Online accounting software is very popular with business owners…and it’s easy to see why! There are lots of advantages to handling your accounts online.
Is Online Accounting Software Better than Excel?
Online accounting software has many benefits compared to traditional desktop versions, including:
- Affordability: 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 and therefore reducing your accounting fees. You can also cut office stationery costs and storage needs.
- Better access on the go: You will be able to access your financial records from any internet-enabled device. Also, with the right package, the information is available in a more user-friendly way than traditional software. You no longer have to worry about misplacing your files or sorting through bulky piles of documents.
- Ease of use: Depending on the particular needs of your business, you can choose the online accountancy software package that suits your requirements. Other businesses may have similar needs to you so there is a large community of resources available.
- Back-up: You will NEVER have to worry about backing up data again because all information will be stored automatically online using Cloud-based technology. This provides great peace of mind for you and your business. Having your files backed up and accessible online gives you reassurance that they’ll never go missing.
- Flexibility: No commitments – you pay by monthly subscription so you can stop paying anytime, or upgrade to meet changing needs, or reduce your requirements. You can also choose add-ons to meet specific business needs e.g. hairdressers may want an appointments module; retailers and manufacturers may need stock or inventory add-ons. This is a great feature as you only pay for what you need.
Which Online Accounting Software To Choose?
There’s a huge variety of online software available. It can be confusing if you are researching the market at the moment.
At Accountant Online, we work with our clients individually to find what’s best for them. We don’t recommend any one single product – we identify the package that suits your business.
All the packages will do the basics, such as posting your transactions the right way and covering VAT. We recommend that you do a trial before selecting the best package for you.
Points to consider in selecting your package include:
- Usability: Do you find it user-friendly? How does it function on your iPad or other mobile devices?
- Currencies: Does your business operate in more than one currency? Will the package accommodate this?
- Export: If your business exports goods or services, your package will need to cover this.
- Reporting functions: These need to work the way you want them to, so check them out first.
Our Recommendations For Online Accounting Software
Most software providers have originated in other countries and adapted their software to the Irish market. Some have adapted better than others.
In no particular order, here are our top picks for online accounting software for small Irish business owners.
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 amount of add-ons.
However, there is no dedicated Irish version. Which means we have to operate from their Global version – hence the dollar price below. This means you have to do a little bit of adjustment on the following issues:
- VAT reporting
- 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.
- It does not produce a Return of Trading Details report, which Revenue has started to insist on in recent years. This report is very time-consuming to produce.
Xero is perfect for you 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.
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 user-friendliness and adaptation to the Irish market have made it a very popular piece of software.
- It handles bank feeds for most of the 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.
AccountsIQ is an Irish system and so has all the functionality that Irish legislation requires. We use and would recommend this system for larger businesses or high potential startups. The system is sophisticated and the price is higher as a result.
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.
Reports are sophisticated and include non-financial reports, which are so 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 – the number of people logged in and using it at the same time. The limit depends on your subscription level. 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.
BulletHQ is 100% free online accounting software that offers accounting and invoicing features. They offer an invoice creator which saves time starting from fresh each time.
At the moment, their payroll functions are only available in Ireland but they do have some employee functions in their international product. The payroll app isn’t free, and the price depends on the number of employees you have.
BulletHQ is also fully integrated with Revenue’s Online Service (ROS) which means you can use it to upload your tax return.
BulletHQ is perfect for you if… you’re a total beginner and need help controlling your finances. Milage and receipt tracking, invoicing and bank reconciliations are just some of the features they offer for free.
Wave is another free online accounting software – great for freelancers, consultants and small business owners. This software offers unlimited collaborator access so you can add your accountant and business partners.
If you’re a true beginner in the world of bookkeeping, Wave also offers a 3-part Webinar course that guides you through the ins-and-outs of how to stay on top of your cash flow.
Wave is perfect for you if… you need help on the bookkeeping side of starting up. Their Webinars run every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
Taking On Bookkeeping Yourself
If you rather not use any online accountancy software, don’t worry, you can still run a fully operational business. Here’s how you can do it:
- Check your cash situation daily – track the money going in and going out. When you’re starting out, it’s best practice to open a business bank account. Keeping your business money separate from your personal money means you can 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 and sort them into folders. 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 they need them.
- Keep records of customer and supplier billings and payments – use your preferred method of bookkeeping (i.e. notebook or ideally Google Drive Sheets (Free) or Excel) and record any customer invoices being sent, payments made in, 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.
Still not sure about using online accountancy software? Here at Accountant Online, we can help you choose which software package is best for you. Our Startup Offer for new Limited Companies gives you access to your own dedicated team of accountants who specialise in helping startups in the early stages of development.
Free Online Package For New Businesses
For a limited period we’re offering a free subscription to Xero for new businesses who purchase the Small Business Package Plus. Xero is constantly innovating and it supports all the add-ons on the market e.g. taking appointments, customer relationship management, handling inventory.
As well as accounting software, we offer accounting services for new startups that aim to meet your compliance obligations, while also keeping costs low.