Accounting Software for Australian Business

Accounting Software ComparisonAccounting Software Comparison In this post, we will look at the most popular accounting software used by businesses in Australia. We will focus on the big four which includes Xero, MYOB, Quickbooks and Reckon. Some of these providers offer a number of products however we will look particularly at the following offerings:

These products are the best cloud offerings by the big four accounting providers. We have completed an in-depth review of each one (Xero, MYOB, Quickbooks, Reckon), check them out if you want to see the specifics of each package.

Below we will cover the main features you would expect to see in Accounting Software. Naturally, these features can be found in each of the systems developed by the major accounting software providers, although to different degrees.

The specific topics we will look at include:

What is the best accounting software for Australian businesses?

This question is a great place to start, the fastest way to gain an insight into what the best accounting software for Australian businesses is, is simply to find the most popular options. This is precisely what we have done, rest assured we have also looked at other options that are available in the market these include Saasu, Sage and Cashflow Manager. While these additional options are certainly viable and we intend to add their reviews to our site in the future, for now, we will focus on the big four providers.

Below is a table detailing each of the major accounting software providers and the price of their product. Further to the information in the table below we have also provided some insight into what each offers and how they are different from each other.

Evidently, it is important to compare the specifics of the different plans each provider offers. Fortunately, you will find comparison tables for each package conveniently laid out in easy to read tables. Here are links to each of the pricing pages (opening in new tabs) from the different providers to help you easily compare them: Xero, MYOB, Quickbooks, Reckon.

How much does accounting software cost?

Xero From $25.00
MYOB From $27.00
Quickbooks From $15.00
Reckon From $5.00

As you can see there is some variation in price among the different software providers, however, you must also look at what is being offered for the price. For example, choosing Reckon and opting for the $5.00 a month plan will not give you all the features provided by the other packages, to get all the features the price would be much similar to the others.

Similarly, Xero for $25.00 a month while giving access to many features severely limits the usage of them potentially making that level of subscription unsuitable for many businesses. Quickbooks, on the other hand, doesn’t limit the usage of the features for $15.00 a month but does not include all of the features available in there higher subscription plans.

Evidently, it is important to compare the specifics of each plan each provider offers. Fortunately, you will find comparison tables for each provided conveniently laid out in nice tables. Here are links to each page providers pricing pages (opening in new tabs) to easily compare them: Xero, MYOB, Quickbooks, Reckon.

What features are included in accounting software?

The features developed in the best accounting packages are designed to make life easier for businesses. These features include connections to bank accounts, sales and expense tracking, reporting, customisable settings and permissions and while not specifically a feature of the system itself we wanted to include support as chances are you will need some guidance at some point while using your chosen accounting software.

Below we go into more detail about each of these features and how it functions in each providers software.

Bank Accounts

Bank Accounts in Xero
An example of how Bank Accounts appear in Xero.
Bank Accounts
Xero
MYOB
Quickbooks
Reckon

Linking your bank account with your accounting system will allow for the streamlining of many processes you will need to perform in your accounting software. Depending on the way you use your accounting software it might be the single biggest time-saver you experience by using a suitable accounting solution.

To maintain accurate records you will categorise each transaction that takes place in your business. In accounting software, this done using the Chart of Accounts. If all your business transactions are imported from your bank account then this could be as simple as selecting the most relevant account from that the Chart of Accounts and marking the transaction as reconciled.

Another benefit of linking your bank account and categorising transactions is your increased ability to catch transactions that don’t look right. This allows you to follow up with customers, suppliers or your bank depending on the error you find.

When considering which accounting software you will choose it is a good idea to ensure your bank is available as a connection, if you choose from one of the major accounting solutions and have an account with one of the major banks this shouldn’t be an issue. Also consider the time and process to set up your bank connection, while some providers allow you to simply enter your banking credentials others require you to fill out forms to get the connection working.

You may have some hesitance in regards to connecting bank account through third parties, however, any information gained through accounting packages, as a rule, is read-only. This means the accounting package will receive information from your account but cannot perform any actions with your bank account. This type of connection will become more common and accepted as new “access to data” rules are implemented in Australia designed to give greater control to bank account holders in regards to how they can access their data.

Accounts Receivable

Quickbooks Invoices Screen
The invoices screen from Quickbooks.
Accounts Receivable
Xero
MYOB
Quickbooks
Reckon

Accounts Receivable is generally the name given to the features in accounting software that handle sales tracking or more broadly money coming into a business. This will often be in the form of invoices and payments from customers but may also include other sources of incoming money such as from investments or loans.

The basic workflow of Accounts Receivable is:

  1. Create an invoice
  2. Send it to your customer
  3. Apply payments from your customer to the invoice.

By entering a due date for payment of the invoice you are able to track its status which makes follow up of late payments easy. Often there will also be quoting functionality available which is very helpful if this is a normal part of your sales process.

