As an accountant in practise I see lots of different types of client records come across my desk, ranging from envelopes stuffed with receipts, through spreadsheets, accounting software backups and remote access to bespoke accounting and stock control systems. All have their individual strengths and weaknesses, some with more weaknesses than strengths it has to be said.
An alternative to these systems is cloud accounting, that is to say internet based bookkeeping software, which has seen a steady growth in platforms over the last few years. Although they have been around for several years, it is only over the last couple where adoption rates seem to be taking off. As more and more people become accustomed to an online life with their bank account, household utilities and even government forms all being online, it is only natural that cloud accounting should become mainstream, rather than the reserve of techs and early adopters.
As with manual and software accounting records, not all systems are created equally, with systems ranging from straight forward cashbook systems to all singing and dancing stock control accounting systems and even some with automatic bank feeds.
With such a wide variety of options available, the commonest question I get asked about cloud accounting is “which is the best one to use?”.
There is no easy answer to that questions, as again they all have their strengths and weaknesses.
Every provider will claim that their system is the best system because it has a unique feature that the competition doesn’t have, but in reality the question to ask yourself is whether that feature is relevant to you and your business. One provider mentions that it has auto-feeds of your bank transactions into your accounts, but you have to dig a little deeper to find out that this is in beta and that it may take up to a couple of months to activate, but then one feature that is missing that it’s competitors have is the ability to submit your VAT return to HMRC direct from the software.
To sit and read through the features of the different systems would be bewildering for most people, with all the marketing hype, claims and counter-claims being made. That’s why it’s a good idea to ask your accountant, but with some accountancy firms only offering one system, it may be the case that you don’t actually end up with the best system for you. As with most things in life, one size very rarely fits all.
At Cannon Moorcroft we took on board these issues and discussed them with some of our clients, who’s feedback was invaluable. After considering the pros and cons, we decided to offer a range of online systems so that we would always be able to recommended the system that best suits our clients needs and pockets with solutions from £5 to £25 per month (plus VAT).
We offer a range from SageOne Cashbook for non-VAT registered sole traders, SageOne Accounts for VAT registered small businesses, FreeAgent for contractors and freelancers, with KashFlow for businesses who need more functions and add on services like PayPal integrations and stock control, through to Xero, which is similar to KashFlow but with an easier bank reconciliation feature that some clients prefer.
So which is the best cloud accounting software? Well it depends on what your business type and needs, so talk to your accountant and hopefully they can help you as much as Cannon Moorcroft can, or you could just contact us direct and find out if we can help you. One of the great benefits of cloud accounting is that your accountant can be anywhere in the country, they don’t need to be in the same town anymore!