Whether you manufacture furniture, audio equipment, or machinery, maintaining accounting books is certainly not the most interesting part of the process or your area of expertise. Regardless, accounting is crucial as without it you can’t track the profitability of your business, how much your debtors owe you, how much you owe your creditors, or the business’s overall financial health.
Although you can hire accountants to manage your books for you, that won’t make the process less time-consuming or error-free. And while your accountant may use pen and paper or spreadsheets, these methods will stunt visibility into your finances.
What’s the way out then? A robust accounting software solution.
An accounting tool can help you manage your books accurately and save time on many repetitive tasks. You can invest the time you save in your area of expertise, i.e., manufacturing, and delight customers with even better products. To help you pick an accounting tool, we’ve shortlisted some of the best products on the market.
Why do we call them best? It’s because all of these tools feature in GetApp’s 2020 Category Leaders reports (an annual ranking of top software tools) for budgeting, accounting, and expense management. They have overall user ratings higher than 4 (out of 5) and 10+ user reviews on GetApp. Read full selection methodology at the bottom.
Budgeting is crucial as you need to estimate the costs you’ll incur in production and see how those will impact your overall finances. Accordingly, you’ll need to allocate funds for each business activity.
However, a static manufacturing budget can lead to challenges, as it lacks the flexibility to accommodate ad-hoc changes. It simply compares the target set at the beginning of the year against the results achieved at the end, without factoring in changes such as supply chain fluctuations or late payments from buyers.
The right budgeting software can help you create plans and forecasts that are flexible and accurate. Such a tool can generate the right budget for various departments and phases of your manufacturing business.
Here’s how your manufacturing business can make the most of budgeting software:
Create accurate what-if scenarios and forecasts to see how future events or trends may impact finances.
Track the cash flow to see how much is available to purchase raw materials and other assets.
Generate budget models to estimate future revenues and expenses.
To help you pick the right budgeting tool, we’ve shortlisted three options. The list is arranged alphabetically.
User rating: 4.7/5
Number of reviews: 60+
Float Cash Flow is a budgeting and planning tool that helps generate insightful reports to compare planned and actual budgets and lets you know when you’re over or underspending. You can also use the tool to forecast the impact of future events on your budget.
The tool also allows you to forecast cash flows to know how you’re placed in terms of cash. With these insights, you can better plan how much raw material you can purchase or what might be the impact of late payments on your budget.
Pricing info: The starting price of Float Cash Flow is $59 per month, billed annually (per EUR to USD exchange rate on Dec 12, 2020). Each of the paid plans offers a 14-day free trial.
User rating: 4.5/5
Number of reviews: 50+
Prophix is a corporate performance management platform that offers a budgeting and planning module. The module offers various features such as forecasting, scenario planning, cash flow planning, and capital expenditure planning.
While creating a manufacturing budget, Prophix allows you to weigh in on factors such as the per unit cost of goods, price sensitivity, freight and shipping costs, demand changes, and raw material costs.
Pricing info: The pricing of Prophix is not publicly available. However, you can request a free trial by filling out the “free trial” form on their website.
User rating: 4.4/5
Number of reviews: 165+
Workday Adaptive Planning is a software suite that includes a range of planning modules for finance, sales, and workforce planning.
It helps create a comprehensive budget by integrating capital, inventory, production, and sales planning and factoring in possible fluctuations across supply and demand, labor costs, shifting market trends, etc.
Using this tool, you can consolidate data coming in from different plants, divisions, and business departments. You can also analyze profit margins for different product lines, geographies, sales channels, etc.
Pricing info: The price of Workday Adaptive Planning is not publicly available; however, you can try the tool for free.
Managing books for a manufacturing firm entails many unique entries and adjustments to account for raw material purchases, factory insurance, equipment depreciation, etc. Additionally, you have to deal with the inaccuracies involved with the manual management of books, which make financial statements susceptible to errors.
Accounting software can help deal with many of these challenges. It can automate the management of general ledgers, product cost, accounts receivable and payable, bank reconciliations, and financial statements.
Here are some ways you can use an accounting system at your manufacturing company:
Generate financial statements such as the balance sheet and profit and loss statements.
Track inventory levels, and process accounts payable and receivable.
Reconcile bank account statements to ensure accurate representation of transactions on your books.
To help you find the right tool to manage these functions, we’ve listed three accounting tools (listed alphabetically):
User rating: 4.4/5
Number of reviews: 70+
AccountEdge Pro is an on-premise accounting tool. However, to enable remote access to financial data, the vendor also offers an optional cloud-based app called AccountEdge Connect.
Some of the key features of the tool include journal entries, financial statements and general ledgers, and estimates and invoices. The tool also caters to the special needs of manufacturing firms through features that help manage inventory, track smaller components involved in building a product, and sync with Shopify to enable online sales and product tracking.
