Most businesses consider tracking financial health and processing financial transactions to be rather important. For this reason, accounting software and services are indispensable to businesses small and large. Accounting solutions simplify finance so that non-accounting types can easily manage financial operations and comply with legal standards. A formal accounting system avoids costly mistakes due to human error or inconsistency while also improving financial transparency, automating repetitive tasks, and facilitating accurate forecasting around expenses, income, inventory, and staffing.
This edition of PCMag Business Choice Awards focuses on accounting software and services, essential tools for businesses to track, analyze, and report on their financial status. This is an especially important category for our readers as most business leaders feel that staying on top of their financial status is a fairly important component of running a successful business. The Business Choice Awards extend the Readers' Choice Awards by garnering feedback about the hardware, software, and services our readers deploy, administer, maintain, and use in a business environment.
As a devoted Business Choice Awards reader, you already know how this works. Our survey asked respondents to rate their overall satisfaction, reliability, and tech support experience with the accounting software or service they use, plus the likelihood they would recommend it to others.
If you select, deploy, or administer the products in our Business Choice Awards, or if you advise or manage people in these roles, then you know how critical it is to choose the right products. The results of the PCMag Business Choice Awards survey are invaluable when doing so.
You can be part of Business Choice! Sign up for the Readers' Choice Survey mailing list to receive invitations in the future.
Looking for some expert recommendations? Check out the PCMag Business Software Index Accounting & Finance section, and read The Best Small Business Accounting Software.
Accounting Software and Services
As many business owners have discovered, it's accrual world. Kidding aside, accounting software and services are much more than electronic general ledgers. They manage the books plus fixed assets, billing and invoicing, accounts payable and receivable, budgeting and forecasting, payroll, inventory, and more. Make sure to look for the features you know you need and not get sidetracked by bells and whistles. Remember that reporting (historical and forecasting) is a critical feature so make sure you can quickly and easily customize, run, and interpret the reports you need.
In this year's survey, four accounting software and services received enough responses to be included as finalists: Microsoft, Quickbooks, Quicken, and Sage. PeopleSoft from Oracle and SAP, finalists in 2017, didn't receive enough responses, while our core four have remained the same since 2014.
This year's winner of the Business Choice Award for best accounting software or service is Microsoft, which earned top scores in overall satisfaction (7.7), percentage of respondents requiring tech support (15 percent), tech support satisfaction (7.9), and likelihood to recommend (7.4).
Sage came in a close second with a reliability score of 8.1, yet suffered from a poor showing in the technical support categories.
Readers reported that it's not particularly satisfying to use personal finance software for business accounting. Quicken brings up the rear with the lowest scores in overall satisfaction (7.0), reliability (7.4), tech support satisfaction (4.5), and likelihood to recommend (6.6).
In general, no one is in love with their accounting solution. Year after year, accounting software and services score on the low side. Users view accounting solutions as necessary evils and providers don't seem to be locked in a hotly contested race for innovation.
A very important measure of a software or service is the response to the critical question "How likely are you to recommend your accounting software or service to a colleague?" Microsoft rises to the top with a 7.4 (down from last year's 7.5), Quickbooks scored a 7.2 (down from last year's 7.9), and Sage a 6.9 (down from last year's 7.2), followed by Quicken in the basement at 6.6 (down from last year's 7.4). Scores overall consistent with the prior two years.
This question is used to calculate the Net Promoter Score, which quantifies the differences between accounting software and services. Sage pulled an upset with a 49 percent, a dramatic improvement over last year's 7 percent. Next comes Quickbooks at 39 percent (up from last year's 28 percent), followed by Microsoft at 34 percent (a noteworthy improvement from last year's 8 percent) and Quicken at the bottom with 21 percent (a slight improvement over last year's 15 percent). Everyone is recommending these service just slightly more than last time.
There's a remarkable trend emerging in tech support: Microsoft improves while others decline. At 15 percent (10 percent last year), Microsoft once again had the lowest percentage of respondents requiring tech support with the highest tech support satisfaction score (7.9). Sage had an unfortunate 34 percent of users requiring tech help and a second-place score for tech support satisfaction of 6.5 (a striking decrease from last year's 8.1). For the fourth year in a row, Quicken trails the pack in tech support satisfaction with a 4.5 (even worse than last year's 5.0).
See all of our survey results for accounting services.
It's clear from the results, PCMag readers think you should stick with the business pro services to have pro-business accounting. And that helped put Microsoft, maker of Dynamics (which handles a lot more than just accounting), their top pick.
We email survey invitations to PCMag.com community members, specifically subscribers to our Readers' Choice Survey mailing list. The surveys are hosted by SurveyMonkey, which also performs our data collection. This survey was in the field from November 27, 2017 to December 18, 2017.
Respondents were asked to rate their accounting services using multiple questions about their overall satisfaction with the solution, as well as experiences with technical support within the past 12 months.
Because the goal of the survey is to understand how the email marketing solutions compare to one another and not how one respondent's experience compares to another's, we use the average of the email marketing solutions' rating, not the average of every respondent's rating. In all cases, the overall ratings are not based on averages of other scores in the table; they are based on answers to the question, "Overall, how satisfied are you with your accounting software or service?"
Scores not represented as a percentage are on a scale of 0 to 10 where 10 is the best.
Net Promoter Scores are based on the concept introduced by Fred Reichheld in his 2006 bestseller, The Ultimate Question, that no other question can better define the loyalty of a company's customers than "how likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?" This measure of brand loyalty is calculated by taking the percent of respondents who answered 9 or 10 (promoters) and subtracting the percent who answered 0 through 6 (detractors).
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