Looking for the best accounting practice management software for your firm?

Good news, because this is the ULTIMATE accounting practice management software round-up post.

In this post, I’ll be providing you with a DEEP comparison of how these systems handle:

  • Task & project management tracking
  • Workflow automation
  • Collaboration with your team & clients
  • Time & billing
  • … and much, much more!

In no particular order, check out the 12 best accounting practice management software products on the market.

Let’s go!

Accounting Practice Management Software Basics

Before jumping in, let’s look at what purpose accounting practice management software services and some categories that I’ll be using to base my roundup on.

The Purpose of Accounting Practice Management Software

Boiled down to the absolute basics, an accounting practice management software is there to ensure that work is tracked, delegated, and completed on time.

Tasks with deadlines need to be logged and then assigned to team members so that you can all collaborate together.

Equally important is just how efficiently the system allows you and your team can then collaborate on this work.

With firms having hundreds and even thousands of tasks across the business, you’ll need a system that can keep everything organized and everyone on the same page.

Important Categories to Evaluate

When evaluating accounting practice management software, I would recommend taking a look at it in terms of the following categories:

Task & Project Management Tracking

Without proper task & project management tracking, your software is essentially useless.

Here I want to see how easy it is to:

  • Add work to the software
  • Assign work
  • Track deadlines

Collaboration

Once the work has been added to the software, I want to evaluate how easy it is to collaborate on this work with my team and my clients and what functionality exists to help make this part of things as efficient as possible.

Time & Billing

When I ran my firm, I never tracked time and as a result I never did any billing through my accounting practice management software (invoicing & billing was monthly recurring set it and forget it).

But time & billing within your accounting practice management software is a must for many firms, so I’ll include this as an important category to evaluate.

Reporting

When evaluating software of this kind, you might have certain reporting requirements. I’ll take a look at the options available within each software.

Integrations

If you’re looking to automate workflows in your firm, you’ll likely have to rely on third-party pieces of software that can integrate within your accounting practice management software. The more integrations available, the more flexibility you’ll have.

User-Friendliness

I believe more firms should place more weight on this category. Nobody likes dealing with old, archaic, clunky software to perform their duties. While this category is subjective, I’ll provide my opinions below.

Pricing

This category obviously looks at how much the software costs.

Teamwork

Read below to see why I used Teamwork in my firm and with Future Firm.

Accounting Practice Management Software Overview

Teamwork (affiliate link) is the piece of software I settled on to manage work in my previous firm many years back. And for good reason. It’s an awesome piece of software with spectacular support.

While Teamwork is not a specialized software for accounting firms, it does work exceptionally well.

Upon login, you’ll arrive on Teamwork’s homepage where you have a few different default views to choose from.

I tend to settle on the “My Work” view which shows my tasks due that day and I leave this tab open all day long:

teamwork dashboard accounting practice management software

On the left, you’ll also notice other options to select as your default view, where you’re able to select and even customize different widgets to see on your dashboard.

Moving on from the home page you have:

  • The “projects” tab: This shows you a full list of your projects.
  • The “everything” tab: Shows you everything across the entire firm. You’ll see below, that within the “tasks” option, that I now have a view of all tasks entered into Teamwork, with filters on the right that allow me to filter anything I want to see:

teamwork everything tab accounting practice management software

Past that, we have the:

  • Calendar tab (which I rarely use)
  • Statuses tab which allows you to have a social media type status on your profile (not super useful)
  • People tab: Where I would recommend centralizing all info about your clients (names, phone numbers, email addresses, etc).

Switching to the project view, within each individual project in Teamwork, you have a few sections:

  • Overview (not so useful)
  • Tasks (where all your tasks and deadlines are for that project)
  • Milestones (ie. goals)
  • Messages (for you to chat about project items)
  • Files (a place for you to store whatever files you want related to the project)
  • Time (where you can see all time tracked)
  • Notebooks (a place to store notes)
  • Billing (where invoices can be raised and tracked)
  • People (all people on the project)
  • Settings

teamwork projects accounting practice management software

Task & Project Management Tracking

I like to set up each client as a project and within that project would reside all tasks relating to that client.

Getting tasks into Teamwork can be done in a few ways.

You’ll want to set up your task templates first, which need to be created from scratch, unlike some of the other options below which have template libraries.

Here’s an example of 2 sample templates I set up:

accounting practice management software task template teamwork

You can see in the second template that I’m able to assign the days that would be applicable and also set the tasks to repeat. This is useful for a lot of recurring accounting tasks.

Once the tasks are dropped into the project, managing the tasks come with a variety of options once you click into the task.

You can:

  • Re-assign the task (or assign to multiple people)
  • Add a description
  • Attach files to it
  • Set user privileges
  • Set the priority (low, medium, high)
  • Record time against it
  • Add dependencies
  • Make it recurring
  • Add reminders (email or SMS)
  • Add dependencies
  • Add tags
  • Add the percentage of work completed
  • Forecast time

teamwork task accounting practice management software

What I love about Teamwork is that they provide you with a lot of options to manage tasks, without it being complicated.

