As a student of accounting, you're probably on your way to being trained to join some of the top accounting firms round the globe. And yet, there could be certain phases in your professional life, where you might need to do basic and advanced accounting tasks for yourself, another individual or a small / growing business that you're a part of.
While you're well acquainted with the basics of accounting, and are in the process of advancing and mastering the concepts through your Master's degree, some practical aspects of accounting can be quite tricky and time-consuming.
Trivia check: Did you know that Accountants spend 28 hours a week on admin tasks?
Fortunately, the digital era has paved the way for numerous innovative companies that have been consistently creating online solutions for the varied accounting needs. Here's a glimpse into seven such tools which can come handy in helping you with your accounting tasks, so that you can channelize your time and efforts in a more productive manner:
- QuickBooks: Here's a software that is simple enough for small business owners and complicated enough for accountants. As an accountant using QuickBooks, you can manage accounts, generate invoices, accept online payments, process payroll and even import expense data by taking pictures of receipts with your mobile phone. This cloud-hosted Business accounting software also works in online and offline modes and the online version syncs with your bank account and credit card accounts, so the data is always up to date.
Developed by Intuit corporation, this is the most widely accepted and used software, popular primarily because of its ease of use and the security it promises.
- Sage: Are you a part of a growing business or a one-man business yourself? Sage could be the perfect go-to accounting tool for you, for it has various versions depending on the size of the business.
- Sage One - From a CEO's work to clerical tasks, if you're doing it all in your one man business, Sage One Invoicing and Sage One Accounting are 'must-haves' in your kitty. The Invoicing feature lets you generate invoices and accept payments online, and the Accounting feature lets you view your business finances at a glance, generate reports and track time and expenses. Streamlined and simple to use, the project management features make Sage a smart solution if you need to keep a track of what freelancers or contractors are doing.
- Sage 300 - Businesses that have seen sunshine and outgrown a standard small business accounting software, require a tool that can go beyond just handling finances. Fostering collaboration and managing operations across multiple departments and/or locations will eventually be the key requirements. Sage 300 Online, steps up to handle inventory management, sales management, supplier management. This robust accounting tool enables you to analyze business data to improve the return on investment too.
Xero: Featured as the "World's Most Innovative Growth Company” 2014 & 2015 by Forbes, Xero is an accounting software for international small businesses. This cloud-based accounting software can help in simplifying complex financial steps and managing business transactions. Easy invoicing, multi-currency, multi-users for free, over 500 third-party applications and mobile-presence are the various enticing features of this software. It also has self generated bank account feeds, invoicing and business reporting features which help in better management of business accounting.
Freshbooks: FreshBooks is a cloud-based accounting tool that started out as an invoicing and expense tracking product, especially developed for small and medium business owners. Today, its features include integration with a bank account, report generation, payroll processing, payment processing and time tracking features. Developed by Mike McDerment and Joe Sawada in the year 2003 in Canada, FreshBooks boasts of simplicity and easy accessibility owing to its cloud-based interface.
Momenteo: As the tagline claims, Momenteo attempts to make freelance accounting simple. Built by freelancers for freelancers, this software allows you to easily manage your clients, invoices, expenses and travel related accounting too, while having a clear portrait of your freelance business.
Wave Accounting: Looking for a free software to take care of your accounting? Here's your best find. Unlike many "free" online applications, Wave includes unlimited invoicing. You can also add paid services, such as payroll, credit card processing and advanced support options. Wave is intended for businesses with nine employees or less and those who do contract and freelance work.
CPA Practice Assessment Tool: And for all those accountants who are Apple fans, we recommend that you give the CPA Practice Assessment Tool a try. For CPAs who own their own practice, this tool is a great way to improve business. A quiz helps to identify any areas of weakness in the practice. Once the areas of deficit are identified, a clear strategy for change is outlined.
And while all of these are fun and fabulous innovative tools for your accounting needs, how can we forget the evergreen, robust Microsoft Office Excel? Yes, Excel was designed primarily to support accounting functions such as budgeting, preparing financial statements and creating balance sheets and deserves an honorary mention in this list. A favourite of accountants over the years, it comes with basic spreadsheet functionality and many other functions for performing complex mathematical calculations. All you need is a couple of tutorials on its various features and you are all set to start accounting.
These tools can greatly save your time as an accountant. However your primary goal should be to become adept at the concepts of accounting rather than the tools used for accounting. If you aspire to become a reputed accounting professional, your step forward should be to do your post graduation in Accountancy from a well-known school. Opting for a course like the MSc in Accountancy programme from Nanyang Business School, NTU can do you wonders in your professional life as an accountant.