Small Business Accounting Platform Solutions

Thoughtware Article Published: Jun 09, 2020
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Accounting is the language of business. It’s often viewed as the storyteller of the past, and the future of accounting platforms and service providers may become a forward-thinking and critical part of your business. Technology is driving much of this innovation and change, and we believe we’re in the middle of this paradigm shift. Whether by forecasting cash flow or tracking and measuring insightful metrics, the platform and service provider you choose can provide guidance for sensible business decisions today to make tomorrow better. 

In today’s market, nearly all finance and accounting software companies are building or enhancing their digital platform, otherwise known as being “in the cloud.” If you have a smartphone, then digital accounting and finance is available at your fingertips. The digital revolution has pushed many routine accounting tasks to be partially or fully automated. Improving the timeliness and accuracy of accounting data while increasing productivity can give business owners and finance professionals more time to focus on their businesses’ key drivers.  

How do you determine when, what and how to invest in a new accounting infrastructure for your small business? It’s fair to say the software market is saturated, and this is a logical outcome of innovation, but this also leads to an inefficient marketplace that often leaves business owners in a tough position to make the right choice. We advise clients to take this one step at a time, but before you start, you must assess your needs, determine your budget, and select an overall platform.  

One size fits all—remember this phrase? While there’s beauty in its simplicity, what happens when the pants don’t fit? The same idea applies with small business accounting and finance platforms. However, attempting to be an expert in all technologies to all industries will spread resources too thin. With both ideas in mind, we recommend QuickBooks Online (QBO) and Sage Intacct as reliable and dynamic cloud-based accounting systems. When designed correctly in collaboration with your trusted advisor, the potential for better-informed decisions is a real, attainable outcome. As noted above, a needs assessment is a critical first step. Begin with the end in mind so your accounting platform is scalable and can grow with your business. If you don’t know where to start, below are a few key qualifications and advantages to consider for QBO or Sage Intacct.

QuickBooks Online

When considering small business software, QBO is the elephant in the room, and for good reason. Intuit consistently invests in its cloud product and is continuously seeking market feedback for improvements.  

QBO offers various levels of software ranging from Simple Start to its Advanced product line. QBO is a great fit for small businesses and nonprofits looking for a simple and reliable platform. Depending on your industry, we generally recommend QBO for businesses that employ two to 49 employees, with a revenue ceiling up to $25 million. Ultimately, a professional-assisted needs assessment is recommended for your specific situation.  

Below are some key features of QBO:

  1. Automated bank and credit card feeds – This queued expense and revenue matching system searches for payables or receivables to match or otherwise suggest general ledger coding as transactions clear the bank or post to your card. As a result, processing time is reduced and efficiency is gained.
  2. Improve your cash flow by emailing customized monthly invoices to clients – Instead of printing, mailing, and then waiting for invoices to be paid, this email feature allows you to send invoices digitally and enables your customers to accept payments directly by clicking on a link on the invoice to pay by merchant card or ACH.
  3. Open Application Programming Interface (API) – This allows applications to integrate into QBO, allowing for scalable growth. 
    1. See our thoughts on as an accounts payable platform here.
  4. Migration of current QuickBooks desktop data to QBO – Avoid the costly headaches of a traditional enterprise resource planning migration.
  5. Ease of QBO upgrades – Easily upgrade to enhanced QBO packages as your business grows. 
  6. Built-in full-service payroll module – For when you need to expand and hire employees, including time sheet functionality.
  7. Client portals – These allow clients to view, pay, and address concerns on their invoices.
  8. Flexibility – Easily access your business from a PC, Mac, smartphone, or tablet with the added benefit of no longer being tied to a file that’s installed on a single computer or server in an office.

With QBO, there isn’t software to download; if you have internet access, you have access to your accounting software. There’s no annual contract, just a monthly fee, and for no additional cost, you’ll have mobile apps available to download and provide access on the go.  

Sage Intacct

Sage Intacct is the pioneer for cloud-based platforms. It was built by finance professionals for finance professionals. It’s also the American Institute of CPAs’ preferred financial management solution and ranked No. 1 for customer satisfaction on G2. Sage Intacct is a great fit for small to midsize businesses and nonprofits with advanced or complex needs. Employers with 5 to 2,500 employees with a revenue ceiling up to $500 million should consider Sage Intacct. Ultimately, a professionally assisted needs assessment is recommended for your specific situation. 

Below are some key features of Sage Intacct:

  1. Built-in financial reporting and dashboards with dimensional tracking – This is built directly within the system without the need to export and manipulate reports to build key performance indicators (KPI). Reports, graphs, KPIs, and other elements can be placed on system dashboards that allow self-service for nonaccounting stakeholders. Dimensions and dimension groups allow for consolidated reporting based on a variety of business scenarios and can be updated dynamically.
  2. Multi-entity management – This allows users to manage all companies or entities with one login. Data can be shared across entities with no additional steps necessary to manage common elements like accounts or vendor updates. Intercompany transactions are tracked automatically—this is a significant time and frustration saver.
  3. Purchasing and accounts payable workflows – This is an advantageous feature, as it’s enabled across the supply chain, including requisitions and approvals not requiring an accounting user license. Purchasing and accounts payable can be integrated with or several other third-party payment platforms.
  4. Native employee expense and credit card management module – This is available for organizations with employee reimbursement needs and includes the capability of tracking and reconciling company credit card transactions. The module can be integrated with Expensify and other popular employee expense management apps.
  5. Project accounting module – Inherently tracks job costs, budgets and billings for professional service or contractor-based businesses. The same module can be used by tax-exempt organizations for grant tracking.  
  6. Multicurrency operations – This can be enabled for companies that transact business in multiple foreign currencies with customer and/or vendors.
  7. Open API – This allows Sage Intacct to be integrated with virtually any other software application, allowing for real-time data transfer between systems, e.g., point-of-sale systems.

Choosing a software that’s developed for the cloud allows you to eliminate the need for cost-prohibitive IT investments, hardware maintenance, and network monitoring and upgrades. In addition, as noted above, both solutions provide the ability to connect with potential business systems by using API. This functionality allows organizations the potential to integrate their accounting and operations software—a powerful outcome.  

BKD’s accounting outsourcing and advisory services team can provide a professional accounting and finance needs assessment. We leverage Sage Intacct and QBO to facilitate timely and reliable accounting for our clients. To learn more, reach out to your BKD Trusted Advisor, use the Contact Us form below or or visit our Outsourced Accounting Services page.

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