Over and above the regular project view that I showed in the overview section, you can have a Gantt chart view:

teamwork accounting practice management software gannt

Or more interestingly, a Board view (ie. Kanban board), which makes visualization of work far easier and comes with lots of flexibility:

teamwork board view accounting practice management software

When it comes to managing deadlines, I like to use the “Everything” view and sort and filter as appropriate which was discussed in the overview section.

Collaboration

One of the things I like best about Teamwork is the ease at which I can collaborate on tasks and projects.

In fact, I learned about Teamwork from Will Lopez years back when we both started on our cloud journey. Will, who’s now Head of Accountant Community at Gusto, believes that,

Cloud-practice life should always be in a state of what I’ve coined, “continuity of transparent collaboration.” Meaning, our clients were invited into our working space, always knew what we were up to at every single click, and they were able to collaborate with us in real-time on just about anything. It kept me and my team honest at all times and held my clients accountable for the stuff we needed from them. One team always in sync.

Comments

You can comment on just about anything in Teamwork, which I love!

For the most part, most of the time I’ll comment on tasks, like the example below:

teamwork task comments accounting practice management software

If you add files, links, notes, or anything else in Teamwork, generally, you can have discussions on these items via the comment functionality. It just makes it much more efficient and clean to do it this way versus in email.

Notebooks

Part of working efficiently is making sure everyone is on the same page. This is where Notebooks in Teamwork help.

Here’s a test notebook I created, where, upon it being saved, the Manager will be notified as you can see in this example:

teamwork notebooks accounting practice management software

Notice how the privacy can also be set, which is something that’s available on pretty much any item you add to Teamwork.

Client Collaboration

Given that all elements of a Teamwork project can have different user permissions set on them, you can also invite your clients to collaborate on projects together. You can give them as much or as little access to the project as you’d like.

Personally, I would invite clients into a Teamwork project and give them just access to an onboarding checklist (super efficient), but you can open it up further if you want to.

File Sharing

I feel that file sharing within Teamwork is one of the best out there. It’s very easy to attach files to just about any item in Teamwork (tasks, notebooks, projects, etc) and all uploaded files will be centralized in the “Files” section of each project.

Time & Billing

Teamwork comes with basic time & billing functionality, which might not cut it for firms heavily oriented towards time-based billing.

You can:

  • Log time manually
  • Set a timer
  • Set the time as billable or non-billable

teamwork time accounting practice management software

From there, you’d be able to head to the “billing” section of the project to turn that time into an invoice.

Again, the invoicing functionality is basic but functional.

Reporting

Overall, I would consider reporting in Teamwork to be on the weaker side, except (and this is a big one), for one core report, which is, in my opinion, critical for any accounting firm out there.

On the whole, most of what you’ll find at a firm-wide level will be found in the “Everything” tab, mentioned in the overview section.

Work Outstanding

When it came to work outstanding, I would personally rely on a simple list view of tasks across the entire firm in the “Everything” tab to see what was overdue and what was coming up. Using the filters, I’d then filter and sort by dates, individuals, tags and more. Personally, I’m OK with a list of what’s outstanding, I don’t need anything fancier than that.

Time

Again, within the “Everything” tab, you can head on over to “Time” to see:

  • All billable time
  • All non-billable time
  • All time invoiced
  • All time not invoiced

Note that any firm-wide WIP calculations won’t be nicely laid out for you, which could be a deal-breaker for some if you need this in your system.

Workload

Here is where Teamwork destroys the competition. This section essentially helps plan your firm’s capacity and workload.

While most firm record time, very few project their forecasted time commitments. And how firms can operate without looking into their time commitments looking into the future is beyond me.

Many months in advance, I need to know if my team is going to be overworked so that I can hire or reallocate work. The only way to achieve this is through capacity/workload planning.

Check this video to learn more about how Teamwork handles it.

Integrations

Here’s another area where Teamwork shines.

First, they have native integrations with their core suite of products, one of them being Teamwork Desk, which is an awesome help desk option for your firm (click here for more info on help desk software and why I like them).

Second, they have about 60 third-party app integrations, including a whole bunch of the best cloud accounting software apps, like Xero & QuickBooks Online.

User-Friendliness

Of course this is subjective, but I would rank this piece of accounting practice management software as exceptionally user-friendly. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons why I personally chose it in the first place.

Pricing

I think Teamwork‘s pricing is spot on.

  1. The monthly price per user is reasonable
  2. They have a Free Forever plan that you can play around with
  3. Most firms should opt for the Premium plan to take advantage of their workload feature

Senta

Based out of the UK, Senta’s a powerful, neat piece of accounting practice management software that you might not have heard of, but likely should consider.

Accounting Practice Management Software Overview

The first thing that I’ll say about Senta is that it’s a very well-thought-out piece of accounting practice management software geared specifically for accounting firms.

