Author Topic: Accounting Software Choices - Need help  (Read 512 times)

seanheinle

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Accounting Software Choices - Need help
« on: February 08, 2018, 11:39:15 AM »
I've got a one man (me) IT contracting company and I've about had it with managing my expenses, time sheets and invoicing through google sheets.  Preparing everything for my accountant for the 2017 tax year put me over the edge.  I probably spend 10 hours a month on paperwork and I'm ready to pay (or not if possible) for a solution to make this less time consuming.

After doing my research, I think quick books online is the only solution that has everything I need but the price tag makes me cringe.  I feel like there's probably a solution I could do for free (or nearly) with a few different apps that integrate.  Everything I need it to do is listed below.  I know a lot of these are basic and available in many places but QBO is the only one that does EVERYTHING.  Anyone have similar needs and been able to dodge the high price tag of QBO using a different app or apps?

What I need it to do...
Time Tacking - Track time against different tasks within a project.  Clock in, Clock out would be perfect.
Invoice - Pull tracked times with task/project information onto an invoice.
Expenses - Hook directly to my business credit card and pull in transactions for expenses with the ability to tag them as billable.
Invoice - Pull billable expenses for a given date range onto an invoice as separate line items.
Expenses - Group expenses in the way I need them for my accountant at the end of the year.
Expenses - Ability to take a picture of a receipt on my phone and attach it to an expense.
Mileage Expense - Automatically track my drives and give me the ability to tag them as personal or business.  Also, these should integrate directly with my expense and invoice app giving me the ability to pull them onto an invoice along with other expenses.
Invoice - Send an invoice to an email box of my client.
Invoice - Pull in my deposits from my business bank accounts for reconciliation and marking invoices as paid.

Really appreciate any advice!  If I have to go with QBO, I'm ok with it.  I just want to make sure I'm not paying when there is a cheaper/free option out there.

Michael in ABQ

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Re: Accounting Software Choices - Need help
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2018, 03:26:48 PM »
In addition to QuickBooks there is Freshbooks ($15- $50/month) and Xero ($9 - $70/month). I don't know if they're that much cheaper for the features you need and you're certainly not going to find as much integration with other software/websites as you'll get with QuickBooks. Your accountant is probably going to be most familiar with QuickBooks as well. I talked with a local CPA for a while when I was considering moving into that career path and he told me that every single one of his business clients used QuickBooks (and virtually all of his individual clients used TurboTax).

I know of ZipBooks which has a free solution but I'm not sure if it provides everything you need. You might need to go to one of their other plans which range from $15 - $125/month.

https://quickbooks.intuit.com/pricing/
https://www.freshbooks.com/pricing
https://www.xero.com/us/pricing/
https://zipbooks.com/pricing/
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SeattleCPA

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Re: Accounting Software Choices - Need help
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2018, 08:06:36 AM »
OK, so I'm author of QuickBooks for Dummies (the book for the desktop version)... and I would say get the cheaper desktop version if you don't need help from a CPA for your taxes or from a bookkeeper with the accounting and you have decent PC skills. The desktop version is better, more powerful, more reliable, etc.

However, if you'll collaborate with a CPA or bookkeeper, I think you go with the online version.

I don't really like the online version as much as a product. Also, I think Intuit is overcharging (as is every other big technology company who now "rents" us their software). But as a solution, I think it's the only way to go. It's an adequate product and gives you the ability to collaborate with your CPA or bookkeeper... that trumps the monthly price and the subset functionality.

I would use no product from a startup or really small firm. Even if it's cheaper or seems easier, better, etc. Why bear the risk of your accounting software vendor someday going out of business and leaving you without support?

P.S. We use QBO for our CPA firm.
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seanheinle

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Re: Accounting Software Choices - Need help
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2018, 11:09:11 PM »
Appreciate the feedback. I decided to go with QuickBooks online. I need to run payroll and it's cheaper than the service my accountant offers. That pretty much made it a no brainier. It doesn't have the mile tracking I was hoping for but it's pretty straightforward to make it easy.  Desktop is a better price but it's hard to give up the convenience of having the app on your phone.

Also, I'm using the tsheets integration to track time. It seems to be great so far.

CareCPA

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Re: Accounting Software Choices - Need help
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2018, 05:28:55 AM »
To play devil's advocate - Xero includes payroll in their subscription fees for anything except the lowest tier. Last I checked, QBO has it as an add-on ($40 a month, if I remember?).
Always happy to help with tax or accounting questions - feel free to private message me.

I am a licensed CPA in Pennsylvania. However, any tax advice I give should be considered general information and not used in the avoidance of tax. There is most likely information about your situation that I do not know, and thus you should do your own additional research.

