Accounting software - Free solutions | BDC.ca

Accounting software

Most organizations already use accounting software to issue invoices, track accounts payable, manage payroll and so on.

How does accounting software help?

Accounting software can help you:

  • increase staff productivity
  • get insights into overall financial performance
  • create consolidated financial statements
  • improve data accuracy
  • decrease outstanding accounts receivable and
  • make fact-based decisions.

What does accounting software do?

Accounting software handles all financial aspects of your company. The simplest programs help you pay bills, prepare invoices, calculate sales taxes, automate general ledger transactions, and track cash flow, revenue and expenses.

More sophisticated versions may include modules for payroll, inventory control, sales analysis and enhanced reporting. Some systems are customized to the needs of specific industries.

Consider today’s needs and tomorrow’s plans

Many small businesses start with off-the-shelf accounting software but outgrow it after a few years. You may want to consider whether the vendor you select addresses more complex needs such as multi-currency or multi-company requirements, and will let you easily upgrade in the near future to a more advanced solution, such as an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

As your needs become more complex, ERP systems allow you to centralize internal and external information across your organization to help you plan and allocate resources more effectively. By giving everyone in your organization access to the same up-to-date information, they help you break down internal boundaries between teams and automate core processes. Worldwide vendors that are known for their ERP solutions include SAP, Oracle JD Edwards, Baan, and Microsoft Dynamics, to name a few.

However, since the price for ERP software can easily range from $10,000 to $100,000 plus implementation fees, and the focus of this review is on free and low-cost applications, ERP solutions have not been taken into consideration.


Free and low-cost accounting software

If you are looking for low-cost or free accounting products, you may want to consider the following. (SaaS refers to “software as a service.”)