And don’t take my word for it either. Industry pioneer Will Farnell of Farnell Clarke and App Advisory Plus says,

After researching the market and having many hours of demos, we picked Senta because we could make it work for us and tailor it to the FC way; Senta’s capabilities blew our minds in terms of the possibilities of automation and process mapping.

When you first log in, you’re hit with a pretty massive, customizable dashboard where you can add and remove about 20 different kinds of widgets.

senta dashboard

Most widgets, to me, are not super useful other than the ones giving me a snapshot of overdue and upcoming tasks.

The navigation bar is simple enough:

  • The “Clients” tab provides a list of all your client records
  • The “Work” tab has a bunch of options, but generally is there to show you different views of the tasks and jobs outstanding
  • The “Documents” tab allows you to see all uploaded documents
  • There’s a greyed out email icon that lights up when there are messages that need to be approved (more on that later)
  • The cog icon on the right is where you’ll want to spend the majority of your time if you’re just getting set up on Senta

While there’s a lot of data within the “Clients” & “Work” tabs, everything is highly filterable.

Senta has 3 main building blocks for your projects which you’ll need to be familiar with:

  1. Services: A collection of jobs (ex: a quarterly sales tax filing)
  2. Jobs: A collection of tasks (ex: 1 sales tax filing)
  3. Tasks: An individual action within a job (ex: send sales tax filing for review)

Task & Project Management Tracking

Before you start adding work to Senta, you’ll need to configure your task/job/service templates, as mentioned above.

There’s a lot to unpack here, so we won’t go into it all, but there are many smart features to set up your templates.

When creating job templates, you’ll need to add tasks to the job.

For instance, here’s part of the client onboarding job:

senta job settings accounting practice management software

Seems simple enough, but clicking on each task brings up a variety of options:

So each task can prompt a whole slew of actions to really help you create a pretty optimized process and workflow.

And beyond that, the additional tabs (which are dependent on the type of task you select) provide even greater control to:

  • Automate completion of the task based on other events occurring in Senta
  • Set the standard start & due dates
  • Set dependencies
  • Only create the task if certain filters apply (which you set in advance)

You can create some pretty powerful workflows if you set up your templates well.

From there, you would take those created jobs to set up your services and select:

  • If they recur and how often
  • The dates that are applicable
  • In the “general” tab, you can select whether this service should be automatically added to each new client added

senta add new service accounting practice management software

Once that’s done, you’ll be able to start adding clients and adding work to each client.

Here’s what a client record will look like (on the “work” tab) which shows outstanding and upcoming jobs:

senta client record accounting practice management software

By editing the client record, you’ll be able to add services that we have already set up. And I really enjoyed the process of adding work.

As you add work, a new tab will show up in the client record, as you can see with the payroll service that I just added:

senta accounting practice management software

All I need to do is fill in the blanks to get this service added to the “work” tab. The cool thing here is that these forms and the corresponding fields are fully customizable so that you’re collecting the info you need and getting your work set up properly.

Also, most of the tabs in the client record are simply default forms, which you can edit as you see fit, which I really love.

So as you can see, there’s a bit of set up required at the beginning, but following that, I think you have a system that’s able to track and manage work quite well.

Collaboration

Here’s another area where I think Senta is particularly strong.

Client Portal

Every contact that you add to Senta can be invited into this accounting practice management software to collaborate with you for things like:

  • Completing tasks
  • Adding documents
  • Requesting documents to be signed

Here’s what the client would see on their end:

senta portal

Notes

Functionality is super (!) basic here and could likely be improved, but you could add some notes to client records to keep everyone in the loop. I can see this area getting disorganized real quick though.

Document Sharing

It’s pretty neat that I can just drag files from my desktop directly into the app and they’ll be added to the client or job in question (if you’re on that page).

E-Signing

Once you upload a file, you can have that file sent for signature to your client if they’ve been invited into their portal. It’s a pretty basic e-signing app and it would be nice to be able to add signature fields similar to some of the other e-signature software on the market, so I’m not sure I’d use it.

Email

By connecting your email service (ex: Outlook, Gmail) to Senta, this accounting practice management software will pull in emails from relevant clients and organize them in their client record, giving you one place to review everything related to that client.

Above that, I like the feature that allows emails being sent to clients to be approved by the partner/manager. Obviously, you don’t want to review every single email, but there are situations where you may want your junior team members to handle the communications and you can simply approve some of those messages before they go out.

Auto-Chase

Here’s a nice feature to auto-remind your clients to complete certain tasks, though it appears that this only applies to tasks set up through a job template, which is less powerful than I would have hoped. As a result, it’s not as powerful as Karbon’s functionality in this area.

When you set up a “send email” task in a job template and enable auto-chase in the “email” tab, an auto-chase tab will appear with some options:

senta auto-chase accounting practice management software

Time & Billing

It’s quite clear that Senta was not designed for firms heavy into time & billing.

