The Accounting Software Showdown: The Best Options for Small Businesses

Written by Elements Advisory Group
February 14, 2023
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Small to medium businesses in Australia are faced with a unique set of challenges when it comes to managing their internal accounting function. One of the critical tools for overcoming many of the day-to-day difficulties and inefficiencies is the use of accounting software. 

However, choosing and effectively utilising accounting technology can be a difficult task. From finding a cost-effective solution that fits a budget to ensuring data security and privacy, small business owners constantly look for ways to make the most out of their accounting software. 

Today’s advanced accounting and bookkeeping technology streamline business operations with sophisticated processes and easy-to-understand financial reports, empowering owners to make confident decisions faster. 

The software options available today make it easier to manage many aspects of a business’s bookkeeping function, on the go, in real-time. 

A business owner can consult an accounting app on their phone for everyday things, such as:

  • Check the budget for asset management
  • Edit invoices from a job site
  • Pay last-minute expenses
  • Add time to payroll for shift coverage


Choosing the right accounting software


When choosing accounting software, you will have several options, ranging from industry-specific solutions to fully customisable platforms. 

These providers usually offer a range of pricing packages, with the more expensive options featuring additional capabilities to address various aspects of your business. This allows you to select the package that best fits your unique requirements.

Depending on what software provider and package you use will dictate what extension programs you have access to.

When selecting the ideal accounting software, consider the nature of your industry and the size of your workforce. 

A Tradie, for example, could benefit from some added features, like job tracking, in apps like ServiceM8 and Tradify. 

Whilst retail and hospitality businesses need software that integrates with Square or Shopify and a timesheet or rostering extension. 

Elements Advisory Group works with many businesses across multiple industries and has settled on the best accounting software for SMEs. All of the following software platforms have a mobile-friendly app and cloud-based access.


Xero Accounting Software


Most people have heard of Xero by now. Xero is the best option for small businesses searching for simple accounting software and has many integrations that almost make it fully customisable. All clients who work with Elements Advisory Group are integrated into Xero.

Xero includes all the top automations for improved efficiency and accurate data entry:

  • Automated debtor reminders 
  • Recurring transactions such as invoices, bills and journal entries 
  • Auto-coding of banking transactions 
  • Automation of bill/expense entries, from pdf or image to entered and coded 

Single-touch payroll is a requirement for any business with employees. Xero‘s Payroll is only beaten by KeyPay. However, not many can beat Xero for its easy-to-use user interface.

Xero was rated five stars for value for money, design, ease of integration, functionality and ease of use, with four stars for customer service, reporting and overall satisfaction by Canstar Blue’s 2022 Accounting Software review.

Each package offered by Xero will have added features and extensions to cover other aspects of the business. The cheapest package or Starter pack would suit most owner-operated companies.

One of its best tools is called Xero Analytics Plus. It provides you with advanced flow projections for fixed future periods. It can produce over 50 reports depending on your needs, including:

  • Projections of expenses
  • Income reports
  • Profitability reports

Integrate Xero with Dext for automated data collection.


Another favourite integration for small business owners is the program called Dext. 

Dext Prepare is the most trusted accounting tool to collect data from across your financial records and post it to your accounting software – saving time spent on admin and ensuring data accuracy. 

Dext can assist with the following tasks:

  • Quickly and easily manage receipts using the Dext app. Simply take a photo of the receipt, and all relevant information will be automatically extracted.
  • Effortlessly email documents directly to your Dext account or use the receipt scanner app for highly accurate data extraction.
  • Streamline your receipt management process by automatically sending receipts and business expenses directly to your accounting software or accountant.


QuickBooks Accounting Software


QuickBooks has been a staple in the accounting market for many years. Over this time, they have produced multiple products for specific purposes. 

For example, QuickBooks Online is a suite targeted towards small businesses, and QuickBooks Self-Employed is for self-employed individuals. While Intuit QuickBooks rated the highest in Canstar Blue’s 2022 Accounting Software review, receiving five stars in all categories. 

However, if your business outgrows the chosen suite fit for your business currently, you will be unable to transfer data between the interfaces.

Like Xero, QuickBooks has AI and pattern recognition software to ease the repetition of tasks and make for efficient automation. Quickbooks partnered with KeyPay to bundle Payroll as part of their Australian QuickBooks Online solutions, making them the ‘best-of-breed’ in this function. Although the price for the package in indicative of this as well.

They also have the best tech support in the Australian market, with troubleshooting assistance offered by phone, email and live chat support. However, be aware that most of their online resources are American-focused.

With each price jump, packages offered gain additional features. Unfortunately, to get the best features you are required to pay the highest price. The QuickBooks Plus version being the largest package contains functions such as inventory and project tracking while offering budgeting tools to help you stay on track towards your financial goals. 

With a long-built brand, Quickbooks may be the most recognized name, but the high price and lack of integration for business growth along with the slighter more complicated user interface are why they are not our first choice.


MYOB Accounting Software


MYOB was founded in Australia and offers the most budget-friendly packages starting at only $12 per month for the Lite package and a Payroll Only option for those who simply need help with the pay run. 

MYOB has plenty of add-ons you can pay for through partnerships with other companies, helping to make the software more personalised to your business.

Features include payroll for employees, invoicing for clients, reports and budgets for team meetings, and various functions that help with tax time, inventory, bank reconciliations and even cash flow management, making it worthwhile regardless of your financial needs. You’ll also receive phone support on all MYOB plans.

MYOB also deserves an honourable mention for the volume of market-specific content provided for troubleshooting. However, there are multiple versions, and you can get lost in which product, which version etc.

Despite three stars for customer service and overall satisfaction, MYOB has rated four stars in all remaining categories, including design, functionality, ease of use and value for money, in Canstar Blue’s 2022 Accounting Software review.


Which platform is right for your business?


While each accounting software will offer plenty of features and options to help with the day-to-day running of your business, you’ll often have to pay extra if you’re looking for something more customised to your business needs.

For Elements Advisory Group and our clients, Xero is a clear winner and platform of choice. Not only does it have a plethora of integrations and extension programs it can add on, but the ease of use for the client’s day-to-day is what takes the stress and confusion out of doing the books.

You can compare the various features and packages by looking at the provider’s websites directly or contacting Elements Advisory Group for your best accounting software solution. 


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