Tag Archives: Clearbooks online accounting software

What is the Best Accounting Software?

So, what is the best accounting software? Well, there is no such thing. You could, of course, say what is the best accounting software for my particular business, to which there may well be a definitive answer, but on the whole there is no correct answer to this question.

 

What is evident, and we have found this from the accounting and bookkeeping software reviews that we have carried out, is that there are a lot of very good accounting and bookkeeping software applications on the market. Products such as KashFlow, Clear Books, FreeAgent, Xero, and the various offerings from Sage, all provide very viable, low-cost, solutions for sole traders and small limited companies.

Online (web-based/cloud) or installable software

In recent years there has been a move away from accounting software that you download (or buy on a CD/DVD) and install on your own computer towards accounting software that is provided online ie web-based / cloud solutions.

There are pros and cons for both approaches, but the recent Heart Bleed security issue that hit OpenSSL has highlighted the point that anything that is stored or used on the World Wide Web is not completely 100% secure. The Internet and World Wide Web are based on hardware and software developed by humans and as such will always be at risk of containing bugs or faults that could potentially be exploited by talented hackers. For years, we thought that SSL meant that a web site was completely secure – now we know that that was not the case.

Having said that, it is a fair assumption to make that online accounting solutions are pretty safe and offer a very convenient way of recording and maintaining your company accounts. For a start, web-based accounting software is normally available from any web-enabled device such as a PC, laptop, mobile phone or tablet. Of course, some online accounting software applications work better than others on, say, a mobile phone, so it’s best to try out a few possibilities if you think that this is a feature that might be useful for your business. Being able to access your accounts from virtually anywhere at anytime is a great advantage that online solutions offer though.

 

However, if you ask the question – which is the most secure – online or installable? I would have to opt for installable. After all, with installable software you have the option of installing it on a computer that is not connected to the Internet, making it completely safe from attacks from hackers. Of course, if your house gets burgled and your computer is stolen, or your computer’s hard disk crashes, you’ll lose everything unless you’ve remembered to back things up.

Also, with online solutions you are always using the latest version of the software/application. This is really good as it means that as new features become available, you will in general have access to them. With installable software, you may well be stuck with the version you bought, or you you may have to pay (probably will have to pay) to upgrade to the latest software version.

With online solutions there will probably be a monthly fee to pay, which is normally in the region of £15 to £20 per month, whereas with installable software there is normally a one-off payment, which varies dramatically depending on the software you go for, but is typically in the area of £250 to £300.

Online versions normally have free, ongoing, help available, whereas installable software comes with support that lasts for a limited period of time unless you buy a support package. The advantage with help that’s provided for online software is that the provider can, if necessary, assess your account and resolve any issues. This is not so straightforward for software that you have installed on your computer’s hard disk.

Free or paid for

So, is it worth paying for accounting software when there are plenty of free solutions available, for example, Quick File, Earnings Tracker, VT Cash Book, Adminsoft Accounts, TurboCash, GnuCash, and Brightbooks … to name but a few. Well, I guess it’s a case of whether you can find a free accounting software application that does the job for you – if you can then, yes, go for it, as there really is no point in paying for software when there’s a free alternative that does what you need it to.

It’s also worth remembering that although products like KashFlow, Xero, FreeAgent and Clear Books are all excellent solutions, it may well be that they offer functionality than you just don’t need – functionality that you would be paying for if you bought the software. For this reason it is always a good idea to take advantage of the free trials that all of these products offer, giving you the chance to evaluate them before handing over any money.

It’s also worth looking at whether a free bookkeeping spreadsheet will suffice. This really is the simplest solution and will be sufficient for some people that are running very basic businesses. Of course, this won’t be a sensible solution for most people, but it’s certainly worth looking at and may well form part of a larger accounting / bookkeeping solution for your business.

Conclusion

Whether you decide to go for a free product or a paid-for product, the essential thing is that you get the right product for your business. Take your time in choosing something and try out as many possibilities as you sensibly can. Don’t be tempted to go for the ‘all singing all dancing’ solution unless you really need it, otherwise you’ll just be paying for functionality and features that you don’t need.

