The Accounting Practice Management Software options mentioned in this article are listed in no particular order of importance.
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Implementing an accounting practice management software is an essential part of taking your firm to the next level. It doesn’t matter if you are an accountant, bookkeeper, or CPA – you need a practice management tool to establish the infrastructure necessary to scale your firm.
If you are the owner of an accounting firm, you already know that there are a lot of management software systems available for accountants. Choosing the right one for your firm is challenging!
If you aren’t careful, you can waste months of your time trying to find the best one for your firm. Or even worse, you may pick the wrong one.
Unfortunately, moving forward without management software, or choosing the wrong system can really set you back and make it tough to scale and grow your firm.
For example, you might:
That is why we decided to write this article to help you choose the right accounting practice management software for your firm.
Let’s get started with the basics!
Accounting Practice Management Software manages the back-end of your firm. It helps you track client work, communicate with your staff, store client information, and get the visibility you need as an owner to see where everything stands across the firm.
And in the age of Covid-19, Accounting Practice Management Software is more important than ever.
Why is this?
Accounting firms are still working remotely and most don’t plan to return to the office 5 days a week after COVID. However, to effectively manage your remote firm you need a way to maintain accountability, organization, and a big picture view of what is happening in your firm.
Of course, this process becomes much more difficult when you and your team are working remotely.
You can’t stroll over to someone’s desk and see how the project they are working on is coming along. In fact, you can’t even ensure that your team is staying on task during normal working hours! (Read our blog, What to Know When Measuring Your Team’s Productivity for help on tackling this issue).
You need a way to remotely track the status of client work, collaborate with your staff, and store client information so your firm can continue to operate.
Thankfully, good accounting practice management software gives you the ability to do all this, and more!
Not every piece of software that is developed to help accounting firms manage their business is created equally.
So, how can you know which one is best for you?
Here are eight essential actions every accounting practice management software should be able to complete.
When it comes to an accounting firm, ignorance is not bliss.
You need to be able to easily track work across the firm:
A good software system for accountants allows you to delegate work, track your team’s progress, streamline your workflows, and ensure that everything gets done on time.
Efficient and organized team communication is crucial as you grow. If you can’t communicate with your team quickly, you miss important details, and stuff will fall through the cracks.
We don’t have to tell you that stuff falling through the cracks is not ok – especially with an accounting firm. After all, you are dealing with people’s finances!
To take a deeper dive into this topic, read our blog: How To Facilitate Better Communication Across Your Firm.
As you grow, you will take on more clients and work. Finding a solution that will automate time-consuming tasks will help you save time, reduce human error and focus on growing your firm.
Tracking time is vital for firms that bill hourly or on monthly engagements. It helps you provide accurate invoices, get paid faster, and identify work that may be over budget.
It’s important that you have a team of people that work hard to meet deadlines and get their tasks done.
However, it’s not always your employees’ fault for not getting a particular task done. If they don’t have access to the information they need to complete a project, they can’t make any progress on it.
That’s why organizing all your client information and storing it in a place that your team can easily access is so critical!
Manage your client information properly, and everyone is likely to remain happy. Drop the ball, and your accounting firm suffers.
(You may be interested in – Accounting CRM Software: The 5 Best for Accountants)
What’s worse than being on a sinking ship?
Being on a sinking ship and not realizing that it’s going down.
Proper reporting helps you know if your ship is steaming full ahead, or if it has sprung a leak. As you grow, you will need insights into your firm’s performance so you can identify inefficiencies and bottlenecks that may be holding you back and shrinking firm profitability.
Accountants, bookkeepers, and CPAs are always busy. So finding an accounting practice management software that is easy to use will help you save time on implementation and training.
You can also check our review of the best accounting workflow software.
At the end of the day, you need an affordable solution that can scale with your firm.
Growing firms need to reinvest their money into growth, and if you are spending a significant portion of your budget on new accounting practice management software, it doesn’t leave much money left over.
That’s why it’s so important to choose an affordable practice management software for your firm.
With these eight tasks as a guide, you can decide which accounting practice management software is best for you. If a particular piece of software does not help you do one or more of these jobs, it is likely not a good investment for your firm.
However, we know that sifting through dozens of software systems can be a major brain drain. And at the least, it’s going to take a lot of time.
