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The best invoicing software for smart accounting and billing

Last updated on 
June 24, 2021

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Every business knows how important it is to get paid on time, but accounting is rarely straightforward. Luckily, there are dozens of tools you can use to streamline and simplify your accounting and billing process – from automating the most routine and repetitive tasks to ensuring your figures are always accurate and up-to-date.

Yet the sheer breadth of software available necessarily makes the choice harder. This article breaks down some of the basics to help you find the perfect tool for smarter billing – with reviews of some of the best invoicing software currently available on the market.

What makes great invoicing software?

Ultimately, invoicing software should support your business by saving you time and money. The best tools not only automate the process of creating and sending invoices and receiving payments, but also allow for competent processing of more complex accounts, and integrate customer relationship management tools, too. Here are some of the key features worth considering when doing your research, split out into priority features and nice-to-have extras.

Priority invoicing features:

  • Live payment and bank feeds
  • Automatic reconciliation
  • Custom invoice templates
  • Invoice in any currency
  • Automatic payment reminders
  • Recurring invoices
  • Purchase orders
  • Quotes and estimates
  • Expense management
  • Real-time reporting
  • Integrations — Stripe, Paypal, 2CheckOut, OneDrive, GoCardless

Nice to haves:

  • Automatic tax calculations
  • Live tax liabilities
  • Secure payroll
  • Cash flow insights
  • Prepared VAT returns
  • Mileage tracking
  • Receipt scanning
  • Forecast cash flow
  • Tax, pay and pension calculation

Best-in-class invoicing software

1. QuickBooks

Intuit's QuickBooks Online is one of the world’s most popular invoicing software options, particularly for small businesses. This is a comprehensive yet user-friendly software solution that simplifies the entire accounting and billing process, providing tools that monitor expenses, calculate taxes, manage invoices and track sales. A big perk of using QuickBooks is how pervasive it is; pretty much every accountant will have worked with QuickBooks before, which means it’s one of the most accessible invoicing software options around. It also integrates with thousands of other tools, including email marketing, payment processing, and CRM. Plus, as of 2021, QuickBooks has a new feature: Cleanup, a live bookkeeping service that reconciles historical accounts and categorizes historical transactions.

2. Zoho

Zoho is a simple, easy to use invoicing software that’s ideal for smaller businesses. You can use it to generate customized invoices, schedule recurring transactions, send automatic payment reminders (as well as “thank you” notes), track expenses, and collaborate with both clients and colleagues. There are three service plans – Basic, Standard and Professional, the latter of which can facilitate up to 5,000 transactions a month. Because Zoho has mobile apps for Apple and Android devices, you can stay in the loop with your billing and complete important accounting tasks wherever you are – and if that isn’t helpful enough, you can also set up a customer portal where clients can view and pay invoices themselves. Zoho also provides multi-currency support, allowing you to manage vendor credits and add different reporting tags to transactions, too.

3. Xero

Xero is another invoicing software that’s popular with small and medium businesses, and offers more than 700 different app integrations, as well as 24/7 email and live chat support. You can use Xero to track and pay bills on time, get an overview of accounts payable and cash flow, calculate VAT, and prepare and file tax returns. Plus, because it connects to popular payment software like Stripe and GoCardless, you can get paid up twice as fast too. Xero is simple and easy to use, allowing you to send invoices from either your phone or desktop, and pay employees with HMRC-recognized software (making it very popular in the UK). Essentially, Xero simplifies the whole accounting process, providing every component you’d need from small businesses invoicing software – from expenses to bills, purchases to payroll.

4. Sage Accounting

While Sage Intacct arguably packs the biggest cloud finance software punch of all tools featured in this article, Sage Accounting is an extremely accessible and powerful choice for businesses just seeking mature invoicing software. Its feature list is extensive – from personalised invoices, automatic bank reconciliation and live bank feeds, to receipt scanning, cash flow forecasting and automatic tax calculations. With three plans to choose from, it’s easy to tailor the software to your specific business needs – and you have 30 days to try all features out for free and see which plan fits best. Sage software is renown for being intuitive and easy to use in spite of its flashy feature set, helping you stay on top and in control of your payments without having to fiddle around or dig too deep for information.

Smart invoicing software extras

Aside from the payment platform integrations mentioned above, there are a ton of smart extras you can add to your chosen invoicing software to make it work even harder. Make things even easier for yourself by using add-ons that streamline data transfer in and out of your invoicing software and improve invoicing accuracy.

To improve the accuracy of your invoices, check out Timely’s QuickBooks integration. It lets you harnesses the power of Timely’s automatic time tracking and enjoy the benefits of a specialist accounting. With the integration enabled, you can translate accurate time data in Timely to flawless QuickBooks Online invoices in a click. By drafting invoices in bulk for all unbilled project work and sending them directly to QuickBooks Online for approval, this integration enables you to streamline your accounting and billing workflow. Every invoice you generate will appear in Timely with a real-time QuickBooks status (e.g. void, paid, sent to client), so you don’t have to keep switching between tools for vital billing information.

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