There are many paths to choosing an accounting system to use. Here we assume you want to evaluate the most popular and find out what one offers against another. This CANNOT offer comprehensive information about what is available - even just from the more popular suppliers.


We are Reckon Professional Partners and Xero Certified Advisors. We are also in MYOB's connected accounting program and have access to Cognito (we run Windows versions even though client's run Mac versions).


Where do you start? The first choice to make is desktop or cloud. Despite the hype, desktop has not yet been replaced by cloud systems, although they are preferred by vendors. We list some features generally claimed for or against each type. Remember there is no such thing as a perfect system.


  Desktop Cloud

Full control


Product "ownership"

Data ownership




Nightly bank feeds

Accountant / client access



"Proper" backups

Off-site backups

Local security


Internet availability


Access to backups

Continued access to data



The main criteria has to be how it works for you. Two programs may say they cover the same features - but how that fits with your business can be vastly different. Make sure the package you are considering does what you need.


Not only are features different, but other factors not related to keeping this year's books come into play. For example, family trusts generally have a life of 80 years. What's more, they may not have any transactions for most of those.


Costs are also important. If you have one user and one system that's relatively straight-forward - although it can be difficult to compare because you might choose to defer upgrades beyond the three years we recommend (unless you use payroll which needs to be updated annually).