Where to find Accounting Software for a Small Business

[UPDATE: In the original version of this post, I was incorrect in stating that SortMyBooks trial version has limited functionality.  Thanks to Aileen from Aisling Software for explaining it to me.]

I badly need a programme to do my books.  I assume there’s something  out there that will take my input regarding receipts, payments, purchases and sales and generate everything I need from invoices and statements to VAT returns?

SortMyBooks looks promising, and it’s designed for the Irish tax system.  It seems pricy at €390 including 1 year support, but it’s downloadable for free and it’s fully functional for a 30-day trial period before it has to be registered.  I’m currently evaluating it and I’ll report in a few weeks how I got on.

If it looks expensive at first, on closer inspection SortMyBooks is actually quite competitively priced.  It’s best known competitor, Sage Instant Accounts is advertised at €149, however, when support and delivery (on CD – no download available!) are taken into account it’s actually around €320.  And the trial version is little more than a “demo” – see comments below for further information.

I downloaded and installed QuickBooks Simple Start Free Edition.  This has a clever way of limiting the trial version in that it allows you, as far as I can see, unlimited functionality, with support for a maximum of 20 contacts (customers or suppliers).  The full Simple Start product supports “thousands” of contacts, at a price tag of 99$.  (I assume this excludes support.)

However, I was dismayed to discover that Quickbooks is essentially hard-coded for North American business practices (country options are USA/Canada/Other).  I haven’t bothered to look past the initial setup.

Some time back, I looked at “online” accounting solutions, but ruled it out on the basis of cost.  As far as I can see, most “online packages” are really just outsourcing to accountants, and not what I am looking for: which is a set of handy tools with a framework to manage my day-to-day accounts.  I could do it on paper – or in a spreadsheet – but I’m sure someone must have solved this already.  The question is: who?

Any ideas from other Irish startups?

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14 Comments on “Where to find Accounting Software for a Small Business”

  1. srkview Says:

    look at http://www.360view4u.co.uk , it provides holistic view of various supplier and providers within you budget range.


  2. We use Sage Instant Accounts and I hate it. The UI was designed for Windows 3.1 and doesn’t integrate with payroll so you have to do manual double entry bookeeping using journals in it. It doesn’t even have a nominal account for Corporation tax. Maybe they assume all their customers lose money every year?

    If you also use QuickPay you’ll despair over consistently inconsistent UI across the two products. e.g. one asks you “have you taken a backup?” the other asks “would you like to make a backup”.

    But now that we’ve had it for three years we’re kinda stuck with it. Big Red Book seems to be the main competition in Ireland but I’ve never heard any opinion of it.

    For once I wish MS would come in and take over!


  3. Thanks Conor! I’ll take a look at Big Red Book and let you know how I get on.


  4. We use QuickBooks and our accountant appreciates access through QuickBooks online edition. Yes, everything is denominated in USD$ but he just pretends it’s euro. My business partner is American and takes care of most of the bookkeeping so we didn’t want to frighten her with an alien symbol 😉

  5. annette Says:

    Conn – I have used Quicken and Microsoft Money and both are easy to set up for the Irish system (I use Money to do my VAT returns)..they’re really simple to use and you don’t have to do cartwheels to generate basic accounts

  6. mary gilmartin Says:

    Sage have a free version available for business with less than 3 employees. Handy enough for people. Its available from their website.


  7. Thanks Mary – and it was great to finally meet you at the Open Coffee this morning.

    I checked with Sage and the product you refer to is a payroll package only, rather than a general accounts package. However it turns out that they offer a demo version of Sage Instant Accounts on CD and they’ll send it out to me.

    Thanks to everyone for the feedback here!


  8. Hi Conn,

    Why do you think the 30-day trial of SortMyBooks has functionality disabled?
    It actually doesn’t! If you let me know what you mean I may be able to clear it up.

    thanks!

    Aileen from SortMyBooks


  9. Aileen – thanks for your help via email. Of course you are absolutely right: your trial software IS fully functional (and useful – I sent out my first invoice with it last night).

    I’ve updated the article accordingly.


  10. Looking forward to your report on SortMyBooks Conn. I might well change over as we get into VAT territory.

  11. Ellie Dean Says:

    There is a UK version of QuickBooks SimpleStart which handles VAT, and the currency symbol (for the UK edition) works around your Windows settings so you can change it to a Euro sign if you wish. Have a look at http://www.theaccountingsoftware.co.uk (you may need to call Intuit if you want a free trial)


  12. We have an Irish language invoice for use with SortMyBooks that we developed for and in conjunction with our Gaeltacht clients. If you are interested in this I can email it to you.


  13. Yes please Anne! Go raibh maith agat!


  14. Try NolaPro. The currency can be changed, the digits for monetary amounts can be changed, the “state list” can be updated to include any provinces, etc. that you may require. It has VAT tax option switch. It is web-based, and it is FREE. check it out at http://www.nolapro.com.


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