With shelter-in-place orders in effect all over the country, many businesses are transitioning employees to working from home. One of the major challenges of remote work is finding the right software to enable employees to collaborate while working in separate locations. Our firm has been set up for remote work for years now, so we have a lot of experience in this area. There are several options for accounting software that allow collaboration between accounting firm and clients from separate locations. The different programs available all have strengths and weaknesses which I will outline to help you choose the option that is best for your business.
For a sole proprietor, Quickbooks Self-Employed is a great option. It allows you to easily categorize transactions as either business or personal and then code business transactions into more specific categories. Quickbooks Self-Employed can be accessed online or through a smart phone app. It can even calculate quarterly estimated tax payments and integrates with tax software to quickly and easily prepare the schedule C for your tax return.
The desktop version of Quickbooks has been a popular tool for small businesses for years, but these days the software is showing its age as transferring files between accountant and client requires multiple file types and awkward conversions. However, Quickbooks offers powerful and flexible reporting tools. To allow for easier file sharing, we use a tool called Qbox to sync Quickbooks files across computers at separate locations. Another work-around is using a desktop sharing program such as GoToMyPC or Splashtop to access a computer at a different location.
To avoid file-sharing complications, you can use a cloud-based accounting program. My preference is Xero. It easily connects to bank and credit card accounts to capture transaction information, has strong reporting capabilities, and connects with a growing number of other business software programs. Xero is also quite responsive to client feedback and often adds new features and improves existing ones. Since the software is cloud based, updates happen automatically with no interruptions to your workflow. Xero also can be accessed either online or through an app. Employees can be assigned separate roles with varying privileges to easily divide responsibilities. Your accountant can also access the file easily from their own location at any time allowing for easy collaboration.
Quickbooks has also moved into the cloud software arena with Quickbooks Online. Unfortunately, Quickbooks Online lacks the powerful reporting capabilities of the desktop version. Reports from Quickbooks Online need to be exported to Excel and modified to be presentable. There is also far less flexibility in Quickbooks Online reports compared to the desktop version. Like Xero, Quickbooks Online connects to bank and credit card accounts and syncs with other software programs. Intuit, the company behind Quickbooks, makes a number of other programs, many of which integrate easily with Quickbooks Online.
There are many factors to consider when choosing accounting software for your business and I hope this summary provides a good starting point. If you would like additional guidance on your firm’s accounting, contact our office.