There is plenty of information about which accounting software manufacturers should choose. Manufacturers face several unique challenges that include managing inventory (raw materials, WIP, finished goods, goods on consignment) and they often have large B2B customers and transactions – which make managing B2B payments and accounts receivables more complex.
The good news? There are plenty of excellent options for manufacturing businesses seeking proven accounting solutions that provide opportunities for automation and integration via API.
The following are some of the best accounting software solutions for manufacturers with unique accounting needs.
When considering accounting software for small to medium-sized companies in the manufacturing industry, Quickbooks Online is an excellent option. It’s ideal for both companies with nominal headcount and few IT resources or even larger companies that need a versatile, easy-to-use system that can be accessed from anywhere.
As a cloud-based solution, Quickbooks Online by Intuit does not require any type of on-premise IT equipment other than a laptop. It also enables employees, consultants, and other stakeholders to log in remotely at home or on the go (depending on how security is set up).
One of the more compelling reasons to use QBO is the number of integrations with countless solutions that support the ease of use of specific accounting, finance, and operations processes, like accounts receivable. These integrations greatly expand the capabilities of QBO to fit a variety of business cases.
Many manufacturers have IT infrastructure on-site. This is where manufacturing accounting software such as Quickbooks Desktop excels.
Quickbooks Desktop helps manufacturers automate everyday accounting tasks and this leads to increased efficiency. This software tool is an excellent choice for many manufacturers seeking a proven accounting platform known for its ease of use and powerful features.
Manufacturing software from Sage can help companies grow their manufacturing business while cutting costs and increasing profitability. An important part of optimizing your supply chain is gaining insight into better profitability. Accounting software solutions like Sage can help manufacturers do exactly that.
Whether it’s the shop floor or the top floor, Oracle NetSuite offers powerful ERP-based accounting software for manufacturers. Their platform helps manufacturing companies control, coordinate, and manage all aspects of their operations in one place.
Manufacturers and distributors have unique considerations when it comes to accounting functionality. Among these are managing procurement, planning production and directing various manufacturing processes, and tracking bills of materials, just to name a few. For manufacturers with global operations, Oracle NetSuite’s ERP accounting software for manufacturing comes with built-in support for multiple currencies and languages. This makes it an excellent option for large businesses that have plenty of resources to support IT expenditures.
As a large-scale ERP-based accounting solution, MS Dynamics provides everything a growing business could need to streamline its accounting and manufacturing processes. The solution has all the functionality required to increase production efficiency including raw materials and order management, supply chain planning and optimization as well as capacity planning.
As a flexible, easy-to-use manufacturing ERP solution, MS Dynamics helps companies shave down costs while maintaining profitability and increasing efficiency.
Similar to Quickbooks, Xero is a user-friendly small business accounting tool for inventory-based businesses. Xero enables SMBs to integrate with more than 1,000 apps including different CRMs to improve how the business handles financial data down to the customer level. Apps at this level usually have mobile versions for iOS and Android too.
One thing that makes Xero attractive as an accounting software solution for manufacturers is the fees: there is no additional charge for more users. This differentiates Xero from Quickbooks and other more expensive solutions.
As an industry leader in providing solutions for large companies, SAP is a powerhouse. Their ERP systems are ideal for companies with substantial IT resources who wish to integrate all of their supply chain, manufacturing, and accounting in a seamless and synced way.
Compared to smaller, more nimble solutions such as Quickbooks Online, SAP‘s accounting software for manufacturers may be too complex for smaller organizations.
Accounting systems, or ERP, typically have plenty of modules, but for manufacturers dealing with inventory, here are the modules you probably want to pay close attention to:
- Accounts receivable (AR): Solutions and tools that make managing your AR operations including invoicing, collecting, and reconciling - much easier. For example, Resolve helps is an integration that helps with automating the entire accounts receivable process.
- Accounts payable (AP): Modules that showcase how the company tracks its invoices payable to vendors and suppliers, and make payment processing easier.
- Inventory management: Modules where (at a minimum) inventory tracking occurs. These modules can be very advanced and complex and can include real-time inventory modules or even job costing and cost of goods reconciliation.
- General ledger: This is where ‘the books’ are maintained and acts as a type of dashboard that reports back on all the transactions and current balances.
- Billing: A module used to produce and send invoices to customers.
- Purchase Order: A module that is triggered whenever inventory is ordered from the company (also known as an invent to purchase).
- Sales Order: A module that records when an actual customer sale occurs. This should also create an inventory trigger that something needs to be sold.
- Cash: Where invoice collections and payments are recorded. These transactions must reconcile to external bank statements.
While finding the right accounting ERP is essential and important—remember that they don’t necessarily offer a solution for everything in your accounting process. ERPs are often a place of record only. This is why accounting integrations for different modules are so crucial.