To record time, you need to enable time-tracking in the settings. Adding time means you need to click into the specific job. Once that’s done, you’ll enter a few details to log time.

Under the “work” tab in the navigation bar, you’ll then be able to see all-time recorded across the firm or you can view the time spent in each client record.

There are no invoicing capabilities within Senta.

Reporting

Other than some pretty basic dashboard widgets, there’s not a ton of reports available, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Most of what you’d be looking for would be in the “clients” or “work” tab in the navigation bar and there are some pretty strong filtering abilities, which is what I would personally rely on.

One report that gives you an overview of what’s coming up would be the “jobs summary” report, either in chart view:

senta jobs

Or summary view:

senta jobs summary 2

Integrations

Over and above being able to connect your email service to Senta, there’s some pretty good integrations available for firms:

  • Xero
  • QuickBooks Online
  • GoCardless
  • Practice Ignition
  • GoProposal
  • Xavier Analytics

Emphasis on Practice Ignition & GoProposal which can help get work into this accounting practice management software after acceptance of a proposal.

User-Friendliness

I thought the software was pretty intuitive and user-friendly but set up will likely take you a bit of time to master. There are a bunch of things that you can toy around with but after a few hours, I felt pretty comfortable with the basics of the app.

Pricing

Pretty simple. $29 USD per user per month with discounts on annual payments.

Karbon

Here’s a slick accounting practice management software option popular with accounting firms around the world.

Accounting Practice Management Software Overview

It’s hard to ignore the immediate difference in approach that Karbon takes compared to the rest of the pack.

To sign-up for Karbon, you’ll be prompted to login using your Office 365 or Gmail account.

From there, you’ll be brought directly into Karbon’s “triage” section, which is the centerpiece of this accounting practice management software:

karbon triage

We’ll dig into Triage a bit later, but essentially it’s a place that pulls in all your emails and allows you to respond within Karbon, assign them to others, log them against projects, and more.

The interface is minimalist with the navigation bar on the left-hand side of the screen, consisting of:

  • To-do: This is a summary of all items assigned to you
  • Work: This area contains all projects which consist of emails, notes, tasks, documents, etc.
  • Contacts: This is the CRM part of Karbon
  • Insights: The reporting area of the app

On the top right of the screen, you’ll be able to search for items and add items quickly.

Like Senta, Karbon has a bunch of pre-populated (though fully customizable) configurations that are ready to use, which they call:

  • Work templates: A standard procedure for a specific job (ex: client onboarding, monthly bookkeeping, etc)karbon work templates

And:

  • Workflows: Essentially the status of a particular job in a Kanban board view

karbon workflow

I asked Ian Vacin, co-founder of Karbon, what he feels makes Karbon special, to which he responded:

Karbon combines communication, workflow, and automation—everything that an accounting firm needs to collaborate and get work done. For our customers, this means greater efficiency, visibility over what matters, and a vastly improved client service. In the current environment, where firms everywhere are needing to align their distributed teams, Karbon is the ideal solution.”

Task & Project Management Tracking

Before starting to add work into Karbon, you’ll want to head over to your settings and adjust the work templates and workflows to suit your needs.

Within a given work template, you can fully customize the procedure (and certain automations) around it. For example, let’s look at part of the “accounting month-end close work” template:

karbon work templates

Within this given template, I’m able to:

  • Add/remove/modify the tasks required to complete this work
  • Assign each task to a team member (or a client)
  • Add an automation (what they call an “Automator”)
  • Add due dates

The automators you can add provide a nice touch to helping you push work through a pre-defined workflow, which I really like.

For example, if I click on the “complete month-end bookkeeping” task in the list, I can pull up an “add Automator” screen that looks like this:

karbon automator

By using automators in Karbon, you can help push the work (in this case “Accounting: month-end close”) into different:

  • Workflow statuses
  • Due dates
  • Assignees

This is nice because here we are actually leveraging some workflow automations. For example, ifthe month-end bookkeeping is marked as complete by the bookkeeper, the automators, for examples, can push the work to the manager, change the due date and also change the status into “in review.”

Once you have your work templates in place, you can start adding them to your clients.

Below you’ll notice that I have added the “Accounting: Month-end close” template to a Test client. And you can toggle between 3 tabs:

1) Timeline: This shows a timeline of all activity (tasks, notes, emails, etc) on the work

2) Tasks: This will show you the tasks outstanding on the work (in line with the work template I had pictured above)

3) Details: This will show you additional details about the work (ex: estimated time, people on the project, privacy settings, uploaded documents, etc)

If you aggregate all work items, you can see everything outstanding at a firm level (or an different levels using the filters) in a list view:

karbon accounting practice management software

Or in a multiple different Kanban views (a few examples below):

karbon kanban

karbon kanban 2

Remember, with automators in Karbon, work in the Kanban board can automatically be moved from one column to the next based on certain actions.

