The decision to buy an accounting practice management software is a big deal for small and mid-sized accounting firms.
So much so that some hire a professional or delegate a member of the team to do the leg work of researching, comparing, trying out, and choosing the right software solution that meets the firm’s specific needs.
The reason is not far-fetched — Choosing the wrong software can be costly. Not only in terms of money but also in terms of time and data security.
Imagine you pay for a software and spend weeks creating workflow checklists, assigning staff, uploading client information, and onboarding clients, only to find out that the software does not meet your core needs.
We don’t want you to ever have to face that.
Enter Financial Cents and Karbon, two of the top accounting practice management software solutions. But maximizing either solution depends on the size of your firm—and your needs.
In this article, we compare both based on the core needs of small and mid-sized accounting firms to see which is better at helping you hit deadlines, delight clients, and drive growth.
PS – When we say small to mid-sized accounting firms, we mean firms with less than 50 employees.
“Ease of use improves team adoption, reporting data, and quality of work.”
—Shahram Zarshenas, Founder and CEO of Financial Cents.
“My team and myself found this app very easy to use as we implemented it in just a few days. It’s easy to set up and get started. Customizing projects is quick and easy,” says this small firm owner.
This means, small and medium-sized accounting firms get a 100% team adoption rate with the software.
Here’s what the Principal of a small firm had to say:
“Financial Cents is easy to use, easy to implement, and a lifesaver!!! I log in everyday and start my day by seeing what’s on task for that day. As things arise, it is easy to just add them in on the fly. Users can comment, share and pick up other’s tasks if they have free time. Time tracking is a breeze too.”
“If you want to make it more complex, the initial training may be useful but rather expensive,” according to this small firm owner on G2.
This firm owner’s review puts it into context:
“Some of our staff felt overwhelmed by the apparent complexity of the features, and considering we were a bit late to the tax year and needed to hit the ground running, we just never caught up on the training. This is perhaps not a drawback of Karbon in and of itself, but just a fit issue between what we needed, and what Karbon was able to provide.”
This is where you can easily track client client work across your team so nothing falls through the cracks. Projects are tagged with colour-coded statuses to track the progress of work. You can also switch to the calendar view to easily see your schedule for the days, weeks, and months ahead.
These are the SOP’s that you can use to document your processes to maintain work quality and increase productivity at scale. Financial Cents has a huge library of workflow templates that you can use or customize to fit your firm’s process.
This firm owner describes the benefits of Financial Cents’ workflow features to her small firm:
“This platform (Financial Cents) enabled me to create workflows that guaranteed important steps weren’t forgotten or overlooked. It also helps me determine what needs to be done next with due dates (so I am less reactive and more productive!). But mostly it “holds my brain”. Especially this year with crazy everywhere I was able to keep track of what was going on with more than 250 clients and not rely on my memory. I wasn’t as frazzled, I worked on the right things at the right times, I had notes at my fingertips about important conversations, and I knew where all my projects stood and what was next on each one from this one amazing platform.”
Karbon workflows also let you see your work processes. You can view your project dashboard with Kanban boards (or the list view).
You can create projects out of templates or create a new one from scratch. Your employee’s dashboard can look different from other team members’ dashboards as Karbon will only show them the tasks that pertain to them.
Triage View: After you overcome the struggle with setting things up, Karbon’s Triage view makes managing your work items easy. As the central notification board, Triage pulls notifications from all over the software to ensure nothing gets lost.
Karbon’s work dashboard is black and white with a progress bar, unlike Financial Cents’ dashboard, which is color-coded to help users see the status of client work instantly—and makes viewing the project dashboard more appealing.
This is where you get a general overview and updates on all your clients. You can filter by date, activity status, and client group to get a better understanding of where you are with them.
This is where you can securely store each client’s information for your team to easily access when needed. You can store notes, documents, contact information, entity info, passwords to their apps, and more.
Inside the client profile you will see sections like:
Mark had this to say about Financial Cents’ client management features:
“The (Financial dashboard shows exactly where in the process each client is in an easy-to-read format. Also, setting up the automatic reminders to clients with a checklist of things you need from them comes in very handy for those clients from whom you need documentation to begin their books. Cuts down on time spent having to remind them via email each month.”
With Karbon, you can also set up and automate client requests from. But unlike Financial Cents, your client will have to create a four-digit PIN to access the client portal to complete the task.
With Financial Cents, they will only receive a one-time code to verify their identity to access the portal to complete their tasks. They will not need any code or PIN for subsequent access.
By connecting your account to Microsoft Office 365, Exchange, and Gmail, Karbon gives you added functionality to:
This is where you see what projects and tasks your team worked on for the day so you can know how much work you achieved as a firm.
For firms looking to understand team capacity this feature helps you get a complete picture of who has too much or too little work on their plate so you know who to assign work to.
Financial Cents makes it easy for your team to ask questions, share emails, notes, and documents on the work. This keeps everything organized and in one place for your team to keep everyone in the loop.
This is what a firm owner had to say about the team collaboration features:
“Biggest pain point resolution for us was the collaboration abilities: chat style with the ability to “call out” particular staff members and keep the notes. Too many things were in people’s heads, or in their email boxes, not connected with the project or client. I will no longer hear “the client emailed me the info” or “the client texted me the info”…Indispensable with remote workers, no more broken email threads!”
Karbon’s Kanban board lets you see everything that comes and goes out of your firm. From the Kanban board, you can use Filters to find specific information to know where client work, communication, and team assignments stand.
Karbon’s Filter feature allows you to search your projects to know who has room for more and who is taking on too much work.
Source: Scott Gerdzunas
Collaborating with your team on projects happens in many ways. You can tag your colleagues to a client email or a project. You can leave important notes on a task, or turn emails to tasks and assign them to your colleagues.
This business owner is pleased with Karbon’s collaboration features:
“I like the comment features where we can tag a certain team member and comment on a task, note, and email message. It is a great tool to eliminate additional email messages as well as keep the communications in one place.”
Both Financial Cents and Karbon lets you automatically synchronize or move data across the third-party software your firm uses.
Karbon users can integrate with a handful of software, including:
And a host of others.
Financial Cents costs $39 per team member to use (plus a free 14 Days trial that doesn’t require your payment details to enjoy).
You will enjoy all Financial Cents features, including:
Karbon costs $79/month per user to use with the same features as Financial Cents. They also offer a free 14 day trail with no credit card required.
The Business Plan costs $79/month per user.
As expected of two of the best accounting practice management software solutions on the market, both offer similar features and functionality. But quick set up, ease of use, customer support, and price make Financial Cents the best choice (and a bargain) for small and medium-sized firms compared to Karbon.
Karbon offers more robust features that help enterprise accounting firms do more, while Financial Cents focuses on solving the unique needs of small and mid-sized accounting firms.
Ready to move your firm to the next level? Try Financial Cents for free for 14 days.