The Accountants Guide to Cloud Software for Small Business Clients
Posted 19 March by Blaine Bertsch in Accounting, Entrepreneur, Small Business

Learn About the Best Tools, Add-ons and Integrations

With cloud computing rapidly becoming the norm for small business owners, accountants need to more than ever provide valuable insight and direction.

The explosion of Software-as-Service (SAAS) businesses in recent years has led to an overwhelming number of options for small business. This article will help you to understand and discern the best tools and the integration options available for your small business customers.

Trend towards best-of-breed solutions. One-size-fits-all is no longer the norm.

As we discussed in our last article, there is a trend towards best-of-breed solutions. One-size-fits-all is no longer the norm. Small business owners are looking for solutions that fit their business and aren’t interested in the extra bloat that often comes with all-in-one packages.

The Financial Foundation

When looking at the foundation of your small business’ finances, we understand the importance of the accounting system. To harness the power of using the accounting platform as a hub, it’s important to move to a cloud based platform such as Xero or Quickbooks Online.

The Pinch Points Your Small Business Clients Face

We’ve put together a high-level overview of the different categories of apps that you could be exploring for your small business customers. These areas have been divided into the following:

I. Finance
II. Sales
III. People
IV. Products & Services
V. Data

Here are some common cloud-based apps to help you get started with your research.

I. Finance

Finance addresses everything related to financial data in the small business. It’s really at the core of the small business and one that should be focused on initially.

1. Accounting

An online cloud based accounting package provides the opportunity for many connection points to other business applications used by small business.

Notable Tools:
Xero
Quickbooks Online (Canadian users click here)
Sage One
Freshbooks

2. Expense Tracking

Expense tracking can be important for small business owners that have multiple employees, and/or clients that require billing of project based expenses.

Notable Tools:
Receipt bank
ShoeBoxed

3. Cash Flow and Forecasting

Cash flow management and planning is an important consideration for companies with irregular cash flow. Cash flow apps may integrate with existing accounting platforms.

Notable Tools:
Float
Crunchboards
Dryrun

4. Payments/eCommerce

eCommerce channels continue to grow in popularity for small business and barriers to entry continue to decrease. Online payment processing is also an important consideration.

Notable Tools:
Shopify
BigCommerce
Magento
Stripe
Braintree

5. Invoicing

Many small businesses need to invoice clients and accept payments easily. Sending invoices by email and accepting online payments can reduce aging receivables.

Notable Tools:
Freshbooks
Harvest
Quickbooks
Xero

II. Sales

Sales is the lifeblood of any business and the challenges for small businesses can vary. Here are the more common areas:

6. Sales Intelligence & Tracking

Understanding and tracking sales opportunities helps to reduce uncertainty for small business owners.

Notable Tools:
Pipedrive
Salesforce

7. Point of Sale

Point of Sale systems help small business owners provide a smooth retail experience for their customers and make taking payments a snap.

Notable Tools:
Square
Airsquare
Vend
Shopify

8. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Up-to-date information in a centralized location helps small business teams to improve customer service and increase sales opportunities.

Notable Tools:
Insightly
CapsuleCRM
Highrise
Zoho

10. Contract Management

Managing client contracts is important to avoid duplications and errors.

Notable Tools:
PandaDocs
Adobe EchoSign

11. Accounts Receivables Management

Managing accounts receivable is key to a small business staying in the black. There is software that can help manage aging receivables and improve payment by clients.

Notable Tools:
WebAR
Simplicity Collection Software
Beyond ARM

12. Donor Management

Managing donors and events is a critical task for non-profits. Specialized donor management systems are often similar to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems but have some specific features that may better-suit a non-profit organization.

Notable Tools:
DonorPerfect Fundraising Software
NeonCRM
SalsaCRM

13. Marketing Automation

Marketing automation tools can be an important component for increasing traffic to a business website and increasing the number of prospects that the business may serve.

Notable Tools:
Hubspot
SharpSpring
Marketo
Customer.io
Ontraport
ActiveCampaign

III. People

When looking at managing people effectively in small business you should consider the following:

14. Payroll

Reducing payroll management helps small business owners stay focused on their small business.

Notable Tools:
Payment Evolution
CloudPay
Quickbooks Payroll

15. Meetings & Webinars

Connecting with clients and suppliers online can help reduce travel costs and increase efficiency.