Revised January 2014

  Free Low cost English French English support French support Data stored in Canada Cloud or SaaS
AccountEdge AccountEdge isn't free AccountEdge has a low cost AccountEdge is offered in English AccountEdge isn't offered in French AccountEdge offers support in English AccountEdge doesn't offer support in French AccountEdge doesn’t have data stored in Canada AccountEdge doesn’t use the cloud or SaaS
Acomba Accounting Suite Acomba Accounting Suite isn't free Acomba Accounting Suite has a low cost Acomba Accounting Suite is offered in English Acomba Accounting Suite is offered in French Acomba Accounting Suite offers support in English Acomba Accounting Suite offers support in French Acomba Accounting Suite has data stored in Canada Acomba Accounting Suite doesn’t use the cloud or SaaS
Avantage SMB Avantage SMB isn't free Avantage SMB has a low cost Avantage SMB is offered in English Avantage SMB is offered in French Avantage SMB offers support in English Avantage SMB offers support in French Avantage SMB has data stored in Canada Avantage SMB doesn’t use the cloud or SaaS
BIG4Books.com BIG4Books.com is free BIG4Books.com has a low cost BIG4Books.com is offered in English BIG4Books.com isn’t offered in French BIG4Books.com offers support in English BIG4Books.com doesn’t offer support in French BIG4Books.com doesn’t have data stored in Canada BIG4Books.com uses the cloud or SaaS
Dynacom Accounting Dynacom Accounting isn't free Dynacom Accounting has a low cost Dynacom Accounting is offered in English Dynacom Accounting is offered in French Dynacom Accounting offers support in English Dynacom Accounting offers support in French Dynacom Accounting has data stored in Canada Dynacom Accounting uses the cloud or SaaS
FreeAgent FreeAgent isn't free FreeAgent has a low cost FreeAgent is offered in English FreeAgent is partly offered in French FreeAgent offers support in English FreeAgent doesn’t offer support in French FreeAgent doesn’t have data stored in Canada FreeAgent uses the cloud or SaaS
FreshBooks FreshBooks is free FreshBooks has a low cost FreshBooks is offered in English FreshBooks is partly offered in French FreshBooks offers support in English FreshBooks doesn’t offer support in French FreshBooks doesn’t have data stored in Canada FreshBooks uses the cloud or SaaS
FrontAccounting Online FrontAccounting Online isn't free FrontAccounting Online has a low cost FrontAccounting Online is offered in English FrontAccounting Online is offered in French FrontAccounting Online partly offers support in English FrontAccounting Online partly offers support in French FrontAccounting Online doesn’t have data stored in Canada FrontAccounting Online uses the cloud or SaaS
GnuCash GnuCash is always free --- GnuCash is offered in English GnuCash is offered in French GnuCash partly offers support in English GnuCash partly offers support in French GnuCash Online has data stored in Canada GnuCash doesn't use the cloud or SaaS
Kashoo Kashoo is free Kashoo has a low cost Kashoo is offered in English Kashoo is partly in French Kashoo offers support in English Kashoo doesn’t offer support in French Kashoo doesn’t have data stored in Canada Kashoo uses the cloud or SaaS
QuickBooks QuickBooks is free QuickBooks has a low cost QuickBooks is offered in English QuickBooks is offered in French QuickBooks offers support in English QuickBooks offers support in French QuickBooks has data stored in Canada QuickBooks uses the cloud or SaaS
Sage 50 Accounting (Canadian Edition) Sage 50 Accounting (Canadian Edition) is free Sage 50 Accounting (Canadian Edition) has a low cost Sage 50 Accounting (Canadian Edition) is offered in English Sage 50 Accounting (Canadian Edition) is offered in French Sage 50 Accounting (Canadian Edition) offers support in English Sage 50 Accounting (Canadian Edition) offers support in French Sage 50 Accounting (Canadian Edition) has data stored in Canada Sage 50 Accounting (Canadian Edition) doesn’t use the cloud or SaaS
Wave Accounting Wave Accounting is always free --- Wave Accounting is offered in English Wave Accounting isn’t offered in French Wave Accounting offers support in English Wave Accounting doesn’t offer support in French Wave Accounting has data stored in Canada Wave Accounting uses the cloud or SaaS
Xero Xero isn't free Xero has a low cost Xero is offered in English Xero isn’t offered in French Xero offers support in English Xero doesn’t offer support in French Xero doesn’t have data stored in Canada Xero uses the cloud or SaaS
Zoho Books Zoho Books isn't free Zoho Books has a low cost Zoho Books is offered in English Zoho Books isn’t offered in French Zoho Books offers support in English Zoho Books doesn’t offer support in French Zoho Books doesn’t have data stored in Canada Zoho Books uses the cloud or SaaS
AccountEdge

AccountEdge offers business accounting software that is compliant with Canadian sales taxes and payroll requirements. In addition to accounting, the solution runs payroll, helps you manage inventory, offers a time tracker and even the possibility of setting up a web store via Enstore, a free e-commerce platform. Both Windows and Mac editions are available for a one-time fee. Customers only pay additional fees for upgrades and additional support.

Acomba Accounting Suite

Acomba Accounting Suite and Acomba Online Accounting Suite are much more than a simple piece of accounting software. They offer you a modular approach and a lot of scalability, although they don’t support multi-currency. You may need the help of a professional to install and configure the solution.

Avantage SMB

Avantage SMB is a bilingual, multi-company accounting management package that provides vertical solutions for commerce, distribution, manufacturing and construction firms, and professional services organizations. To help you decide whether it suits your needs, the company offers a free trial.

BIG4Books.com

BIG4Books.com consists of free online accounting software sponsored by advertising. You can start with a free account and then, if you are satisfied, upgrade to a low-cost, ad-free subscription.

Dynacom Accounting

Dynacom Accounting offers scalable accounting and financial solutions that can grow with you. The product family includes LITE (for start-ups), SMB and ERP editions, and can be customized to fit your needs. The SMB and ERP editions are available on SaaS platforms, and the free trial runs for one month.

