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A guide to the best software for accountants

best software for accountants
By Nicholas Edwards. Last Updated February 2, 2024

In today’s fast-moving and competitive world, businesses that leverage the best technology have a competitive advantage over those that don’t — and accounting is no different. With the right software, you can:

  • Simplify, speed up, and even automate once complex and time-consuming accounting processes
  • Improve the accuracy and consistency of your work
  • Ensure regulatory compliance and security 

When people think of software for accountants, the first thing that comes to mind is platforms like QuickBooks and Xero. But that’s just one piece of the equation.

In this post, we’ll look at the entire accounting software spectrum, providing a holistic view of the tools that can help you work smarter and faster. We’ll pick three of our favourite options from each of the following accounting software categories:

There’s naturally some overlap between software from different categories. Your job is to pick and choose the right blend of tools to streamline key accounting processes with the least possible friction. 

Ready? Let’s dive in.

Best practice management software

Practice management software is designed to help accounting firms manage the day-to-day running of their business. It spans areas such as team collaboration, client communication, document management, and task management. 

The beauty of practice management software is that it provides a central hub for core processes, so there’s less switching between different tools. 

Here are three of the best platforms on the market. 

1. Karbon 

G2 rating: 4.8

Karbon is a popular practice management platform designed to help accounting firms communicate, collaborate, and work smarter. Here’s what it offers:

  • Team collaboration tools, including checklists, timelines, and kanban boards
  • Automated workflows, including reminders, requests, and work schedules
  • Project management tools, including action plans, templates, and job estimates
  • Integrations with your email, calendars, and ChatGPT
  • Data-driven insights  

As the user reviews show, Karbon is a fantastic tool for any forward-thinking accounting firm — especially those with remote, hybrid, or dispersed teams. 

2. Canopy

G2 rating: 4.6

Canopy allows you to combine all your key processes and systems in one place. It starts with a foundation of client management and allows you to add modules on top to suit your specific needs. For example, Canopy covers:

  • Document management, with no storage limits
  • Workflow
  • Time, billing, and payments
  • Client portal
  • Data insights  

On top of this, Canopy offers solutions designed to help your firm stay compliant, covering tax resolution, client correspondence, and legal agreements. 

3. Financial Cents

G2 rating: 4.8

Financial Cents is another popular practice management system. It offers a broad range of features designed to make your accounting firm run like a well-oiled machine. With Financial Cents, you can:

  • Monitor staff workloads and assign jobs accordingly
  • Track time and invoice clients
  • Track tasks and see progress towards deadlines
  • Automate the process of gathering client data
  • Automatically turn client emails into tasks

As a glance at customer reviews will confirm, Financial Cents is known for being easy to set up and use. 

Bet task and project management software

Understanding what needs doing, who's going to do it, and when is essential for the success of any accounting firm. This is where task management software can help. Here are three of the best tools on the market.

1. Accelo

G2 rating: 4.4

Unlike the other task management tools on this list, Accelo is specifically designed with professional services firms in mind — and it shows. Accelo provides everything you need to track and deliver client work, from first contact through to payment. In terms of task management, it offers:

  • Real-time snapshots of project staffing, statuses, and budgets
  • Automated resource planning
  • The ability to track expenses and materials
  • Project plan templates
  • Automated triggers and notifications

Really, Accelo is more than your standard task management tool. What makes it stand out is its focus on time and money — and the connection between the two. Not only does it help you track progress through tasks, but it also makes your firm more profitable.

2. Asana

G2 rating: 4.3

Asana is the go-to project management platform for countless businesses worldwide — and for good reason. It’s packed with features that simplify task and project management, providing visibility and direction to modern teams. Here’s what it offers:

  • Assign tasks and projects, and link them to strategic goals
  • Visibility into workloads across projects
  • View profess on Kanban boards and Gantt charts
  • Real-time reporting, insights, and workflow automation
  • Manage and submit work requests

And with seamless integration with popular tools like Slack, DropBox, and Google Suite, Asana can easily become a central hub for team collaboration.

