. For best results, pair MarginEdge with an accounting platform like QuickBooks.
Despite the lack of full-fledged accounting features, there are a ton of financial insights and tools to unpack here. MarginEdge helps simplify all back-of-house operations by automating invoicing, enhancing inventory and food management, and much more. Plus, restaurateurs can gain valuable financial insights through detailed recipe cost analysis and other unique features.
Why I picked MarginEdge
I picked MarginEdge because it’s designed specifically for restaurants and offers many unique tools to help restaurateurs improve profitability and efficiency.
MarginEdge Standout Features and Integrations
Standout features include inventory and food usage management tools, recipe costing, menu analysis, and automated invoice processing.
Integrations include front-of-house POS systems from Square, Clover, TouchBistro, Toast, and more.
Pricing: $300/month per location
Free trial: None (demo available)
- Designed specifically for restaurant owners
- Extensive financial analysis tools
- Automates and improves efficiencies of many back-of-house tasks
- Not a true accounting platform (best used in combination with third-party software)
7. Zoho Books - Best for mobile accounting
Zoho Books is an intuitive accounting platform from Zoho, an up-and-coming business software provider. Zoho currently has 50+ different business apps across sales, marketing, finance, legal, and more—and they all integrate seamlessly with Zoho Books.
Although it’s simple and user-friendly, Zoho Books has surprising depth of features across payables, receivables, inventory, time tracking, and more. And business owners on the go will appreciate the slick mobile app, which is full-featured and has excellent ratings on the Apple Store and Google Play.
Why I picked Zoho Books
I selected Zoho Books because of its top-notch mobile app, which outperforms most mobile accounting apps on the market.
Zoho Books Standout Features and Integrations
Standout features include a full-featured mobile app, customizable financial reports, and integration with business contacts for efficient pitching, invoicing, and merchant payments.
Integrations include Zoho’s 50+ other business apps, plus some third-party integrations like Square, PayPal, and Stripe.
Pricing: From $15/month with up to 3 users, billed annually.
Free trial: Free 14-day trial
- Great mobile app
- Full-featured accounting with clean UI
- Free for businesses with under $50,000 in annual revenue
- Primarily integrates with other Zoho apps; third-party app integrations are a bit lacking
- May be overly complex for some small businesses
8. Wave - Best free business accounting software
Wave is a free accounting software solution for small businesses. It’s a perfect fit for service-based businesses, as it has surprisingly robust invoicing features—and it’s totally free to use. Wave only charges for payment processing and payroll, both of which are optional.
And unlike other “free” services, Wave doesn’t place limits on the number of invoices you can send or the number of clients or team members you can add as users. With that said, Wave’s payment processing fees are a bit higher than some competitors.
Why I picked Wave
I picked Wave because it has a surprisingly useful, completely free tier for basic accounting and invoicing tasks.
Wave Standout Features and Integrations
Standout features include support for an unlimited number of users and unlimited free invoicing.
Integrations include other Wave apps and third-party integrations via Zapier.
Pricing: Free (Wave only charges for payment processing and payroll)
Free trial: Service is free to use permanently
- 100% free invoicing and accounting
- Unlimited users and invoices
- Mobile app works well
- Limited features for larger companies
- Payment processing fees are higher than average
9. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance - Best for growing & evolving companies
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance is a part of the Dynamics 365 business suite. It’s a financial insights and analytics tool, first and foremost. Birds-eye-view financial reports paired with AI-driven insights and analytics make this tool a solid choice for firms adapting to changing business environments, but it might be overkill for smaller companies.
While this software can help automate certain accounting tasks and help firms think on their feet, it’s not really accounting software in the traditional sense. It’s designed to be used in combination with a third-party accounting solution.
Why I picked Microsoft Dynamics 365
I selected Microsoft Dynamics 365 because of the insights it offers into a firm’s financial condition.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Standout Features and Integrations
Standout features include advanced financial reporting, AI-assisted financial insights, and cost reduction analysis.
Integrations include other Microsoft ERP solutions and third-party apps, including HubSpot and LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
Pricing: $180 per user per month
Free trial: Free 30-day trial
- AI-driven insights and automations
- Birds-eye-view of your firm’s entire financial picture
- Embedded analytics
- Designed more for financial decision making rather than day-to-day accounting
10. Sage 50cloud Accounting - Best for small retail businesses
Sage 50cloud Accounting is a robust accounting solution for small businesses, with a key focus on inventory management, job-costing, and payroll integration. The tool is affordably priced and easy to use, but I particularly like it for retail companies due to its advanced inventory management features.
Overall, Sage 50cloud Accounting offers enterprise-level features at surprisingly reasonable prices.
It’s not fancy—in fact, it looks quite simple on the surface. But the functionality doesn't disappoint, and the intuitive interface makes it easy to use, as well.
Why I picked Sage 50cloud Accounting
I picked Sage primarily because of its advanced inventory management features, which are well-suited for retail businesses and e-commerce firms.
Sage 50cloud Accounting Standout Features and Integrations
Standout features include job costing, cash-flow monitoring with predictive analytics, and customizable one-click reports.
Integrations include other Sage products with optional add-ons for payroll, check writing, payment processing, and tax e-filing.
