Software in general, and specifically accounting software, has been around for over 20 years. Early generation windows applications had been migrated from DOS-based systems, which formed the basis for the introduction of the current entry-level cashbook and accounting systems. Accounting software market is now very mature in the modern PC environment, on Windows & Macintosh.
This means that low-end accounting products these days are sophisticated systems with advanced functionality. For a few hundred dollars you get an accounting system with stock control, payroll, foreign currency, warehousing & contact management. Add into the mix the pressure on these market leaders from the new wave of solutions and we are starting to see things like integration to your banking software included in the products, automated bank reconciliation features, PayPal integration etc.
Another factor driving more features in today’s products is the sophistication of the market. Many of today’s purchasers are buying an accounting system for at least the second if not third time. They know what they want and they know what is available, which is forcing vendors to deliver a lot at the various price points. Accounting software has now become business software, as businesses have demanded more from their vendor. The good news is the customer wins.
Further to this, there are now many low-cost solutions that are full ‘business management’ software systems (or full ERP solutions), rather than just ‘accounting’ systems. This raises the question, when you are looking for a new system, should you be looking for multiple stand-alone systems, or should you be looking for a fully integrated business management solution? These days, both are viable options for small businesses.
To add complexity to the mix, more and more software vendors are now turning to the internet as a platform on which to build and distribute their software solutions. The term ‘software as a service’ (SaaS) is becoming ever more popular, as online service-based software models gradually start to dominate over traditional installed (or on premise) models. A number of key factors have supported this move in recent years eg better internet speeds, improved security and the like.
This has had a marked impact on the CRM, ERP and, more recently, accounting software. Over the past few years have noticed a rapid increase in the number of accounting software vendors releasing online products in different regions, such as Xero, Saasu, and Kashflow.
Given the increasing range and complexity of accounting software options, it is no surprise that more and more businesses are looking for independent accounting software reviews to help them make an informed decision. Reviews can provide them with a fresh perspective on how the various solutions compare, together with detailed information on the features and usability of each system.