Technology has infiltrated every aspect of modern life; the field of accounting and bookkeeping in particular has seen, and will continue to see, radical changes. Modern day accounting software has grown increasingly sophisticated, and will continue to become more accessible as automation and AI powered programs enter the market.

Whether it is record keeping, accounting or bookkeeping, online accounting software has become the easiest option for business owners. Often these programs can be downloaded online for free or at very little cost.

However, what are the implications for accountants? As small business owners become more financially savvy, how will the role of an accountant change? And, how has the role of an accounting firm or in-house accounting team changed already?

 

History of Accounting Software

Prior to the 1980s, accounting was done by hand, in double entry column logbooks. If businesses could not afford their own in-house bookkeeper, they would bring their receipts at least once a week to bookkeeper to enter into a logbook. And, as you’d expect, once a year bookkeepers would prepare taxes, an annual statement and set budgets for the upcoming year.

However, this laborious hand-written process changed in the 1980s with the introduction of computing programs, such as VisiCalc. It was no longer necessary to have calculators, pen and paper, when everything could be recorded accurately in spreadsheets. Not only could businesses record their financial transactions simpler, it was also faster and considerably more accurate.

There was a radical shift yet again in the late 1990s with the explosion of personal computers, and the release of Microsoft’s QuickBooks®. Suddenly small business owners had powerful bookkeeping software at an affordable price without requiring any formal accounting training.

Since the boom of the Internet age, SaaS (Software as a Service), has yet again changed the game. Now accountants and bookkeepers are able to work on information simultaneously from different locations through web and cloud based programs.

You might think accounting and bookkeeping couldn’t get any more convenient, but many experts, such as international audit and tax consultancy PwC, are predicting that advances in automation and AI technology may make accounting as we know it obsolete. Others experts are less dramatic in their predictions, and believe that the role of accountants and bookkeepers will take on more of a consulting and/ or management position within organisations.

  

The Implications of Online Accounting Software 

Online accounting software is the easiest and most convenient option for businesses and accountants in 2018. These new programs make the job of a bookkeeper significantly easier, and make it more convenient for accountants to analyse and report on data.

Some of the benefits of using online accounting system include:

  1. Productivity

In the past paperwork was a huge drain on human resources. The storage, organisation and maintenance of accounting paperwork took considerable time. With all records now being stored online, accountants, bookkeepers and business owners no longer have to deal with the logistical problems associated with physical record keeping.

  1. Availability of Information

Online software is very easy to use and therefore makes it easier for business owners to access and review financial information. Easily generated reports are available on a whim, and help business owners make better financial decisions faster.

  1. Ease of Use

The best thing about new online accounting software is how accessible it is. New technology has democratised financial management. Access to this software has meant that many small business owners now do a lot of their own bookkeeping. Some accountants have feared that this may be taking work away from them. However, other accountants are more positive, arguing that business owners are now more financially literate, making their job easier and improving the way businesses are run

  1. Mobility

Bookkeeping records are available anywhere at anytime with cloud based software. With many online accounting services it is possible for professionals to access information immediately through their phone or on any portable device.

 

The Best Online Accounting Software for 2018 

There are hundreds of online accounting software services to choose from nowadays. As of 2018, the SaaS cloud based service industry is worth $244 billion.

Below is a list of our top three best software solutions to recommend to your client small business owners.

MYOB

Although slow to move to cloud, MYOB has pulled off the transition very well. Their range of cloud solutions range from their fully featured MYOB AccountRight package to their sophisticated streamlined MYOB Essentials package.

Freshbooks

Freshbooks is a scalable and inexpensive online accounting solution that was initially awarded the Best Accounting Software Award 2016 by online accounting resource Finance Online.

Its easy to use desktop design, well-constructed mobile app and excellent customer service make it a great option for small businesses.

Xero 

Xero has a similar interface to the industry standard QuickBooks. Free trials are available for this software online. If your business is associated with Apple, this software can be natively connected to your Mac system for easier streamlined use.

Xero provides many features, ranging rom balance sheets, payroll module, expense claims and more.

QuickBooks ® Online

QuickBooks ® is without a doubt the most popular online accounting software today. The system is able to automatically sync with your business finance profile on one single dashboard.

With over 40 easily generated reporting features available, QuickBooks ® still stands out amongst the crowd.

 

Summary 

Online accounting software has made financial record keeping significantly simpler, accessible and more accurate. If you are an accountant with your own firm, knowing your way around the modern SaaS landscape is important when recommending bookkeeping software to clients.

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