Finding the right online accounting service

May 19, 2011  (Jeffrey Kabbe)

We have been ready to take the next step in our accounting practices for a while now.  I basically used the opportunity to teach myself Numbers.  But Numbers is stretched to the limit and I need more.

Of course, my mind went immediately to QuickBooks.  I signed up for the free trial of QuickBooks Online because it seemed like it had the right set of features and I could access it from anywhere with ease (office, home office).

I was less than impressed with QuickBooks Online, to put it mildly.  It tries to be like a desktop application, but just fails.  It is not very intuitive, and even something like viewing your checking register takes more steps than it should.

So I took another look at the Mac accounting options.  The two primary challengers seem to be QuickBooks Mac and AccountEdge.

QuickBooks of course has the reputation as the Gold Standard.  But a trip to Amazon eliminated any idea that I might buy QuickBooks for Mac.  There is currently one less 1-star review (38) than the combined total of 3,4, and 5-star reviews (39).  So much for QuickBooks.

Unfortunately, AccountEdge 2009 doesn’t fare much better in the Amazon reviews.  There is a newer version of AccountEdge available, but I have struggled to find any helpful reviews or impressions of it online.

And so it was back to the drawing board.

Having recently decided to use an online CRM application for our law practice, I decided to take a look at other online accounting services.  I couldn’t have expected what I discovered.  It was like walking into a tropical rainforest, with every size, shape, and color of critter imaginable.

I have identified the following suspects so far:

And then there are the tools that work together with the accounting services, like Freshbooks and Harvest.  We currently use Billings for invoicing, but I am open to alternatives (particularly if it’s integrated with the accounting service).

Some of the services are clearly targeted toward the UK (or Commonwealth countries) or Europe.  But it’s tough to rule any of them out at this point.

I welcome your opinions to help narrow down the field.  Have any of you used one of the online accounting services I mentioned (or one I didn’t mention)?


  1. You have forgotten to try

    They are similar to the companies you mentioned above, but comes with a free 60 day trial.
    Plenty of time to fully understand how the software works.

    But because it is so easy to use, you will be up and running well before the trial ends.

    Let me know how you get on.


  2. I am also using billings and would like to find an online outsourcing accounting and bookkeeping service. Were you able to find something that you like?

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