Have you ever considered using an online accounting solution? Or are you already using one? Then you probably already know that this software is your virtual assistant, designed to get your accountings done quickly and smoothly while you manage your business in the process. But did you know that you can make your online accounting even better? All you have to do is use the mobile app developed by the accounting company or integrate third-party applications into your software.
Using the above solutions, your virtual assistant will become even more effective and available anytime, from anywhere. With the mobile apps you can take your business with you and get the most urgent things done, while integration with third-party applications could substitute the missing features of your accounting solution. So do not hesitate, just integrate, and watch your business efficiency skyrocket in front of your eyes!
Online Accounting Apps
Using an online accounting solution is already a huge advantage, as you don’t have to download software and store your data on a hard drive. Furthermore, these solutions can be accessed anytime, from anywhere. Does that mean you can access them using a mobile device? Absolutely!
Even though mobile apps are unable to completely substitute the regular desktop version of accounting software, they are perfect extensions of your solution. Aside from being able to check your cashflow, you can create and send new invoices, manage the list of your clients by adding or removing names, track your time, and, the most convenient on-the-go feature of all, record your expenses by immediately attaching snapshots of receipts with the camera of your mobile device.
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All of the above not only mean that you are not bound to your office anymore, but you can also speed up the process of accounting. And do you want to know what’s best about an online accounting app? It typically comes as part of your online accounting software, meaning that it comes for free. However, we have some bad news for you, Windows Phone users: these apps are usually available for iOS and Android platforms only…
Xero Touch, which is available for iOS and Android devices, serves two purposes: first, you can use it as a second step in the two-step secure authentication, meaning that you have to type-in a four-digit PIN code after you have accessed your Xero account, thus increasing the security of your accounting in the cloud. Second, you can use it as an extension of your account for invoice, expense and client management. The app features a minimalistic dashboard that shows your transactions, invoices, receipts, and a nice statistic of incomes and expenses. With the app you can create new invoices and send them to your clients, and even record payments once a client has paid his/her debt. The app is capable of capturing and processing receipts which can be easily turned into expense claims. And, as a nice add-on, you can receive notifications, check balances and view your transactions on your Apple Watch.
The iOS and Android mobile app of FreshBooks is the prime example of how to do a perfect accounting application that is not only capable of the most basic things like invoicing, expense recording and such, but it can also serve as a perfect substitute for the desktop version of this accounting solution. It is a real pleasure to use the app: creating new invoices is super easy and you can record the payment just as easily. Expense recording works the same way as in other mobile applications: you just snap of a photo of a receipt, provide the necessary data, and it’s done. However, unlike similar apps, the FreshBooks one is capable of managing projects, tracking work time and even creating estimates which can be turned into invoices. The only downside is that reports open in a mobile browser, but aside from that the FreshBooks app is an accounting miracle.
The Android or iOS applications of QuickBooks Online look just like the desktop version, so navigating in the app is very easy. It has all of the most important features like client management, estimates, invoices, sales receipts, payments, expenses, and notes. But you can also check your banking and there is a nice chart of accounts, too. Furthermore, the application has a major advantage over the desktop version: adding products and services to your inventory is much easier, because it is featured in the left sidebar right under Activity and Notes. There is, however, a major downside: reports. While it is good to see that you don’t have to use a web browser to open reports, in the QuickBooks Online app the only report you can check is your profit & loss and your balance sheets.
This accounting company is a bit different from the ones you’ve read about so far. And before you ask, yes, it is free of charge, just like the desktop version. We are talking about the app’s availability: Wave developed three apps, but only one, Receipts by Wave, is available for both iOS and Android platforms; invoicing and payroll is only available for Apple products. First, let’s talk about the receipt processing app, which perfectly serves its purpose: it quickly captures receipts with the mobile device’s camera and after entering the necessary data, congratulations; you just recorded a new expense. With Invoice by Wave on iPhone you can create invoices anytime from anywhere. Furthermore, the app is capable of notifying you when an invoice is paid, viewed or becomes overdue. Last, but not least, there is Payroll by Wave for a minimum of $19 per month, which is capable of everything the desktop payroll feature can do: running payroll, auto-syncing with the main Wave account, and more.
Even though online accounting solutions have many different features, you quickly realize that some of them will never be included in the software, no matter which subscription you choose. This can be especially annoying if you decided to move to the clouds and you have to leave behind software you loved and still love to use. Accounting companies realized that business owners hate constant data migration, so this is the reason that most companies offer and support an API. This means that you don’t have to completely abandon your old software; you just have to integrate it into the online accounting solution.
