Small businesses need accounting software just like everybody else. But these organizations usually don’t need expensive enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems with huge collections of extra features and functionality. If you’re like most small businesses, you’re new to the accounting software scene – so we’ve put together a quick list to help you find the product that best suits you.
We decided to profile five systems that are designed – and priced – to meet the needs of small businesses: Sage Simply Accounting, NetSuite Financials, Sage Peachtree, CMS Professional 2011, and of course QuickBooks.
A Comparison of Functionality
All these accounting systems offer core accounting functionality, including a general ledger with accounts payable (AP) and accounts receivable (AR). Some include additional functions such as project accounting, fund accounting, inventory management, and others. Below is a side-by-side comparison.
|Billing & Invoicing|
|Work Order Management|
|Budgeting & Forecasting|
|Fixed Asset Accounting|
Sage Simply Accounting, available in five versions, is currently being used by over 500,000 organizations. 10,000 consultant partners help users get the most out of it. The five versions available, in order of lightest to most extensive functionality, are First Step, Pro, Premium, Enterprise, and Accountants’ Edition. Pricing starts at $69.99 per user for First Step, increasing with each heavier version. All versions support both English and Spanish languages.
Used by over 10,000 organizations, NetSuite Financials is a web-based ERP system. Its capabilities include accounting, budgeting, financial reporting, and built-in dashboards. The system is completely cloud-based; it can be accessed over the web with a browser or mobile device. NetSuite’s cloud architecture reduces IT costs and allows for automatic upgrades. The lower upfront cost of cloud-based solutions in general is an asset to small businesses, which usually have lower budgets.
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Sage provides accounting solutions to over 3.2 million customers in the U.S. and Canada. Peachtree is their small business product, available in five versions (First, Pro, Complete, Premium, and Quantum), which vary by the number of users and extent of functionality. The Premium offering contains specialized functionality for construction, distribution, manufacturing, and nonprofit organizations. Peachtree First and Pro support one user, while Complete and Premium can support up to five. The Quantum offering supports between five and forty users.
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CMS Professional 2011 is the latest accounting release from Cougar Mountain. It is comprised of integrated modules for business, fund, and point of sale accounting and emphasizes dashboards as a key component. Cougar Dtails, A Sales Dashboard, is a visual display that shows the status of overall sales within your business, pulling data from the Point of Sale and/or Order Entry, Inventory and Accounts Receivable modules. It is organized into tabs, including the Sales Summary tab, the Sales by Product tab, and the Sales by Customer tab.
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Intuit has been providing financial and tax software since 1983. QuickBooks is perhaps the most well-known name in small business accounting software. QuickBooks is available in five versions – Online, Pro, Mac, Premier, and Enterprise Solutions. QuickBooks Online is available for $12.95 per month after a trial period. Mac and Pro start at $229.95, Premier starts at $399.95, and Enterprise Solutions runs at $600 per user. QuickBooks supports specialized functionality for several vertical industries, including contractors, manufacturing and wholesale companies, nonprofits, professional services, and retail companies.