Financial Centre

Now that the economy is picking up, one of the best things a business can do to ensure best practice and effective performance management is identify and implement several financial applications. The impact of picking the right ones will take effect immediately, and you’ll notice how much easier it is to keep on top of all the financial arrangements, including proper governance in accounting – something Finance Directors (FD) are rather passionate about.

For better or worse, the apps worth having are the truly modern ones, which can be difficult news for CFOs saddled with existing legacy financial apps that just aren’t working as well as they used to. Finance apps allow FDs and other executives to serve their company better, and for finance departments to make the most of the hours they put into making everything run smoothly, staying in the black and ensuring all the figures tally up in the end. Here are a few of the best apps currently on offer and what they can do for you.

Accelerated return on investment (ROI)

As with all well-chosen business technology, the right app will not be slow in boosting your business. The money spent on modernising existing programs or investing in new apps should quickly pay for itself. This may take the form of increased productivity (see point below), money and resources saved and more efficiencies all round, which all translate into greater profits. Although it’s risky to use ROI as an indicator for prioritising investment projects, a carefully thought-out plan for updating the apps and software you use in day-to-day business will have a comparatively low level of risk.

1. Greater productivity – Calc XLS

Calc XLS masters the most basic feature of every finance department: the spreadsheet. This iOS app from Mariner Software boasts Dropbox support (for easy mobile access, file sharing and printing) and has more than 200 functions, covering mathematical, trigonometric, financial, date/time, logical, worksheet, statistical and text calculations. You can create customised spreadsheets without Excel, but the app is also compatible with Excel (Windows 97 and higher) so there’s no need to limit yourself or your accounting details.

Details: Free to try, £2.99 thereafter from the iTunes App Store.

2. Better business reporting – FreshBooks

‘Track every billable second’ is the tag-line for one feature FreshBooks offers. This iOS and Android cloud accounting app is perfect for helping a business track expenses and profits even if you decide not to keep your accounting work in-house. The app also keeps tabs on how many hours are spent on a project (good for invoice filing), assist with filing taxes and log expenses with photos of receipts (an accountant’s dream).

Details: Free for 30 days from the iTunes App Store and Google Play. After that, approximately £6, £12, £20 and £26 for additional features, increased staff and clients, and diverse spreadsheets, expense reporting and time sheets.

3. Analysis and insights – Andara

Although currently only supported on iPad and PC, Andara lets you create and share dashboards and view your business’s performance indicators with a traffic light colour-coding system. It synchronises with Excel through your personal cloud, has a template Marketplace to give some ideas about which indicators to choose, and pulls together professional insights for deeper business intelligence and better decision making.

Details: Available free as a 7-day trial, then £18.99 at the iTunes App Store.

4. Stronger financial controls – QuickBooks

Payroll is one of the most important tasks for any business and it doesn’t have to be done by an outside company for a huge fee. QuickBooks is a multi-talented app that calculates VAT and PAYE online and invoicing as well as the payroll itself, all supported in the cloud. You’ll be able to quickly see the funds coming into and going out of accounts and keep a detailed record of internal and external financial transactions.

Details: Free for 30 days, then packages for £5.60, £10.50 and £15 a month depending on the level of features. Available from iTunes App Store and Google Play for PC, Mac and mobile devices.

5. Grow your business and make it mobile – Square Register

Square Register is a mobile payment app that processes transactions in 130 currencies using an iPad, iPhone or Android device. It comes with a credit card reader for the devices headphone jack for swiping cards. Although Square Register takes a cut of each payment (2.75%) this is likely a small price to be able to accept card transactions. And best of all, the app lets you instantly populate a spreadsheet with sales history – perfect for tax records.

Details: Free from the iTunes App Store and Google Play.

6. Improved fraud protection – Signifyd

This fraud detection app is perfect for e-commerce businesses, but can also be extended to those without an e-commerce platform. Signifyd aggregates customer data from multiple sources to identify fraud and prevent card charge-backs (£2.2 billion lost annually) and keep hold of profits (3% lost annually to wrongly declined sales) by weeding out dodgy customers. It was designed by the fraud prevention experts at PayPal, who know a thing or two about online payment systems, and shares a blacklist of fraudulent users with its customers.

Details: Free 14-day trial, then £50 per month for the Bronze Plan (or 500 transactions free with the Plan’s promotion offer), £95 for the Silver Plan (1,200 transactions) or £192 for the Gold Plan for 3,000 transactions. Available from the Shopify App Store.

7. More agile and responsive financial team – Microsoft Dynamics GP

We’re used to Microsoft looking after our server-software affairs but the tech giant has also created Microsoft Dynamics GP, an app that links together manufacturing, supply-chain, e-commerce, finances, project accounting, customer services and HR.

With a range of customisable analytics (which include budgeting and reporting), the app lets you use financial data to explore ‘what if’ scenarios involving budgets, anticipate new trends and keep an eye out for abnormalities and potential fiscal disasters, with the benefit of a private cloud.

Details: Available for approximately £12 from the iTunes App Store.

Taking stock before taking action

The good news is that businesses don’t have to struggle with outdated legacy systems.  There are a number of modernisation options available for business apps if investing in new apps isn’t right for you yet. Ring us at One Beyond to discuss your current financial software and discover new potential, on 020 3096 6199 as there are more options available to you than you probably realise.