Selecting accounting software

Selecting accounting software

Whether you’re starting a brand new company or trying to upgrade your existing department, the question of which software to use is one of the most important to answer correctly. All of the cool features and marketing promises made by SaaS software salespeople are useless unless you get buy in from your team and use the tools correctly. In this article, I’d like to lay out a framework for how to think about the problem, and offer some suggestions based on my experience helping companies throughout my career.

Virtuous accounting cycle

Before we get into the details, it’s important to lay out a vision for how the accounting and finance functions help the larger organization. The two most important missions of the accounting department in order of importance are:

Protect the company’s assets - implementing a proper control environment is essential to make sure the company has the processes and procedures in place to prevent and detect fraud, waste and abuse.

Produce accurate financial statements - business operations create data, the accounting department records that data accurately, the finance department takes that data, creates projections and feeds it to the management team, the management team makes operational decisions based on that information, and so on. That is the virtuous cycle of data in an organization. That cycle is only possible if the information being fed to the rest of the team by the accounting department is accurate and timely.

With those things in mind, it is clear that whatever solutions we use need to be able to efficiently and effectively cover both of those needs at a cost the organization can bear.

Functions to offload

I find it helpful to think of software as another person in your organization. Without software someone would have to perform the function manually so I frame the options around which functions (roles) need to be streamlined. The following are some functions that are commonly offloaded:

Bookkeeping - recording the day to day transactions from your various processes and systems in the books.

Accounts Receivable and Payable - invoicing, collections, customer and vendor file management, vendor bill payments.

Corporate Card Management - issuing and tracking spend on company credit cards issued to employees.

Expense Reimbursement - reviewing and paying expense reports submitted by employees

There are others you might need as your company grows or develops specific needs, such as travel management, but these are a good place to start.

Software Options

Now that we know what we want to offload and have some criteria upon which we can judge the various options, let’s take a look at some best-in-class examples of solutions you can use.


QuickBooks Online

  • Pros: easy of use, low cost, scalable, rule based auto-categorization of transactions, large network of app integrations
  • Cons: no "undo" feature, some features like tax and payroll are clunky


  • Pros: ease of use, lowest cost solution, scalable
  • Cons: reporting customization is lacking, functionality is limited compared to QuickBooks
Accounts Receivable & Payable

  • Pros: handles A/P and A/R, role-based controls, large network of users
  • Cons: can be expensive, hard to get support if needed, some functions like voids and credits can be difficult to manage


  • Pros: easy to use, low cost
  • Cons: only handles A/R, network is relatively small


  • Pros: robust solution for all things A/P related, analytics on payments, support is not great
  • Cons: no A/R solutions, can be overkill for small businesses
Corporate Card Management


  • Pros: easy to get started, scalable, provides lines of credits to new companies
  • Cons: user interface changes often, not easy to navigate to needed areas, they are a startup and could go out of business


  • Pros: cost-effective, scalable, provides lines of credits to new companies
  • Cons: manual sync with accounting system is hard to navigate to, they are a startup and could go out of business
Expense Reimbursement


  • Pros: inexpensive, easy to get started, intuitive to use
  • Cons: controls are lacking, integrations often require remapping, support isn't extremely responsive

SAP Concur

  • Pros: highly scalable, very robust controls, reporting is top notch
  • Cons: expensive, steep learning curve, implementation cycle is long

Ultimately, you have to find what is going to work for your company and your team. As I mentioned above, if the system isn't used correctly then it is a waste of time and money. To effectively roll out new software in your organization, it is usually a good idea to have a couple meetings with the key stakeholders to go over the options, then follow up with regular training sessions after a selection is made until everyone feels comfortable using it.

Finally, all new systems need to be set up correctly and integrated with the rest of your accounting stack. That can be a daunting task and mistakes are easy to make. Instead of waiting for them to become large visible issues, you can use Scrutinize to identify and remedy the problems early.

For answers to questions you have about this or related topics, schedule your free consultation today.