FreeAgent

FreeAgent is a web-based application specifically designed to meet the accounting needs of freelancers and small businesses. Developed by a U.K.-based company, the product may use slightly different terminology than that commonly used in North America. The pricing structure is quite simple: the monthly fee includes all features, upgrades and support.

FreshBooks

FreshBooks is a Toronto-based cloud accounting solution designed for small business owners. As such, it may lack some advanced functionalities, but it is a very effective way for service-based businesses to track projects, time-sheets, invoices and expenses in one place. It has recently partnered with PaymentEvolution to make payroll painless for small business owners. The basic plan is free, but you will need to upgrade to a paid version to enjoy all the features.

FrontAccounting Online

FrontAccounting is available either as a free, downloadable, open-source accounting solution or as an affordable web-based application (FrontAccounting Online). Designed for companies that need a robust accounting application, it also includes some ERP features, such as inventory and stock tracking, as well as manufacturing modules. It supports multiple currencies, languages and users.

GnuCash

GnuCash answers the small-business accounting needs of open-source enthusiasts. Available in multiple languages GnuCash needs to be downloaded on the platform of your choice and is supported by a community of users via the GnuCash wiki. Beware that if you want to use GnuCash for business purposes, it is probably wise to stick to the stable versions.

Kashoo

Kashoo is another cloud-based accounting application that is particularly affordable if you have multiple users and if you use multiple currencies. It also allows you to track your personal and business accounts separately for a small additional fee. A free version is also available, although it is very basic. Kashoo’s iPad app is very popular.

QuickBooks

QuickBooks is a line of accounting software products designed for small business owners, entrepreneurs, freelancers and accounting clerks without accounting training. The off-the-shelf installed version is widely used, and an online package (QuickBooks Online) is now available in several versions for varying monthly subscription fees. The iPad and iPhone apps offer some interesting features such as the ability to record a sale and payment using a sales receipt, and to add all the customers and vendors stored as phone contacts right into QuickBooks.

Sage 50 Accounting (Canadian Edition)

Sage 50 Accounting (Canadian Edition)  is a fully bilingual, Canadian accounting solution, used by more than 500,000 Canadian businesses. It offers a 30-day free trial version and a line of accounting software that can evolve with your needs. Recognizing there are differences within the Canadian market, the latest version features Quebec-specific compliance functionalities. It is very affordable for a couple of users, but if you anticipate you will have more than five users, you should compare prices with other multi-user products on the market.

Wave Accounting

Wave Accounting is a free cloud accounting solution that runs on all major browsers, on both PCs and Macs. One of its standout features is the ability to set up your accountant, bookkeeper or business partner as a “guest collaborator.” Regrettably, the payroll system cannot accommodate the needs of Quebec businesses.

Xero

Xero is another online accounting software package for small businesses. It seamlessly integrating with point-of-sale (POS) software and CRM solutions. Unlike some competing products, its bank feeds support selected Canadian banks so you can keep track of your cash flow in real-time. Although there is no free version, all pricing plans allow for unlimited users and include unlimited customer support.

Zoho Books

Zoho Books handles a range of small business accounting tasks, including reporting, invoicing, time tracking and time sheets, and provides an insightful dashboard. However, some features—such as automatic bank feedsdo not work with Canadian banks. Like other Zoho products, it offers a 30-day free trial, and integrates easily with other Zoho solutions, such as Zoho CRM or Zoho Projects.


This table lists applications alphabetically and isn’t exhaustive. Hyperlinks to external sites do not constitute endorsement by BDC of those websites or any information, opinions, products or services expressed or described on them.

Furthermore, the list is only a starting point and excludes applications not offered either in English or in French, or that are neither low cost nor free. When assessing which solution is best for your organization, you will probably consider many other factors.

BDC will review and edit this list regularly. If you are an accounting software vendor and would like us to consider adding your solution, please contact us.

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