3. AirTable

G2 rating: 4.6

AirTable is a cloud-based software that takes a slightly different approach to collaboration and task management. It combines the best features of a spreadsheet and database, without conceding too much in the way of usability. With AirTable, you can:

  • Bring together data and workflows from across your firm in one place
  • Visualise information in a range of different ways
  • Add projects, assign tasks, create to-do lists
  • View progress via Calendars, Kanban charts, and galleries
  • Seamlessly integrate with your current tech stack

Airtable’s functionality is so flexible that it covers multiple use cases, with task management being just one. Some people might be put off initially by its spreadsheet-style approach, but once you get used to it, it’s a powerful way to stay organised. 

Best document and file-sharing software

Accounting teams need to gather a lot of documents from clients to do their job. Without the right tool, this process can be a real bottleneck to productivity, not to mention the obvious issues around data security and access. 

Document and file-sharing software can help here, providing a secure place to gather, store, and manage digital files. Here are three top options to make your life simpler.

1. Content Snare

G2 rating: 4.6

Content Snare streamlines and automates the process of gathering client information. Instead of wasting time in endless back-and-forth emails, you simply build a form or questionnaire, share it with your client, and they work through the requests step by step. 

Here’s what it offers: 

  • Build custom-branded forms or choose one of our ready-made templates
  • Request a wide range of information in a wide range of formats
  • Add context to each request through text, video, or attachments
  • Approve or reject submissions with a single click
  • Send automatic reminders for missing info
  • View progress across your clients via our dashboard

And with our Zapier integration, you can create all sorts of automated workflows that save you time. For example, you can automatically send the information you gather to cloud storage, Google Sheets, or your task management platform. 

Gather client info the simple way with Content Snare

Tired of chasing clients for missing info? With Content Snare, you can create custom forms, send automatic reminders, and gather all the information you need in one place.

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2. Dropbox

G2 rating: 4.4

Dropbox is one of the most popular and trusted cloud storage tools on the market, with over 700 million users worldwide. Here’s what it offers:

  • Secure document storage, with files up to 2 TB in size
  • Easy access to files via any device
  • Share any file with anyone via a simple link

Dropbox also offers a suite of additional tools covering areas such as e-signatures, password management, and collaboration. Together, these tools make an ideal solution for managing document storage, security, and workflows. 

3. SmartVault

G2 rating: 4.3

SmartVault is a popular secure file portal and document management solution. In addition to all the file storage stuff you’d expect, it offers some handy additional features, including:

  • High levels of data security, with all files encrypted
  • Branded client portals 
  • Document request lists
  • e-Signatures
  • The ability to find files based on text search
  • Full version control

And with integrations to tools such as TaxCalc, DocuSign, and Intuit Lacerte, SmartVault allows you to unlock tons of handy accounting features.

Best process automation software

Every accountant wants to be able to do more with less. This is exactly what process automation software allows you to achieve. By automating repetitive processes, you can spend more time delivering real value to your clients. Here are our three favourite tools.

1. Zapier 

G2 rating: 4.5

Zapier is a popular automation tool that allows you to connect different web-based applications and send data between them. This enables you to create automated workflows that save you time and money. With Zapier, you can:

  • Connect over 5000 apps with ease
  • Build multi-step automations, known as “Zaps”, with a drag-and-drop editor
  • Leverage ready-made automation templates
  • Schedule Zaps to take place at certain intervals

Zapier is known for being relatively easy to use. This makes it a popular choice for small businesses and accounting firms that lack the in-house expertise for more technical automation platforms. 

2. Make

G2 rating: 4.7

Formally known as Integromat, Make offers similar outcomes to Zapier, but it gets there in a slightly different way. Here’s how it works:

  • Build highly complex automations known as “scenarios”
  • Scenarios can involve infinite numbers of steps, making the possibilities endless
  • Thousands of ready-made connections to choose from
  • Build custom integrations using any public API

Make is generally more complicated to use than Zapier, especially if you don’t have a technical background. But as a result, it allows you to do more. 

3. Tray.io

G2 rating: 4.6

Our third automation tool on this list, Tray.io shares a lot of features with its direct competitors. That said, there are a few points that make it stand out from the crowd, including:

  • Self-service automation that allows anyone to get involved and save time
  • An intuitive dashboard where you can check success across all workflows
  • Point-and-click data field selection

Unlike the other two tools in this section, Gate.io is aimed primarily at the enterprise market, so accountants at small businesses may want to look elsewhere. 

Best collaboration and communication software

Accounting is a team sport. And with remote and hybrid work now the norm in many firms, communication and collaboration have never been more important. Here are three of the best tools to bring your team together.

