Best Accounting Software for Consultants: Top Picks and Expert Analysis


Consulting businesses need effective financial management to thrive in today’s competitive environment. The right accounting software is crucial for consultants to streamline their financial workflow, manage time tracking and billing, and make informed business decisions. While several options are available in the market, consultants must carefully assess their unique needs to choose the best accounting software tailored to their circumstances.

Some of the top accounting software solutions cater specifically to the needs of consultants, offering features such as time tracking, project management, and professional invoicing. These software solutions also provide integrations with other business tools and support various pricing models, allowing consultants to create a seamless and efficient financial management system. In this article, we will cover a range of topics aimed at helping you select the ideal accounting software suitable for your consulting business.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding your specific needs is crucial to selecting the ideal accounting software for your consulting business.
  • Optimal accounting software should offer productivity-enhancing features tailored for consultants, such as time tracking and project management.
  • Assess factors such as integrations, customer support, and pricing models to make an informed choice that best suits your consulting business.

Assessing Your Accounting Software Needs

As a consultant, choosing the right accounting software is crucial for managing your finances efficiently. This section will guide you through the process of assessing your accounting software needs and identifying essential features that are relevant to your consulting business.

Identifying Essential Features

When assessing your accounting software needs, it is important to identify the essential features that will benefit your business. Here are some key features to consider:

  1. Expense tracking: Keep track of your business expenses, such as travel costs, office supplies, and any other expenditures. Efficient expense tracking will help you manage your budget and financials better.
  2. Time tracking: Many consultants bill clients on an hourly basis, so having a built-in time tracking feature is essential. This will allow you to track time spent on each project and invoice clients accurately.
  3. Invoicing: Generate professional invoices with customizable templates to bill your clients, including options for online payment. This feature should be able to manage recurring invoices, offer various payment methods, and send automated reminders for overdue payments.
  4. Financial reporting: Access a wide range of financial reports to analyze your business’s performance and make data-driven decisions. Examples of reports include profit & loss statements, balance sheets, and accounts receivable/payable overviews.
  5. Mobile access: A mobile-friendly software will allow you to manage your finances on the go using your smartphone or tablet. This is particularly useful for consultants who are often traveling or working remotely.
  6. Inventory management: If your consulting business deals with products, you’ll need a feature that helps you manage inventory levels, set reorder points, and track inventory costs effectively.
  7. Integration: Ensure the accounting software can integrate with other tools and services you use, such as project management tools, CRM systems, or payment gateways. Integration will help streamline your processes and reduce manual data entry.
  8. Automation: Look for software that offers automation capabilities to save time and reduce the likelihood of mistakes. Automation can include features like automatic bank reconciliation, expense categorization, or recurring invoice generation.

By considering these essential features when assessing your accounting software needs, you will be better equipped to make an informed decision and choose the right solution for your consulting business.

Top Accounting Software for Consultants

In the consulting profession, efficient management of finances and time is crucial. Here, we discuss the top accounting software for consultants to help streamline their financial processes.

QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online is a popular choice among consultants due to its comprehensive features and user-friendly interface. Its pricing plans cater to businesses of varying sizes, and it offers functionalities such as invoicing, time-tracking, and expense management. Its intuitive, easy-to-use design has garnered positive reviews from users. QuickBooks Online also integrates with numerous third-party applications, providing a seamless experience for consultants.


FreshBooks is another excellent accounting software designed with consultants in mind. It offers a clean and modern interface, making it easy for users to navigate and manage their finances. Additionally, it provides essential features like invoicing, time tracking, and expense management. FreshBooks offers a range of pricing plans to accommodate the needs of different businesses. Its mobile app ensures consultants can handle their financial matters even on the go.


Xero is a cloud-based accounting software that offers robust financial management features, making it a top choice for consultants. Its pricing plans are tailored to suit businesses of all sizes and budgets. Xero provides easy invoicing, expense management, and time tracking, making financial management a breeze for consultants. The software also boasts a strong user community, which offers extensive, valuable resources and support. Furthermore, Xero’s open API allows for seamless integration with various business applications.

Zoho Books

Zoho Books is a comprehensive accounting software that caters specifically to the needs of consultants. It offers an array of features such as invoicing, time tracking, and expense management, ensuring a smooth financial management process. Zoho Books also offers customizable workflows and integrations to support the unique needs of consultants. With a range of pricing plans, Zoho Books caters to businesses of different sizes. Its mobile app is highly regarded by users, ensuring that consultants can manage their finances effectively while on the move.