So, we’ve made the process easier, and compiled five of our favorite accounting practice management systems.
Let’s take a look!
Financial Cents is an accounting practice management software built for small and medium-sized accounting, bookkeeping, and CPA firms. We also serve larger firms, but our focus is on firms with 1 – 30 employees.
We have worked closely with hundreds of firms over the years to build a solution that is easy to use, quick to learn, yet has everything you need to take your firm to the next level.
Here are the strong points that Financial Cents has to offer:
Project Management is the core focus of Financial Cents. We believe that delegating, tracking, and completing work on time is the most challenging thing to do as an accounting firm grows.
So, how do we go about making sure you can effectively manage all your work?
When you log into Financial Cents, the first thing you see is a dashboard that lets you track all the client work across the firm. You can see what status it is in, who is working on it, and when it will be completed all in one simple view.
You also have workflow filters that let you quickly view work for specific clients, team members, statuses, and time periods with our inbuilt due date tracking—making it easy to locate particular work in seconds when a client calls.
This will allow you to always know where things stand across your firm.
(Read our blog to find out which 3 Workflows that Every Accounting Practice Should Know).
If you don’t establish a standard operating procedure for completing particular work as you grow, it becomes tough to maintain work quality.
Financial Cents provides you accounting workflow templates and also allows you to create your own custom templates to fit your process. This makes it easy to standardize your process, so everyone on your team knows the right and most efficient way to complete their work.
Financial Cents has team collaboration built directly into the project management solution.
Your team can easily ask questions and leave updates on the client work to keep everyone in the loop. Also, it makes it easy for anyone taking overwork to quickly get caught up to speed and have all the context they need to keep the work moving forward.
Financial Cents provides a lot of different options to automate time-consuming and important parts of your workflow. Here are just a few perks that will save you a mountain of time and energy!
Chasing down clients for information and documents can be a time-consuming part of an accountant’s job. That is why Financial Cents automates the client data collection process for you.
You can schedule a request list to be sent to your client every month and have the system automatically follow up with them until your client completes the tasks.
The client will be able to access a secure and encrypted portal (without having to set up a login or password) where they can upload documents and ask you questions.
The best part is that all the documents and client communication are stored on the relevant client work so your team can access it at the click of a button and have everything they need to get their work done on time.
As an accountant, you do a lot of repetitive work. We’re talking about things like:
As you know, these repetitive tasks end up taking a lot of valuable brain space that should be used on more creative and intense projects.
Thankfully, with Financial Cents, you can set projects to recur, so it automatically recreates a new project for future work.
You could have your monthly bookkeeping project recreate itself every month, so you don’t have to remember to manually create the same project every month. This saves you time and removes the risk of forgetting to add it to your to-do list which would cause it to fall through the cracks.
Task dependencies help ensure work is done correctly and notify team members when they can begin their work. You can set dependencies on specific tasks that won’t let you complete a task until the previous one is completed. It will also automatically notify the next team member in line when the previous task is completed and so they know when to begin their work. This makes it easy for your staff to stay on top of work and hit their deadlines.
With Financial Cents, robust time tracking is built directly into your workflow solution to help you seamlessly track time. This is a huge benefit because it prevents you from tracking time in a completely separate app, which saves you time and money.
We built it directly into the workflow because we wanted to make it very easy for your staff to track time while looking at their work. This improves adoption by your team and results in more accurate reporting for your firm.
You can also integrate Financial Cents with QuickBooks Online so your time entries automatically get added to QBO. This allows you to seamlessly create invoices and bill your clients from the time tracked in Financial Cents.
Financial Cents provides a client management solution that allows you to keep all your client information in one place, so it is always easy for your team to find.
Here’s how it’s done:
Each client has a profile where you can store their documents, notes, contact information, passwords, security questions, and other information. This makes it easy for your team to access important information on demand to get their work done.
Below are some of the things your firm can easily view in your client’s profile.
You also have an audit trail that keeps track of your firm’s interactions with a client.
If someone on your team talks to a client, has a meeting, or writes an important email, it is stored in chronological order. Then with a click of a button you can:
(Do you want better communication with your clients? Read our blog: A Guide to Taking Better Notes During Meetings with Clients.)
