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Good financial planning and accounting practices are key to running a successful business. You know that already. But you also know that these involve time-consuming and repetitive processes, meaning they often aren’t given the focus that they deserve.

These are some of the accounting tools that can help your business get its finances in order - fast. 

What should you look for in an accounting tool?

Is it cloud-first?

Cloud-first tools are usually accessible on any device with an internet connection. They will often have dedicated mobile and desktop apps and you may be able to use some directly through a browser.

The fact that all the information is stored in the cloud means it is easy for business owners to give access to the tool to those in the company that need it, as well as to their accountant. The downside is that as the number of users with access to the tool increases, so too may the cost of the product.

Is it scalable and adaptable?

Scalable and adaptable tools grow with your business, meaning your company won’t be held back by software that is no longer fit for purpose.

Many of the tools below offer options for organisations at different stages of growth, from micro-businesses with one employee to medium-sized companies. That said, some tools will be more suited to small companies, and others to firms with hundreds of employees.

Does it integrate with your other tools?

No single tool on its own will fulfil all of your business needs. Because of this, it’s important that all your tools can communicate and work together to simplify your processes.

Some of the accounting tools below, such as Microsoft Dynamics and Netsuite, are part of a larger set of enterprise products and may be best for companies already in their ecosystem.   

What’s the user experience like?

Employees are more likely to use tools that provide an excellent user experience and a simple interface. The less time you have to spend getting those who work for you up-to-speed on new tools, the quicker you’ll start to reap the benefits they bring.

Of course, even the best and simplest tools will have a learning curve, especially for the more advanced features.

What is the support and community like?

Choosing tools with efficient support teams can ensure that should anything go wrong, you’ll easily be able to get things up-and-running again. This is essential if you want to stop your tools getting in the way of your growing business. This is also a must for those who lack technical knowledge. Things to look out for include telephone support, email support, and community forums. 

Does the pricing work for your business?

Pricing is likely to be a key point of contention for many businesses, especially start-ups that aren’t yet generating a ton of profit. Our list has options that start at a few pounds a month and go significantly higher.

In general, cheaper products will either offer fewer features, not allow as many users, or both. However, the higher fee for advanced products may not always be worth it for companies that aren’t big enough to take advantage of the extra benefits.

Want to save time? Try automating your processes

Another thing to consider when choosing an accounting tool for your business is the power of Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

According to the PwC Finance Benchmarking Report 2019-20, 30-40% of time can be reduced with financial automation. And check out this scary statistic from a Blackline study: 70% of global business leaders and financial professionals claim they made significant business decisions based on inaccurate financial data. 

But what does automation in accounting actually look like? And how can it help your accounting processes? 

RPA in accounting  

Put simply, RPA is software technology that makes it easy to build, deploy and manage software robots that imitate human actions interacting with digital systems and software. 

And not to get too geeky here, but these robots essentially do everything faster and more consistently than a human can - no matter the task. From hiring and onboarding to retail management to finance and accounting. 

Here are just some examples of how RPA can help with accounting:

  • Invoice automation
  • Client onboarding
  • Tax reporting
  • Expense reporting 
  • Prepping of financial statements
  • Cashflow forecasting
  • Payroll management

How does automation help accounting? 

Generally speaking, accounting automation takes most aspects of an accountants work day and does them almost instantly – doing the grunt work and number crunching for you. Making tasks that were previously complex and overly manual much more simple. 

Automating your accounting and financial process can also make it much easier to create reports, provide insights and digestible analytics in just a few clicks. And because automation does this for you, you’re left with more time for the stuff that really matters, like analysis and strategy. 

Because with manual accounting processes, human errors can happen frequently – let’s not forget that scary stat at the beginning of this blog post... Nevertheless, the crucial task of analysing and interpreting data generated by the tool will always belong to the accountant.

Using software also allows for an accounting practice to expand its client offerings too. Automation gives you the tools you need to meet client compliance demands and potentially upsell them on some new services. Helping you retain existing clients and become more attractive to potential new ones. 

Looking to break free from manual data entry? Download our eBook to discover how you can transform the way your company manages money 👇

End manual processes

How do you automate an accounting process? 

There are several steps you can take to make the transition straightforward and smooth: 

Step 1: Take account of existing tools and processes 

Create a list of all the tools you have that affect your finance or accounting processes. 

Next, identify what daily tasks are highly repetitive, don’t require a high level of human touch and involve a lot of mental energy – those are the perfect candidates for automation. 

Step 2: Choose your tech 

Excel cannot be the core of your accounting process. Take the time to evaluate the accounting systems out there that will lay the foundation for your accounting process overall. Test the tools but also pay close attention to the integration offerings each one has - how do the apps “talk” to each other? 

Step 3: Identify and test additional automation 

Once you’ve landed on an accounting system, identify additional automation tools you think your accounting process would benefit from. Take the time to test these tools out – you may find that some don’t work exactly as you thought or aren't quite what you were looking for. 

Step 4: Monitor your new accounting process 

Accounting system and additional tools decided upon, it’s time to roll out your shiny new automated accounting process to the team. For the adjustment period, it’s best to assign a stakeholder to oversee the process and answer any questions.

Our top 7 picks for accounting automation software 

Here are our top choices for accounting automation software for 2022: 

1) QuickBooks Online

This is a solid starting point for automating your accounting processes. QuickBooks offers simple online accounting so you can organise your business finances in one space, from expenses to taxes to payroll. You can easily sync your favourite business apps, and people are raving about the customer support. 

2) Wave

An excellent choice for laying the foundation of your processes if you’re just starting out, Wave makes accounting as simple as possible. They offer a free version that supports simple bookkeeping with an easy to use app and ecosystem. Making tax time and staying on top of cash flow a breeze. And if that doesn’t convince you, G2 recognized this tool as a Winter Leader for 2022. 

3) Pleo 

Not to blow our own trumpet here, but Pleo automates expense reports to streamline the entire business spending process, from the moment something is purchased to it being reconciled in your accounts. 

Accounting practices can empower their clients with smart company cards, and as a result, there’s less paperwork, less back and forth and less end-of-month stress. You can also use Bills, an invoice management system that allows you to track, pay and account for every bill your team receives – at no extra cost. And with Pleo’s Partner Portal, you can onboard and manage all clients in one handy hub.

4) Karbon 

Karbon provides a collaborative workspace to manage workflows and communicate across teams to ensure you always deliver exceptional client work. 

With its dashboard, you can track the progression of each task and easily identify any possible bottlenecks. You can also create workflow templates, to ensure processes don’t break and the quality of your output isn’t affected by growing teams. And admin work is automated, so no future client jobs slip through the cracks. 

5) Pento 

Pento is a cloud-based payroll system that automates everything from tax calculations to HMRC payments. Its system allows for everything to be done in minutes, with clear overviews of all your staff, the hours they’ve worked plus their earnings. So you’ll know just how much is leaving the company account on payday. 

6) AuditFile 

AuditFile is a cloud-based solution with top-notch security that helps accountants, as well as internal accounting teams, perform efficient audits, reviews and compilations. Track a business's metrics from top to bottom, easily generate a financial statement and more. 

7) Zapier 

Zapier moves information automatically between your apps, no coding required. You can even build your own workflows so you’ll never miss, say, an important document that’s attached to an email. You can use the tool to set up a workflow where Gmail attachments are automatically synced to DropBox and then notification pops up in Slack. Just like that! 

Choosing the right software for your business will save you time, make accounting easier and  - ultimately - save you money, so it’s worth investing time to find the accounting tool that best suits your business needs.

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