Tag Archives: KashFlow

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

KashFlow Online Accounting / Bookkeeping Software Review

KashFlow LogoKashFlow (www.kashflow.com) is a very popular online (web-based / cloud) accounting / bookkeeping software applications for small and medium sized businesses on the market today, and has grown over the years to its current standing whereby it has tens of thousands of users.

 

The application was initially developed in 2005 by the founder and current CEO, Duane Jackson, an ex web developer who at the time needed a suitable accounting package for his own use. He developed KashFlow, which was almost called Lollymate, and soon found that other small business owners were interested in the product. Duane gradually added new functionality, with help from the Prince’s Trust, and slowly the software has developed into the accounting application we have today.

Summary of the main KashFlow features

Here is a quick list of the main features of KashFlow. As you would expect, you can find out more information about the features on the KashFlow website (see link above).

  • Invoicing
  • Quotes and Estimates
  • Purchases
  • Customers and Suppliers
  • Reports
  • Banking
  • Credit Control
  • Settings
  • API and Integrations
  • Accounting (miscellaneous)

Invoicing
You can edit and customise invoices, and set up the system so that they are generated automatically. The software can also notify you when they become overdue.

Quotes and Estimates
You are able to easily create quotes or estimates, or pro-forma invoices.

Purchases
You can set up both individual purchases and recurring purchases, and notify suppliers by email when you’ve paid them. You can also scan and upload attachments relevant to your purchases, and pay multiple purchases with a single transaction.

Customers and Suppliers
KashFlow lets you record details about all your customers and suppliers, including details about invoices relating to them. Information can be printed or exported in PDF or CSV formats.

The initial screen to add a new supplier in KashFlow

The initial screen to add a new supplier in KashFlow

Reports
A range of reports can be generated, including: profit & loss, balance sheet, and trial balance.

Banking
You can set up all of the bank accounts you use, whether personal (for expenses) or business, and view their balances on the KashFlow dashboard. Repeat transactions can be set up and you can quickly record transfers between accounts. Bank transaction information can be exported/imported in CSV format.

Adding a new bank account in KashFlow

Adding a new bank account in KashFlow

Credit Control
Quickly see how much money you are owed and what is overdue. The software lets you create pre-written reminder letters, which can be sent automatically to someone who is late settling an invoice.

Settings
In order to keep the software as easy-to-use as possible, a lot of the functionality can be switched off if you don’t need it.

APIs and Integrations
KashFlow has a secure interface that allows other programs to enter data into your account and/or retrieve data. As well as being able to integrate with a number of pre-made addons, there is a full-featured API that lets people build their own integrations.

Miscellaneous Accounting
The software also contains functionality that doesn’t neatly fit into the other sections listed above. The software supports a number of different VAT schemes, including Standard VAT, Cash Accounting and the Flat Rate Scheme. If you are a contractor or sub-contractor, KashFlow also works in conjunction with CIS.

Pricing

At the time of writing this post (January 2014), KashFlow costs £18 + VAT per month. There is a two week free trial though, as detailed below. (Note: I think there is a limited offer whereby the software is slightly cheaper, which runs until July 2014.)

Free Trial – using the software

So that you can try before you buy, you can use KashFlow for free for 14 days. This isn’t very long though – a month would have been better – so if you intend to try the software, make sure you start playing around with it as soon as you’ve registered. There’s a lot of functionality to try and you may well find that you run out of time – ie your trial ends – before you’ve tried everything. I find the best thing to do when I’m testing a bit of software is to try to complete certain tasks rather than randomly clicking on buttons and links.

 

Registering is straightforward, which is what you would expect from an online (web-based) application. You have to provide the usual user name and password, plus a ‘memorable’ word. Make sure you use a word that you can remember though because you will have to enter three characters from that word whenever you log on.

Once you’ve registered you are taken to an opening page where you can optionally set up some company details, such as your company name, address, business type and whether you are registered for VAT. If you don’t want to do this at this initial stage, you can come back to it any time you want to,

This moves you onto the Getting Started page, which gives some very quick instructions on what you can do along with links to popular tasks. (Note – if you ever want to get back to the Getting Started page, click the Overview link in the top right hand area of the screen.)

KashFlow Getting Started screen

Part of the KashFlow Getting Started screen

You’ll probably need to spend a bit of time finding your way around the software, which is to be expected for a program as sophisticated as KashFlow. Try to use the software properly, ie set up one or two customers, create a few invoices, create a few reports, and so on. This way you’ll get a feel for whether the software suits your business. (Note: A day or so after I registered, I received an email from KashFlow that contained some useful links as an aid to using the software.)

On the whole I found the screen layout to be clear and the navigation to be straightforward. On some screens though the text seems a bit light – too light for me in fact – I like text to be dark on a light background.

Support

If you need a bit of help with the software, click the Support button in the top right hand area of the screen. From here you can download the KashFlow user guide or, if you have a specific query, search the knowledge base for an answer. If you are still stuck, you can send an email to the support department. You can also call them up if you need to.

Conclusion

KashFlow is powerful accounting software and it will suit many small and medium-sized businesses. If you’re an IT contractor though, or someone whose accounting/bookkeeping requirements are very basic, you may find that you won’t have any need for a lot of the functionality on offer which, after all, you will be paying for. If this applies to you, you might be better off looking at a very basic bookkeeping tool such as Earnings Tracker.

Does KashFlow offer value for money? Yes, I would say so – you get a lot of accounting functionality for your money. Remember though, £18+VAT per month adds up, and you’ll be looking at £259.20 per year, which takes you into the Sage accounting arena. If you intend to use most of the features on offer though, you’ll probably be getting your money’s worth.

Other Accounting Software Reviews

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

Clear Books

Sage

All Accounting / Bookkeeping Software Reviews