In summary, the top accounting software for consultants includes QuickBooks Online, FreshBooks, Xero, and Zoho Books. Each platform offers unique features, pricing plans, and ease of use to support the financial management needs of consulting businesses. By choosing the right software, consultants can effectively manage their finances, save time, and enhance their overall efficiency.

Key Features to Enhance Productivity

Consultants require accounting software that can enhance productivity and simplify financial management tasks. In this section, we will discuss key features to look for in the best accounting software for consultants with a focus on automated invoicing and billing.

Automated Invoicing and Billing

Automated invoice generation: A good accounting software should streamline the invoicing process, allowing consultants to quickly generate professional and customizable invoices. This feature enables easy management of client information, item details, and payment terms, ultimately saving time and reducing the risk of errors.

Recurring invoices: For consultants who work with clients on a long-term basis, an essential feature is the ability to set up recurring invoices for services rendered. This automation eliminates the need to manually create and send invoices each month, freeing up valuable time for other tasks.

Time tracking and billable hours: Consultants often need to track and bill their time spent on various projects. Accounting software should offer built-in time tracking tools, allowing integration of billable hours directly into invoices. This feature ensures accurate invoicing and project profitability calculations.

Expense tracking and reporting: Managing and tracking expenses is crucial for consultants to maintain control of their finances. The best accounting software should offer robust expense tracking, including the option to attach receipts, categorize expenses, and generate detailed reports on business expenses and profitability.

Multiple payment options: Providing clients with multiple payment options can greatly improve the speed and ease of collecting payments. An ideal accounting software should support different payment methods, such as credit cards, bank transfers, and online payment platforms. This not only enhances clients’ convenience but also helps consultants receive payments more efficiently.

Integration with other tools: Consultants often use various tools and services to run their businesses. The best accounting software should seamlessly integrate with other essential applications, like project management and CRM software. This integration helps streamline workflow and improves efficiency for better productivity.

To enhance productivity and financial management, consultants should prioritize accounting software that offers automated invoicing and billing, time tracking, expense management, multiple payment options, and integration with essential business tools. These features allow consultants to focus on their core business tasks while maintaining control over their financial health.

Maximizing Financial Management

Cash Flow Analysis

Staying on top of cash flow analysis is crucial for consultants. Accounting software can help track income and expenses, giving an insight into the overall financial health of the business. This includes managing accounts payable and accounts receivable, which in turn, helps maintain a healthy cash flow. It is important to regularly generate and analyze financial reports, such as the balance sheet, to ensure the consulting business is solvent and financially stable.

  • Income: Tracking revenue generated from the consulting projects and other sources.
  • Expenses: Monitoring operational costs, such as travel, software subscriptions, and office supplies.
  • Accounts Payable: Keeping track of outstanding invoices and ensuring timely payments.
  • Accounts Receivable: Monitoring client payments and managing outstanding invoices.

Budgeting and Forecasting

Effective budgeting and forecasting are essential aspects of financial management for consultants. Accounting software can aid in creating detailed budgets and projections, which can help make informed business decisions and avoid financial surprises. Some key aspects to consider in budgeting and forecasting include:

  1. Expense management: Categorizing and controlling expenses to ensure they align with the allocated budget.
  2. Income projections: Estimating future revenue based on past performance, market trends, and other factors.
  3. Financial goals: Setting short-term and long-term goals and adjusting the budget accordingly.
  4. Scenario planning: Creating alternative budget scenarios to strategize for potential changes in the business environment.

By leveraging accounting software for cash flow analysis and budgeting and forecasting, consultants can maximize their financial management and maintain a steady growth trajectory. Regular review of the general ledger and financial reports can help identify trends and areas of improvement, ensuring the consulting business remains financially stable and sustainable.

Integrations and Ecosystems

In the world of accounting software for consultants, it is essential to have seamless integration capabilities and a robust ecosystem to ensure smooth operations.

Expanding Capabilities with Add-ons

Consultants often have specific requirements for their businesses, such as managing client relationships, project tracking, and payroll processing. Therefore, choosing accounting software that integrates with various add-ons is crucial. These integrations can expand the software’s primary functionality to cater to the unique needs of the consulting business.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Integration with CRM tools enables consultants to manage, track and engage with their clients effectively. These CRM add-ons can help in streamlining communication, storing client information, and generating leads.