Many businesses will use Accounts Receivable features extensively, if this is the case for your business signing up to a trial of each accounting solution and testing out how the Accounts Receivable features work will give you great insight into which option might be the best for your needs.

Accounts Payable

The bills area in Reckon One.

Accounts Payable
Xero
MYOB
Quickbooks
Reckon

Accounts Payable in contrast to Accounts Receivable is the name given to the features in accounting software that handles bill tracking or more broadly money going out of a business. Usually, this will involve invoices from suppliers for inventory and utilities or receipts for items you use have purchased for use in your business. It could also be payments on loans, wages to employees or payments to yourself or other business owners.

The basic workflow of Accounts Payable is:

  1. Create a bill
  2. Apply payments to it.

By entering due dates on your bills you will be able to track upcoming payments and overdue bills. This allows you to better manage your cash flow and stay on top of your outgoings. Often accounting software will allow to create and send purchase orders too, which can significantly improve your workflow if this is part of your purchasing process.

It would be unusual for a business to not have outgoings. If you regularly have a large number of payments ensuring the features you require are available in the solution you choose could make a big difference to the time it takes for you to complete them. For example, picking a solution that easily allows you to export transaction for bulk payment through your bank account could save a large amount of double handling and reduce the potential of keying errors.

Reports

MYOB Profit & Loss
The Profit & Loss report generated by MYOB Essentials.
Reports
Xero
MYOB
Quickbooks
Reckon

The ability to report on your business is one of the main reasons accounting software is used. When you are sure all your invoices and bills have been entered and you have reconciled your bank accounts running reports will allow you to view your business from a number of angles.

The major accounting software solutions will have all the basics covered and many more. The most important reports will be the main financial reports which include the profit and loss, balance sheet, statement of cash flows and the statement of retained earnings. These reports may have different names in different systems.

In addition to the basic reports, you will also find it helpful to be able to report on customers and suppliers in various ways. You may want to view when you have invoiced customers to work out when you are most busy or review the when you have received money from customers. The same goes for bills and outgoings.

Most accounting software will have adequate reporting. Unless your business has advanced requirement in regards to reporting it is likely any of the accounting solutions will be suitable for your business.

Settings

Settings
Xero
MYOB
Quickbooks
Reckon

Where reports might be harder to get wrong, settings is one area that can make or break an accounting system. The ability to custom the settings of your chosen accounting software will have a huge impact on the suitability of the software for your business. While some systems allow for a lot of adjustments to settings others can be much stricter.

Unfortunately, it is common that once you have a lot of data in a particular system, especially if you have spent time and money learning how to use it, you may find yourself reluctant to move even if it has become restrictive as your business has grown. Looking at demo accounts with an open mind regarding how you may like to use the system in the future would be a good exercise to do while you are evaluating your options.

Some settings a growing business might need would be the ability to have more than one location. The possibility of customising invoices and emails on a per contact basis if your customers or suppliers requirements of you become more complex. Or you may need the ability to export your data into spreadsheets for advanced manipulation of your data.

Whatever your requirements the more flexible the system is the more likely it will be that there is a solution to your problem.

Permissions

Permissions
Xero
MYOB
Quickbooks
Reckon

While permission could technically fall under settings we’ve separated them as permissions for some businesses are critical. While some systems have severely limited permission others will allow for much greater flexibility.

Permissions become clearly relevant when you consider all of your business data including bank accounts, bank balances, income, wages, reports and contact data could be available to any user you add to the system. In the case of the accounting software you choose not having suitable permissions your options may be limited to giving a new user full access to your data or not adding them. As you try to grow your business being restricted in what tasks you can assign to users may leave you completing tasks that could easily be handled by someone else..

We have detailed in more depth the permission capabilities of each accounting software, you can find the reviews here: Xero, MYOB, Quickbooks, Reckon.

Support

Support
Xero
MYOB
Quickbooks
Reckon

Support is not really a feature of the accounting software itself but it is very important. When you have a problem that you cannot solve on your own it is paramount to your productivity that you can find the solution in the shortest amount of time possible. You may be able to call or chat online with the provider of your software or it may be up to you to find the answers in help articles or forums.

Review the support provided by the providers of the solutions you are considering. How is support delivered, what are the response time and quality of reply. The most accurate way to test support would be to submit a support request or contact support directly in the same way you would if you came across a problem. Take note of the available support channels you can use, how easy it is to get, how long the reply took and what the quality of the reply was. If support was able to understand your question and shows adequate knowledge of the software, ideally your issue will be solved in the first instance.