As an example, accounts receivable (AR) modules within the ERP system itself are usually limited. Integrated accounts receivables solutions such as Resolve do things that the ERP and accounting system cannot do. For instance, Resolve helps automate these processes:
- Business credit check assessments
- Credit line decisions
- Streamline invoicing
- AR collections
- Payment processing —just to name a few.
Hopefully, you can now understand why finding the right accounting system and the right integration is so crucial. The right integration will help companies automate accounts receivable and remove all of those AR headaches from the accounting team’s daily to-do list (just like Trenchless Supply!)
Other modules and integrations are non-essential to the core ERP system, and are usually considered “nice to have”. They are usually incorporated depending on the company’s unique bookkeeping and operational needs. A sampling of these integrations and modules include:
- Debt Collections: How overdue bills, as well as attempts to collect invoice payments, are collected. This process can also fall under an integration for accounts receivable (just like Resolve, as Resolve also handles debt collections by acting as an AR team on tap).
- Electronic payment processing: How the ERP system processes payments for their AP invoices.
- Expense management: How business expenses for employees are tracked and reimbursed.
- Payroll: How salaries, wages, and taxes are tracked.
- Reporting: Modules and add-ons that enable the company to produce different types of financial reporting documents and analyses with formatted data and information.
- Timesheets: How hours are tracked at the employee or contractor level.
- Purchase Requisition: How purchase orders are created, approved, and managed.
Cloud accounting is fast becoming a norm in the world of ERP software. Companies can realize tremendous benefits from upgrading legacy systems to a modern cloud or hybrid environment for managing their financial data.
According to Ryan Lazanis, founder of Future Firm, a company that helps accountants fast-track the growth of cloud-based scalable accounting firm, “there are practically no reasons to still be using legacy desktop accounting software in this day and age. The automation and efficiency gains that cloud accounting provides is second to none. It's a competitive disadvantage to not be using these systems.”
In the cloud, accounting processes happen using secure and scalable web apps (QuickBooks Online is an example). These applications enable employees to log in to the ERP at the office, at home, at the warehouse, or anywhere else to run accounting tasks or even track inventory.
Modern accounting solutions such as Quickbooks Online, Oracle Netsuite, Sage, and MS Dynamics integrate well with other accounting software and their APIs.
Hybrid work (a mix of remote and in-person work) is now considered more of a norm than ever before. Typically, when it comes to financial management and project management type of work, this can be done from any location. This is not always the case for factory workers that must work physically for a manufacturing company as they need to be present on the shop floor for work to be done.
On the IT side, remote work requires legacy systems to be updated to a modern hybrid or cloud environment. This has only accelerated the switch from paper to technology-based processes. On the positive side, this has forced companies with on-premise ERP systems and CRM system to provide cloud-based tools for their team.
Remote work wasn’t the only challenge that emerged for manufacturers during the pandemic. Supply chain issues have created unforeseen delays with raw materials, which has resulted in manufacturing backlogs and delayed shipments of finished goods to customers.
As a result of macroeconomic factors, companies everywhere are taking longer to pay and asking for deferred payment terms. Payment delays and accounts receivable challenges are creating a cash flow crunch and creating longer DSO (day sales outstanding).
Delayed payments are leading to the need to provide more resources to follow-up on collections — resources that could be unleashed into other more profitable areas of the business.
This is where investing in new technologies to automate and support back-end processes can continue to free up valuable resources.
And it’s not just accounting systems and fintech tools that are improving lives for manufacturers. New supply chain software solutions are also helping manufacturers cut costs, streamline operations, and increase profits.
Here are some of the best supply chain software apps for manufacturing companies looking to digitize their operations:
Katana: A manufacturing ERP platform to streamline business operations from sales to production in one visual solution.
Paycargo: An all-in-one logistics payment platform for faster cargo release.
Raven: Raven’s OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) software provides a clear timeline of all OEE and production losses using operator input and machine data.
Pitcher: Sales software for manufacturers including content automation and multi-channel communication that’s compliant
Flexport: Supply chain automation software to manage orders, suppliers and logistics, and track cargo.
Waybridge: An end-to-end operating system for raw materials transactions that is transforming supply chains.
Technology investments have enabled manufacturers to move from paper to pixel. And alongside these innovations are new payment technologies that impact manufacturers directly.
What business function is more important than generating revenue and maintaining cash flow? Most businesses, manufacturers included, must deal with accounts receivable issues that tremendously impact cash flow. How might this be alleviated?
Innovative B2B payment solutions that meet the needs of both manufacturers and their customers.
B2B payments are inherently more complex than B2C. For manufacturers, financing occurs up and down the supply chain as they need to provide credit and net payment terms—which can make things more complicated.
As part of the overall digitization trend in manufacturing, B2B payment technologies are emerging. These solutions help companies reduce risk and complexity by automating net terms, credit management, and even the accounts receivable function.