1. Slack

G2 rating: 4.5

Slack is the go-to communications platform for over 100k businesses worldwide, including 80% of the Fortune 100. It acts as a central hub, seamlessly connecting individuals, teams, and departments. Here are some of its key features:

  • Real-time communication via channels or direct messages
  • Threaded conversations allow users to have conversations within conversations
  • Tons of read-to-go integrations and bots
  • Simple file sharing (but with a 1 GB limit)
  • An excellent mobile app for collaboration on the go

Slack offers a pretty decent free version, but to get unlimited message history, apps, and integrations, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan.

2. Zoom

G2 rating: 4.5 

Having exploded in popularity due the rapid rise of remote work, Zoom remains one of the best video conferencing tools around. Here’s what it offers:

  • Seamless virtual meetings
  • Team chat
  • Online whiteboard for brainstorming ideas
  • Conversation analytics 

Zoom is an excellent choice for internal collaboration as well as client-facing meetings. And with seamless integrations with your email and calendar tools, setting up meetings couldn’t be easier.

3. Microsoft Teams

G2 rating: 4.2

Our third pick for this category is Microsoft Teams. While Teams is often seen as Slack’s great rival, its mix of real-time text-based conversations and video calls makes it a competitor for Zoom too. Here’s what it offers:

  • Chat and instant messaging
  • Audio and video calls
  • Online meetings and webinars
  • File sharing and collaboration
  • Integration with Microsoft Office and other tools

In many ways, Teams is a bit like Slack + Zoom, providing a more comprehensive collaboration platform than either are able to. That said, fans of Slack and Zoom probably wouldn’t swap over for the world.  

Best time tracking software

Accounting involves tracking billable hours, managing multiple projects, and keeping accurate records. Time tracking software can help you understand the time you are spending on each task — and invoice your clients appropriately. Here are our top three pics.

1. Clockify

G2 rating: 4.5

With millions of users worldwide, Clockify is the self-proclaimed “most popular free time tracker for teams.” Let’s take a look at its main features:

  • Track time as you go, or enter hours manually later on
  • Log activities in timesheets that you can save as templates
  • Clock in on shared devices using pin codes
  • Calendars for visualising work activities
  • A slick mobile app

Clockify offers plenty of useful integrations, so you can tie time tracking to your accounting software, task management tool, or customer relationship management platform (CRM). The fact it’s free is pretty mind-blowing.

2. TimeCamp

G2 rating: 4.7

TimeCamp is another handy tool for tracking time and boosting productivity. It’s especially popular in the IT space, but there are loads of handy features that accounting firms will benefit from. Let’s take a look: 

  • Automatic time tracking, for both billable and non-billable hours
  • Track team performance and productivity
  • Track budgets and project profitability
  • Time and productivity reporting
  • One-click approvals

A look at TimeCamp’s user reviews shows that it’s a highly intuitive and easy-to-use tool that does most of its work in the background. 

3. Timely

G2 rating: 4.8

Timely is an AI-powered time-tracking tool with a strong focus on automation. As a result, you and your team can spend more time working and less time on admin. Here’s what it offers: 

  • Automated time tracking and billing
  • Time-tracking data is kept private for each user
  • Real-time project and budget tracking
  • Team management that helps to connect remote workforces

Timely works by connecting to the different tools that employees are using. It then creates accurate reports that break down the time spent in different apps and on different tasks.

Best security and access management software

Accounting is a serious business involving a lot of sensitive and confidential data. This makes security a priority. While we could easily dedicate an entire post to security-focused tools, here are three ones to keep on your radar. 

1. NordVPN

G2 rating: 4.3

A VPN is an essential tool in your security toolbox, and NordVPN is one of the best. By creating a secure and encrypted connection between devices and the internet, accountants can work safely online — even on public networks. Here’s what you get: 

  • Military-grade AES-256 encryption
  • A range of VPN protocols to choose from
  • No user tracking or user logs
  • Officially the fastest VPN on the market

For all the technical stuff that’s going on under the hood, NordVPN is incredibly simple to use. You can connect to a secure VPN from anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds.