Most of the premium accounting products can integrate with hundreds of third-party applications and solutions – from CRMs, time tracking add-ons, document management tools, expense reporting software to inventory management tools, POS, invoicing software and the list just goes on. So, before you purchase your new online accounting solution, be sure to check out the list of available add-ons: if you find your old software there, just instruct the accounting solution to sync with the software, and you can manage two software from one at the same time from then on.
Even though being able to file, prepare and at least print your tax papers, this is one feature you will definitely not find in most online accounting solutions. But that doesn’t mean you cannot integrate a tax app to your software and manage your tax related tasks therefrom. These solutions can prepare, print and even e-file your tax papers and can even automatically import your W-2s. Furthermore, if you have chosen the top product of a tax app, you will be capable of preparing, printing and e-filing your 1099s as well, and make the software search for all possible tax deductions and maximize them. The apps have a step-by-step guide of how to easily file your taxes and they can import your last year’s return either from their own database, or even from another software. Furthermore, if you need more professional help, the companies developing this software provide unlimited access to tax and technical support, usually via email.
Tax apps come in different pricing plans, but you can be sure that one of them is a completely free of charge version; the only problem is that the free versions like TurboTax Online Federal Free Edition from Intuit are quite limited, as they are usually capable of auto-importing W-2s and preparing, printing and e-filing your returns with 100% accuracy. However, the two competitors TaxAct and H&R Block both provide help from a tax expert as part of their free pricing plan.
To be honest, integrating invoicing apps should be obsolete by now, because almost all of the decent online accounting solutions are capable of creating nice looking invoices on a recurring basis and even with different currencies. However, if your accounting solution is super basic and/or you just don’t want to get rid of your old invoicing software, then integration is a good choice for you. This is especially true if the old software doesn’t limit the amount of clients you can invoice; it allows your clients to pay faster online, you can customize your invoices, and send automated reminders to forgetful customers. And this is just the beginning, as modern invoicing software like Invoicera and BillGrid are capable of doing more accounting tasks: you can create quotes to your clients which, once accepted, can be immediately turned into invoices. Furthermore, you can create projects and invoice your clients either based on a fixed price, or on the total work time, which can be calculated by a clever built-in time tracking add-on. Surprisingly, Invoicera even knows how to record expenses and it is also available on iOS and Android devices.
And how does integration with an accounting solution work? Like we said before, you have to give permission to the software to import data from the other solution, and everything will appear the way they are in the invoicing software. However, invoices sent with free invoice creators will not be imported into the accounting solution.
Time Tracking Apps
If you own a business which invoices clients based on the exact work time, time tracking is a crucial feature. Too bad that most of the accounting solutions don’t have this feature despite being able to create and manage projects. However, there are third-party apps like Harvest, MinuteDock and Toggl with which you will be able to track your time and analyze your productivity – whether you are sitting in front of a computer or accessing the software from a mobile device.
Getting Started with Harvest
MinuteDock 60 Second Demo
Toggl Basics Tutorial
Integration is a little more complicated though: time tracking solutions usually have similar features as invoicing software, thus you can create and send invoices, track your expenses and create projects. If you still want to manage these, you have no choice but to use your old software as the accounting solution only makes a copy of these invoices, expenses and projects for accounting purposes. Furthermore, the clients and projects in the accounting software are the ones that will be imported into the time tracking app and not the other way around. However, the most important thing, the main reason you started the integration process, time entries will be added to those projects and tasks that are sent to the online accounting solution from then on. Thus you will finally be able to invoice your clients based on the time you have spent on the project.
Project Management Apps
But what’s the use of a great time tracking app if you are unable to create and manage projects with your online accounting software. In this case, use a project management tool like Wrike, Basecamp or Clarizen. With these you can still create new projects, set their respective deadlines and milestones, upload and share necessary files, and in some cases, start a discussion with your co-workers assigned to projects.
Basecamp 3: Intro & Overview
Getting Started Tutorial
Integration is a two-way process: the online accounting solution provides data like client information, which is then imported into the project management software. Then you just have to work on the project like you would normally do. Once you are finished, you just have to export the necessary project and time entry data to the online accounting solution, which processes it in the form of an invoice. Then you just have to send the invoice to your client, and the job is done.
When the online accounting solution has a project creating feature and even a time tracking add-on, integration is even smoother: in this case you just have to export all the necessary project data to the accounting solution and continue working on the project where you left off. And do not worry: due to continuous data syncing the projects will appear in both software.