12 min read
Apr 19, 2017

Accounting Software Pricing Explained: How to Save Money When Buying Apps

Buying accounting software can be a tricky task to take on, so we've put together a guide to explain the different accounting software pricing models.

Ankita SinghAnalyst

If you are struggling to manage financial accounts in your business and you feel that accounting software is over your budget, fret not! We have some handy information to help you choose the best accounting software, based on your budget. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's go over some of the basics first.

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What is accounting software?

Accounting software helps you with automating and keeping track of finances for your business. The type of features required depends on the business' needs but some of the core features that many software accounting systems include:

  • Ability to manage accounts receivable

  • Accounts payable

  • General ledger

  • Invoicing and billing

Some of the more robust accounting solutions also offer:

  • Accountability tools such as automated reports for tax investors and boards of directors

  • Analytics tools for budget and sales forecasting

  • Employee payroll and tax tools

  • Expenses management tools

  • Integration with bank feeds and other online payment gateways

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Accounting software pricing made simple

There are a large number of accounting software providers and each one has multiple pricing combinations. You can check out GetApp Category Leaders to learn which are the top accounting software providers according to our independent ranking criteria.

Based on pricing models from the top 15 accounting software providers in our ranking, we've classified pricing into three main categories: Starter Price Range, Mid-Price Range, and Enterprise Price Range. The price ranges represent the mean values of the prices. See the bottom of the article for the methodology.

Note: Prices are on a per user per month basis. Pricing plan terminologies used by different software providers vary and may not exactly match with the categories defined here. The categories here only provide a general estimate of the pricing ranges and target user base supported by different providers.

The infographic provides an estimate of the money that you would require to purchase an accounting software for your business on the basis of the range of users in your organization.

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Putting a price on accounting software features

The table below shows some things to keep in mind when shopping around for accounting software:

If you choose a free version, you may not get certain features that are available in the higher price-range of the software. Similarly, you can get some of the key features like general ledger and reporting ( mid range column, as you can see in the table) in the free or starter price range of the software respectively. But, if you wish to have advanced reporting capacity and you need software access for a larger team, you would need to invest more.

Note: The above results are not based on a specific piece of software, but instead derive from analyzing the 15 applications considered. For example, the green tick mark represents the presence of a feature in a particular price range for 50 percent or more of the applications.

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Customer service considerations

Just like other features, the service levels offered by each accounting software provider also vary with different price ranges of the products. Thinking about your support needs in before investing in software for your company is a good idea in order to make a calculated and wise buying decision.

For instance, if you are looking for community support or premium training you may have to select the software in the enterprise price-range. You can access 24/7 support and online knowledge base with the starter and the mid-range pricing plans, so, you don't need to spend extra for those features.

You can have a look at the following table. It summarizes the typical service levels of the top 15 accounting software and the price ranges each service is offered in.

Note: The above results are not for any specific software but derived from analyzing the features offered by the 15 software considered. For example, the green tick mark represents the presence of a feature in a particular price range for 50% or more of products.

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Other ways to save money while buying software

Let's look at some simple tricks that can save you some money.

  • Choice of Billing Cycle: You can choose annual pricing options instead of monthly ones as annual accounting software pricing options are less expensive. Be sure of your choice as you could be stuck with the provider for at least a year before you can change to another. You can also save more annually if you go for the higher price-range of the software, as compared to the starter price-range.

Caption: The monthly cost for the annually billed version of Zoho books is $5 per user per month.

  • Understanding Scalability A clear analysis and evaluation of your business needs to the level that you can foresee requirements of the future can help you choose an appropriate package for your business. One of the things that you may need to know would be the amount of investment required in case you decide to increase the number of user licenses in future. Once you have thoroughly analyzed and planned requirements, you can make a better choice in opting for the billing cycle and the package that suits your business the best.

  • Free and Open Source Software: The leading accounting software providers such as QuickBooks , Xero , MYOB and Clear Books Accounting offer free versions. Sage One US and Sage One Canada also have a 30-day trial that is free to use. The free versions usually come with basic features and some limitations regarding the number of users.

  • SaaS vs. On-premises software: There are some accounting software solutions like Odoo that have a more affordable on-premise solution as compared to the cloud-based version for companies with more than 50 employees. The cloud version of the software comes with an extra fee of $25/user/month. Other software such as QuickBooks, Zoho Books and MYOB are all cloud-based and support all the basic features.

  • Software compatibility and integrations: You can cut down costs greatly if the accounting software you choose integrates well with other applications. If not, you'll not only incur additional costs while buying separate applications, but you'll also be spending a lot of time in managing them.

  • Discounts and vouchers: Research thoroughly for discounts and vouchers available for the accounting software before making a choice. Compare prices on different e-commerce sites to figure out the best deal for your needs. You can visit Allsoftwarediscount.com and softwaremedia.com for information about discount vouchers for software and related products/services.

  • Organization type: If you are running a charitable organization or you are a part of a student body, you can take advantage of special discounts that are for these specifically. Clear Books and QuickBooks offer free versions of such kind.

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What are your next steps?

Effective accounting software not only helps in recording transactions, but it can also add to profitability by ensuring accurate reporting and calculations. The very first step (which you are already completing) is to some serious research.

  • GetApp's accounting software category is a good place to look at different solutions.

  • You can check out the comparisons page to decide on the best choice for your business. The comparison offered is based on several parameters including pricing, features, integration capacity and more.

  • Use our accounting software scorecard to identify the most suitable apps for your company based on your pricing and feature requirements.

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Appendix - Price Range Meter Methodology

Starter Price Range

Many accounting software providers offer freemium versions ($0 per user) of their product. Hence $0 is the lower end of this pricing segment. The upper range of the starter price segment is the rounded-off mean value of the lowest priced pricing plans (other than free versions) offered by the top 15 providers.

The number of users supported by a software in this price range is the mean of the number of users supported by the starter versions of the top 15 providers.

Example: If the lowest priced pricing plan (other than free versions) offered by providers A, B, and C are $10, $5, and $15 respectively, then the upper range of the starter price range in this case would be $10.

Mid-Range Price

The mid-range pricing segment starts at the higher end of the starter price range ($30 onwards). The upper range of this segment is the rounded off mean of the mean values of different pricing plans, other than the highest versions, offered by the top 15 providers.

The number of users supported by a software in this price range is the mean of the number of users supported by the mid-range versions of the top 15 providers.

Example: Suppose provider A offers four pricing plans: Basic, Professional, Business, and Enterprise at $10, $20, $40, and $60 respectively. Then the mid-range pricing plan value for vendor A is the average of its Professional ($20) and Business ($40) plan versions, i.e., $30. If the mid-range pricing for the three providers A, B, and C are $30, $20, and $40, then the higher end of the mid-range pricing segment is their mean, i.e., $30.

Enterprise Price

The enterprise pricing segment starts from the upper ends of the mid-range pricing segments ($25 onwards). All prices above in this value lie in the enterprise pricing range.

Please note that the pricing ranges are not rigid and there can be slight differences in the range values for every product.

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