Top 10 Project Accounting Software Solutions
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How much time do you spend doing manually what you could easily automate with the right project accounting software?
A UK survey conducted with 200 accountants reported that for 81% of participants, the automation of repetitive tasks could save around 2 hours a day on average (The Fintech Times) – that’s approximately 60 working days per year saved. Think of all you could do with extra time to spend on high-level planning and analysis. Luckily, you don’t have to stop at just imagining.
We’ve gathered a list of the best project accounting software available to help you make your day-to-day workflows easier and more efficient. Check out our list of features, benefits, and downsides, based on first-hand project accounting software reviews.
What Is Project Accounting Software?
Project accounting software offers a suite of functionalities that help track and optimize your project finances. Project accounting software features usually include budgeting, invoicing, cash flow management, resource utilization, and overall financial insights. There are multiple options available on the market, from dedicated accounting software, enterprise resource planning solutions with key features for finances, project management software, or comprehensive solutions that provide all of the above.
The latter can become a significant benefit to your business by standardizing and centralizing all processes in one place, an essential component to achieving optimized agency operations management.
See also: Agency Operations 101: Achieve Operational Excellence
Agencies that already use an accounting solution usually consider switching to a new one for the following reasons: 43% want to increase functionality, 29% want to replace dated systems, and 17% aim to improve usability (Software Connect). We’ll be focusing on these main questions in our project management software comparison: How comprehensive is the tool? To what extent does the project accounting system strive to modernize and automate workflows? Finally, is it easy to use and user-friendly?
Without further ado, let’s dive into our list of 10 best project accounting software for your business.
1. Productive – The Best Project Accounting Software for Agencies
Productive is an all-in-one agency management software created to help agencies of all shapes and sizes excel in their day-to-day business processes. This includes everything from project planning, tracking sales, organizing and sharing information, client communication, and financial management, to gathering post-project reports and invoicing. All of these features are seamlessly incorporated and easy to use.
That was the thing that also caught my eye—the fact that it’s very user-friendly, very intuitive, and it doesn’t take a lot of cognitive energy to find the thing you’re looking for. That was the thing that surprised us very positively and also made us go for Productive.
Productive’s comprehensive approach provides agencies with structured processes to improve organization and efficiency, with enough flexibility to accommodate different management styles and agency types. All of this is in one platform, so you don’t have to invest in a variety of solutions at the same time.
Let’s go step-by-step through what Productive can do for your agency.
Key Features Include:
Productive’s integrated Time Tracking feature is designed to provide a hassle-free experience to employees and accurate data to project managers. Employees can track entries in multiple ways, by duplicating previous times, tracking time directly from tasks while working on them, or entering them manually afterward; Productive keeps track of your frequent projects and services for an even simpler process. To ensure data accuracy, managers can decide when to lock time entries for editing and can approve times or reject them to ask for additional information.
See also: 13 Best Agency Time Tracking Software in 2023
Make budgeting the focus of your projects with Productive’s flexible, yet powerful Budgeting feature. You can build project budgets no matter the pricing (hourly, fixed, mixed), the complexity (complex, simple), or the engagement model (recurring, one-time). Make sure that you’re always making decisions based on the most recent data with automatic budget overrun warnings and financial forecasting functionalities.
Productive streamlines administrative financial tasks with the Billing feature, which can pull data directly from your set-up project budgets. Create invoices customized to your brand and send them from your work email, directly from Productive. Productive also provides job cost management with the Purchase Orders feature – manage external expenses by sending purchase orders directly to suppliers and tracking payments and delivery dates from one platform.
According to a report by Wellingtone from 2020, 54% of agencies don’t have access to real-time KPIs, and 1/3 of project managers spend one or more days manually creating project reports. With Productive, you can streamline your processes with 50+ agency-focused templates populated by your platform activities, such as Actual Utilization by People, Invoiced Revenue by Client, Profitability by Client, Time Off Usage by People, and many more. The Reporting feature also comes with custom fields, which you can use to add more information to your reports and go even more in-depth with key agency analytics. Productive provides real-time data updates, so you can get full control of your project during every stage of the project life cycle.
At the end of each project, we’d do an evaluation in Excel to see our profitability. So we could never get the level of accuracy we have today. Before, we didn’t have precise insight into how profitable a project was until we actually delivered it.
Create dashboards with your most relevant reports and share them with your team or other project stakeholders, or get scheduled reports automatically via email. With Productive, you’ll always be able to stay on top of your project progress.
Productive’s Project Management feature streamlines team collaboration and communication. Organize your projects and get various visualizations of your progress, from list views, Kanban, calendar, and more. Easily create tasks and get updates and mentions in your inbox or email. Manage how engaged you want to be with the platform by setting your notifications to “Do not disturb”, or turn them off completely for any preferred categories.
Improve your transparency with clients by inviting them onto your projects with full or limited access rights. Speed up the review and feedback process by conducting all of your task-related communication from the platform.