Project Management: Consultants need to monitor their projects closely to ensure timely delivery and profitability. Integrating accounting software with project management tools can help consultants to effectively plan, organize, and track project progress.

Payroll: For small businesses and consulting firms, payroll management is another essential aspect. Seamless integration with payroll tools can help simplify employee payments, benefits, and taxes, allowing consultants to focus more on their core services.

Inventory Management: Consultants who handle physical items in their engagements may require inventory management. Integration with inventory management tools allows for better tracking of stock, creating purchase orders, and managing the supply chain.

Mail Integration: Communication is crucial in consulting businesses, and integration with mail software can facilitate efficient communication with clients, vendors, and team members. This feature allows consultants to manage their business-related correspondence within the same platform.

Mobile App Integrations: The modern consultant often requires access to their accounting and project management tools on-the-go. Integrating accounting software with mobile apps allows for better visibility and real-time tracking of project progress, expenses, and client communication.

App Integrations: To enhance the overall functionality and flexibility of the accounting software, it is vital to have a healthy ecosystem of app integrations. This ecosystem can include various third-party apps to support multiple aspects of a consulting business, such as time tracking, expense management, and invoicing, among others.

Mobile Accounting Solutions

Accounting on the Go

In today’s fast-paced world, consultants need to efficiently manage their finances and have access to their accounting data while on the move. Mobile accounting solutions offer a comprehensive suite of features optimized for smartphones and tablets, allowing consultants to stay productive and make informed decisions.

Mobile apps have become an indispensable tool for consultants, and many leading accounting software providers now offer powerful mobile applications that integrate seamlessly with their web-based counterparts. These apps enable users to perform various accounting tasks such as invoicing, expense tracking, and time management directly from their mobile devices.

Cloud accounting is another essential component, ensuring that all financial data is securely stored in the cloud and accessible from any device. This not only offers flexibility in terms of device compatibility, but also ensures that the data is backed up and protected in case of a device failure.

Some noteworthy features of mobile accounting solutions include:

  • Productivity: Improve efficiency by managing financial tasks directly from mobile devices.
  • Invoicing capabilities: Create, send and manage invoices from the palm of your hand.
  • Real-time insights: Access up-to-date financial data and gain insights on the go.

Here are some top mobile accounting solutions for consultants:

  1. Zoho Books: An intuitive mobile app with robust invoicing capabilities, expense tracking and time management features, perfect for consultants on the move.
  2. FreshBooks: Known for its user-friendly interface, FreshBooks offers a powerful mobile app for managing invoices, tracking expenses, and collaborating with clients.
  3. QuickBooks Online: With its extensive features, QuickBooks Online provides a comprehensive mobile app that integrates seamlessly with the web-based application, allowing consultants to manage their finances with ease.

Using mobile accounting solutions, consultants can efficiently handle their financial tasks and stay on top of their business, regardless of their location. As mobile technology continues to evolve, we can expect even more advanced and feature-packed solutions to emerge, further enhancing productivity and convenience for consultants.

Support and Customer Service

Accessing Help When Needed

For consultants, having access to reliable and prompt support is an essential component when choosing an accounting software. Many industry-leading software platforms offer a range of customer service options to ensure they can meet the needs of consulting firms and individual consultants.

  • Phone Support: Top accounting software providers, such as FreshBooks, QuickBooks, and Sage Intacct, typically offer phone support for their users. Dedicated phone lines can provide efficient assistance for time-sensitive issues and general queries.
  • Email Support: Email remains a popular method of contacting accounting support teams for less urgent inquiries. Users can expect comprehensive replies that address their specific issues, often with pointers towards useful resources, tutorials, or documentation.
  • Live Chat: Offering real-time assistance, live chat support is also common among the best accounting software for consultants. Providers such as Zoho Books and Odoo enable users to get immediate solutions to their problems through chat windows on the software’s website or user interface.
  • Knowledge Base: A well-organized and comprehensive knowledge base is crucial for consultants to find answers for their questions independently. For example, FreshBooks and QuickBooks Online both provide extensive online resources, including FAQs, articles, and video tutorials, covering most accounting topics.
  • Community Forums: Some accounting software providers, like Odoo and OneUp, maintain active community forums where users can ask questions, seek advice, or share experiences with fellow consultants. These forums not only enable learning from peers but also foster engagement within the software ecosystem.
  • Dedicated Account Managers: For consulting firms with more complex requirements, accounting software providers may assign dedicated account managers. These professionals serve as the point of contact between the firm and the provider, ensuring personalized assistance and tailored support.

