Blog Posts, Cloud Bookkeeping

5 Best Cloud Accounting Services for Small and Medium Businesses



Financial tracking, analysis,  and planning can be the biggest downfall of many startups and small businesses . Without a baseline to get your financial house in shape, everything starts to sink into financial quicksand. It can be overwhelming to keep all the balls in the air when it comes to finance, bookkeeping, and accounting. We feel your pain! 

Luckily, cloud technology and accounting software has radically changed the game. Cloud accounting software is helping to reduce costs and accessibility of bookkeeping and accounting for small businesses.

But, what makes one accounting cloud accounting software more valuable than another? In this post, we rank our five choices based on three criteria:

Capabilities–The function of the software in question should rightly be the primary criterion for comparing competing software. When you pay for a service you expect that service to perform and meet your accounting needs. Capabilities include; computing, tax filing, automated invoicing, reporting and payroll, and team collaboration. Ideally, your accounting software should be able to automate a significant percentage of your bookkeeping.

For each software, we’ll reference comparative capabilities.

User Interface–No matter the breadth of application, or the strength of computing capabilities, in order to be useful, an accounting service must be user-friendly. Front-end experience is super important. The fact that cloud accounting service providers put so much work into creating an intuitive and enjoyable user experience should tell you that, for most users, this is a top-value metric. For example, Xero markets itself as “beautiful accounting software.” 

We’ll compare the user interface for each service, underlining which cloud accounting software  is  more intuitive and user-friendly.

Integration–Smooth accounting software should be able to link with other services like company bank accounts, credit cards and sales pipelines. A software’s ability to integrate with other company systems will affect its effectiveness throughout your ecosystem. If a key link is missing between your accountant and financial information or between sales and accounting, it can lead to a lot of manual data-input which could lead to a greater probability of human error.

Several cloud accounting services have highly integrated app stores, which allow a user to customize their package for optimal efficiency. App integration can be a huge benefit once a company starts to encounter specific accounting tasks and complex transactions.

#1. Quickbooks Online


Topping the list is Quickbooks Online by Intuit. Often touted as the go-to option for small and medium-sized businesses, Quickbooks is a well-integrated and user-friendly cloud accounting software with a wide range of bookkeeping and accounting capabilities. 

Let’s see how it matches up in terms of capability, interface and integration.


Well-rounded is the descriptor that first comes to mind. With a highly capable mobile app and a wide range of service plans and add-ons, It is improbable that any small or medium-sized business will exceed the capabilities of this service. From bookkeeping to payroll and account reconciliation QuickBooks Online can do it all.

User Interface

It’s not just capabilities that bump this particular software service to the top of the list, QuickBooks Online is one of the most (if not the most) user-friendly software currently available. Although there is a slight learning curve at the outset, QuickBooks Online is relatively intuitive. 

Features such as the mobile app, the easy input mechanisms and quality customer service make Quickbooks Online a clear front-runner in the ease-of-use category.


Quickbooks Online is well integrated. Not only with the 450+ apps and add-ons, with a range of payment integrations for services like Square, PayPal, and Stripe, but also with your accounting team.

#2. Xero


Xero is a close second to QuickBooks Online. Xero is a cloud-based accounting software with multiple capabilities and integration with over 1000 external apps. It’s similar to Quickbooks Online in terms of capability, usability, and integration. As we said, Xero’s motto is “beautiful accounting software,” and they put a lot of stress on making it look good.


Xero has the most capabilities a small or medium-sized business would need. Its strength is data presentation. Xero does look beautiful. Sure it’s easy to use and has a lot of functions to match your bookkeeping and accounting needs, but it also makes data beautiful.

User Interface

Even business owners with little to no accounting experience say that Xero is simple. Some users complain about a steep learning curve. Still, in the end, the software is relatively easy to use.


Xero boasts integration with over 1000 3rd-party apps. It’s also a favorite amongst accountants. Through a single ledger, data is accessible to both accountants and clients. The payroll function is a little clunky, but since the service offers integration with other payroll management software there’s no real problem.