Then, if you want to see tasks that are only assigned to you (which you can sort & filter as well), just head over to the “To-do” screen:

karbon to do

Thing that can be in your “to-do” list can include:

  • Work items
  • Tasks within work items
  • Emails assigned to you from triage
  • Notes

Collaboration

Karbon includes some awesome collaboration features:

Triage

Here’s the big one. With triage, you can collaborate with your team exceptionally well on all emails, which is typically a big time suck for accounting firms. While it doesn’t fully replace help desk software, I believe it’s an excellent middle ground for the vast majority of firms out there.

By clicking on any email in the triage section, you’re presented with a few options to:

  • Assign the email to someone else on their to-do list
  • Assign this to myself as a to-do
  • Add the email to a work item
  • Clear it from my triage (ie. I’ve read it and I no longer need it; inbox zero)
  • Discuss the email internally with other team members

karbon triage accounting practice management software

I believe all of the above options add incredible levels of efficiency and organization, something typically lacking in most firms.

Comments & Notes

On just about anything in Karbon (work, tasks, emails), I’m able to post comments & notes that other colleagues can see and comment back on. It’s nice to have an audit trail of the discussion and to be able to collaborate in-app versus in-email.

Timelines

Within the work and contacts tabs, I’m able to see an easy to follow a full timeline of all activity in terms of date and time. This gives me a good overall sense of what’s going on with regard to that item across the board.

Client Tasks

Here, you’re able to assign tasks to your clients and not only email them once their task is due, but also have the software send off reminders until the item is completed.

For example, let’s say you finished the month-end, and each month you need a copy of the client’s loan statement. You can set this up as a client task and have the task and the client notification automatically trigger once the bookkeeper has completed their work.

If they don’t send you the loan statement, you can configure Karbon to automatically nudge them every so often depending on the reminder settings you set up (ex: gentle, urgent or custom):

karbon reminders

Time & Billing

You’ll be quite disappointed if you absolutely need time & billing functionality to come from Karbon’s accounting practice management software.

Actually, Karbon doesn’t provide any time-tracking capabilities, though it does integrate with TSheets which will allow you to record time against a contact or work item.

Correspondingly, you won’t be able to handle invoicing from Karbon.

You can however estimate time and get some very basic metrics around estimated time outstanding across the firm on a variety of tasks, though the functionality doesn’t even come close to what Teamwork can provide from a workload planning standpoint.

Reporting

In addition to the various list & Kanban board work views available that I had posted above, Karbon also provides an “insights” tab, which provides a bunch of widgets in a few key areas.

I think they look great and there are some widgets that provide KPI’s on things like average days overdue, average number of times due dates have been moved, percentage of work completed on time, and more.

Personally, I find these metrics more pertinent to firms than metrics around time-tracking, but that’s just me.

Here’s a quick snapshot:

karbon insights

User-Friendliness

I find Karbon to be a well thought out, polished accounting practice management software that is quite intuitive to use.

I think it strikes a good balance in terms of simplicity and functionality and provides accounting firms with a smart set of features to be efficient in getting their work done.

I think one thing I’d love to see is some proper workload management functionality down the road though 🙂

Integrations

Karbon currently allows you to integrate with Practice Ignition, TSheets, GoProposal & Zapier to help automate your workflows even further.

Pricing

Karbon is the most expensive out of the bunch. If you’re looking to take advantage of their full feature suite, which I would recommend, you’re looking at $99/user/month. Not cheap, but it also does provide some unique capabilities.

karbon pricing

Xero Practice Manager

It’s you’re a Xero power user that’s heavy into time-based billing, you may want to give this accounting practice management software a look.

Accounting Practice Management Software Overview

Xero Practice Manager (XPM) is Xero’s rebranded version of Workflowmax, which they had acquired back in 2012.

When I started my cloud accounting firm in 2013, I was actually on Workflowmax, so I do have some experience with this accounting practice management software.

And putting this section together was a bit of a trip down memory lane, though not totally in a completely positive way.

This system is seriously powerful. And for some firms out there, it might be the perfect match. But for firms like mine, it totally wasn’t.

When you log in, you’ll be faced with their dashboard (which still looks like it’s from 2012):

xero practice manager accounting practice management software

The dashboard will show:

  • 2 time-based widgets
  • A calendar with upcoming tasks and jobs
  • A list view of upcoming tasks & jobs

In the navigation bar, you have a few tabs which lead to a variety of other options:

  1. Client tab: This is a collection of all clients and prospect which can act as a CRM
  2. Jobs tab: You’re able to see jobs, tasks, upcoming schedules for jobs & tasks and a collaboration option, which we’ll get into later
  3. Business tab: Here is where you’ll be able to see leads, quotes, WIP, invoices, timesheets and access XPM’s settings
  4. Reports tab: You can access a variety of reports here

Task & Project Management Tracking

Before starting to log and track work, you’ll want to first head over to the “tasks” settings and add all tasks that correspond to a job. A job would be something like an accounting month-end close and a task would be a subset of that.

It’s not super intuitive to add subsets of a job first and then add the job after, but that’s how it’s done here.

