by Saeward Schillaci, The Resource Group
If you've ever spent more than a few minutes looking at reviews of restaurants, you know that a simple numerical rating system doesn't give a potential customer all the information they need. A Thai restaurant in your area might have 5-star reviews, but you could end up choosing to eat at a 4-star burger joint instead. There are lots of factors to making a dining decision, including location, price, type of food, ambience, speed of service, and preferences of friends. Plus, once you've thought everything over, you might still end up making your restaurant choice based on a whim rather than objective characteristics.
Of course, comparing different accounting software is much more complicated than picking whichever restaurant has the highest reviews. A software buyer needs to consider what type of solution would work best for their company, including major factors such as whether to use a cloud-based or an on-premises model, whether vertical market software or horizontal market software would better suit the company's needs, and the current size of the business as well as any planned future growth. With all of this in mind, this article focuses on describing the differences and similarities between Intacct and five other cloud-based competitors, all of which are horizontal market focused and intended for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).
Alright, here's an apples and bananas comparison of Intacct and five other popular cloud-based accounting solutions, followed by in-depth descriptions of each:
Intacct is designed as a best-of-breed, cloud-based, software as a service (SaaS) Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution for SMBs, with a particular focus on marketing towards mid-sized businesses. As an award-winning, fully GAAP-compliant solution, Intacct is an excellent choice for companies that value the best-of-breed approach for their ERP needs. Another key part of Intacct's strength lies in the fact that it was originally designed and built for the cloud, in contrast to other popular offerings such as QuickBooks Online, which is a software designed for on-premises use and then later adapted for use in the cloud. Although Intacct does not offer functionality related to customer resource management (CRM) software, it does provide an easy integration with SalesForce.
As a Tier II, AICPA-preferred application, Intacct is an excellent choice for smoothly handling complex accounting needs, and it offers businesses the scalability necessary to encourage growth. By contrast, some of the other popular market players are designed for smaller businesses and make it difficult to comply with GAAP standards – a software flaw that many growing, mid-sized companies can't afford to tolerate. Intacct also offers customers an impressive degree of flexibility and a state-of-the-art application programming interface (API) for making customizations that will continue to function with every update that might be applied. To learn more about the pros and cons of Intacct, check out other articles on The Resource Group blog such as this summary of Intacct customer reviews.
Besides Intacct, there are five cloud-based software competitors that also have a relatively large market share: NetSuite, FinancialForce Accounting, Xero, QuickBooks Online, and FreshBooks. Of these, the last three are generally intended for smaller businesses.
NetSuite is a cloud-based ERP software suite sold by Oracle Corporation. It is a horizontal market software designed for a similar range of company sizes as Intacct. NetSuite provides customer resource management, business intelligence, enterprise resource planning, and accounting functions, which means that NetSuite may be best for businesses that are interested in integrating every module of the software. On the other hand, the disadvantage of the all-in-one approach is that the suite has modules with limited functionality. By contrast, Intacct is a best-of-breed financial accounting system, and it allows users to subscribe only to the modules that their business requires. Similarly to Intacct, NetSuite is capable of handling fairly complex accounting needs as well as complex business systems. Compared to FinancialForce, QuickBooks Online, Xero, and FreshBooks, it is marketed towards businesses with more employees or more complex systems. The big difference between Intacct and NetSuite is a matter of wanting an all-encompassing suite of software or a best-of-breed solution that can be integrated with other best-of-breed solutions.
3. FinancialForce Accounting
FinancialForce is a horizontal market, financial accounting system designed specifically to be integrated with SalesForce on the Force.com platform. It is suitable for both small and mid-sized companies, but may be inadequate for companies with more complex accounting needs. If a company already has SalesForce, this can seem like an easy pick, but it's worth noting that other financial solutions (including Intacct) offer quick, seamless integrations to SalesForce as well. The biggest advantage that FinancialForce offers is an interface which is almost identical to SalesForce. This means that companies which are already accustomed to using SalesForce will probably need less training to get FinancialForce up and running. On the other hand, FinancialForce is a less flexible choice for companies that don't already use SalesForce or who might want to switch to different CRM software in the future. Although FinancialForce can be used separately from SalesForce, it's not commonly considered a stand-alone product and may be lacking in key functionality without its sibling software. Overall, FinancialForce may be a good option for companies that really like SalesForce and have simple accounting needs. It's also worth noting that FinancialForce is intended for larger companies, so if a business is upgrading from QuickBooks then this platform will seem pretty sophisticated.
4. QuickBooks Online
QuickBooks Online, by Intuit, is also cloud-based accounting software that advertises itself as being ideal for SMBs. However, the reality is that it's mostly designed for smaller businesses with simpler accounting needs; unlike NetSuite and Intacct, QuickBooks Online is not a fully GAAP-compliant solution. For smaller businesses, however, this cloud-based adaptation of on-premises QuickBooks software is a convenient twist on a tried-and-true classic. Intuit's large market share is a major advantage for small business owners who want something simple with decent customer service, a good value, a wide community of knowledgeable users, and enduring popularity. For the most part, mid-sized businesses often grow out of QuickBooks and upgrade to a more flexible, complex system like Intacct, so these two solutions aren't usually considered direct competitors.
Xero is a cloud-based, SaaS software that specifically markets itself as the QuickBooks alternative – they even offer a conversion from QuickBooks as a product feature. Xero was first created in New Zealand in 2006 and has since gained an impressive market share as a direct competitor with Intuit. Because of their countries of origin, Xero and QuickBooks have somewhat different territories geographically; QuickBooks solutions (including QuickBooks Online) are still very popular in the United States, while Xero has become the financial solution of choice for small businesses in New Zealand and Australia. Just like QuickBooks Online, Xero is intended for smaller businesses with simple accounting needs and isn't generally considered a direct competitor with software such as Intacct and NetSuite. With a focus on "beautiful" financials, Xero is all about making small-business accounting as easy and intuitive as possible.
Although FreshBooks is a cloud-based, SaaS financial solution, it's intended for a totally different market than Intacct; it is specifically invoicing software, not generalized accounting software. FreshBooks focuses on self-employed people and very small businesses with simple needs who are tired of relying on manual invoicing in Excel or want an alternative to QuickBooks' invoicing functionality. It's designed for people who are doing accounting, but aren't accountants. Because it's invoicing software, FreshBooks can be used in addition to more generalized accounting applications such as QuickBooks Online or Xero. Overall, small, service-based companies are really the ones who might benefit the most from this software.
In conclusion, every popular, cloud-based accounting solution on the market is a little different from the others – no single factor can determine which would be best for a company. A potential buyer should decide what their business needs are and then determine which solutions might have the relevant characteristics before making a choice based on numerical ratings or customer reviews. If you are interested in learning more about a software solution such as Intacct, contact a certified reseller such as The Resource Group or read more of our blogs for more information.