Nailing down the perfect accounting software can make or break your entire operation. Yet, with many competing platforms, it can feel overwhelming to try to decide on one contender.

Thankfully, you don’t need every last bell and whistle. Artificial intelligence is overkill if you’re in charge of a newly established mom-and-pop shop. Likewise, if you oversee a highly regulated international operation, robust legal compliance is a must.

Let’s dive further into the crucial features you should look for in accounting software.

What are the top features of accounting software?

Many accounting platforms tack on expensive gizmos that unnecessarily complicate things. Here are the top features that truly matter.

User-friendly interface

A user-friendly interface is paramount. It ensures you can navigate the software efficiently without extensive training. This ease of use is particularly important for small businesses lacking dedicated accounting teams. Software like QuickBooks Online is designed with a straightforward dashboard that provides quick access to all necessary functions.

Comprehensive accounting tools

The core of any accounting software is the quality of its rudimentary accounting tools. These criteria include capabilities for detailed income and expense tracking, automated receipt scanning, in-house invoice payment processing and inventory management. Also, if you want to consolidate software, consider a title with built-in payroll processing.

Integration capabilities

Integration with other tools and services, such as bank accounts, payment processing and ecommerce platforms, is critical. This connectivity streamlines processes, eliminates tedious and repetitive tasks and minimizes errors. For example, QuickBooks Online links up with numerous banking institutions and apps, so you don’t have to duplicate data entry efforts.

Security features

Given the sensitivity of financial data, security cannot be overlooked. Look for software that provides strong protection, including bank-grade encryption and multi-factor authentication, to protect your data from unauthorized access.


As your business grows, so should your accounting software. Scalability is crucial, as it allows the software to accommodate more complex financial management needs without requiring a system change. Consider a platform’s international capabilities and support for third-party auditing as two starting points for long-term expansion.

Accounting software features for your business

The right accounting software features can differ significantly depending on your business type, size and industry. Here’s a more detailed look at how specific tools of accounting software can benefit different business scenarios.

Retail businesses

  • Inventory management: This is essential for tracking stock levels, managing orders and planning purchases. Tools that integrate inventory with sales data can help predict inventory needs before they become critical. QuickBooks Online, for example, offers advanced inventory features that synchronize inventory and sales seamlessly.
  • Point-of-sale integration: Integrating accounting software with point-of-sale (POS) systems allows for real-time data updates, which is a significant part of keeping accurate financial records. This connection can help retail businesses monitor daily sales and reconcile transactions efficiently.

Service-based businesses

  • Time tracking: For businesses that bill based on time spent on services, such as consulting firms or law offices, time tracking features are vital. They help ensure that every hour worked is accurately recorded and billed.
  • Project management tools: These features enable businesses to track the progress of projects, monitor budgets and assign resources without a hitch. As a result, projects are completed on time and within budget.

Freelancers and solopreneurs

  • Simplified tax preparation: Freelancers benefit from features that simplify tax preparation, including automatic tax calculations and the ability to track deductible expenses throughout the year.
  • Invoicing and payment processing: Efficient invoicing and easy payment processing capabilities are essential for freelancers to ensure timely payment. Features that allow customization of invoices and direct payment links can improve the payment cycle.

Manufacturing businesses

  • Cost accounting: Features that help track production costs and overhead can provide insights into profitability and price setting.
  • Supply chain management: Integrating supply chain data into the accounting software can help manufacturing businesses manage their resources more effectively, from procurement to production to delivery.

Nonprofit organizations

  • Fund accounting: Nonprofits need features that can handle fund accounting, which includes tracking and reporting on funds that have restrictions placed by donors.
  • Grant management: Managing grants requires precise tracking of fund usage and reporting — features that specialized accounting software for nonprofits typically provide.

Construction companies

  • Job costing: This feature assists construction businesses in tracking costs associated with specific projects or jobs, which helps managers make more informed decisions based on the profitability of each job.
  • Progress billing: Construction projects often require billing based on project milestones. Accounting software that supports progress billing can facilitate smoother cash flow management by allowing for invoicing at different stages of a project.

Why use accounting software?