Here I added a task called “reconcile books” which will form part of a job called “accounting month-end” where I need to also enter the cost to perform the task and the billable rate:

xpm tasks

Once I’ve added all necessary tasks pertaining to a job (which sit in a huge long list), I’ll then head over to “job settings” and then “job template” to set up my templates to add to clients. Here’s a basic template I setup:

xero practice manager template

The weird thing is that when you add a task, then you need to add to-dos to those tasks, which are even more granular actions that one must take on the task. Not sure why these to-dos are being done at a job level and not when you create the task in the first place.

Nevertheless, once that’s done, I’m ready to start adding these to clients.

Once I’ve added the job to a client, you’ll have a ton of options:

  • You’ll see info on the job
  • You’ll be able to click into the navigation bar of the job to log time, add notes, add documents and see invoices/quotes
  • You have options on the left to edit the job, change the state of the job (planned, in progress, completed, etc) and more

xpm job

And a little lower down, you’ll see the tasks that were in my template, which are now assigned with estimated time established:

xpm accounting practice management software tasks

Once all jobs are added, you can navigate to the jobs tab to see a list of everything (and get a similar view of tasks in the tasks options):

xero practice manager jobs

By the way, recurring jobs are possible to set up on your clients, but it has to be done in a completely separate menu option within the jobs tab. Definitely not intuitive.

While I’m personally not a fan of the whole setup process. But once that’s done with and once the work is added, tracking the work is effective.

One more thing, you’ll need to move the job through different job states (by default: planned, in-progress, on-hold, complete) which will affect how you filter through work and report on it.

Collaboration

Herein lies one of XPM’s weakest areas.

In my opinion, there isn’t a whole lot in this app that helps your team collaborate efficiently on work. If you want to communicate on tasks or jobs, you’ll, unfortunately, have to resort to email or Slack versus some of the others on this list that allow you to collaborate in-app. This was one of the reasons why I personally moved away from XPM.

That being said, I’ll highlight a few areas where you may be able to ease collaboration:

Notes

Team members can add notes to tasks, jobs, and in the client records. The issue is that they’re not all interlinked. If I add a note to a job, it won’t flow up into the client record. I’d much prefer something like Karbon that centralizes everything in the client record.

Document Management

You can upload docs into jobs and the client record, but again, they’re not linked.

Notifications

There are a few basic notifications that you can toggle on/off depending on certain actions like:

  • Being assigned to a new job
  • New job notes
  • New job tasks
  • Tasks completed
  • New job documents

Collaboration Manager

The “collaboration” manager allows you to forward emails you’ve received to jobs using a dedicated email address assigned to each job. Unfortunately, this is light years behind something like Karbon’s triage feature.

Time & Billing

This is where XPM thrives as I believe the platform is really built specifically for time & billing based businesses.

There’s a dedicated timesheets section which shows logged time for a given period:

xpm timesheets

From there, you can take a look at your WIP in the dedicated WIP section and then bill it out after you’ve adjusted your invoice templates.

There’s also a ton of options to compare your budgets to actuals within the job or within the report.

You might also want to use some of XPM’s quoting functionality which you can then turn into jobs and invoices.

Reporting

Here’s another very strong area for this accounting practice management software.

There are a ton of reports for you to take a look at (here’s just some of them):

xpm reports

And if that’s not enough, they have an incredibly powerful report builder section which gives you tons of options to create the types of reports you want.

Integrations

It goes without saying that if you’re a Xero-based firm, then you’ll certainly want to leverage their native integrations to push invoices through from XPM to your Xero instance.

There’s also a number of other integrations you might want to leverage in the add-ons section. Unfortunately, many of them are likely not useful for most firms.

One last integration worth mentioning is the Practice Ignition integration, to help get jobs into XPM automatically once a proposal is accepted.

User-Friendliness

While this section is subjective, you can probably tell by my tone above that I’m not super-thrilled with the level of user-friendliness with this accounting practice management software. To me, this doesn’t feel like what software should feel like in 2020.

That being said, I also think that it has more power beneath the hood (for better or worse) than some of the other available options.

Pricing

Here’s where XPM is much different than the other options. If you’re a Xero-based firm that has at least Silver status, the app is free. Here’s pricing in the US, which is similar in other jurisdictions:

xpm pricing

Asana

Asana is a well-known project management app for software companies and a whole variety of other businesses. But some progressive accounting firms also use it. Let’s take a look.

Accounting Practice Management Software Overview

I’ll start by saying that I think Asana is probably the slickest of all the options out there. Their user interface is clean and responsive.

I also think that this system is the most different compared to the other systems discussed in this post. You’ll need to tinker around with it to make it your own as there are many possibilities for how you might use it.

While it’s certainly not geared towards accounting firms I know many modern firms that use it and love it, which is why I decided to include it in this article.

asana accounting practice management software

Task & Project Management Tracking

Honestly, I could have done a whole write up of this section, but I decided to link to an absolutely spectacular video done by Scott Hoppe of Why Blu and how they specifically set up and use Asana in their firm for task & project management. Check out the video.