Accounting firms are basically built on numbers. When you don’t have accurate numbers or insights you can’t make good business decisions.
Thankfully, Financial Cents makes reporting easy and accurate. You can keep track of everything from your team’s work capacity to how profitable your firm is.
Financial Cents makes it easy to manage your team’s workload. In the capacity management report, you can quickly identify which team members have too much work on their plate and reassign the work to someone with more capacity.
This ensures that everyone has enough time to get their work done on time. Also, it helps you realize when you may need to hire another staff member to support the increased workload as your firm grows.
Financial Cents has built-in profitability metrics to help you identify which clients are not profitable for your firm.
You can easily see which clients are constantly going over budget and making you the least amount of money. This gives you the hard data you need to quickly renegotiate engagements with clients and be successful.
You will boost your bottom line and have more money to reinvest back into your firm for growth.
You can quickly run time tracking reports to see where your team is spending their time. You can see reports on three different levels.
You will also be able to see which clients, work or team members are constantly over budget and drill down to identify what is causing the work to go over budget.
Financial Cents was built on the belief that any firm should be able to implement the solution within the first day. That being said, it is very easy and doesn’t require training. Your team should be able to pick up and learn the product in no time.
That being said, Financial Cents does not need to offer onboarding services. However, we offer a lot of helpful content to get started and learn the most valuable features. Such as a Getting Started Guide and a Youtube Academy.
However, if you need help, we offer live training, client import, template creation, and a dedicated success manager for FREE.
Financial Cents is one of the most affordable accounting practice management software on the market. We offer two plans:
Start our 14 day FREE trial and see how Financial Cents can help take your firm to the next level!
Karbon is a robust practice management software built for large accounting enterprise firms. They have many useful features built into their solution, but this can make it a little overwhelming for small to medium-sized firms.
Here’s how Karbon performs in the eight critical categories all accounting practice management software should be able to do.
Karbon has a system that allows you to manage projects with ease. Here’s how it works:
Karbon provides a workflow dashboard that helps you track all your client work and their deadlines. A plus to their dashboard is they also offer a Kanban view.
Karbon provides you with workflow templates to streamline your workflows. You can also create your own workflow templates and customize them to your process.
Karbon does a great job of providing features to help your team collaborate on work.
Like in Financial Cents, you can collaborate on the client work to keep everything organized for your team to access later.
However, they also have an email integration that allows you to see any conversations your firm has with a client. This gives your team valuable context on the work and client.
Karbon provides a lot of great automation tools that can save time and help streamline your process. Here are a few of the highlights:
Just like Financial Cents, Karbon can help you automate your client data collection process. This saves your firm a lot of time. You can schedule automated request lists for your clients and have their solution follow up with your clients until the tasks get done.
You can also set your projects to recur, so you don’t have to recreate repetitive work continually. Again, this saves your time and prevents work from falling through the cracks.
The Automator makes it easy to update the status of your client’s work as it moves through the process. This will recognize where in the process your work is and change it to the appropriate status, so your team doesn’t have to do it manually.
One downfall to Karbon is that they don’t have built-in time tracking. They do have an integration with TSheets; however, the functionality is limited and doesn’t compare to the other accounting practice management software’s time tracking capabilities in this post.
Like most of the tools in this post, Karbon also offers a client management solution that allows you to store all your client information, notes, documents, and communication in one place. This makes it easy for your team to access anytime, anywhere.
Karbon has several reports that help you get insights into your firm’s progress on work and compare your performance over specific periods.
Here is a glimpse into some of Karbon’s most helpful reporting features:
Progress reports allow you to know exactly where you are in a project and what you need to do to get finished. They help you stay on track and make sure you don’t miss deadlines!
Karbon also offers reports that give you insights into the number of emails your firm has been sending and receiving. This is great for keeping a pulse on the level of communication you have been keeping with your clients.
Karbon offers a very robust platform, which makes it very complex and tough to implement. Most firms purchase their implementation services to implement the platform correctly in their firm. Karbon offers several paid setup and training packages priced between $999 to $2,999. They include one-one training and onboarding sessions.
Karbon is the most expensive accounting practice management software on the market, but it also provides a lot functionality. If you want to get access to all the features mentioned above, you will have to sign up for their business plan.