Businesses rely on accounting software because of how efficiently and accurately it handles financial records. Paper-based accounting, spreadsheets and other informal techniques may work for tiny operations. But as your staff grows and transactions build, things can quickly get out of hand.

For example, many financial platforms automatically scan and input receipts to track money spent. Sure, you could manually type this into a spreadsheet. But you’d also have to separately take a picture of the receipt and calculate the total of your expenses. Multiply this by how many employees are spending company cash, and this method becomes time-consuming and error-prone. That’s just one problem accounting software solves.

Benefits of accounting software

Enhanced accuracy

Accounting software minimizes the risks of human errors that are common with manual data entry. Automated calculations ensure financial statements and reports reflect precise, error-free data. This reliability is essential not only for internal assessments but also for maintaining compliance with regulations and satisfying stakeholder expectations.

Significant time savings

The best accounting software significantly reduces time spent on routine accounting tasks. By automating processes such as invoicing, payroll and bookkeeping, organizations can free up bandwidth to focus on more strategic tasks. This efficiency can be a game-changer for resource-strapped entities looking to optimize productivity with limited staff.

Immediate financial insights

Modern accounting software provides more than just basic financial tracking. Top-notch titles boast powerful analytics tools that reveal actionable insights about a company’s financial health. These tools can analyze trends, track cash flow and generate detailed forecasts. Some top-tier platforms use artificial intelligence (AI) to unearth even richer data.

Many titles, like QuickBooks Online, conveniently blend deep reporting prowess with user-friendliness to keep things easy to understand.

Streamlined tax handling

For many businesses, navigating tax regulations can be daunting. Accounting software simplifies this process by managing tax filings and ensuring compliance with local, state and federal tax laws. Automated systems can calculate taxes due, track deductible expenses and prepare tax returns. These hands-free tools slash the likelihood of errors and the risk of penalties.

Plus, with real-time financial data, businesses can plan more effectively for future tax obligations, avoiding any surprises later on.

Improved financial management

With robust accounting software, businesses can maintain better control over their financial operations. Perks such as budgeting tools, double-entry expense tracking and invoice tracking help organizations keep a close eye on their financial status. This improved financial oversight supports more strategic planning and resource allocation, ensuring organizations can rapidly adapt and react to industry shifts.

Facilitates audits and compliance

Accounting software also plays a critical role in auditing and regulatory compliance. With detailed, accurate records maintained within the software, businesses can face financial audits with confidence. The software can generate reports that fulfill compliance requirements for various industries. As a result, you stay out of trouble without much fuss or confusion.

Scalability for growing businesses

As a business grows, its financial data becomes more complex. Accounting software can scale to meet your operation’s evolving needs by supporting more sophisticated financial management techniques and larger volumes of transactions. This scalability ensures that businesses don’t need to switch systems frequently, which can be both disruptive and costly.

Accounting features FAQs

What are five of the features and functions included in accounting software used to prepare and monitor budgets?

Five functions to monitor budgets with accounting software are:

  • Budget creation tools.
  • Expense tracking.
  • Financial forecasting.
  • Variance analysis.
  • Reporting dashboards.

These fundamental features allow businesses to set financial goals, monitor performance against those targets and adjust strategies as necessary.

What are the needs and features of accounting software?

Businesses need accounting software that supports double-entry financial reporting, durable legal compliance and analytics for long-term business planning. Some other essential features include invoicing, payroll processing, tax preparation and financial reporting.

What are the features of computerized accounting software?

Computerized accounting software typically includes:

  • Automated entries.
  • Real-time financial monitoring.
  • Data backup and recovery systems.
  • User access controls.
  • Customizable reports.

These features streamline financial management and provide greater control over business finances.

Subscribe to the Daily Tech Insider Newsletter

Stay up to date on the latest in technology with Daily Tech Insider. We bring you news on industry-leading companies, products, and people, as well as highlighted articles, downloads, and top resources. You’ll receive primers on hot tech topics that will help you stay ahead of the game. Delivered Weekdays

Subscribe to the Daily Tech Insider Newsletter

Stay up to date on the latest in technology with Daily Tech Insider. We bring you news on industry-leading companies, products, and people, as well as highlighted articles, downloads, and top resources. You’ll receive primers on hot tech topics that will help you stay ahead of the game. Delivered Weekdays