Recently Eileen O’Loughlin, Mobile Accounting Analyst for the online technology consultancy Software Advice, released a new report which studied the growing trends of mobile accounting on the industry. We had the opportunity to talk with Ms. O’Loughlin to learn a little more about what her research uncovered.

Q: What is the difference between mobile accounting and cloud accounting? 

A: Mobile accounting refers to the use of a mobile accounting application (downloaded from iTunes or Google Play) to access a user’s licensed business accounting software from a mobile device. These applications are designed specifically for a mobile interface and allow users to perform many of the same accounting functions from their smartphone or tablet as they are able to from a PC.
Cloud accounting refers to the use of cloud-based accounting software, i.e., standalone business accounting software. Cloud-based software is accessed online, using any compatible device with an internet connection—including mobile devices. However, not all cloud-based systems are designed for a mobile device interface which can result in display issues and a negative user experience.

Q: What are some ways mobile accounting software can streamline day-to-day SMB bookkeeping?

A: In our recent analysis of mobile accounting trends, survey respondents say they most often use their mobile accounting application to perform the following:

  • Track time and billable hours
  • Perform bank reconciliations
  • Add receipts and submit expenses
  • Create and send invoices

Having the ability to perform these accounting functions on the go over a mobile phone is a great convenience for business owners. Not only does it afford of-the-minute accuracy to company financial data, but it can have a huge boost on productivity as well by increasing the number of actions users can perform when away from the office.

Q: What percentage of SMBs are looking to replace their existing software and why?

A: Our 2016 analysis of small business accounting software buyers revealed that nearly 60 percent of SMBs are looking to replace their current system. The number one pain point driving their search for a replacement solution is that their current system lacks important capabilities.
What makes this finding so impactful is in our mobile accounting survey, we learned that 62 percent of respondents say their accounting software does not include a downloadable app. And when asked if a mobile app would impact a buyer’s decision to choose one software over another, 55 percent of respondents said yes.

This tells us that mobile accounting is going to be an increasing trend as buyers look for solutions that more directly reflect and support their needs.

Q: Does any particular age group gravitate to using mobile accounting software? 

A: We found that mobile accounting is most popular among users in the 26 to 35 age group. Not only are they more likely to use mobile apps, but they tend to use them more often than other age groups.
In fact, 14 percent say they perform accounting functions multiple times per day from their mobile app on their smartphone or tablet. Conversely, nearly the same percentage of users age 36 to 45 say they use their mobile accounting apps just a few times per week.

Q: For businesses experiencing growth, what are some key takeaways to consider when searching for a mobile accounting software?

A: First, bear in mind that mobile accounting apps are meant to supplement a business’s licensed accounting software. The app will often have limited or paired down functionality. As such, it’s important that businesses consider their on-the-go requirements when evaluating mobile accounting solutions.

For example, if your business is expanding and you’re putting more sales people on the road, you’ll likely need a solution with mobile expense management capabilities. Conversely, if you’re increasing the number of technicians in the field, you may want your techs to be able to invoice clients immediately after completing a job.

Secondly, I’d advise SMBs to have end-users demo the mobile application at the same time they’re demoing the base product. Ease of use is imperative to sustaining user adoption, and unless it’s dead simple to understand and interact with, your staff won’t use it.
Especially if your end users are outside that key age group (26 to 35) they’ll be even less inclined to suffer a complicated mobile application. As such, involve end users in the software selection process and get their honest feedback before you invest.

Share your thoughts on mobile accounting in the comments below!