7 min read
Oct 31, 2017

Project Management for Accountants: Must-Have Software Functionalities

Project management for accountants isn't as daunting as you might think. Here are some reasons why it matters and software to get the job done!

Lauren MaffeoAssociate Principal Analyst

Are you an accountant with your own business? If so, you might define yourself by these dual roles: accountant and entrepreneur. And though they're enough to keep anyone busy, you need to consider adding a third role: project manager.

Before you balk, consider this: If you're an accountant who does your own client work, then you're already a project manager. So, defining your business this way can set you apart from your competitors.

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Project management for accountants

Let's start by reviewing what a project is. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), "It's a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result. A project is temporary in that it has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope and resources."

Consider this in the context of your accounting work, specifically the words "temporary" and "unique."

All projects have an end. More specifically, they end when you - the project manager/accountant - share deliverables for each of your client engagements. In this regard, every client engagement you earn can be managed as its own project.

Here's what an accounting project looks like. Projects include plans, documents, and transactions - all of which are included in your work.

Source: Microsoft

Ultimately, project management is about results. If you can deliver client work with clearly defined goals on time and under budget, you can call yourself a project manager.

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The best software to manage accounting projects

Once you choose to manage your accounting engagements as your own projects, your next step is to choose the right accounting software. To select the best tool for your business, you'll need to know which features you need most. If you start by searching for software with the following project management features, you can narrow your options down. Look for accounting software that offers project accounting, budgeting, and time tracking

To point you in the right direction, here are five of the best software tools to support project management for accountants. To earn a spot on this list, each app had to have an average rating of 4 stars or higher from reviewers on GetApp. They also had to offer features that allow users to manage accounting engagements as projects.

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Price: Four plans ranging from Free ($0 per month) to Business ($39.95 per month).

Avaza is ideal for client-focused small businesses that need software to blend project management with accounting. Clients can collaborate on projects within the tool as well. Avaza's free plan supports up to 10 customers, while its Startup, Basic, and Business plans support unlimited customers.

You can answer task discussions via email, track time online, and use a project management method of your choice; Avaza supports project teams that use Agile, Scrum, and Kanban.

Alongside its project management chops, Avaza has accounting features as well. Users can split payments across invoices, manage budgets, record billable vs. non-billable hours, and track daily and weekly timesheets. Avaza also supports multi-currency expenses, credit notes, payments, and invoices.

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BQE Core

Price: Pay on a per-feature basis via monthly, quarterly, and annual plans.

BQE Core was built to serve professional services firms. Its goals are twofold: help users speed up their billing processes and improve their project management. Certified partnerships with vendors such as MYOB help BQE Core achieve these goals.

Users can manage projects, clients, employees, and vendors all from within BQE Core. They can also manage accounts payable and receivable, process invoices, track time and expenses, and choose from over 150 built-in report and invoice templates.

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Price: Three plans ranging from $13.50 to $45.00 per month when billed annually.

FreshBooks is ideal for freelancers who want to track billable time, send and manage invoices, and collect online payments. But it's a strong choice for freelancers who need project management as well. You can invite employees, clients, and contractors to collaborate within the tool.

FreshBooks has payment reminders, recurring invoices, customizable invoices, and automatic tax calculations. You can also track time against projects to keep from going over budget. And to manage your accounting projects, FreshBooks supports project overviews, due dates, conversations, and file sharing.

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Price: Three plans ranging from $15.00 per month for one user to $55.00 per month for 30 users.

First and foremost, MoneyPenny is a cloud-based accounting tool. Billing and invoicing, timesheet management, tax reporting, and more are all included. But its dashboards also allow users to manage their client engagements as projects. These stand alongside a main dashboard that helps users track their logged hours, estimates and invoices, team timesheets, and number of active projects.

MoneyPenny's features include budget management, expense tracking, estimates, and tax reports. You can also create projects and tasks, track projects in real time against deadlines and budgets, view projects (and earnings) per client, and manage your team by tracking costs, tasks, productivity, and time.

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Zoho Books

Price: Three plans ranging from $9.00 to $29.00 per month.

Zoho Books aims to manage the accounting needs of service, consulting, and marketing teams of all sizes. You can invoice clients in their currencies of choice, which makes it ideal for global work. Alongside these accounting services, Zoho Books lets you manage each client engagement like a project.

Zoho Books allows you to manage several projects at once. You can track time per project by managing timesheets within the tool, then billing them to clients. Role-based access to Zoho Books lets you add several users, including your accountant. And the tool's task tracking per project gives it an edge. Users can add and assign specific project tasks to their employees.

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