2. 1Password

G2 rating: 4.7

Weak passwords and poor password management are often the weak points in a business’s security. The risk of password-related security threats increases with the number of tools you use. This is where 1Password can help. Here’s how it works: 

  • Access all tools via a single master password or biometrics
  • All your passwords are stored in an encrypted vault
  • Share passwords securely
  • Automatic alerts for weak, duplicate, or compromised passwords

In other words, 1Password simplifies password management while making your systems more secure.  

3. Okta

G2 rating: 4.5

Okta is a cloud-based identity and access management tool. It offers secure and seamless access to your tech stack, allowing you to manage identities, authentication, and authorisation from a single platform. Here’s how it works:

  • Give the right people access to the right tools — on any device
  • Access multiple apps and services with a single user ID
  • Identity and user lifecycle management
  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA) for an additional layer of security

Okta offers thousands of integrations with popular apps, as well as APIs for additional connections, making it simple to manage access to all manner of tools.

Best proposal software

Accountants tend to be busy people. With so much work to do serving current clients, there’s often little time left for closing new clients. This is where proposal software can help. Let’s take a look at three of the best proposal software tools on the market.

1. Ignition

G2 rating: 4.6

Designed specifically for accounting firms and other professional services businesses, Ignition offers tons of advanced features to help you streamline and systematise the proposal process, including:

  • Custom digital proposals
  • Proposal templates
  • Automated contracts and engagement letters
  • Automated billing and payments
  • Reporting and dashboards

As an accounting-focused platform, Ignition offers seamless integration with the most popular accounting and practice management software.

2. Proposify

G2 rating: 4.7

Proposify aims to unblock the proposals bottleneck, allowing you to create, share, and manage proposals with minimum effort. Described as your “Chief Closing Officer,” it offers the following features:

  • A range of proposal templates
  • A content library to ensure that proposals look consistent with your brand
  • Understand and analyse prospect interactions and proposal success
  • Built-in e-signatures
  • Get automatic reminders when proposals are viewed and signed

Proposify claims that their proposals have twice as good a closing rate as the industry average, which is pretty remarkable

3. Qwilr

G2 rating: 4.5

Qwilr is primarily aimed at salespeople, but it offers tons of features that will help accountants save time and attract new clients. Here are some examples:

  • Quickly create interactive proposals that look like webpages
  • Share proposals via a link rather than an attachment
  • Save and reuse content, then drag and drop to create new proposals
  • Build proposals using brand colours and custom fonts
  • E-signatures, payments, and analytics

Qwilr allows you to manage the entire proposal process, from creation to signing and payment. But what makes it stand out is its strong focus on aesthetically beautiful proposals

Best accounting software

Last but not least, let’s look at the software category that forms the backbone of your tech stack: accounting software. In a crowded market, here are three of the best options. 

1. Xero

G2 rating: 4.3

Xero is one of the most popular cloud-based accounting software tools out there. It’s especially popular with small-business owners, who appreciate its mixture of accounting features and simplicity. Let’s take a look at what it offers:

  • The ability to schedule and pay bills
  • Integrated payroll software, with employee self-service
  • Automatic tax calculations and filing
  • Bank connections and reconciliation 
  • Real-time financial reporting
  • Inventory management and tracking

If you’re looking for small-business accounting software, Xero is a solid choice. And with Xero Practice Manager and Xero Tax, you have a suite of tools to streamline key accounting tasks. 

2. Zoho Books

G2 rating: 4.5

Zoho Books is another great option. This cloud-based accounting software offers tons of advanced features to help save you time and improve accuracy. It’s also known for its simplicity and ease of use. Its key features include:

  • Customisable invoices
  • A secure customer portal
  • Time-tracking and project management
  • Inventory management
  • Customisable financial reports
  • Automated workflows

If you’re looking for free accounting software for small businesses, Zoho Books is the best option.  

3. QuickBooks

G2 rating: 4.0

As the market leader in the accounting software space, QuickBooks needs no introduction. Designed to help professional accountants, small-business owners, and freelancers manage their books, it offers the following accounting features:

  • Real-time dashboards with custom financial reports
  • Seamless bank connections
  • Integrated payroll system with automated workflows
  • Inventory management
  • Forecast how different actions will impact your business in the future

QuickBooks also offers a range of integrations, allowing you to connect to your CRM, payments provider, e-commerce platform, and more.

Nicholas Edwards

Nicholas Edwards is a content writer from the UK.

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