Support is one of those things you won’t miss until you need it. When you require it, not having access to fast and effective support could diminish your productivity or leaving you using workarounds and completing tasks to a substandard level. Don’t forget to check out our individual reviews for a greater level of detail on each of the accounting software solutions mentioned in this post.

Xero's Logo MYOB's Logo The Quickbooks Logo Reckon's Logo
Xero MYOB Quickbooks Reckon
Read Review Read Review Read Review Read Review
Visit Website Visit Website Visit Website Visit Website
From $25.00 From $27.00 From $15.00 From $5.00
Read Review Read Review Read Review Read Review
Bank Accounts
Accounts Receivable
Accounts Payable
Reports
Settings
Permissions
Support
Read Review Read Review Read Review Read Review

As you can see from the table above there is little that actually separates the different accounting software solutions when looking at them at a high level. Below we’ll attempt to explain in easy to understand terms what the differences can be between the packages when you dive deeper into the specifics of their features.

How much does accounting software cost?

From the table above you will notice some variation in pricing among the different software providers, however, you must also look at what is being offered for the price. For example, choosing Reckon and opting for the $5.00 a month plan will not give you all the features provided by the other packages, to get all the features the price would be much similar to the others.

Similarly, Xero for $25.00 a month will give you access to many features they are severely limited making the lowest subscription level potentially unsuitable for many businesses. Quickbooks, on the other hand, doesn’t limit the usage of the features for $15.00 a month but does not include all of the features available in there higher subscription plans.

It is very important to compare the specifics of the plans each provider offers. Fortunately, you will find comparison tables for each provided conveniently laid out in nice tables. Here are links to the pricing pages of each provider (opening in new tabs) so you can easily compare themXero, MYOB, Quickbooks, Reckon.

What features does accounting software have?

The features developed in the best accounting packages are designed to make life easier for businesses. These features include connections to bank accounts, sales and expense tracking, reporting, customisable settings and permissions. And while not specifically a feature of the system itself, we have included product support as an important aspect of the solution you choose. Chances are you will need some guidance at some point while using your chosen accounting software and when you do it is vital that it is fast and effective.

Below we go into more detail regarding all of these features and how it functions in each of the accounting software solutions.

Bank Accounts

Bank Accounts in Xero
An example of how Bank Accounts appear in Xero.

Linking your bank account with your accounting system will allow for the streamlining of many processes you will need to perform in your accounting software. Depending on the way you use your accounting software it might be the single biggest time-saver you experience by using a suitable accounting solution.

To maintain accurate records you will categorise each transaction that takes place in your business. In accounting software, this done using the Chart of Accounts. If all your business transactions are imported from your bank account then this could be as simple as selecting the most relevant account from that the Chart of Accounts and marking the transaction as reconciled.

Another benefit of linking your bank account and categorising transactions is your increased ability to catch transactions that don’t look right. This allows you to follow up with customers, suppliers or your bank depending on the error you find.

When considering which accounting software you will choose it is a good idea to ensure your bank is available as a connection, if you choose from one of the major accounting solutions and have an account with one of the major banks this shouldn’t be an issue. Also consider the time and process to set up your bank connection, while some providers allow you to simply enter your banking credentials others require you to fill out forms to get the connection working.

You may have some hesitance in regards to connecting bank account through third parties, however, any information gained through accounting packages, as a rule, is read-only. This means the accounting package will receive information from your account but cannot perform any actions with your bank account. This type of connection will become more common and accepted as new “access to data” rules are implemented in Australia designed to give greater control to bank account holders in regards to how they can access their data.

Accounts Receivable

Quickbooks Invoices Screen
The invoices screen from Quickbooks.

Accounts Receivable is generally the name given to the features in accounting software that handle sales tracking or more broadly money coming into a business. This will often be in the form of invoices and payments from customers but may also include other sources of incoming money such as from investments or loans.

The basic workflow of Accounts Receivable is:

  1. Create an invoice
  2. Send it to your customer
  3. Apply payments from your customer to the invoice.

By entering a due date for payment of the invoice you are able to track its status which makes follow up of late payments easy. Often there will also be quoting functionality available which is very helpful if this is a normal part of your sales process.

Many businesses will use Accounts Receivable features extensively, if this is the case for your business signing up to a trial of each accounting solution and testing out how the Accounts Receivable features work will give you great insight into which option might be the best for your needs.

Accounts Payable

The bills area in Reckon One.

Accounts Payable in contrast to Accounts Receivable is the name given to the features in accounting software that handles bill tracking or more broadly money going out of a business. Usually, this will involve invoices from suppliers for inventory and utilities or receipts for items you use have purchased for use in your business. It could also be payments on loans, wages to employees or payments to yourself or other business owners.

The basic workflow of Accounts Payable is:

  1. Create a bill
  2. Apply payments to it.

By entering due dates on your bills you will be able to track upcoming payments and overdue bills. This allows you to better manage your cash flow and stay on top of your outgoings. Often accounting software will allow to create and send purchase orders too, which can significantly improve your workflow if this is part of your purchasing process.

