Best online accounting software for small businesses in Ireland
Keeping your finances in order is vital for any business. Managing invoices, receipts, expenses and mileage can be a cumbersome task if your records are unorganised and kept in a box. Online accounting software will help you stay on top of your accounting.
Our accountants and account managers have years of experience working with many different online software products and know that there are big advantages for small businesses in terms of accessibility, usability, integrations, and cost.
Our detailed guide will help you to decide which software best fits your business.
What you should consider before choosing a software package
Software packages can save you hours of data entry each week. However, it can be incredibly confusing if you are researching the accountancy market for suitable software for your business.
Most online accountancy software providers have originated from other countries and adapted their software to the Irish market, with some adapting much better than others.
Do you have tax returns due this year?
If you are a Sole Trader and you have been trading since 2018, you will have to file your first self-assessed Income Tax return and pay your tax liabilities before the 31st October 2019.
If you are the director of a company that has been registered before the 31st of December 2018, you are required to file your director's income tax returns on the 31st of October of this year.
Points to consider when selecting your package
Do you find it user-friendly? How does it function on your iPad or other mobile devices?
Does your business operate in more than one currency? Will the package accommodate this?
If your business exports goods or services, your package will need to cover this.
These need to work how you want them to, so check them out first.
Is online accounting software really better than excel?
Online accounting software has many benefits compared to traditional desktop versions. Below we review the pros and cons…
Pros of using accounting software
Packages cost an average of just €10-€20 per month for a small business and some are even free.
Online accounting is more efficient, saving you and your accountant time, therefore reducing your accounting fees. Your office stationary budget can also be reduced by using online accounting software.
Depending on what your business needs, you can choose an online accountancy software package that suits your requirements. As other businesses may have similar needs to you there is a large community of resources available.
You will be able to access your financial records from any internet-enabled device.
Ease of Use
Online accountancy software is often more user-friendly than traditional software so misplacing files can become a thing of the past.
You will NEVER have to worry about backing up data again because all information will be stored automatically using Cloud-based technology. Having your files backed up and accessible online gives you peace of mind that they will never go missing.
There are no commitments with online software - you pay by monthly subscription, so you can stop paying anytime, or you can upgrade, or reduce your requirements.
You can also choose add-ons to meet specific business needs e.g. a hairdresser may want an appointments module; retailers and manufacturers may need stock or inventory add-ons. This feature is incredibly useful as you only pay for what you need.
Our accountants will work with whatever online accounting software you are currently using. But if you’re not sure if it’s right for you, or if you haven’t started with business accounting software yet, don’t worry. Our professional team of experts can make the decision easy for you.
Cons of using accounting software
Many fear over the security of online bookkeeping solutions. This can present a slight cause for concern as even solid encryption procedures can’t totally guarantee the absolute security of your data. That said, alternative options cannot offer any more security than online options either. The moment you share your information, you’re always presenting a risk.
When you store something on the cloud, it will always be at risk of infiltration from a virus or other harming online content. Without antivirus software and firewall protection, it is unsafe to use online accounting software.
Because bookkeeping software is designed to be a complete package, it can lack the customisability of other methods.
Can’t work offline
Online bookkeeping software depends on an internet connection. Without it, the work cannot continue.
Our recommendations for online accounting software
Surf Accounts is an Irish system and their cloud-based accounting software and Customer Relationship Management system perfectly suits small and medium-sized businesses. A Surf subscription includes:
- Free unlimited telephone and email support for their clients, so you can always get help when you need it.
- Stylish invoicing, bank reconciliation, inventory management, and payroll are just some of the features that Surf offers. The software is fully adapted to Irish tax standards and very user-friendly.
- All their systems can be updated in real-time collaboration with your accountant and accessed anytime, anywhere and on any device.
- Business owners and accountants can work in the system at the same time, making account management quick and easy. There is no need to look for backups or restores, decreasing downtime and other issues.
Surf Accounts is perfect for you if… you’re a small to medium sized company that wants a software that can manage all your business finances in one place.
Pricing: Free 30-day trial and their monthly subscription starts at just €14.95 with a free advisor login.
Surf’s Enterprise Package monthly subscription worth €29.95 completely FREE when you sign up for our Startup Offer.
Free online accountancy software
For a limited period, we are offering startup businesses a FREE accountancy software subscription for Surf Accounts. Simply purchase our startup offer to avail of the Surf Enterprise Package worth €360.00 annually.
