SaaS startups are a unique breed when it comes to accounting software. They have different requirements than more traditional businesses. As a result, they often need specialized software that can cater to their specific needs.
Without the right accounting software for your SaaS business, you’ll spend too much time on tasks like bookkeeping, data entry, and reconciliations. Manual processes can also lead to errors and incorrect recording, resulting in missed deadlines or troublesome inaccuracies, especially as your list of recurring customers grows.
That's why it's so important to invest in accounting solutions that can grow alongside your SaaS startup. Software specifically designed for SaaS accounting can help streamline your processes, monitor recurring revenue, reduce manual data entry, and avoid mistakes that could jeopardize the success of your business.
In this article, we'll explain why SaaS startups have different accounting software needs, and we'll also take a look at some of the best platforms for SaaS-based accounting.
What Is Accounting Software For SaaS Startups?
Accounting software helps businesses track their financial information through advanced technology and algorithms that take care of daily accounting tasks. It allows users to manage income, operating expenses, and other financial transactions. Accounting software also provides features such as invoicing, payroll processing, budgeting, and tax preparation.
For SaaS startups, accounting software can provide the framework to manage customer subscriptions and handle billing and recurring payments. Additionally, accounting software helps the company keep track of the usage of its services, understand customer trends, and develop reports for financial forecasts.
Why Is Accounting Software Important?
Accounting software is a vital tool for startups looking to track their financial information in an organized way. With software, founders can easily access the data they need when needed. Utilizing software also helps businesses save time and money by streamlining financial processes.
As a SaaS startup, you'll have access to insights and trends about your customer base and finances that can help you optimize your startup’s efficiency and make more informed decisions. Accounting software for SaaS companies ensures compliance with laws and regulations surrounding revenue recognition, taxes, and other financial matters. The IRS allows businesses to use accounting software records during examination too.
How Is Accounting Software For SaaS Companies Different, And Why?
While most good accounting software will allow any type of business to accurately track profits, cash flow, and generate basic financial reports, SaaS businesses need highly specialized accounting software due to a recurring revenue model and the complexity of subscription billing.
For example, some SaaS-specific accounting software should include features such as:
- Subscription/recurring billing or integrations with current subscription management software
- Customer payment integrations and reconciliation
- Customer lifetime value (LTV) analysis
- Daily bookkeeping capabilities to stay on top of the ever-changing customer lifecycle
- Advance revenue recognition
These features help SaaS startups manage their finances more efficiently and competently by streamlining complex financial processes.
What Are The Benefits Of Accounting Software For SaaS Businesses?
While the best startup accounting software will allow any type of business to accurately track profits, cash flow, and generate basic financial reports, SaaS businesses need highly specialized accounting software due to a recurring revenue model and the complexity of subscription billing. Due to a recurring revenue model and the complexity of subscription billing, SaaS businesses can benefit from specialized accounting software to:
- Automate manual processes such as revenue recognition – SaaS customers pay subscriptions and add-on services fees, which require routine “maintenance” as customers upgrade, downgrade, or opt-in/out of different services.
- Provide SaaS-specific KPIs to investors – These include bookings, average contract value, customer lifetime value (CLTV), churn, ARR and MRR, and more.
- Generate detailed GAAP-specific financial statements and forecasts.
- Provide real-time visibility into customer data and trends
Ultimately, the right accounting software can help SaaS businesses succeed. By streamlining tedious tasks and providing greater accuracy, startups can save time, reduce overhead costs, and make more informed business decisions.
Key Elements To Look For In SaaS-Based Accounting Software
Finding the right SaaS-based accounting software can help you take complete control of your finances. When choosing accounting software for your SaaS startup, there are several key elements to consider. These include:
Automated features like invoicing, billing, payments, and reconciliation can help save you time and money and make your life easier. These automated processes will speed up transactions and ease reporting burdens so that you can focus on growing your business.
Take the time to determine if bookkeeping automation is available within the platform that best fits your needs to maximize efficiency in all aspects of your profit cycle.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI-based technologies can provide predictive insights into your finances. AI bookkeeping can help you identify opportunities and risks so that you can make better decisions in the future. Good accounting software will offer features powered by machine learning to provide insights into operating expenses, burn rate, and other vital metrics.
With good reporting capabilities, you'll be able to track important financial information and analyze customer trends in real-time. You'll also have insight into how well you're performing financially and other key metrics — all within a single platform. Clear metrics and financial data will help you make efficient decisions regarding the direction and progress of your business.
Be sure your software works with your existing systems (like Quickbooks online or your corporate credit card) to create a connected, efficient system. When selecting a SaaS-based accounting solution, inquire about its ability to integrate with your other programs and tools. Integration streamlines the data flow between software without extra manual input or effort. Automatic synchronization might also be possible, further increasing efficiencies.
Data security is another top feature to research thoroughly. You'll want to select a platform with robust security features and controls to prevent unauthorized access.
Look carefully into the encryption methods used by any SaaS-based accounting software, such as Secured Socket Layer (SSL). Remember to check the latest industry regulations to ensure adequate protection is available.
What Are the Best SaaS Accounting Software Platforms?
When it comes to SaaS accounting software, a wide range of options are available. Some of the best accounting software for SaaS companies include:
- Zoho Books
Each platform has distinct features and capabilities, so take the time to investigate which solution is the best fit for your business. Consider critical features, cost, and scalability when making your decision. Due diligence assures that you get the right SaaS-based accounting software to help manage your finances more effectively.
Beyond Accounting Software Alone: Working With SaaS Finance Experts
SaaS businesses have complex financial needs which require expertise to ensure accuracy and compliance. Data must be tracked, reconciled, and reported to the correct stakeholders on time. This is difficult for most startups to accomplish on their own.
Accounting software can help streamline your financial processes through automation and AI insights. But even the best software cannot replace proper financial oversight.
For example, a finance expert can help you set up the most effective operating model to maximize your business’s growth. A financial advisor can also familiarize themselves with your product, markets, and current environment to more accurately predict future performance.
While some startup founders may think they can get by without the help of an experienced finance professional, this is often not the case. Working with a qualified SaaS finance expert can offer more efficient solutions to your financial challenges and ensure accuracy throughout all your processes.