It would be unusual for a business to not have outgoings. If you regularly have a large number of payments ensuring the features you require are available in the solution you choose could make a big difference to the time it takes for you to complete them. For example, picking a solution that easily allows you to export transaction for bulk payment through your bank account could save a large amount of double handling and reduce the potential of keying errors.

Reports

MYOB Profit & Loss
The Profit & Loss report generated by MYOB Essentials.

The ability to report on your business is one of the main reasons accounting software is used. When you are sure all your invoices and bills have been entered and you have reconciled your bank accounts running reports will allow you to view your business from a number of angles.

The major accounting software solutions will have all the basics covered and many more. The most important reports will be the main financial reports which include the profit and loss, balance sheet, statement of cash flows and the statement of retained earnings. These reports may have different names in different systems.

In addition to the basic reports, you will also find it helpful to be able to report on customers and suppliers in various ways. You may want to view when you have invoiced customers to work out when you are most busy or review the when you have received money from customers. The same goes for bills and outgoings.

Most accounting software will have adequate reporting. Unless your business has advanced requirement in regards to reporting it is likely any of the accounting solutions will be suitable for your business.

Settings

Where reports might be harder to get wrong, settings is one area that can make or break an accounting system. The ability to custom the settings of your chosen accounting software will have a huge impact on the suitability of the software for your business. While some systems allow for a lot of adjustments to settings others can be much stricter.

Unfortunately, it is common that once you have a lot of data in a particular system, especially if you have spent time and money learning how to use it, you may find yourself reluctant to move even if it has become restrictive as your business has grown. Looking at demo accounts with an open mind regarding how you may like to use the system in the future would be a good exercise to do while you are evaluating your options.

Some settings a growing business might need would be the ability to have more than one location. The possibility of customising invoices and emails on a per contact basis if your customers or suppliers requirements of you become more complex. Or you may need the ability to export your data into spreadsheets for advanced manipulation of your data.

Whatever your requirements the more flexible the system is the more likely it will be that there is a solution to your problem.

Permissions

While permission could technically fall under settings we’ve separated them as permissions for some businesses are critical. While some systems have severely limited permission others will allow for much greater flexibility.

Permissions become clearly relevant when you consider all of your business data including bank accounts, bank balances, income, wages, reports and contact data could be available to any user you add to the system. In the case of the accounting software you choose not having suitable permissions your options may be limited to giving a new user full access to your data or not adding them. As you try to grow your business being restricted in what tasks you can assign to users may leave you completing tasks that could easily be handled by someone else..

We have detailed in more depth the permission capabilities of each accounting software, you can find the reviews here: Xero, MYOB, Quickbooks, Reckon.

Support

Support is not really a feature of the accounting software itself but it is very important. When you have a problem that you cannot solve on your own it is paramount to your productivity that you can find the solution in the shortest amount of time possible. You may be able to call or chat online with the provider of your software or it may be up to you to find the answers in help articles or forums.

Review the support provided by the providers of the solutions you are considering. How is support delivered, what are the response time and quality of reply. The most accurate way to test support would be to submit a support request or contact support direclty in the same way you would if you came across a problem. Take note of the available support channels you can use, how easy it is to get, how long the reply took and what the quality of the reply was. If support was able to understand your question and shows adequate knowledge of the software, ideally your issue will be solved in the first instance.

Support is one of those things you won’t miss until you need it. When you require it, not having access to fast and effective support could diminish your productivity or leaving you using workarounds and completing tasks to a substandard level. Don’t forget to check out our individual reviews for a greater level of detail on each of the accounting software solutions mentioned in this post.

Conclusion

While any of the major accounting software solutions will be suitable for Australian businesses it is important to do a thorough review of each offering to ensure the software can meet your needs and you are comfortable using it.

Unless you’re sure, always taking the 30-day trial and if you have the opportunity to use the software without compromising your data do this before you begin entering real data into the system. This will allow you to get a feel for how the software will function before you are committed due to the amount of data you have input. Xero, Quickbooks and Reckon all make this easy with demo accounts available (you could ask MYOB for a demo account, not sure if they offer it though).

Your accountant or bookkeeper may also have a preference for the software you use but ultimately if the software does not meet your needs you may end up spending more time on trying to keep your information accurate then you would like. Also be conscious of kickbacks that your financial advisor may get for recommending specific software, hopefully, your chosen adviser has your best interest in mind.

Xero, MYOB, Quickbooks and Reckon are likely to all be suitable for your business but they will vary in workflow and subtle features. Ideally, with a little research and testing the different accounting software before you commit the one you choose will become an important and effective part of your business.