MrStash

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Re: Accounting Software Choices - Need help
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2018, 11:44:16 AM »
A caveat to Xero payroll is that they only have it in certain states, and their electronic filing capability is very limited. I've been listening to them telling me Xero payroll is coming to my state next week for the past 3 years. As of this morning:

Xero payroll states: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Efile states: California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Virginia only.

They are slowly adding states. Can't wait for mine to be up there! It would be a superior product for the price and would greatly help me grow my bookkeeping side hustle.

bochnak

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Re: Accounting Software Choices - Need help
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2018, 12:42:30 PM »
I use wave apps:

https://www.waveapps.com/

It's free for me since I do not have to invoice or payroll etc..

SeattleCPA

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Re: Accounting Software Choices - Need help
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2018, 06:14:10 PM »
I use wave apps:

https://www.waveapps.com/

It's free for me since I do not have to invoice or payroll etc..

I obviously lack at least the appearance of objectivity and independence when it comes to small business accounting software. Happy to stipulate that. But I think you want to be careful about picking any product that isn't a really strong product that's core to a really big software company's business.

Lots and lots of accounting products have come and gone over the last two or three decades. (If you check out amazon.com's books section and search on my name, Stephen L Nelson, you'll see I wrote "how to" books for many now forgotten programs.)

And thing is, if you end up with a orphan product, it'll be a terrible headache and expense.

BTW, this connects to a problem with the cloud software approach too. Remember with accounting software, you don't just need the product until you close your business. You need it for the full length of time the statute of limitations tolls. E.g., in Washington state, our state law says that's four years starting Dec 31 the year you close your doors.
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CareCPA

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Re: Accounting Software Choices - Need help
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2018, 07:54:02 AM »
BTW, this connects to a problem with the cloud software approach too. Remember with accounting software, you don't just need the product until you close your business. You need it for the full length of time the statute of limitations tolls. E.g., in Washington state, our state law says that's four years starting Dec 31 the year you close your doors.
This is exactly why, even though all our software is cloud-based, we make static copies of financials each month - to at least partially protect against the risk of data loss.

I'd be interested in hearing if you have a more efficient approach, or if you mitigate by sticking with main-stream products? I.e. QBO probably isn't going anywhere, so you just keep your clients on that? If they start off on something like Wave, do you force them to migrate?
Always happy to help with tax or accounting questions - feel free to private message me.

I am a licensed CPA in Pennsylvania. However, any tax advice I give should be considered general information and not used in the avoidance of tax. There is most likely information about your situation that I do not know, and thus you should do your own additional research.

SeattleCPA

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Re: Accounting Software Choices - Need help
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2018, 03:24:36 PM »
BTW, this connects to a problem with the cloud software approach too. Remember with accounting software, you don't just need the product until you close your business. You need it for the full length of time the statute of limitations tolls. E.g., in Washington state, our state law says that's four years starting Dec 31 the year you close your doors.
This is exactly why, even though all our software is cloud-based, we make static copies of financials each month - to at least partially protect against the risk of data loss.

I'd be interested in hearing if you have a more efficient approach, or if you mitigate by sticking with main-stream products? I.e. QBO probably isn't going anywhere, so you just keep your clients on that? If they start off on something like Wave, do you force them to migrate?

Good questions.

Unfortunately, we don't have any smarter or cleverer way to deal with the risk your or our cloud provider goes toes up and we lose our data. (I wouldn't worry much about Intuit doing that. But I'd worry about any VC funded or private company.)

Regarding forcing clients to move... gosh no we wouldn't do that. We do recommend people use QBO just because it is so prevalent. (It also makes our job easier and our invoiced amounts smaller... which is another way to say QB desktop makes our job harder and so increases the price to clients.) But if people want to use something else, that's fine.

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hodedofome

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Re: Accounting Software Choices - Need help
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2018, 01:35:42 PM »
I sell accounting and ERP systems for a living. Our clients are anything from a mom and pop shop to a publicly traded corporation. Anything from a single person service to full on manufacturing. We focus on the 'mid market' which you can assume is anything from $1 million to a few hundred million in sales.

I am not a CPA like a few in here, my boss who runs the company is however.

There are plenty of options out there for entry level but I'd echo what others have said and stick to the biggest players. There's safety in numbers for this instance. If the company goes belly-up, it may not be hard to get your financial statements from previous years but there may not be a good way to get the transactions out of the system and into another. And it's those transactions an auditor is gonna be looking for. "Show me the invoices that make up this number. OK. Can you show me this invoice right here?" If you can't, it could be bad news.

