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Vertical-Specific Software vs Different Versions of Quickbooks


quickbooks desktop, intuit quickbooksFrom the outside, it may seem like all bookkeeping software is essentially created equal. After all, you have bills that need to be paid and customers who have paid you, employees who expect a paycheck, and costs associated with inventory and the creation of your products or services.

When you break it down that way, it all seems so simple. Alas, like many things in life, accounting software comes in many shapes and sizes, some of which may be better for your business than others.

Vertical vs Horizontal Accounting Software

In the bookkeeping software world there are two main distinctions that set the foundation for various types of tools: vertical and horizontal.

Horizontal Accounting Software

In a nutshell, horizontal accounting software is a generalized tool that's meant to handle simple tasks across nearly every type of industry. While it can be helpful for many businessses, it's often a paired-down tool that can't offer the types of reporting and metrics that will help you fully see the big picture. The applications are generally quite broad and can be applied to any company.

The biggest downside to horizontal options: You're not able to tailor the tool to your specific industry. Horizontal accounting software can only perform fundamental, general tasks. Picture horizontal software as a tool that can scan the entire business landscape, handling the basic calculations for any company it comes in contact with.

Vertical Accounting Software

Vertical bookkeeping software is the alternative to its horizontal counterpart. Rather than focusing on general, basic functions that can be used by any field, vertical options are tailored specifically to your business or industry. These tools allow you to work within the confines of a narrow, specific focus, thus tracking and reporting items, which are essential for your unique organization.

Note that many formerly horizontal software packages have added modules to cater to specific verticals and not lose market share to vertical market software.

There are an incredibly large number of industry options and packages available with accounting systems that were formerly horizontal: Sage MAS 90/200, Quickbooks, Microsoft Dynamics, Navision, Epicor, and more.

They’ve all shifted to go deep into industry verticals and other business functions to attract and keep customers. While not the same as single industry vertical specific software, they’ve taken the cue from them to specialize.

Here’s a look at some vertical software solutions that are meant for industry-specific accounting:

Gas & Oil. Gas and oil companies rely heavily on the following elements to ensure their businesses operate profitably:

  • Inventory management
  • Job costing
  • Logistics management
  • Materials management

Top vertical accounting software providers in the oil & gas include eMaint CMMS, ProntoForms - Mobile Forms, and iWell.

Construction. Much of the life of a construction professional is built around increasing demands and ever-changing environments. Accountants in this industry are often focused on the following:

  • Cost estimates
  • Project scheduling and management
  • Job costing
  • Service management

Forerunners in this foreman-driven industry include Timberline, Sage 100 Contractor, Procore, and Q360 PSA Solution.

Non-Profit. Non-profits are concerned with plenty of things; among the highest on the list: budgets. Often, they don’t have a ton of money to spend on software, but still need accounting software that can handle their specific needs, such as:

  • Ease-of-use
  • Information relevant to attracting board members or grant sponsors
  • Donor requisition form letters
  • Budgeting
  • Automated balancing & reconciliation
  • Compliance with non-profit accounting and tax standards

Among the most highly-recommended platforms in this industry are Aplos, e-Tapestry, Raiser’s Edge, QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise Nonprofit Software, and Abila MIP.

The Next Generation: Cloud-Based Vertical Accounting

Vertical-Specific Software vs Different Versions of Quickbooks

The advent of cloud accounting has brought along some serious changes. Applications are now available, which are specific to small business' needs and

tailored to their own industries. These apps are designed to work with your workflow, delivering results that make your team function better with fewer frustrations and pain points.

Fortunately, QuickBooks offers many of the benefits of vertical accounting software without requiring custom-built tools and their inherent costs.

Instead, Intuit offers apps that easily integrate into the foundation of the QuickBooks interface, allowing for detailed, specialized reporting built for your business.

Let's Look at the Differences Between QuickBooks and Other Accounting Software Options

As an example, the owner of a construction business would utilize far different metrics and reporting than an individual who owns a restaurant.

Vertical accounting software allows the business owners to tailor their accounting tools to their industry, thereby gaining knowledge and insight to help them build better, more successful businesses.

Business leaders in an array of industries, including retail, non-profit, manufacturing and wholesale, contractors, and service professionals often find vertical options more suitable to their companies' needs.

However, they need to analyze whether the cost of these vertical specific accounting packages, the cost of implementation and most importantly the complexity of use, outweigh the benefits.

QuickBooks Vs. Competitors

In today's cloud-software universe, accounting software has mustered up a fair number of competitors, which could be considered QuickBooks alternatives for SMB accounting.

While each of them have positive attributes, none has been able to provide the full menu of offerings and simple user interfaces available by QuickBooks.

There are some great horizontal software offerings out there, such as Xero, FreshBooks, and Intacct, but these solutions are just that: horizontal.

If you’re truly trying to get a handle on your company’s needs, it can be tempting to look outside of the horizontal accounting box. Vertical accounting software can offer you templates, charts of accounts, and other reporting items relative to your particular industry, but they often come at a heavy cost.

Instead, consider implementing QuickBooks, which comes with plenty of industry-specific apps that can transition standard horizontal software into a vertically-functioning tool, without the added expenses.

True vertical applications are typically expensive, and they often involve complicated implementations, which can frustrate your staff and cost your business valuable dollars in training. If you’re able to avoid these pitfalls with QuickBook add-ons and special features, you’ll realize a great benefit, both in terms of cost and ease-of-use.

Benefits of Using QuickBooks

QuickBooks still holds the title as the best accounting software for small businesses. Perhaps it was the software's early entry into the market that's allowed it to build and maintain forerunner status for all of these years.

The following are just three of the many reasons QuickBooks continues to be the best accounting software for small businesses:

Online vs Desktop

QuickBooks' online offers business leaders an enormous opportunity to get at their financial information any time, any day. Plus, with the convenience of being able to easily share this information with multiple team members simultaneously, the online accessibility simply cannot be argued with. You can work anywhere, using any device that's able to connect to the internet. Plus, the online option allows for easy synchronization with other apps that will help you work smarter.

Flexibility and Ease-of-Use

QuickBooks was designed for any user. Whether you have a strong background in IT, sales or accounting, QuickBooks will take care of you.

The QuickBooks ecosystem is known to be extremely user-friendly, offering up dashboards and easy navigation to make reporting as well as paying bills as quick and painless as possible. When you're not overwhelmed by your own tools, you're able to utilize your software to its fullest, creating strategies that optimize success down the road.

Integration & Ecosystem vs General Ledger

GL accounting is very straight-forward, but it doesn't allow you to see beyond the numbers and data you're currently working with. QuickBooks takes general ledger accounting to the next step, allowing you to integrate apps and create an accounting ecosystem that's specifically designed not only for your industry -- but for your unique business.

In the end, you have a business to focus on, not building an accounting department. If your accounting woes have you worrying, don't forget that outsourcing is always an option. At GrowthForce, our clients work in a variety of industries, and they're amazing at what they do. Our job is to make their accounting processes as simple -- yet robust -- as possible.

Accounting is no longer about adding and subtracting. It's about staying on top of the trends so you can identify the tools and equipment that will make your business even better. It's about getting more out of your accounting system, and if you can't, it's time to switch to a platform that will work for you, rather than against your best efforts.

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