Five Of The Best Cloud Accounting Services

Online accounting services have taken the business world by storm, they provide advanced functionality that makes managing your cash flow far less time consuming. The ability to import electronic bank statements and identify recurring payments automatically is a huge leap forward, allowing you to match sales and purchase ledger transactions to the right account simply by confirming the intuitive selection made by the software is correct. The number of available online accounting platforms is currently growing at an astonishing rate, below are some of our favorites.

XERO

Xero is one of the very best online accounting platforms in existence, the platform has a host of advanced features including the ability to import bank statements online, real time cashflow reporting and the automatic creation and emailing of recurring invoices. Where XERO really stands out from the crowd is its plethora of available add ons. Whilst a small premium is chargeable for adding each of these to your service some of them represent exceptional value in terms of the amount of time they can save you in comparison to the cost of the service. One such add on is called Shoeboxed, it allows you to simply scan your receipts and email them to the Shoeboxed service, and they add them to your XERO account as purchase ledger transactions. Alternatively you can actually just mail your receipts to them in paper form.

Clearbooks

Another great online accounting platform is Clearbooks, whilst the service does lack the optional functionality provided by the host of add-ons on XERO, clearbooks remains a solid choice of accounting platform. Importing bank feeds is supported via the Yodlee service, and real time cash flow is delivered in an easy to understand and highly customizable format. Invoices and quotes are easily customized via CSS style sheets, making it simple to achieve brand consistency. Recurring invoices and automatic transaction recognition are also catered for, also clearbooks is more affordable than XERO for small business users.

Kashflow

Kashflow does not at this time support online bank feeds, for us this is a bit of a drawback for this otherwise great platform. We know from experience how much time the ability to import transactions directly from your online banking account can save. Instead Kashflow supports the import of bank data via CSV files. Whilst most banks allow you to export an online statement in CSV format, in our experience you nearly always need to manipulate the data in some way prior to importing it. One area where Kashflow really does excel is credit control, providing advanced functionality for chasing overdue invoices that leaves other platforms in a cloud of dust. With Kashflow you can schedule the system to automatically send payment reminders when invoices approaching their due date. you can also schedule different email templates to be automatically sent as the debt hits different age milestones. The credit control emails also provide an option for the customer to pay online, Kashflow will log these payments and automatically update the status of the paid invoice.

Quickbooks Online

This one provides comparable functionality to Clearbooks and XERO (before taking add-ons into account), supporting transaction recognition, automatic bank feed importing and providing functionality for the creation of customized quotations and estimates. Small businesses who have voluntarily registered for VAT will find that they have to purchase the more expensive “Essentials” package, because Quickbooks does not provide VAT accounting functionality on their smallest “Simple Start” package.

Brightbook

That is a relative newcomer to the online accounting scene, but definitely one to watch. Brightbook looks set to grow at an astonishing rate, not least of all because where all the other services charge a monthly fee for the right to use their platform, basic use of Brightbook is free. The platform provides the ability to create customizable invoices, although the invoices do look fairly basic in comparison to what can be achieved on Clearbooks. Brightbook also support online bank feeds and can learn from previous transactions to speed up your reconciliation process. Multicurrency transactions and online payment are also supported.

This article was written by Nick Davison for Tax Agility London. To read more of Nick’s work, circle him on Google+.

 

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