Money Matters: Accounting & Finance for Web Professionals
By Peter Prestipino, Editor-In-Chief
Of the myriad responsibilities required of today's Web professional (from promotional activities to user-experience optimization), those related to managing an enterprise's finances and accounting are often the most complex.
It's also one of the least favorite activities, and as a result, is rarely discussed in any meaningful depth. Yet enterprise financials are really important. Fortunately, there are many powerful technology solutions available, which are making money matters far less cumbersome than ever before.
Poor accounting, of course, can lead to some serious problems, not the least of which are legal concerns like tax fraud and tax evasion, but damage to a company's reputation is another important reason to take the practice seriously. Unfortunately, not every brand has the knowledge or resources (time and money) to handle an enterprise's accounting requirements, despite knowing its obvious importance.
Attention to accounting is vital however, so from time to time it proves useful to explore the landscape of tools and resources available to help with this vital aspect of 'Net business. Accounting software essentially enables companies to maintain their business ledgers, track incoming and outgoing transactions and automate the many processes surrounding their accounts, such as invoicing and reconciliation (ensuring that two sets of records, such as the balances of two accounts, are in agreement) - but their offerings don't stop there. Often, accounting software also includes features that enable companies to engage in dunning (the process of communicating with customers to ensure the collections of accounts receivable), and handle payroll, time tracking and expenses, and may even be an application of, or integrated with, a company's enterprise resource planning (ERP) or customer relationship management (CRM) software.
The Accounting Software Big List
This month's Enterprise Ready only scratches the surface of the solutions available to Web professionals. There are many others that deserve a closer look including Wave, Bill.com, Kashoo, Less Accounting and others. Start focusing on the books and check out Website Magazine's "Big List of Accounting Software" at wsm.co/listacct.
One of the reasons that such solutions have likely not been more widely adopted is because there are, simply, so many different types available (for every size and every type of company) and they satisfy every possible need of the digital enterprise. Some of the most common include features such as those for billing, payroll, purchasing, as well as time and expense management, but again, there are many others 'Net professionals will encounter during their selection process. For large enterprises (those who deal with greater financial complexity, corporate tax solutions, performance management offerings for budgeting, forecasting and financial consolidation, as well as ERP) solutions including those from Oracle, SAP, Sage Software, NetSuite and Microsoft are often the norm, but let's explore what some of the other top accounting solutions (regardless of organizational size) provide and identify a few of the leading vendors.
While many companies simply won't need the full set of features provided by more robust accounting software, the following can serve as a viable starting point as Web professionals embark on this important business journey.
Easily the most recognizable name in the accounting space, Intuit's QuickBooks is often the first brand today's companies think of for accounting technology - and for good reason. The solution offers an extensive checklist of features for accounts payable and receivable, billing and invoicing, as well as those for cash management and collections. With good support and a modest $12/month price tag per user, QuickBooks is consistently a top performer and should be considered as such by those seeking out best-of-breed accounting software.
While not nearly as robust as QuickBooks, or as open and available to other systems through integrations, Freshbooks has long stood as one of the best options available and has proved to be a very reliable accounting software solution. The cloud-based solution offers strong core features in accounts receivables, as well as for billing and invoicing, and even features an easy-to-use expense tracking feature.
Offering all the essential features for recording, monitoring and reconciling bank accounts and transactions, where the Zoho Books solution really shines is in its ability to integrate with Zoho CRM (similar to the manner in which solutions like Oracle and SAP operate). Zoho Books offers all the necessary features, but with excellent support, ease of use and a $9/month price tag, this option should be one that tops the list of accounting solutions.
Those looking for a robust accounting solution (something comparable to high-end solutions) but without the premium price tag would be wise to consider Xero (at $9/month per user). Founded in 2006, New Zealand-based Xero is very popular among accounting professionals thanks to a deep feature list that includes the basics of accounts payable/receivable, as well as expertly handling expense tracking, revenue recognition and tax management.
Startups fail for so many reasons. According to business sources, 90 percent fail - the bleak truth of entrepreneurship. As an entrepreneur, you are probably well aware of a number of reasons why failure occurs and you're probably aware that poor accounting is definitely one of them.