That being said, I think there's just as good a chance of an end-user's hard drive failing and the nightly backup (which was 'supposed' to work) somehow wasn't running for months. This happens way too often for what we call 'on-premise' products. In the year 2018, there's really no reason for someone to be maintaining your own server or backups. With all the cloud options out there, you should be able to find something that fits. And even if you need an 'on-premise' product like the desktop version of Quickbooks or Sage 50 (because QB online is limited or whatever), you should at least look into having it hosted on Amazon AWS or whatever. There's Right Networks and GoToMyERP and plenty of others who do this. IMO it's worth getting out of the business of maintaining your own stuff, so you can focus on actually doing more business.

So for entry level you're looking at:

Quickbooks Online
Quickbooks Desktop if necessary (but consider hosting it in the cloud)
Sage 50 if necessary (but consider hosting it in the cloud)
Xero
Freshbooks

There's Wave, Zoho, Sage One and plenty of others, but like some have said on here it's not their bread and butter. Stick with the main players if at all possible when it comes to accounting, as those records you need for the IRS or state sales tax should you ever get audited.

This day and age people are doing more on their mobile devices and want to work wherever they are, not just in the office. So looking for a true cloud product (QB Online, Xero, Freshbooks) is gonna give you that kind of experience. QB Desktop and Sage 50 is more of a 'hybrid' experience, where some things are available via mobile or the cloud, but not the complete experience. You also have to consider the total cost of ownership if you choose a desktop product and it needs to be hosted/server/backup or whatever.

Most CPAs use QB, as it's cheap and they can easily change transactions in history. This is fine for what CPAs need to do, and for small companies where the owner is still involved with the accounting. Once the company has grown and the owner is no longer involved in the accounting system, you really need to be sure you have the proper controls (and proper system) where a transaction just can't 'disappear' or be changed in history. So let's say a check was cut in error yesterday. Instead of someone being able to modify the check to be corrected, you want a historical transaction showing that the original check was voided, and a new check was created to fix it. This gives an audit trail so that both the owner and the auditor can be assured there's no funny business going on without their knowledge.

Michael in ABQ

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Re: Accounting Software Choices - Need help
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2018, 04:07:07 PM »
hodedofome, what do you use for your Amazon sales? I'm getting more serious about my side hustle reselling stuff on Amazon and ebay and had about $1,000 in sales this last month and will definitely need to file a Schedule C this year. I guess $15/month is a pretty good deal if it saves me even an hour or so a month but I'm used to just building a spreadsheet for whatever I need and doing it myself.
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Rubic

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Re: Accounting Software Choices - Need help
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2018, 05:07:52 PM »
I don't really like the online version as much as a product. Also, I think Intuit is overcharging (as is every other big technology company who now "rents" us their software). But as a solution, I think it's the only way to go. It's an adequate product and gives you the ability to collaborate with your CPA or bookkeeper... that trumps the monthly price and the subset functionality.

Yeah, we switched from desktop version to QB Online a while ago
for similar reasons, but I hate the online version compared to the
old desktop software.

It does make it easier to collaborate remotely with each other and
with our accounting firm.

One other slight advantage: I don't have to worry as much about
our bookkeeper neglecting to make backups, and where the
backups are being stored.


hodedofome

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Re: Accounting Software Choices - Need help
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2018, 07:11:30 PM »
hodedofome, what do you use for your Amazon sales? I'm getting more serious about my side hustle reselling stuff on Amazon and ebay and had about $1,000 in sales this last month and will definitely need to file a Schedule C this year. I guess $15/month is a pretty good deal if it saves me even an hour or so a month but I'm used to just building a spreadsheet for whatever I need and doing it myself.

Well like the cobblerís shoes you never do things as nice for yourself as you do for others. I use Inventory Lab which can do a basic income statement for accounting. I signed up when I had $8k in Sales a month. Honestly though I want to just do cash basis for taxes. Add up the credit card statements at the end of the year (obviously categorize some stuff) and take my 1099 from Amazon and whatever is left is what I made. I donít put all my expenses in IL each month but Iíve kept all my statements and receipts. We all have only so much time and Iím spending mine growing Sales instead of bookkeeping each month. That wonít last forever though.

SeattleCPA

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Re: Accounting Software Choices - Need help
« Reply #14 on: February 22, 2018, 07:46:54 PM »
I don't really like the online version as much as a product. Also, I think Intuit is overcharging (as is every other big technology company who now "rents" us their software). But as a solution, I think it's the only way to go. It's an adequate product and gives you the ability to collaborate with your CPA or bookkeeper... that trumps the monthly price and the subset functionality.

Yeah, we switched from desktop version to QB Online a while ago
for similar reasons, but I hate the online version compared to the
old desktop software.

It does make it easier to collaborate remotely with each other and
with our accounting firm.

One other slight advantage: I don't have to worry as much about
our bookkeeper neglecting to make backups, and where the
backups are being stored.

Agree with all these comments. Good points.
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