With Productive’s Resource Planning feature, you can balance your team’s workload, get insights into your agency’s utilization rate, and forecast your future availability, all the while saving valuable time that you would have otherwise spent managing multiple disparate workflows.
The fact that the resourcing tool is integrated into the project management tool has probably improved my efficiency and reduced my hours searching for task cards, by about 25% on an average week.
Use placeholders to account for future hiring and staffing, or even book time in advance to help your team members get even easier time tracking. Productive’s capacity planning also takes into account your employees’ sick and off days, so you can get the full picture of your actual resource availability.
- Plans start with the Essential plan at $9 per user per month, which includes essential features such as budgeting, project & task management, docs, time tracking, expense management, reporting, and time off management.
- The Professional plan includes custom fields, recurring budgets, advanced reports, billable time approvals, and many more for $24 per user per month.
- The Ultimate plan has everything that the Essential plan and Professional plan offer, along with the HubSpot integration, advanced forecasting, advanced custom fields, overhead calculations, and more for a custom price.
- You can also check out the Enterprise Plan with custom pricing for companies that would include more than 50 active users per month.
Productive offers a 14-day free trial, so you can see what it can do for your project financial management today.
2. Paymo – A Good Accounting Software Solution
Paymo is an accounting project management software with a range of features that support the project life cycle. As the main benefit, customers comment that the cloud software is easy to use with a user-friendly interface.
- Integrated time tracking feature
- Task management and project views
- Employee leave management
- Invoice generation and customization
As the main downsides, customers report that some of Paymo’s financial-oriented features lag behind dedicated accounting software, as well as that the time tracking feature can be “awkward” to use (Source: G2). Some key agency insights, such as profit forecasting and agency utilization insights, are more emphasized in comparable all-in-one software for project-based businesses.
3. Forecast – A Solid Software Option for Project Accounting
Forecast is a tool for project-based businesses, with features that support project, resource, and financial management. Customers on Capterra praise Forecast for providing more transparency to their projects.
- Project planning and task management
- Workload and resource capacity overviews
- Real-time financial control and risk management
- Financial forecasting and profitability data
As the main cons, some users comment that the platform is difficult to use on mobile devices and that the learning curve is quite steep at the beginning. Additionally, the app offers somewhat limited pricing tiers, which might make customizing it to your agency needs more difficult than with comparable management software on the market.
4. LiquidPlanner – A Complex Tool for Management & Accounting
LiquidPlanner is a comprehensive tool for project management, with features designed to help teams plan, predict, and perform projects with confidence. Customers comment that LiquidPlanner offers a variety of features that help them stay “informed of how things are likely to run” (Source: G2).
- Time tracking feature
- Task and workload management
- Accurate resource availability scheduling
- Dynamic dashboards and reports
As the main drawback, users comment that even the most affordable pricing tier is slightly steep for smaller businesses. Some also reported that the initial complexity of learning the platform, in part due to the user interface and navigation, can be off-putting. Overall, LiquidPlanner can be a good tool for agencies with sufficient time and money to invest in getting the most out of the project software.
5. Sage Intacct – A Robust Business Software Solution for All Industries
Sage Intacct is a cloud project accounting software that provides financial management services to businesses from all industries. Customers on G2 praise Sage Intacct for providing them with real-time access to their financial data and streamlined expense tracking.
- Automated billing and revenue recognition
- Real-time financial reports and customizable dashboards
- Streamlined communication with Sage Intacct Collaborate
- Integrations with a variety of productivity tools
As the main downside of Sage Intacct, reviewers noted that the tool is pricier than comparable tools on the market, making it inaccessible to smaller businesses on a limited budget. Additionally, as the business software does not provide pricing options online, any considerations to purchase it must include previous contact with the vendor, making the decision-making process lengthier than with transparent software.
6. Xero – A Dedicated Project Accounting Solution for Small Businesses
Xero is an accounting software designed for smaller businesses, accountants, and other finance professionals. Customers praise the cloud software Xero for having a “relatively low learning curve” and being approachable to users without a strong financial background (Source: G2).
- Financial data management on one platform
- Automated invoicing and reporting
- Project profitability and expense management
- Multi-currency accounting
Xero is a streamlined management software and a good choice for smaller businesses and individuals looking for essential features to support the accounting process. Even so, some customers expressed dissatisfaction with the ratio of value to money, stating that the product could provide more comprehensive features at its price point. Larger enterprises and businesses with a growth mindset looking to support their entire agency operations might want to look at all-in-one software instead.
7. Zoho Books – A Good Tool for Collaboration on Projects
Zoho is a platform that offers a suite of productivity and business management-oriented solutions. Zoho Books is their cloud project accounting software solution for easy collaboration and finance management.
- Invoice creation and payment reminders
- Time entries and expense tracking
- Customizable reports with data filtering
- Purchase order management
Similarly to Xero, Zoho Books is a specialized solution that can provide support to your financial teams but is not entirely suitable for full-picture project management. Customers enjoy it for managing their books, but for everything else, a robust accounting project management software solution will be more suitable.