In conclusion, support and customer service are vital factors to consider when selecting an accounting software for consultants. Multiple support channels, an in-depth knowledge base, and dedicated account managers are key elements of a solid customer service offering, ensuring users can quickly resolve any issues or questions that may arise while using the software.

Choosing the Right Pricing Model

When selecting accounting software for consultants, it’s important to consider the pricing model that best fits their budget and business needs. There are several pricing options available, ranging from free accounting software to premium plans with advanced features. In this section, we will discuss various aspects of pricing models to help consultants make an informed decision.

Most accounting software providers offer tiered pricing plans, which typically include Lite, Plus, Select, and Premium levels. Each tier offers an increasing number of features and functionality to cater to businesses of different sizes and requirements.

In the Lite plans, consultants can usually expect basic functionality, such as invoice generation and expense management. These plans are often suitable for individuals or small businesses on a tight budget, but may lack advanced features that larger consulting firms might find useful.

Plus plans provide additional features such as time tracking, project management, and integrations with other software. This level of plan is often recommended for growing consulting businesses that require more advanced features to effectively manage their operations.

The Select tier offers a more comprehensive set of tools tailored for larger or more established consulting businesses. These plans may include advanced reporting and analytics, custom invoicing, and multi-currency support.

Lastly, the Premium level of accounting software plans provides the most advanced features and functionalities, such as advanced payroll management, inventory tracking, and dedicated customer support. These plans are suitable for high-growth businesses or those with complex needs.

It is worth noting that some accounting software providers offer free versions or trials. These can be a great way to test the software and determine if it meets the consultants’ needs before committing to a paid plan. Free accounting software solutions, however, tend to have limitations in terms of features, number of clients, or storage capacity.

In conclusion, when choosing the right pricing model for accounting software, consultants should carefully evaluate their business needs, budget constraints, and desired features. By considering these factors, they can select a plan that offers the right balance of cost and functionality to effectively manage their consulting practice.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the top-rated accounting software options for consultants in the United States?

Some of the highly-rated accounting software options for consultants in the United States include QuickBooks Online, FreshBooks, Zoho Books, and Xero. These software solutions offer a range of features tailored to the needs of consultants, such as project-based invoicing, time tracking, and client management.

Which accounting software offers the best features for professional service providers?

The best accounting software for professional service providers will depend on the specific needs of the individual or business. For instance, QuickBooks Online offers strong time tracking and project management features, while Freshbooks is known for its user-friendly interface and efficient invoicing tools. It’s crucial to evaluate each software based on the features most important to your consulting business.

Can consultants find high-quality accounting software that is available for free?

Although most feature-rich accounting software options come with a cost, there are several free alternatives available, such as Wave and ZipBooks. These platforms may not provide all the advanced features offered by their paid counterparts, but they can be suitable for consultants with a limited budget or those starting their businesses.

How does QuickBooks meet the specific needs of consulting businesses?

QuickBooks is a popular accounting software choice for consulting businesses because of its flexibility and wide array of features. Consultants can benefit from its project-based invoicing, time tracking, expense management, and customizable workflows. Additionally, QuickBooks offers integrations with many other business tools, making it easier for consultants to streamline their operations.

For managing multiple businesses, which accounting software provides the most efficient solution?

Managing multiple businesses can be a challenge when it comes to accounting. Software solutions such as Xero and QuickBooks Online allow users to manage multiple businesses within a single account. Their features, like consolidated financial reporting and access controls for different users, make it easier to manage the accounting requirements of more than one business efficiently.

What is the most user-friendly accounting software currently preferred by industry professionals?

User-friendly accounting software can significantly reduce the learning curve for consultants. FreshBooks is often praised for its intuitive interface and ease of use, making it a preferred choice among professionals who value simplicity in their software solutions. However, user preferences may vary, and it’s essential to test different options to find the one that best fits your unique requirements.