Cloud accounting – Choosing the right software package

The benefits of cloud accounting are undeniable – 24/7 insight into your commercial finances, the ability to calculate expenses and tax in real time, and features that make invoicing and paying your own outgoings fast and straightforward. Yet despite their advantages, and the fact they’ve been around for almost as long as the humble desktop PC has, they remain somewhat mysterious for the cloud accounting newbie. Allow us to clarify this world for you – by explaining what it is that makes each of the major platforms unique, and the ways in which you can select the one most suited to your needs.


Xero has been designed with small to medium businesses in mind; its features include account management, billing, invoices, expense reporting, and payroll.

Xero’s starter plan is an affordable, basic cloud accounting solution, however you should take note of its limitations, such as only being able to raise 5 invoices, 5 purchase orders and 20 bank reconciliations per month. It’s also not going to be suitable if you work with multiple currencies.

The same limitation for multiple currencies remains for the standard plan, but it does offer unlimited invoices, estimates, purchase orders and bank reconciliations.

At the top end of the packages is the Xero premium bundle, which allows for all of the above plus multicurrency accounting.
This also provides for payroll for up to 5 employees (anything above this will cost an additional £1 per employee).


QuickBooks is a serious contender when vying for the crown of ease of use, automated accounting and simple and fast set up. QuickBooks offers three packages…

This package offers basic sales, expenses and profit tracking, and also allows you to create invoices and sales receipts – consider this a light version however, which is only really suitable for a contractor or freelancer.

The QuickBooks Essentials package ups the ante a little, adding features such as company snapshots, supplier bills and payment management, multiple currencies and repeat invoice scheduling, as well as allowing for three different users.

This is one robust level of service, with functionality that includes stock level tracking, employee time tracking and transaction classification as according to business area.


Having been established in 2005 KashFlow is one of the longest standing players in the industry. Here’s a rundown of the differences as according to pricing plan…

Starter plan
The Starter Plan provides for everything the average small business and sole entrepreneur needs, including the ability to create quotes, invoices, purchase orders, bills and automatic bank reconciliation. You can also import data from other platforms and formats, such as QuickBook, Sage and CSV files.
You should note that at this level, you won’t benefit from payroll features, and that you can only have a maximum of 10 invoices and 25 bank transactions per month.

Business plan
This mid weight plan increases KashFlow’s features, it accommodates an unlimited number of invoices, purchase orders and estimates, as well as allowing for unlimited bank transactions.

Business + Payroll plan
This package provides for the complete suite of KashFlow features, including the ability to run payroll.

Sage One

Like QuickBooks, Sage One has a pretty friendly interface, with two core packages…

This self-employed/contractor focused package supports multiple-currencies and provides features for invoicing, and easily entering income and expenses.

The Accounting package features all that the Starter package does, but also includes the ability to track quotes and submit VAT returns. What’s unique about this is that it features helpful organisational extras such as project tracking and expense management.

If you wish to add payroll to either package, you’ll be looking at an added payment of £5 per month.

Hammonds Accountants do things differently – here, you’re treated as a person, not a number, and our accountants go beyond the figures to provide solid commercial advice that grows business. Find out how we can help – talk with our team on 0203 007 4990, or send us a message by email and we’ll be right back in touch: .