Jetpack Workflow is another option. They have been in the accounting space for a few years and offer an easy solution for small to midsize firms.
But how do they measure up in the eight critical categories for software systems for accounting firms?
Let’s take a look!
Let’s start by looking at some project management features of Jetpack.
Like the other solutions, Jetpack workflow also offers a dashboard that lets you track all your client work in one view. This helps you keep a pulse on your firm’s workflow.
Jetpack Workflow also provides a library of templates that you can use to create a standard process for work as your team grows to maintain work quality.
Jetpack Workflow lets you collaborate with your team on client work so all the information your team needs is easy to find.
As always, seamless communication means that you can get a lot more work done!
(a) – Recurring Projects
Jetpack Workflow also offers the ability to create recurring projects to automate work creation for future work.
(b) – Task Dependencies
Jetpack lets you set up dependencies on tasks that prevent team members from completing tasks until the necessary tasks are completed. It also notifies the next team member in line when their work is ready to begin.
Jetpack Workflow also offers the ability to create recurring projects to automate work creation for future work.
Jetpack lets you set up dependencies on tasks that prevent team members from completing tasks until the necessary tasks are completed. It will also notify the next team member in line when their work is ready to begin.
However, Jetpack workflow lacks the features to automate client data collection and reminders. This means you will still have to chase down your clients for important information or use another solution to automate this alongside Jetpack Workflow.
In Jetpack Workflow, you can track both billable and nonbillable time on client work. You can integrate their accounting practice management software with Quickbooks online to sync the time entries and seamlessly create invoices.
That being said, their time tracking tool does have limitations. For example, you cannot run multiple timers at a time and easily switch between the timers. Also, you cannot easily start a timer from anywhere inside the app. You have to go to a specific job to actually track time inside their app.
Like Financial Cents and Karbon, Jetpack also has built-in client management to store client information. However, their client management features are not as robust.
For example, you cannot store usernames and passwords to the app for that client, create custom fields, establish relationships between clients or associate the client to a group.
Jetpack Workflow doesn’t provide as much reporting as some of the other tools in this post. But like Karbon, they also provide a useful progress report that helps you get a snapshot of how many projects you have completed and what you still need to get done for a specific period of time.
Jetpack Workflow is a fairly simple platform, which makes it fairly easy to use. However, compared to some of the other options in this article it is a little more complex to learn to navigate at first.
Due to this they off a few setup and training packages to help firms get started. They range from $299 – $1,299. That includes a customer success manager, client import, template creation, job creation, and live training.
Jetpack Workflow keeps its pricing simple with just two pricing plans. Compared to the other options, they fall in the middle.
Aero Workflow is another popular software that has been around longer than the other options mentioned. They started in 2013 and serve small to midsize firms.
They give you the tools you need to take your firm’s knowledge capital and put it to work.
Your processes and procedures are integrated with your tasks, making your firm efficient, scalable and profitable.
Let’s dive in!
Aero Workflow offers a workflow dashboard; however, it doesn’t give you as much visibility as some of the other accounting practice management solutions mentioned. This makes it harder to keep a pulse on work and know where everything stands.
As a result, you’ll need to do a little more hands-on project management, and you’ll likely end up spending more time and energy on this than you might wish.
Aero balances out their less workflow dashboard, with some great workflow templates.
They provide you 60+ workflow templates when you sign up. They also offer a premium library of templates, but cost an extra $40/ month to access.
The robust template library is one of the main reasons accounting firms choose Aero over the other options.
Similar to the other accounting practice management software Aero has team collaboration built into their workflows. You can leave notes on projects for other team members to see. However, there aren’t built-in notifications that notify the team members when someone makes a note.
While this can help team members stay focused on the project they are working on, it also means they will have to pay closer attention to important communications. Unfortunately, some things might slip through the cracks.
Aero doesn’t offer a lot of workflow automation, you cannot automate client data collection but you can set your client work to recur, just like the other options. Again, this helps automate work creation and prevent it from falling through the cracks.
Aero also has the ability to track time inside their solution as well as the ability to integrate it with QuickBooks Online for seamless invoicing.
However, just like Jetpack Workflow, they lack several important time tracking features that make time tracking a very seamless process for your team.