Typically, manufacturers need to ‘act like a bank’ by offering their customers extended payment terms. This can create cash flow headaches and forces companies to devote resources to chasing down payments — a task that typically cannot be automated through a traditional ERP system. Thankfully, innovative payment solutions can help address these payment pain points, and typically include some sort of integration to a core ERP system.
For instance, Resolve is a B2B payment solution that can be integrated with your core ERP system. They provide the tools that can automate a myriad of functions, including net terms, credit checking, invoicing, cash collection, and payment processing much easier—tasks that typically can be done within a ERP system alone. This helps companies allocate more resources to their core business— rather than spend time on back-end activities.
Streamlining accounting processes through automation is an important part of increasing productivity for manufacturers. The following case studies shed light on manufacturing companies that have experienced success with automating parts of their accounts receivable process.
Archipelago is a leading LED lighting manufacturer with a focus on decreasing energy use. One of the main challenges they faced was related to conducting labour-intensive manual background checks before issuing credit to existing and new customers. This timely process only delayed their ability to grow the business and impacted their ability to scale quickly. Contacting trade references and checking Experian became a slow and frustrating process for Archipelago’s controller.
By using Resolve to handle their net terms, credit checking and credit enrollment, Archipelago was able to increase triple their revenues.
Trenchless Supply provides supplies, equipment, and training to companies in the underground infrastructure industry. Although their customers were rarely late in making payments, the accounting team had to stay on top of an increasingly large and growing AR balance.
Company founder John Sanzone quickly realized that extending net terms to all the customers would put the business in a precarious position. With Resolve, Trenchless Supply was able to streamline its AR function by reducing manual work and eliminating manual credit checks.
With advances of 50% on orders invoiced through Resolve, Trenchless Supply has increased its working capital and financial velocity.)
When the price of raw materials jumped from $30,000 to $80,000, GB Fabrication had to examine its net terms and impact on cash flow. The company concluded that it would have to accept a 30% deposit for each order to smooth out cash flow.
One accounting problem the company faced is that their ERP system, Quickbooks Online, could not track partial payments such as deposits. The GB Fabrication accounting team started searching for a QBO integration for accounts receivable that could manage partial payments.
They found Resolve and realized quickly that Resolve was much more than a QBO accounting integration. Resolve also enabled GB Fabrication to be paid upfront for sales orders in just one business day while maintaining their net 30-day payment terms to customers.
Over time, the accounting team at GB Fabrication began using Resolve as a way to automate their accounts receivable function, enabling the company to solve its challenges through automation.
Due to the speed at which manufacturers operate, the proper accounting of inventory is crucial and not to be overlooked when considering new accounting software ERP. The three main accounts related to inventory are:
- Raw materials
- Work in process (WIP)
- Finished goods
Inventory management and inventory accounting is already a daunting task. Managing inventory impacts every function of a manufacturing business. That’s why staying on top of inventory is so critical. Luckily, the right accounting software should help with this monumental task so don’t forget to investigate the inventory accounting modules that the ERP offers.
Every manufacturing company have its own criteria when purchasing a software system. The following factors can help accounting teams determine which items are the most relevant for their company.
The first factor to consider for manufacturers seeking accounting software is the cost. The right accounting software will be a true investment and the overall selection should go beyond the price tag. However, review the budget that you have as prices can vary.
Smaller manufacturers and distributors will likely be looking at a non-ERP-based solution with strong integrations such as Quickbooks Online, Quickbooks Desktop, or Xero. These are very user-friendly accounting ssystems that don’t may not require a full in-house IT team to manage.
The second factor to consider is popularity — particularly within your niche industry. The more widely used an accounting system is, the easier it will be to find accountants or consultants who can help set it up, maintain it, and update it.
The third consideration is simplicity and ease-of-use. The simplest accounting system requires the least training resources. Larger companies can afford to invest in powerful ERP packages such as Sage, MS Dynamics, or NetSuite because they have plenty of resources and a strong bench of in-house IT support. Everything else being equal, the easier a system is to use, the more likely it is that employees are to use it properly.
The last factor to consider is the quality and quantity of integrations you need. The accounting software you select should offer with a full ecosystem of integrations that you need (such as accounts receivables, expense management, etc). Luckily, most accounting software packages offer plenty of integrations with other systems through a API.
Generating sales, decreasing DSO, and improving cash flow will always be top of mind for most companies—particularly manufacturers because of the capital they require to purchase and hold inventory. A strategy way to achieve all of the above is to get the right software in place.
Manufacturers experience a cash flow crunch due to payment terms that can stretch out from 30 to 60 or 90 days. Payment delays combined with low-effort accounts receivable management can create a huge problem. This is why automation technology such as Resolve can be a powerful solution to boost sales, increase customer loyalty, and decrease DSO.
It’s possible to grow a business by using net terms as a sales tool and different AR and embedded credit solutions will help with this. The best part? The right solution will also integrate with your accounting software.