8. NetSuite – A Comprehensive Platform with Project Financial Management
NetSuite ERP is a cloud business management platform with project accounting capabilities from the provider Oracle. Netsuite promises to streamline manual processes, efficiently deliver real-time data, and provide project stakeholders with timely financial reports.
- Full overview of cash flow and financial performance
- Customizable dashboards and visual analytics
- Budget reports and forecasting
- Consolidated billing and invoicing
Similarly to Sage Intacct, users on Capterra underline that Netsuite is a comprehensive platform, but on the pricier end of the spectrum. Additionally, some have noted as a downside that Netsuite doesn’t provide a free trial. Because of the aforementioned, customers usually recommend Netsuite for medium-sized businesses.
9. QuickBooks – A Project Accounting Tool With Features for Finance Professionals
QuickBooks Online is a dedicated cloud tool that helps project managers and accountants in smaller companies manage their project accounting. Customers praise QuickBooks for being easy to learn and simple to navigate.
- Project budget oversight and forecasting
- Employee cost calculator
- Time and expense management
- Custom invoicing with automated reminders
Some reviewers on G2 comment that forecasting and invoicing could be better developed. Additionally, some report that customer service response time can get lengthy. Overall, QuickBooks is a good cloud accounting solution for businesses looking solely for accounting features, but for more advanced project life cycle support, an investment in professional comprehensive software might be a good idea.
10. Deltek WorkBook – A Project Accounting Tool from Leading Provider
Deltek is a lead provider of professional cloud solutions catered to a variety of business needs, from ERP and PSA, to manufacturing, business management, human capital management, and project portfolio management. WorkBook is Deltek’s agency-focused solution that supports financial and project management needs.
- Agency-focused project reporting templates
- Flexible task management with Kanban boards
- Resource capacity forecasting
- Modules for finances & accounting
As a downside, users frequently point out that Deltek WorkBook is not as user-friendly or intuitive as it could be, which can make onboarding difficult. Additionally, some have commented on the platform’s performance, highlighting that loading and response times can be a bit slow.
In this article, we’ve covered the top three concerns you should keep in mind when choosing and implementing project accounting software for your agency management needs.
First, make sure that your software is comprehensive enough to cover not only your current needs but also the challenges you’ll be facing in the future. Investing in a comprehensive tool right from the start will save you the time of migrating your data and re-learning a new tool in the future. Secondly, make sure your tool will modernize your processes with automation for administrative tasks and time-saving features. Finally, always keep in mind how user-friendly the software is, as this will reduce the initial onboarding time and eliminate later frustrations.
For an efficiency-focused tool tailored to agencies of all shapes and sizes, book a demo with Productive, the all-in-one agency management software.
Can Project Accounting Software Help Me Track My Time?
Time tracking is an essential feature of any project management accounting software. It can provide accurate data on billable and non-billable hours, generate insights into employee utilization rates and cost of services, and streamline invoicing down the line. Some tools such as Productive will offer built-in time tracking, while others might go for a light-weight approach with integrations or automated time sheets. In general, it’s always a good idea to invest in a tool that makes time tracking the core of its processes and simplifies it for employees.
Can Project Accounting Software Help Me Bill My Clients?
Client billing is another key feature of project accounting software. By inputting your budgets and tracking your financials throughout the project life cycle, software with project accounting capabilities can automatically generate your invoices from platform data. For example, with Productive, the all-in-one agency management software, you can invoice fixed-price projects from uninvoiced budget amounts, or hourly-priced projects by each approved time entry. A project accounting system can help you eliminate hours spent on manual invoicing and make sure your billing is uniform, accurate, and efficient.
Can Project Accounting Software Help Me Generate Reports?
Billing software with advanced reporting features, such as Productive, will be able to support high-level insights with real-time analytics, including financial forecasting and key agency metrics. Although most solutions will provide reporting in one form or the other, keep an eye out for how emphasized the feature is; for example, can the software give you insights into your profitability and actual agency utilization? Customer reviews are also very useful in pinpointing whether a tool offers deep financial insights or not, as this is key for any successful business, small or large.
Can Project Accounting Software Help Me Collaborate With My Team?
More specialized project accounting software might not come with robust collaboration features but rather focus on supporting your finances with billing, reporting, and cash flow management. If you’re looking for a tool that integrates streamlined accounting tasks with aspects of project management, it’s good to consider an all-in-one agency management solution. Software like Productive can give you all of the benefits of project accounting combined with effective project management, such as task management, dependencies, project views, automatic notifications, and more.
Can Project Accounting Software Help Me Manage My Budget?
Project accounting software that is tailored to client-facing agencies can help accountants and project managers build, manage, and optimize their agency’s budgeting. A good example of such a tool is Productive. With this cloud accounting software, you can set up projects and track KPIs in real time, comparing them across forecasted and actual costs. This helps you ensure that you’re on the right track throughout your project progress. Project management accounting software can also improve client communication and transparency by keeping you one step ahead of your projects, as well as help you resolve any roadblocks with data-driven decision-making.