Aero Workflow also offers the ability to store all your client information so your team can easily access it for relevant client work.
However, just like Jetpack Workflow they also lack a few features compared to the other options already mentioned in this article like the custom fields, the ability to establish relationships between clients and associate them to a client group.
This is another excellent part of Aero Workflow. They provide a lot of different reports that you can run to track your firm’s performance.
This is great for identifying inefficiencies across your firm and improving your firm’s overall performance. You can see some of the reports listed out in the image below.
Out of all the solutions mentioned, it has the most outdated user interface. However, they offer several onboarding services that range from $1,000 – $2000. They include a customer success manager, client import, template creation, job creation.
Aero Workflow only offers monthly plans. Their pricing starts at $39/ month; however, if you want to get access to their premium template library, you will have to pay an additional $40/ month, which comes to a total of $79/ month.
Xero Practice Manager is also another option for small accounting firms. Due to their lack of functionality within certain categories we would not recommend it for accounting firms that have multiple team members.
Also, given that this is a Xero product it is only a viable option for firms that use Xero.
They provide a workflow dashboard to help track client work. However, it is fairly limited and would be difficult to track the client work across your team.
For example, they lack basic workflow filters that would allow you to easily filter down the work by team member, client, or other important variables.
Xero Practice Manager does not provide any best practice workflow templates to help you streamline your process.
There isn’t a way to collaborate with your staff inside xero practice manager. This is another reason why their accounting practice management solution is only suitable for solo practices.
If you were to use their solution with a larger firm, you would need to use another tool like Slack or Microsoft teams.
Given their focus on solo firms, they also lack critical workflow automation features that would be important for small and mid-sized firms like recurring projects, client reminders, and dependencies.
Given there is no recurring functionality you will have to recreate the same work every single period if you do it on a recurring basis. This can be time-consuming and cause work to slip through the cracks if forgotten.
Xero does not have time tracking built into its practice management tool. Unfortunately, you will have to use another time tracking app outside Xero to track time on client work. When selecting a time tracking app to use with Xero Practice Manager make sure it integrates seamlessly with them. This will make it easy to import important time tracking data for billing purposes.
However, Xero does offer a robust billing module that makes it easy to invoice clients and get paid. You can easily create, view, and send all your invoices. You can also track the status of all your client invoices in one simple view to ensure nothing is missed.
You can even set up recurring payments for your fixed fee engagements!
Xero has the ability to add all your clients inside their practice management tool, however, it is limited. You can only view client notes, billing and contact information within their profile.
This will give you some context around the client but is lacking other important information that you see in some of the other accounting practice management software options.
Reporting is a major benefit to the Xero Practice Manager tool. They offer a ton of reporting options to help you get valuable insights. Some of the categories you can generate reports in are financial, sales, tax, purchases, projects, Inventory, and more.
Xero Practice Manager is a fairly simple tool with light functionality. This makes it easy to set up even if you are a solo practitioner. They don’t offer any onboarding support as it isn’t needed.
You can contact their support team through regular channels.
Xero is a relatively affordable product with very simple pricing plans. Since they are targeted towards solo practitioners they do not have a per-user pricing model. Meaning it is one flat price for your entire firm. Their limited “Early” plan starts at $11/month, but if you want to send more than 20 invoices a month you will need to upgrade to their “Growing” plan which starts at $32/ month.
Xero practice manager is free for accounting firms that have reached the silver, gold, or platinum status on the Xero partner program.
Every accounting firm is different – each with its unique needs. However, every firm needs a good accounting practice management software to make sure they are staying efficient and profitable.
We’ll be honest – there are lots of software options available to your firm.
But here’s the thing:
We’ve had conversations with over a thousand accounting firms – and after listening to their stories, we’ve concluded that the four software systems listed in this article are at the top of the list.
In fact, we built Financial Cents based on these same conversations with accounting firms.
As a result, our software reflects all the features firm owners most wanted to see. Things like workflow management, time tracking and invoicing, client management, and capacity management.
But our best proof of all?
That’s our 5-star rating on multiple sites like Google, Capterra, and G2. You can even see some of our customer testimonials here.
Start your 14-day free trial today!
P.S. Check out our wide variety of FREE templates that we offer: