Monday, December 31, 2012


First things first. Online accounting service Kashoo was named after some noodling-around with the phrase, "making your nut." After considering various varieties of nuts, the founders settled on Kashoo because of the first syllable in "cashew."

Kashoo is available as an app for the iPad, the only site the group we looked at in late 2012?to have accomplished this feat. And they had it ready 18 months ago. Not even QuickBooks Online is a member of that exclusive club.

All that aside, the application itself is a pleasure to use, thanks to a well-designed interface and intuitive navigational conventions. It's fairly young (about three years old), so it doesn't have the generous stable of add-ons that its competitors do. As of today, it only integrates with a Canadian payroll system, and it lacks the time- and item-tracking and some other features that QuickBooks online offers.

But it has the critical audit trail ("Change Log") that only QuickBooks Online offers in this group. It's a strong competitor in terms of its core functions: managing income and expenses downloaded from financial institutions; paying bills and invoicing customers; and staying on top of cash flow with reports and graphs. Kashoo is true double-entry accounting, which will make your financial person happy, and it's a global solution, supporting over 100 currencies.

A Different Starting Point
Kashoo starts you out on a slightly different home page than its competitors'. All of the sites reviewed here have a kind of "dashboard," a page that you'd look at first thing in the morning to get a sense of where you stand financially. These generally display charts and tables that provide data like account balances and income year-to-date. Some of them also remind you of tasks that must be done soon, like past due invoices and bills that must be paid, and they often contain links to record and transaction screens.

Kashoo's dashboard presents the standard account totals, net income and taxes and remittances, and links to pages containing more data, as well as a vertical pane containing links to other areas of the site. But it also lets you get to work immediately; the bulk of the screen is devoted to transaction forms for both income and expenses (invoices, bills, etc.). Each has its own dedicated page, but the dashboard's layout just lets you jump right in and get started. That approach is neither better nor worse than the others'?just a little different.

The main income and expense pages are more thorough than those on the dashboard, and their forms and related data are comparable to QuickBooks Online's. The transaction forms are at the top of each page, and a table displaying the most recent transactions is below that. Mini-reports appear in the vertical pane on the right. On the income screen, for example, you'd see your net income, aged receivables, receivables and income by customer and income by account. Links take you to more all-inclusive screens. The other sites reviewed here don't offer a similar configuration, and I think it's a helpful approach.

You can import customer and vendor records in CSV, vCard or Excel format, and there's a multi-step process for migrating from QuickBooks that's well-documented. Kashoo provides ample fields for the contact records that will eventually be used in transactions. Item-tracking is comparable to Less Accounting's; neither keeps a running tally of inventory levels like QuickBooks Online does, though.

Loading the Data
Personal finance manager Mint, owned by Intuit, was the first financial site to make a big splash with downloaded financial transactions. Desktop personal finance managers like Quicken and the now-defunct Microsoft Money had offered online banking since the mid-90s, but Mint was a website that made downloaded data the central focus of the application. Millions of paper checkbook registers began gathering dust because consumers could now have their checks and deposits and credit card charges just appear within Mint. At a glance, people could see what they were spending and taking in. This meant no more duplicate data entry, greatly-improved accuracy and lots of time saved.

Kashoo and its competitors reviewed here also focus on downloaded transactions; each can pull them down from thousands of financial institutions, so it's unlikely that your bank wouldn't be on their lists. The process works the same on Kashoo as it does on competing sites. You just click the Accounts tab on any page and enter the name of your financial institution (or start typing and select it from the list). You'll need to enter the same user ID and password that you use to log into the bank's site itself. After a short wait, your most recent transactions appear (you can also download statements in OFX, QFX and QBO format), which you can refresh anytime.

You enter invoices and expenses the same way you do on competing websites by making selections from drop-down lists to fill in the blanks on the forms. But Kashoo veers off from what is fairly standard on other online accounting sites. For example, you'd expect to see a label called something like, "Product" or "Item" on the field whose drop-down list held products and services. Instead, on the invoice it says, "Income Account," and then there's a field for a more specific description. And you can't assign a class or category or tag to use as a filter in later reporting, as other applications allow.

International Appeal
Kashoo allows unlimited collaborators for no additional charge, unlike QuickBooks Online. So it makes sense that a small business might invite its accountant in to check its work occasionally and get ready for taxes. Accounting professionals would find a lot about this site appealing, like the fact that it's true double-entry accounting and it includes what it calls a "change log," which is a continuous record of every activity that anyone does on the site. In fact, a few of the features seem more appropriate for a financial advisor than a non-accountant in a small business, like the Adjustment page, where you have to understand debits and credits to enter data.

Kashoo does have global appeal; it provides updated exchange information for multiple currencies and allows sales tax localization. But its Canadian-only payroll is one of only two add-ons at this point, the other being FreshBooks?which does add a great deal to the sales side of your financial management. Its iPad-optimized app, though, is a big feather in the company's cap.

I'd recommend the site for small businesses whose needs don't include payroll or time billing or extensibility. For now, though, QuickBooks Online fills in the gaps that Kashoo leaves open, and is a better overall solution.

More Accounting and Tax Software Reviews:
??? Kashoo
??? QuickBooks Online Plus
??? Wave Accounting
??? FreshBooks
??? Xero
?? more


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