Pricing: Starting at $57.17/month for one-user plan, billed annually.
Free trial: “Test drive” demo available
- Extensive features for retail firms
- Advanced inventory management
- Reasonable pricing, given the advanced functionality
- Simple interface without many bells and whistles
- Additional cost for multiple users
11. Infor Enterprise Financial Management - Best for supply chain management
Infor Enterprise Financial Management is part of Infor’s suite of business software solutions. This module focuses on financial insights, accounting automation, and supply chain management. It’s best suited for decision-making and insights rather than day-to-day accounting tasks.
What’s unique about this software is that it combines financial insights with substantial procurement, expense management, and supply chain management features.
Why I picked Infor Enterprise Financial Management
I selected Infor because of its advanced supply chain and financial insights for mid-sized to large firms.
Infor Enterprise Financial Management Standout Features and Integrations
Standout features include a global ledger with unlimited sub-ledgers, unlimited attributes, and streamlined sourcing and procurement insights.
Integrations include other Infor software tools.
Free trial: None
- Integrated supply chain management features
- Designed for large firms
- Steep learning curve
- Better suited for financial insights rather than day-to-day accounting tasks
12. CS Professional Suite - Best software for accounting firms
CS Professional Suite is designed for tax and accounting professionals, from sole operators to large accounting firms. It’s a suite of accounting and finance solutions combined into one central platform—modules include accounting, auditing, payroll, asset management, and more.
You’ll notice that CS Professional Suite has a no-frills user interface that may even look outdated. While it lacks the bells and whistles of modern competitors, this offering (from tech giant Thomson Reuters) has all the tools that finance professionals need for their day-to-day work.
Why I picked CS Professional Suite
I picked CS Professional Suite for its dual client view and accountant view feature, and for its professional-grade modules fit for CPAs and accounting firms.
Standout features include a dedicated “Accountant View” and “Client View” and advanced auditing features.
Integrations include Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, and Google Docs.
Free trial: None
- Designed for accountants and tax professionals
- Integrated “client view” feature for sharing reports and data with clients
- Simple but comprehensive
- Outdated UI
- No mobile app support
Other Business Accounting Software Options
The options above are my picks for the best accounting software solutions. If you didn’t quite find what you were looking for, here are some other options to consider.
- NetSuite - An automation-rich software suite with regulatory compliance features
- Neat - A simple accounting software solution for the self-employed
- Kashoo - A budget-friendly software for startups and growing businesses
- QuickBooks Self Employed - A simplified version of QuickBooks designed for freelancers and contractors
- Sage Accounting - A simple, cloud-based accounting solution with budget-friendly plans
Selection Criteria for the Best Business Accounting Software
Here’s a short summary of the main selection and evaluation criteria I used to develop my list of the best business accounting software—and the factors you should consider when making your selection.
A software’s core functionality includes the tasks and processes that the software is designed to handle. Here are the basic capabilities that each software on this list provides:
- Enable you to handle basic bookkeeping tasks in-house
- Allow you to prepare basic financial reports, like a P&L, balance sheet, or cash flow statement
- Help streamline account reconciliations, the closing process, and tax preparation.
Key features set each tool apart from the competition. Here are some of the key features I looked for in my search business accounting software:
- Automation & real-time syncing: The best business accounting software providers offer ways to speed up your accounting workflow and synchronize your financial data so it's accessible from anywhere.
- Receipt capture: OCR-powered document scanner or mobile app is a useful feature in business accounting software–and it can help you save a ton of time.
- Financial reporting: Accounting software should help automate the financial statement preparation process and make it easier to meet internal and external reporting requirements.
- Forecasting & modeling tools: Some accounting software uses business intelligence to create financial forecasts and models.
- Invoicing & payment processing: Accounting software should give you a simple way to create and send invoices and process customer payments (either directly or through a third-party integration).
I paid close attention to each software’s user interface and overall user experience. It doesn’t matter how good the features and technical specs are on a tool if no one wants, or knows how, to use it.
The software you choose should integrate with the tools and platforms your firm already uses. Consider integrations with your POS system, eCommerce platform, payment processor, payroll software, and more.
Compatibility with Accounting Systems & Providers
Beyond formal integrations with other software, the right accounting software should be compatible with as many of your existing systems and tools as possible. This includes both internal systems as well as external support (like a partnered CPA firm). While most accounting software can export data in a universal format, it’s often helpful to use solutions with widespread use in the accounting industry (such as QuickBooks).
Ideally, accounting software should work as advertised and not require direct support. But if your accounting software ever were to crash, Murphy’s law says it’ll happen in the middle of month-end close, or the night before taxes are due.
Hopefully it never comes down to that. But, given how important accounting and financial data is for your business, a software option that gives you access to 24/7 support is a huge plus.
What is the most commonly used accounting software?
What is the cheapest business accounting software?
Which business accounting software is easiest to use?
Choosing the best business accounting software for your company is an important step. Having an in-house, full-featured software solution can save you a lot of money on accounting costs while ensuring that your books are kept accurately and in an easily shareable format.
The tools listed in this guide are the best business accounting software solutions on the market today. It’s up to you to choose the right one for your specific situation, but you really can’t go wrong with any of the options above.
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