Mac accounting software that’s intuitive and elegant

This post was originally published in the Xero Small Business Guides

Small businesses using Macs have the same financial tasks as those using PCs. But often it’s a challenge to find Mac accounting software that’s as feature-rich as the Windows version. So if you’re in the market for the best financial software for a Mac, what do you need to look out for?

Challenges for small businesses using a Mac

It’s likely that if you’re a Mac fan and user, you’ll have high expectations for the way your accounting software looks and performs. But when we talk to small businesses, it’s clear that while Mac users love their Apple products, they’re not as affectionate about their financial software. So why is this such a common sentiment?

Software that is just a lift and shift from PC to Mac doesn’t leverage the power and design that’s at the heart of Apple products. As a Mac user, you probably remember that moment when you first booted up your Mac and thought “Ahh”. And it’s that emotion that’s often lacking while using accounting software.

It’s no coincidence that the instant ease of use and logical user interface of Apple products have won countless awards. So when Mac users are confronted with software that doesn’t apply human logic to the design or functionality, financial tasks become painful. Accounting software on a Mac should “just work”.

Mac versions are often lacking in features

Most financial applications are designed for a PC first and then ported over to a Mac as an afterthought. As a result, Mac users are often left with feature lacking versions and poor customer support which is typically focused on PC usage. In many companies, customer support don’t fully know about or understand the Mac platform to help with in-depth questions.

It’s also common for Mac software versions to also have lots of unnecessary features. This can mean you end up getting a bloated suite of complex and confusing tools instead of what your small business really needs.

Make it a priority to go with software that doesn’t tack on features for the sake of it, and gets the balance of simplicity and usability just right. You should have everything you want and need, and no more.

It’s likely that if you’re a Mac fan and user, you’ll have high expectations for the way your accounting software looks and performs.

Software should be cross-platform compatible

If your software isn’t cross-platform friendly, you risk wasting huge chunks of time using workarounds to collaborate with your financial advisors. For example, if you use a Mac and want to share data with your PC-using accountant, you’ll need to export data files to them saved in a Windows format. Even at this stage, you’ll often run into compatibility issues.

In the meantime, while your accountant is looking at your data, you won’t be able to make changes to it because you can’t merge their changes into your existing file. It’s only when they’re finished with the file that you can re-import it. In many cases, the software won’t work on all browsers either, which makes for a poor user experience.

Business apps should integrate with your software

Often Mac accounting software has a limited range of business application or apps that integrate with it. But if you’re a Mac user, you’ll no doubt be used to having a variety of products that play nicely with your Apple devices. For example, you might already be using Basecamp, project management software that runs in the cloud, and encourages collaboration online. As well as being easy to use on a Mac, iPad and iPhone, Basecamp also integrates with several other apps.

If you’re in the creative industry, Adobe Creative Cloud may be the way you share files, give feedback or save settings across devices. Evernote is another handy online tool that lets you collect and find everything that you need, and collaborate with colleagues online.

All of this considered, it makes sense to look out for financial software that is also flexible enough to allow a range of apps to integrate with it. As your company grows, this will make it much easier to manage all aspects of running your business. For example, you could integrate invoicing, time tracking or job system apps with your financial software. Online tools like Harvest, make time tracking simple for small business — and they’re Mac-friendly. Harvest is time tracking software that lets you see real-time data to keep projects on time and in budget.

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