Collaboration

I think Asana is probably one of the better systems out there when it comes to collaboration.

As you’ll see in the video above, there are many possibilities to:

  • Chat and comment on practically everything
  • Upload documents
  • Set up a knowledge base for SOP’s, templates and anything else of interest to the firm’s internal workings
  • Invite guests (ie. your clients) into Asana to collaborate on work together

Time & Billing

If this is important for your firm, be prepared to look elsewhere. Asana doesn’t provide anything at all here, though you would be able to leverage some of their 3rd party integrations, namely the Harvest integration.

Reporting

Don’t expect a whole lot of reporting here.

Their “reporting” section contains the following reports, which are hardly reports at all:

  • Tasks I’ve created
  • Tasks I’ve assigned
  • Recently completed tasks

If you are looking for reporting options, they have 25+ 3rd party reporting apps that can integrate with Asana.

Integrations

Asana really shines here, allowing you to automate a whole bunch of your workflows by leveraging available 3rd party integrations. There’s probably over 100 that you can use.

If you’re a Practice Ignition user, be sure to check out this article from Brian Clare of Blueprint Accounting and how he automates the creation of tasks from an accepted engagement letter.

User-Friendliness

The app is sleek, modern, and fast. I think it’s a pretty easy app to use once you have it set up. The configuration of this app is really meant for people that want to really have a custom approach to their accounting practice management software, whereas some of the other apps on the list kinda fit you into a box.

I can see why there are a bunch of modern firms which really enjoy Asana, but it’s not for everyone.

Pricing

Pricing is reasonable:

Jetpack Workflow

With an app that checks off the boxes in most categories, Jetpack Workflow is certainly a worthy option for many accounting firms.

Accounting Practice Management Software Overview

Jetpack Workflow (JPW) is a piece of software geared specifically for accounting firms and it shows.

I’m pretty confident that this app will provide the vast majority of what an accounting firm needs from an accounting practice management software.

As soon as you log in, you’re presented with a pretty functional dashboard. It was probably one of my preferred dashboards. The widgets (which can be toggled between tasks, jobs & team members) are simple and made a lot of sense for what I’d want to get a bird’s eye view on:

jetpack workflow accounting practice management software

The navigation bar is simple enough as well:

  • Jobs tab: This contains all jobs, tasks, and templates
  • Calendar tab: It basically shows your deadlines in a calendar format
  • Clients tab: This contains your client records
  • Reports tab: Contains some pretty basic reports

Under your profile name on the right you’ll have:

  • A workflow library: This contains prepopulated templates for your firm to use, some more helpful than others
  • Settings: This includes some of the more basic settings around, which is not a bad thing

Also, terminology within the app is exactly what you’d expect. There’s no big learning curve. You’ll either have jobs or tasks within those jobs. That’s it.

Worth noting as well that JPW provides some pretty flexible user permissions:

jetpack workflow user permissions

Task & Project Management Tracking

Adding and tracking work is pretty simple.

You don’t necessarily need to setup templates first, but I’d recommend it.

Here’s a one I setup pretty easily:

jetpack workflow accounting practice management software

Templates can be set up to be recurring and I like how you can set a final review of the job to be required before it can be completed, which is a typical step in an accounting firm.

Once the templates have been set up, go ahead and add them to your clients.

Within a job, you’ll see this view:

jetpack workflow job

A few interesting things here:

  • The right side is where you can chat back and forth with your team on the job
  • I can set time budgets, the in-date & expected turnaround time, which many firms want to track
  • There’s a time tracker that I can expand
  • The task view is at the bottom

Also, there are job statuses that you can set to show where the work is at in a workflow:

jpw

While the statutes don’t change automatically based on certain actions, like in Karbon, I do enjoy how they factor into the dashboard view and how I can filter between them in the “jobs” view within the jobs tab:

jetpack workflow jobs

Collaboration

I think that JPW can provide you and your team with some great collaboration possibilities.

Notifications

Within the settings, you can change the kind of email notifications you and your team receive, which I think are quite pertinent for accounting firms:

jetpack workflow notifications

Notes

As shown in the previous section, you and your team can chat back and forth within each project. Also, this is possible within the client record itself.

Email

JPW provides functionality to email your clients directly from the app.

jetpack workflow email

What’s really cool is that you can see there’s an email template field above, which is awesome for repetitive emails that you might send off (ex: like how to pay your tax balance).

I personally wouldn’t use email for everything though since you lose the history in your inbox. You can choose to integrate your Gmail or Outlook account to JPW, but the functionality isn’t as good as Karbon’s since it just pushes messages sent to your inbox, but that’s about it.

Assigning tasks to clients

This feature is better than nothing, but not nearly as good as some of the other client collaboration features listed elsewhere in this post.

