It’s April 26, 2017, and it’s time to take a look at the leaderboard. And when I say “leaderboard,” I am of course talking about the most popular accounting software options. Today, we’re looking at the systems with the highest number of reviews in Capterra’s accounting software directory.
For each product, I’ll give you an overview of its major features, a few choice review snippets, and pricing details.
With all that said, here’s a quick joke, told in the avant-garde styling of my nephew, Nate: When is a cat not a tree? When it’s on a boat. Ha!
*Insert knee slap sound effect*
Rating: 4.4 (combined) out of five
For the purposes of this list, I’m combining QuickBooks and QuickBooks Online. There are some important distinctions between the two systems, but the underlying experience is similar. Also, this makes a little more room for other folks and alleviates some of the “which software did the reviewer mean to click on” confusion.
QuickBooks from Intuit is the small business industry standard. It leads our 20 Most Popular Accounting Software list, just edging out FreshBooks, which appears later in this list. It also earned sixth and 12th places on our Accounting Software Affordability and Accounting Software User-Friendliness rankings, respectively.
QuickBooks does just about everything, integrates with most other major business applications, and is the sort of software people intuitively (Ha! *Knee slap sound*) love or loath.
Both flavors of QuickBooks offer invoicing, reporting, sales tracking, and accounts payable functionality. The online version also gives you some scheduling tools, a wide range of integrations, and free automatic bank transaction connections.
Reviewers have said QuickBooks is “easy to use, [has] standard features, plays well with other financial/accounting software.”
They also praise its accessibility across multiple devices, as the online version can be used on just about anything more powerful than a toaster, including your tablet and phone. (Mainly your tablet and phone, I guess. There’s no mention of QuickBooks working on a gas oven.)
On the downside, some folks have found the learning curve a bit steep, especially in the desktop version. Others have complaints about speed in the online version, especially those who were used to working with the desktop option and then switched.
QuickBooks Pro (the basic desktop option) runs $300 with three user licenses. QuickBooks Online is $15 per month for five users.
The nature of accounting software is such that you end up with a wide range of product types. Microsoft Dynamics is really more of an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution than a stand-alone accounting package. With built-in CRM features, operations management, and HR tools, the full Dynamics package is a one-stop shop for businesses with complex data.
The more scaled down version, Dynamics 365, Business edition, is primarily an accounting solution for smaller businesses. It focuses on the financial features of Dynamics, offers a lower price point, and gives you a free login for your accountant.
Dynamics, Business edition comes with access to 365 for Financials, which allows you to manage accounts receivable and payable, invoicing, quoting, purchasing, inventory, and closing. You can add on access to the 365 Sales, Marketing, and Customer Service modules for a fee, growing your software as your business grows.
Reviewers love the flexibility that Dynamics offers. Comments such as “[it can] be tailored as per your requirements,” “quite flexible,” and “You can customize it to do what you want, for sure,” sum that up nicely.
Difficulties center on pricing and the fact that functionality can be overwhelming, especially as you add more modules and features.
Microsoft Dynamics 365, Business edition runs $40 per full user or $5 per team member, per month. Team members can update and view existing information, but they can’t generate new records. A nice option for some frontline staff, but it is limited.
FreshBooks is an invoicing and time tracking system for small businesses. As mentioned above, it’s also the second most popular software in our accounting software ranking.
FreshBooks is focused on getting you paid. The software manages expense tracking, project work, time tracking, and payments, all with the final invoice in mind. And that invoice, by the way, looks super fresh (*knee slap*). FreshBooks lets you add your own style to its templates, making invoicing simple and attractive, like Ben Affleck.
There are a few features beyond the financial world, as well. You can do basic project management, collaborate with team members, view your employees’ time breakdowns, and run some profitability and tax reports.
FreshBooks also works across devices, letting you create invoices, scan receipts, and get payment notifications on your phone.
In reviews, ease of use comes up again and again as a major advantage. “I am glad we have Freshbooks,” one reviewer writes, summing the whole thing up. “They are the best while dealing with managing and tracking invoices, time, and expenses for the very small business.”
On the downside, some users looking for more hardcore accounting functionality say there are “limited payment processing options,” especially as PayPal is no longer on the menu. FreshBooks now supports credit cards, Apple Pay, and Stripe integration.
FreshBooks starts at $15 per month for five clients, $25 for 50, and $50 for 500.
Fresh out of New Zealand, Xero is a cloud-only accounting option that’s jumped up the American market in the last five years. It currently sits at No. 7 on our popularity chart, No. 6 on our affordability listing, and No. 4 on our user-friendly ranking.
Xero offers bank account reconciliation, quoting and invoicing, fixed asset management, tax oversight, and a full range of reporting tools. You can also use Xero on just about any device you can dig up, and you can integrate it with a huge selection of apps.
If you were looking at QuickBooks for its app network, I recommend adding Xero to your shortlist, as well.
One of the things that I personally like about Xero is its almost fanatical commitment to the cloud. I heard their CEO speak last year, and it was like watching the Elon Musk of accounting.
Reviewers love its ease of use and clean layout. Its biggest win is bank reconciliation, a feature Xero prides itself on. Reviewers note the solution’s “ease of payment reconciliation,” and others agree: “My favorite part of Xero is the reconciliation process” and “Xero makes cash reconciliation very easy” sum things up nicely.
Some reviewers are underwhelmed by the payroll functionality and find the learning curve a bit steep, with technical accounting terminology being the main barrier to easy understanding.
Xero starts at $9 per month for five invoices and bills and 20 bank transactions. Once you jump to the $30 per month tier, you remove all the feature limits, plus you get five employees on payroll. At $70 per month, you get ten employees, and it scales from there.
Deltek Vision is a sort of professional ERP. That is to say—it’s a time, resources, financials, and project management system that doesn’t focus on manufacturing.
Focusing in on the financial aspects, Vision includes expense management, invoicing, accounts receivable and payable, payroll, and inventory. It’s also a detailed enough system to handle some complex business processes that smaller accounting systems can struggle with.
For instance, Deltek offers multibusiness support. If you run a company that owns three different brands, Deltek Vision can handle those financial arrangements.
Because the software includes so many project-specific functions, you can also use Vision to do powerful forecasting and reporting based on your previous work.
Reviewers are big fans of the all-in-one-place management Vision offers. “Your entire business can be run from one software,” one said. With another adding the Vision has “full accounting modules that provide good billing and reporting.”
But with all that power comes inevitable complexity. Criticisms almost all center on the setup and initial learning curve involved with Deltek. Many reviewers suggest—or bemoan—having a consultant help to set things up.
Deltek doesn’t publish pricing information for Vision. You’ll have to reach out for pricing details if you’re interested.
Finding the perfect system
These are the accounting software options that we’ve had the most reviews roll in for up to this point, but that doesn’t mean they’re the right choice for you. If you need more to pick from, swing by Capterra’s accounting software directory for over 300 brands.
We’ll update this ranking on a regular basis to make sure you’re aware of who’s up and who’s out.
Looking for Accounting software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Accounting software solutions.