Which cloud accounting application is best for your business? We’ve tested Australia's major providers to help you decide.
Reviews in this Group Test
[Update: See our guide to 7 standalone Single Touch Payroll (STP) solutions for micro businesses.]
A lot has changed since we last reviewed the major accounting software systems in 2013 – and, without doubt, the biggest change is that cloud accounting applications have become mainstream.
There are still some conventional desktop packages available, but we’ve focused on cloud systems here because they dominate the market now.
This market domination has come about for a variety of reasons. You can, for example, access them anywhere there’s internet available – and often via a mobile app (especially important for business travellers and tradies) – and you can give your accountant or bookkeeper live access to the accounts.
Cloud accounting systems are also increasingly connected, with features such as bank feeds to automate transactions, and support for payment gateways, SuperStream payments and tax office lodgements.
In fact, connectivity is now one of the most powerful benefits of cloud accounting systems. They can be easily augmented by complementary cloud applications such as point-of-sale, ecommerce, business intelligence and debt chasing.
Because both systems are in the cloud, all you often need to do is link your accounts and the magic happens behind the scenes. This allows you to choose the best customer relationship management (CRM) system for your needs, for example. As long as it integrates with your accounting system, you can have the exactly the same contact details in both systems. In some cases, a third-party integration service such as OneSaas or Zapier provides the connection between the accounting system and the other cloud application.
The growing importance of add-ons means that cloud accounting providers usually offer a catalogue or marketplace of apps – although many require additional subscription payments to those third-party services.
The accounting providers encourage developers to become part of their app ecosystems by providing application programming interfaces (APIs) that enable third-party apps to access various types of accounting data, such as contacts, inventory items, account balances and invoices.
For a better idea of what they can do, see our Top 20 cloud accounting add-ons for the latest and most popular of these tools.
Which cloud accounting system?
While the third-party app ecosystem has become increasingly important part of choosing accounting software, its core functions still have to suit your needs, as well as being quick, convenient and easy to use. So to help you with your decision, we’ve tested and reviewed six of Australia's major small business cloud applications:
We reviewed them in 2017 but have updated them in 2018 with the latest features and prices. And over the following pages, we have a lot more advice and details, which we encourage you to read before making your decision, including:
- The cloud accounting systems' features and pricing at a glance
- How we tested the applications
- Our accounting software buyer's guide
- Our post-testing conclusions and final advice.
Remember, these six accounting applications are not the only options. If you’re looking for more features, the likes of MYOB have higher-end versions. For businesses that have outgrown their small business accounting application, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system may be the next step. At the other end of the scale, we’ve looked at simple invoicing apps (some with useful extras) that might suit very small service businesses.
Next: six cloud accounting systems at a glance