You can assign tasks to your clients within the app and they’ll receive an email like this one:

jetpack workflow client tasks

The problem is, apart from them getting that email, there’s no real collaboration other than them replying to the email with “Done” to mark that task as complete. I’d like to see some spruced up functionality here.

Time & Billing

If time tracking is important in your firm, then Jetpack Workflow has you covered here. Time can be added on at a job level.

To see the recorded time, however, you’d need to download a report.

And for billing, you’d need to look elsewhere, unfortunately.

Reporting

Reporting is quite basic within the app, though I think the dashboard and jobs list provides most of what most firms will need.

There is a project report that gives another overview of where things are at:

jetpack workflow progress report accounting practice management software

You also have a few other reports that you can manually download in Excel to manipulate the data as you wish.

Lastly, I do like how the dashboard represents things in terms of hours overdue and hours expected to be due in the week. This is helpful for capacity planning, but we need to take it one step further as Teamwork has done.

Integrations

There aren’t a ton of integrations that you’ll be able to leverage here.

If you track time, you can integrate JPW to QuickBooks Online to push that time over.

And there’s also the Gmail & Outlook integrations previously discussed.

User-Friendliness

One of my favorite things about Jetpack Workflow is how easy I found the app to use.

And Jetpack Workflow’s CEO, David Cristello, would likely agree as he has this to say about his product when asked what sets their software apart:

“Simplicity. Firms really resonate with the simple layout and ease of quickly getting organized and finding client information fast.”

It provides just about everything a firm would need to stay organized and to collaborate with their teams, all packaged in a pleasant to use piece of software.

Some apps require a much larger setup and learning curve period. That may come with other benefits, but if you’re looking for something simple, Jetpack Workflow will be hard to beat.

Pricing

As with most things with Jetpack Workflow, pricing is simple as well:

jetpack workflow price

Other Accounting Practice Management Software

Here are some other popular accounting practice management software options that you may want to consider.

Aero Workflow

aero workflow accounting practice management software

I had heard of Aero Workflow for a long time. I also know a bunch of firms that use it, so I wanted to put it through its paces and include it on this list. Unfortunately, after around an hour of fiddling around, I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.

I found the terminology in the app to be confusing & the UI not super intuitive. After spending a bit of time navigating through the support center, I decided to call it quits.

Too bad, because it looked like it had some cool functionality, especially around email integrations, similar to Karbon, coming in at a fraction of the price point.

I know several firms that use it, so you may want to test it out.

BQE Core

bqe core accounting practice management software

You can literally run your entire firm off of this one piece of software.

In addition to project management, it can handle:

  • Quoting & billing
  • Your firm’s accounting
  • HR management
  • And a lot more

This system appears heavily skewed towards firms with time-based billing.

I’m usually skeptical of systems that can do everything under one roof. Though, take that with a grain of salt as I haven’t put it through its paces.

CCH iFirm

The entire process around finding information on this piece of software was difficult and incredibly enterprise-oriented (ie. I need to talk to a rep to learn more), which frustrates me.

And while I know very little about CCH iFirm, the fact that I can’t see any screenshots and get virtually no information about the product online without talking to a rep, tells me about as much as I need to know about what the expected experience will probably look like (ie. old-school).

While I’m sure that you’ll get a functional accounting practice management software here, I just don’t get a good feeling you’re buying into a modern software experience.

Thomson Reuters Onvio

Here’s another more enterprise-type accounting practice management software platform.

Again, I don’t have a ton of experience with this product. While I sense that this product is geared towards more “traditional” firms, at least it does have quite a bit of cloud-based functionality (ex: integrates with Dropbox, mobile apps with document scanning, client portals, e-signatures, etc).

Pascal Workflow

pascal workflow accounting practice management software

If price is a major consideration, you’ll enjoy that Pascal Workflow has a free-forever tier for up to 5 team members.

The navigation and UI seem simple enough and it includes a bunch of features you might enjoy, such as Karbon-type email triage, e-signed tax returns (in the US), and more.

Canopy

canopy accounting practice management software

I’d probably need to dig into this one a bit more but Canopy has a practice management product that you might want to check out.

I’m not sure it’s as powerful as some of the other options listed above, but the interface was pleasant and intuitive enough. It also has some good functionality around email integration, automated file chasing, calendar integrations, and some other features that some may find unique.

And Now It's Your Turn...

I hope you enjoyed this accounting practice management software roundup post.

And now I’d like to hear from you.

Which system do you like best?

Do you disagree with anything I’ve said?

Am I missing anything?

Comment below to let me know!


Ryan Lazanis

I’m Ryan Lazanis. I’m a CPA by trade but definitely don’t consider myself a normal accountant. I identify more with being an entrepreneur and I love disruptive technologies and business models. My aim is to help modernize the old, traditional accounting profession by giving firms the tools they need to modernize. Each week I send off a curated newsletter recapping the top 5 things on the internet affecting your modern firm. Click here to subscribe to my Future Firm Top 5 Weekly newsletter today!