Bear these pointers in mind when choosing accounting software for your business:

  • It needs to save you time so that you can concentrate on running your business
  • It needs to offer the right amount of functionality for your business
  • It needs to be easy to use
  • It needs to be affordable

… and here’s a few suggestions to look at

Free accounting / bookkeeping software:

AdminSoft Accounts

BrightBooks

Earnings Tracker

GnuCash

TurboCash

VT Cask Book

Paid for accounting / bookkeeping software:

AccountsPortal

Clear Books

FreeAgent

KashFlow

MyBookkeepingManager

Sage

Xero

Clear Books Online Accounting Software Review

ClearBooks LogoClear Books (www.clearbooks.co.uk) is online (web-based / cloud) accounting software aimed at small businesses (limited companies), sole traders, and accountants.

Features

Clear Book features include a dashboard giving you visibility of all your accounts and payments, tailored invoicing, reporting that you can export in PDF or CSV format, the ability to import bank transactions, integrated payroll, and online filing of VAT returns directly to HMRC.

 

Invoicing
Clear Books includes a ‘theming’ tool that lets you create customised invoices yourself, or you can choose from existing pre-defined themes, many of which have been created by Clear Books users. You can also set up email reminders that are automatically sent to customers who are behind on their payment(s).

Banking
An tool enables you to import transactions into the Clear Books software, and also allows you to re-create bank statements. By providing explanations to the software at the time you import a transaction, Clear Books can learn from that and auto-fill transaction details the next time a similar transaction is imported. As well as being able to import bank statements, you can also import credit card statements and PayPal statements.

Accounting
Accounting features include visibility of your businesses monthly profit and loss statement, your company’s balance sheet so you can see how much cash you have, how much money you are owed, and how much you owe. The software also includes a full general ledger audit trail containing all of your accounting transactions.

VAT
Clear Books is able to handle VAT-registered and non-registered businesses, and is also able to handle businesses that are using the VAT Flat Rate Scheme. The software also generates a VAT report that you can use when submitting your quarterly VAT Return.

Construction Industry Scheme (CIS)
The Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) is how HMRC ensures that subcontractors are taxed correctly on payments they receive from primary contractors working in the construction industry. Clear Books supports CIS recording for both contractors and subcontractors, verification with HMRC of a subcontractor’s details, and preparation and online submission of a contractor’s CIS Returns.

Manage Your Contacts Online
Clear Books lets you easily keep track of your suppliers, customers and any other contacts. You can send a staement to customers via email so they can see the current state of their account, including a list of invoices they have paid, and those still to be paid. For each contact you can set up default VAT rates, account codes and other items to speed up invoicing.

Adding a New Customer in Clear Books

Adding a New Customer in Clear Books

Integrations, Plugins and Add-ons
To help streamline your business, Clear Books lets you integrate and connect plugins and add-ons such as payroll software.

Pricing

Clear Books comes in three flavours to suit different sizes of business, slightly different levels of service and functionality being available for each one. The three levels of pricing are:

MIcro – £9+VAT per month
Expansion – £19+VAT per month
Connect – £39+VAT per month

Free Trial

Clear Books comes with a 30 day free trial, which gives you plenty of time to play with the software, although I did have a very slight problem logging in the first time because I either didn’t receive or accidentally deleted (probably this one) the email asking me to verify my email address. You can just get this resent though, so not an issue.

 

When you first log in you are taken to your dashboard, which shows your sales and customers, purchase and supplies, bank accounts, financial reports, and VAT. This is very nice as it gives you an overview of your businesses financial affairs all on one page.

Partial View of Clear Books Dashboard

Partial View of Clear Books Dashboard

If you’re not sure where to go from here, you can click on the Need help? link at the top right of the screen and that gives you access to some nice, easy, quick start guides.

As with all software with this level of functionality, you need to sit down and spend some serious time using the application to find out its true capabilities. This is why it’s good to have a whole month in which to evaluate the software.

Support

Support for the product looks as though it’s pretty good. There’s the usual FAQs, but there’s also community discussion link, as well as a good selection of tutorials and guides. You can also email support questions or give them a call.

Conclusion

Clear Books is a good accounting package that will suit a lot of small businesses. The software is intuitive and easy to use and contains a lot of functionality. I particularly like the Dashboard, which gives you an overview of the current financial state of your business.

Value for money? If you can get by using the Micro version of the software at only £9+VAT per month then, yes, I think the product offers excellent value for money.

Other Accounting Software Reviews

You might be interested in reading the following review(s):

KashFlow

Sage

FreeAgent

Xero

All Accounting / Bookkeeping Software Reviews