Every week, users add hundreds of applications to Connect4 pods.
These are the most regularly added apps by accounting firms.
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The best software apps for accounting firms and their clients
Long gone are the days where all any self-respecting accountant needed was a copy of Microsoft Excel, a filing cabinet and a landline phone. There are now more than 1000 accounting and finance apps listed on the Xero App Store alone. The pace of innovation shows no signs of slowing as new software continues to appear.
With so many software options for accounting firms of any size, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Finding out what the best accounting software tech stack is for your firm always starts with deciding what you are looking to achieve. Have you been entrusted with refreshing your accounting practice’s existing tech stack? Or are you starting a new accounting firm and wondering what the best apps are to implement? Perhaps you just want to make sure your current software set-up is still best-in-class?
The best accounting apps for different sized practices
The size of your accounting firm is crucial to choosing the ideal software tech stack. Some accounting software is specifically designed to be simple and effective for small businesses. Other software caters for the rigorous demands of big organisations.
Large accounting firms
Larger firms will likely have an accounting software tech stack that has evolved over a number of years. This approach has some benefits in that the software that is used is ‘tried and tested’. It is proven to work — to varying degrees of efficiency — for clients. There are disadvantages too however. Large accounting firms often find themselves with deeply ingrained legacy software that is no longer efficient. Out-of-date software can kill accounting practices. The pace of work can grind to a snail’s pace whilst increasing numbers of mistakes are made. For this reason, it’s vital that accounting firms of all sizes continually review the software that they choose to work with. Accounting software should be carefully evaluated on a yearly basis, at the very least.
Small–medium sized accounting firms
Medium sized accounting firms will also likely have a software tech stack that has been refined with lots of clients, over a long period of time. But, they are often agile enough to be able to switch to superior software products or introduce new apps, relatively easily. This is a key advantage that medium-sized firms often have over their larger competitors. They can offer superior software packages to their clients, but in a rigorously tested and process-driven manner.
Small accounting firms don’t always have the advantage of having tested different software with a wide variety of clients. But, they can be super agile in their delivery. Accountants working in smaller firms often have the authority to be able to experiment with new software at any time. This means that they can offer a truly bespoke software setup for their clients.
The best accounting software for clients
Just as the size of your accounting firm is integral to your choice of software, so too is the size of the businesses you work with. How many people need to interact with certain software packages? What is the technical ability of those who need to work with the applications that are used?
Selecting the right software can make the difference between a gruelling onboarding process to one that is efficient and easily understood by all. A poorly chosen piece of software for your client can turn your role from financial advisor, to software support centre. Clients value your accounting acumen, not your ability to wrangle an overly complex piece of software.
When choosing client-facing software packages, always select software that helps deliver value to your client. The best client-facing apps help to demonstrate the quality of your advice in the best possible light.
The benefits of the best accounting software
Good software always does one of two things. 1. Improves operational efficiency and saves money. Or, 2. Proves value to clients and enables you to charge more. Internal management systems such as Karbon or Pixie typically do the former. Whilst client-facing software such as Connect4 or Fathom do the latter.
Types of software for your accounting practice
Accounting software platform
Central to any accounting software stack is a company’s choice of accounting software. Some of the most popular cloud-based platforms include Xero, Quickbooks and Sage. Many accounting firms tend to offer their clients one particular package. This will be the one that they’re most comfortable using and is most appropriate for the types of client that they work with. This means that accounting practice team members don’t need to learn multiple software platforms.
Practice management software
Accounting practice management software has become popular with accounting firms of all sizes in recent years. This software is largely internally facing and is designed to help accounting teams run effectively. Practice management software is different to more homogenous project management software in that it has unique features designed specifically for accounting teams, as well as deep integration with other software such as Xero or Dext.
Widely used in this space are traditional tools such as email (Outlook or Gmail) and the good-old phone. However, as many accounting practices shift to a largely remote style of work, more tailored solutions are becoming important. Video communication is fast becoming the preferred method of delivering 1st-class remote client meetings. Basic tools such as Zoom or MS Teams are prolific. Purposely designed client meeting platforms such as Connect4 are becoming the preferred choice for the most client-centric accounting firms however.
Bills and expenses
There are numerous software products on the market that make collecting receipts and automating expenses a breeze. Some of the most popular platforms include Dext (formerly ReceiptBank), AutoEntry and HubDoc.
Payments, proposals and onboarding
A number of software applications help make delivering proposals, onboarding clients and taking payments easy and efficient. Popular payment and proposal platforms include Ignition and Go Proposal.
Reporting and forecasting
There are lots of options when it comes to offering your clients better ways to view reports and real-time cash flow analysis. The best reporting and forecasting tools on the market include Fathom, Clarity, Syft and Futrli.
Finance options for the client of accounting practices are vast. Some of the more innovative solutions include the likes of Arex Markets invoice financing and Capitalise.
How to choose the best accounting software for your accounting firm
- Evaluate unique needs of your practice. How big is the team? What are the skill levels within the team?
- Speak with your clients. Find out what your clients value the most.
- Try before you buy. All software platforms offer a trial period. Make sure that you utilise this effectively by having a plan. Use the time to test with a few trusted team members and clients. Set clear expectations and be ready to make a definitive decision after a set period of time.
- Continuously evaluate! Always keep your eye on the efficiency and value that each software platform brings. Be ready to drop or switch for something better at any time so that you don’t find yourself stuck with dated and ineffective software.