Notable Tools:
GoToMeeting
Zoom

16. Time Tracking

Project-based businesses require a detailed understanding of employee time to invoice accurately and analyze project profitability.

Notable Tools:
Harvest
Freshbooks
Freckle
Toggl
TimeCamp

17. Collaboration & Team Communication

Internal collaboration is an important way for small business employees and teams to move projects forward.

Notable Tools:
Slack
Hipchat
Basecamp
Skype

18. Resource Scheduling

Managing employee schedules and their availability to work on projects is important to avoid cost and schedule overruns.

Notable Tools:
Harvest Forecast
10,000 Feet

IV. Products & Services

Service companies form the backbone of small business and the needs may vary greatly depending on the type of service business. Apps to help in this area include:

19. Project Management

Project management tools are important for many professional service and project based service businesses. Project management tools can range from simple task based tools to professional service automation (PSA) SAAS apps.

Notable Tools:
Basecamp
Wrike
Asana

20. Professional Services Automation

Many professional service companies want an all-in-one solution to manage their people, documents, projects and finances.

Notable Tools:
Accelo
Mavenlink
Replicon

21. Subscription Management

Subscription management tools that integrate with various payment processors are becoming more popular with the increase in recurring service business models.

Notable Tools:
Chargify
Fusebill
Recurly

22. Field Services Management

A Field service management (FSM) system combines hardware and a cloud-based service to enable companies to manage their resources, including vehicles, workers, job activity, schedule and dispatch workers, and even integrate with inventory and financial systems.

Notable Tools:
Jobber
mHelpDesk

23. Productivity and Workflow

Productivity and workflow software is built to help save a user time by automating routine tasks, such as data entry and email filtering.

Notable Tools:
KissFlow
LiquidPlanner
Clarizen

24. Customer Service / Help Desk

Small business may require a more formalized customer service or help desk system to manage customer feedback, complaints and returns.

Notable Tools:
Desk
Zendesk
Intercom

25. Inventory

Cloud-based inventory software tracks inventory levels, orders, sales and deliveries. It’s also often used in the manufacturing industry to create a work orders, bills for materials and other production-related documents.

Notable Tools:
inflow
tradegecko
orderbot

26. Proposal

Proposal management can help reduce time spent on proposals and standardize proposal development

Notable Tools:
Bidsketch
Proposify
Quoteroller

V. Data

Managing financial and small business data can range from simple to complex. The more common data pinch points centre around:

28. Business Intelligence & Reporting

Reporting and reporting dashboard improve the visibility of data in a small business.

Notable Tools:
Domo
Zoho Reports

29. Storage

Cloud-based storage increases to decrease in cost with many small business owners turning to this solution vs onsite storage solutions.

Notable Tools:
Dropbox
Box.com
GoogleDrive
OneDrive

30. Document Management

Storing small business documents in the cloud can improve collaboration and reduce IT costs.

Notable Tools:
Zoho Docs
Flight
Docuware

31. Analytics

Website analytics is important for small business websites to improve decisions regarding site visitor behaviour.

Notable Tools:
Google Analytics
KissMetrics
Mixpanel

32. Asset Management

Asset management systems monitor and track things assets, such as equipment and buildings through to assets such as human capital and intellectual property. IT Asset Management is one of the most common needs, tracking software and hardware in a business.

Notable Tools:
Samanage
ServiceNow
FreshService (IT)

33. Enterprise Resource Management (ERP)

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is business-management software that a business uses to collect, store, manage and interpret key data from different business activities. These tasks often include product planning, purchases, manufacturing, inventory and delivery in an integrated system.

Notable Tools:
Netsuite
Brightpearl
Max ERP

35. Backup, Disaster Recovery

Online systems used to not only back up key files and resources but to help get the business back up and running quickly.

Notable Tools:
Singlehop
Acronis

Software Review Sites

Here are some resources for researching your options and reviewing the ratings:

Software Advice
Capterra
Getapp

Disclaimer: We’re not recommending these tools and aren’t making any warranties but we think this may be a good place to start.


Dryrun can help your clients manage their cash flow and sales pipeline and gives you a platform to offer advice.

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Accountants Guide to Cloud Tools