#3. ZOHO Books


Zoho Books is a cloud accounting software known for its breadth of functionality. 


ZOHO Books has all the capabilities that you would expect out of a  competitive cloud accounting software, and then some. Invoicing, Estimates, Taxes, Online Payments, Expense Tracking, and Financial Reporting. It actually rates high in terms of capability. Possibly, even higher than Quickbooks and Xero.

User Interface

Here’s where ZOHO loses some points and sinks to third on the list. While the interface is nothing to be sneezed at with its intuitive design and mobile app, it’s not quick and user-friendly as Xero and QuickBooks.


ZOHO Books integrates with all major online payment platforms like Stripe, Square, and PayPal. It also seamlessly integrates accountants allowing your accountant instant access to all the financial records for your businesses. Payment platform integration along with cash flow and inventory tracking makes ZOHO Books a solid option for eCommerce businesses.

#4. FreshBooks


At number four sits FreshBooks, a cloud accounting and bookkeeping software that combines a clean front-end look and a user-friendly interface with a variety of accounting capabilities and tools.


Freshbooks lacks the depth of options you’ll get with Xero and QuickBooks, still it covers most needs for small businesses. Time, expense, mileage, and profitability tracking are all included in the standard Lite version. Add unlimited estimates and invoices and you’ll see why Freshbooks is such a popular option among small service businesses.

User Interface

If it were up to usability alone, FreshBooks might top the list. Partly due to its basic function list, FreshBooks is extremely user friendly. It’s very easy to use and quite affordable. For a small business looking for a simple invoicing and estimating tool FreshBooks is a solid option.


FreshBooks has an AppStore with over 100 partner apps for things like calendars, payroll, and payment. It also has a mobile app, and of course Freshbooks is based on cloud technology for remote connection. Accountants can access your books from anywhere at any time.

#5. Odoo


Odoo is an interesting fifth place on the comparison list. Unlike the higher options above, Odoo offers a complete suite of open source business apps, covering all business needs. Not only bookkeeping and accounting, but also CRM, ERP, Email Marketing, and even Website Building. You can think of it as an open source version of Oracle’s NetSuite. Odoo can cope with all your needs in one place, be they organizational, marketing, or bookkeeping and accounting.


Odoo gets a 10/10 on capabilities. There is no function that you won’t find on Odoo. You might have some trouble finding it, but rest assured it’s there. Odoo provides income and expense tracking, invoicing, and asset depreciation, and many other services. Like other services it generates reports and provides high end analytics. Additionally for those operations outside Canada, Odoo has over 70 localization packages to adapt the service to local currencies, tax codes, and other location specifics. When it comes to capability, Odoo is near the top.

User Friendly

Here’s where Odoo loses a little ground to its competitors. Although all cloud accounting and bookkeeping tools take time to learn and implement, Odoo’s open source design means that it can be difficult to track down IT help that has the whole picture. You might spend a lot of time on the phone or sending emails only to find the person you’re speaking with can’t solve your issue. Other centralized options like those listed above will usually be able to transfer you to someone who can solve your issue. Having said that, no service is perfect. Depending on your company’s specific needs, you could have a very good or very bad experience with any service.


Odoo boasts a wide selection of apps both in house created and from third party developers. Additionally, Odoo will generally work directly with small companies to implement the system and integrate your existing processes with the technology. What makes integration with Odoo difficult is the third party developers. You might struggle to find someone who understands your issue and can fix it.

Final Comment

Unfortunately, no cloud accounting service is perfect. At some point you will encounter issues that will require solutions. For small businesses with no in house IT support, the key to overcoming these issues–and benefiting from all the time saving and efficiency boosting services–is a trusted partner. A partner will have the experience to navigate and solve your issues for you. Vertical CPA works with a range of Cloud accounting partners to deliver the right tech stack for your business.

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