The Enterprise package includes Invoicing, VAT, Banking, Purchases, General Ledger Dashboard & Reporting, Quotes & Orders, CRM, RCT, Multi-Currency, Stock, SEPA Payments.
Xero has been described as beautiful software, and in many ways it is. The interface is intuitive, and the dashboard provides an excellent snapshot of the business.
Xero originated in New Zealand and has grown rapidly over the last few years. It has an excellent online presence and is supported by a huge number of add-ons.
However, there is no dedicated Irish version – hence the US dollar price below. This means you have to do a little bit of adjustment on the following issues:
- VAT reporting – Xero doesn’t operate Irish VAT, so our clients and our accountants have to work off the global version, which is built for the US market. Although accountants can still use the software for Irish VAT, the software does not produce Irish reports such as RTD (Return of Trading Debit) – a report that has recently been made mandatory by Revenue.
- Cash receipts – the Irish method differs from the UK method.
- There are issues with reporting EU purchases and it does not operate the VAT under RCT rules.
Xero is a perfect choice if … you are a visual worker and you appreciate beautiful dashboards. Also, if you’re an Amazon, Alibaba, Etsy or eBay seller, Xero has special integrations so you can stay in control of your finances.
Pricing: Free 30-Day Trial then €13 – €26 per month for your first three months.
Kashflow is a UK product which, like Xero, has had to adapt to the Irish market. The interface on Kashflow is very user-friendly and easy to navigate, but probably not at the same level as Xero. The company is well established in the UK market and has won numerous awards.
Kashflow’s adaptation to the Irish market have made it a very popular piece of software.
- It handles bank feeds for the majority of Irish banks very well.
- It can also handle the Irish cash accounting for VAT.
- Crucially, it can also manage the Irish Return of Trading details.
The only negative is that there appears to be little movement in the area of innovation. The interface also lacks the sharp sleek look of some of its competitors.
Kashflow is perfect for you if … you want an online accountancy software that gets the job done and gets it done at a low price.
Pricing: Offers a free trial then it is £8 – £21 per month for the first 4 months.
AccountsIQ is an Irish system and so has all the functionality that Irish legislation requires, and also UK, U.S. and Australia functionality if you need it. We would recommend AccountsIQ for larger businesses or high potential startups. As the system is sophisticated, the price is higher than the other software mentioned.
- The system serves a different market to the two providers profiled above. It specifically targets companies with more complex accounting requirements.
- From a functionality perspective, it works very well. The dashboard is intuitive and the system, in general, is quite user-friendly, considering that the businesses who use it are more complex.
- Accounts IQ is designed for multi-entity and multi-currency accounting.
- Reports are sophisticated and include non-financial reports, which are important for smooth business operation.
- The VAT reporting is robust, although we have experienced some issues with bounced lodgements not being reflected correctly on VAT returns.
The only negative is the limit on concurrent users is based on your subscription – i.e. the number of people logged in and using it at the same time. If you exceed the number of users allowed on your subscription, the system will not allow you to log on.
AccountsIQ is perfect for you if… you’re a large business or a high potential startup who needs a fully-enabled and easy Irish platform with consolidation capabilities.
Pricing: Prices can be found by contacting AccountsIQ directly.
Wave is a free software that offers accounting, invoicing, receipts and payments. However, they do charge for allowing businesses to accept payments online so you can get invoices paid faster and if you need payroll. Each transaction is paid when it’s charged, no you only need to pay for what you use. Perfect for small businesses.
Wave is perfect for you if… you’re a small business and you have business with EU and non-EU customers.
Bookkeeping on your own
If you would rather not use any online accountancy software, don’t worry, you can still run a fully operational business. Here’s how:
Check Your Cash Situation Daily
When you’re starting out, it’s best practice to open a business bank account. Keeping your business money separate from your personal money enables you to see your company cash flow clearly and make projections for the upcoming year.
Organise Your Paper Receipts
Even if you don’t want to store them all on software, at least keep a digital copy of each receipt on Google Drive or Dropbox (Both Free). This makes it easier to search for old receipts and takes up much less space. Keep records of bank statements and invoices so you can easily find them for your accountant when requested upon.
Keep Customer And Supplier Billings Records
Use your preferred method of bookkeeping (i.e. notebook or ideally Google Drive Sheets or Excel) and record any outbound customer invoices, inbound payments, supplier invoices received and supplier invoices paid.
Talk To Your Accountant
Your accountant may offer a different way of doing bookkeeping that matches your business type and suits your needs.