Pricing info: AccountEdge Pro begins at $499, paid as a one-time fee for up to 10 users. You can also take a free trial for the tool.
User rating: 4.4/5
Number of reviews: 3,441+
FreshBooks is a cloud-based accounting tool that offers features such as invoicing, expense tracking, financial statements, journal entries, and automatic bank reconciliation.
Besides offering the standard accounting features mentioned above, the tool makes it easier for your firm to account for prepayments, late payments, or overpayments; monitor the cash flow; customize invoices; and track the cost of sold goods.
Pricing info: The starting price of FreshBooks is $4.5 per month, billed monthly, or $148.5 per year, billed annually, for up to five clients. All the paid plans offer a free trial. Firms with more than 500 clients can also get a custom pricing quote.
User rating: 4.3/5
Number of reviews: 595+
QuickBooks Online Advanced is a cloud-based accounting solution that offers accounting tools for a variety of industries, including the manufacturing industry.
In addition to standard accounting features such as general ledger, bank reconciliation, and accounts payables and receivables, the tool’s manufacturing-specific features include a bill of materials cost tracking, advanced pricing, purchase order management, and inventory valuation report.
Pricing info: The starting price of QuickBooks Online Advanced is $134 for one user per month, billed monthly.
Managing expenses in manufacturing companies is not easy. Manufacturing plants are often geographically distributed, and factory employees seldom spend time at corporate offices. Even corporate employees are often on the move. Collecting and validating expense receipts in such a scenario can be a significant challenge for the finance team.
Expense management software can help you put all this behind by allowing you to remotely track expenses and ensure data accuracy and compliance. It’ll also make it easy to avoid expense reporting errors, analyze spending trends, and simplify reimbursements.
Here’s how you can use an expense management tool in your manufacturing business:
Accept expense receipts digitally, and reimburse employee expenses accurately.
Streamline expense approvals with an automated approval workflow.
Track, highlight, and manage noncompliance with expense policies.
We’ve picked three expense management tools for you (arranged alphabetically).
User rating: 4.6/5
Number of reviews: 1,215+
Certify Expense is a cloud-based expense management software company that offers tools for invoice, travel, and expense management.
Its expense management tool helps manage both employee and non-employee expenses, create accurate expense reports, and manage reimbursements and compliance. It also helps reduce manual data entry by automatically extracting text from the pictures of expense receipts using optical character recognition (OCR) technology.
Manufacturing firms can use the tool to facilitate remote expense receipt collection and reimbursement. The tool also helps ensure compliance with expense policies and conduct audits to reduce expense frauds.
Pricing info: The base plan for Certify Expense costs $8 per user, per month; it supports up to 25 employees.
User rating: 4.4/5
Number of reviews: 135+
Webexpenses is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company that offers products for expense management, invoicing, travel management, auditing, and more.
Its expense management tool offers features such as corporate card matching, expense policy compliance, mileage tracking, and expense receipt capture. It also offers features tailored to the needs of manufacturing firms, such as expense auditing and secure business payments.
Pricing info: The pricing of Webexpenses starts at $45 per month for five claimants. You can also request a custom quote on their website.
User rating: 4.5/5
Number of reviews: 565+
Zoho Expense is an expense management tool that is a part of a suite of business applications from the vendor.
Some of Zoho Expense’s key features include receipt management, expense tracking, reporting and analytics, and claims and reimbursement management.
It helps manufacturing firms by offering features such as custom expense policies and expense tracking, both of which can be tailored per the manufacturing stage or department.
Pricing info: The starting price of Zoho Expense is $5 per user, per month, billed annually. The tool also offers a free version that supports up to three users.
Before you narrow down on any budgeting, accounting, or expense management tool, here are some things to keep in mind:
Read reviews: User reviews are a great way to learn about the pros and cons of a tool. Reading reviews on third-party websites, such as ours, can help you learn about the experience of those who’ve used the product first hand. You can also learn about a tool’s useful features or some much-needed features that might be missing.
Go for a demo: Product demos can help you learn about a tool’s features and discuss your queries with the software vendor. However, be sure to do some research and note down any questions you may have before going for a demo. You can refer to this five-point checklist to get the most out of product demos.
You can also go through this ultimate guide to accounting software features and benefits if you wish to learn more about accounting tools.
To identify the products listed in this article, we leveraged GetApp 2020 Category Leaders reports for each category (budgeting, accounting, and expense management). For each category, we eliminated products that did not have at least half of the below-mentioned features:
-For budgeting: Asset planning, cash management, expense management, multi-department collaboration, strategic planning, and version control.
-For accounting: Billing, budgeting, invoicing, and expense management.
-For expense management: Audit trails, credit card reconciliation, approval workflow, mobile app, accounting integration, electronic receipt, and automatic expense import.
From this list, we selected the three products in each category with the highest ratings and at least 20 unique product reviews (as accessed on Dec 3, 2020).