Accounting Advice

The Pros and Cons of Popular Small Business Accounting Systems

The Pros and Cons of Popular Small Business Accounting Systems

At the end of a long working day, the last thing many of us want to do is sit in an office and be utterly overwhelmed by the sheer amount of book-work that needs to be done.


To ease the pain of this task, it helps to have the right accounting system in place. We look at three popular accounting systems used in NZ and discuss the pros and cons of each. Each has varying levels of functions; so we have taken a broad-based approach when reviewing them and what they offer.



  • Simplicity – this is easily the most user-friendly option available to small businesses
  • Fully online – it is accessible regardless of where you are in the world ☐ Mobile app available
  • Thousands of add-ons are available including building-specific tools which allow for the flow through of invoicing
  • Long established in online solutions
  • Departmental/job reporting available via segment reporting


  • Can be quickly outgrown if the business expands rapidly
  • Need to purchase add-ons for any job costing/ quoting work
  • No offline access, if the internet is down or unreliable
  • Payroll is an additional cost
  • Segment reporting is not as user-friendly as MYOB or Moneyworks
    VERDICT Best suited to small businesses.
  • VERDICT: Ideal for labour-only contractors or those who do not have standard quoting for materials or a need to cost out/track job expenditure.



  • Cheapest online option on the market (cashbook option)
  • Includes job costing tools in AccountRight package
  • Has traditional offline access and online options, as well as a hybrid package
  • Includes payroll (other than cashbook option)
  • Mobile app is available


  • Not as well established as Xero in online services
  • May require a higher level of accountancy knowledge to operate
  • Add-ons are not as widespread as Xero options
  • Interface is not as user-friendly as Xero

VERDICT: Best suited for those who scope out all aspects of a job when they quote, as it offers better functionality in this regard. The all-in-one package allows for less complex reporting and lower cost. A good midrange system for a growing business; with a wide product range to support different business sizes.



  • Reporting on a job-by-job basis. Provides the ability to track each job - profits or losses - on a daily basis
  • Includes job costing in package plus measuring quotes vs actual results
  • No limit on the number of companies used per licence
  • MoneyWorks Trades Plug-in – an extension that allows for the importation of price books and invoices generated by the major trade suppliers in New Zealand
  • Online and offline options available
  • Reports are more customisable than MYOB, although there are charges associated with this


  • The least user-friendly of these options
  • Optimal job costing requires an add-on
  • Harder to correct user errors
  • Pricing is not on a monthly subscription basis. A one off outlay is needed so it requires more cash up front

VERDICT: A more serious system than the other two options outlined earlier. However, the user would need additional training in order to fully understand how to get the most from this system. Once up and running though, the business would not outgrow it in a hurry. Pricing may put some people off.

This is a very high level review of only a few of the software options currently available. There are, of course, many others on the market that should be considered before deciding on a new system.

The major point is that you will need to do a bit of research or discuss options with a business advisor, to ensure that you have the best possible system in place to meet your needs.

While the information above is not meant to be exhaustive, each system has its own positives and negatives. In particular, job costing usually requires the use of an additional service.

A key point to remember is that these are accounting systems – not necessarily building software systems. Finding what works best for your business is crucial.

Written by Peter van der Heijden - Crowe Horwath Advisor