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For small businesses on a tight budget, Patriot Software Accounting is an attractive choice. It lacks some features offered by competitors, but it’s less expensive than many other small business accounting services—by quite a bit in some cases. It supports contact and product records, invoices and estimates, transaction and bill tracking, and reports. Both the desktop and mobile access are simple, clean, and understandable, and support is plentiful. Its lack of time tracking, inventory management, and detailed records may discourage some users from adopting it, however. Patriot Software Accounting has a ways to go to compete seriously with our Editors’ Choice winners, QuickBooks Online and FreshBooks, but there’s a place for it.
How Much Does Patriot Software Accounting Cost?
A Basic version of Patriot Software Accounting ($20 per month, unlimited users) lacks some tools like user permissions, estimates, recurring invoices, and payment reminders. This review looks at the Premium version specifically, which has everything you need. At $30 per month for unlimited users, Patriot Software Accounting Premium is the least expensive application when measured against comparable versions of other accounting software. All these cost more: QuickBooks Online Plus ($90 per month for five users), Zoho Books Premium ($70 per month for 10 users), Xero Established ($78 per month, unlimited users), and Sage 50 Accounting Premium ($96 per month for five users). Xero does offer an entry-level accounting application for $15 per month, but it limits the number of bills, quotes, and invoices you can create. With Patriot, you get a 30-day free trial, too.
Getting Started With Patriot Accounting
Even before you sign up for a free trial, I recommend spending some time exploring the site’s demo account to see how easy it is to use and determine whether it would work for you. Once you create an account, a setup wizard walks you through the required steps. If you need help, you can ask questions via chat, email, and phone, as well as consult online help and tutorials. The support options for setup and other questions are excellent.
Patriot Software Accounting’s user interface is spacious and attractive, and navigation is intuitive, driven by a vertical toolbar. I got tripped up a few times because Patriot’s accounting and payroll applications share the toolbar, but it wasn’t hard to find my way. Scrolling is rarely required. The simplicity and orderliness may ease some of the anxiety novices tend to feel when doing accounting.
The site doesn’t have a traditional dashboard. What it calls a dashboard is a simple page that contains links to both accounting and payroll tasks. The overview for the accounting site is more like a standard dashboard. It has links to only accounting tasks, account balances, and the most recent invoices and paid bills, with no pretty charts or graphs.
As a part of the setup process, the site references some back-end accounting conventions that competitors tend to shun (like period closes and journal entries). Using them is optional. Still, it may be confusing to non-accountants.
How Does Patriot Accounting Software Handle Sales?
Before you start entering transactions, it’s a good idea to create your customer records, though you can enter them on the fly. You can import XLS, XLSX, or CSV files or enter them manually. Record templates are less detailed than what you get in other small business accounting software. You can only enter contract information, default payment terms, and notes.
Invoice and estimate forms contain only the basics, though you can choose from three templates and a color and add a logo. I do like the page that appears when you open a completed invoice because it shows all your options for dealing with the form. Invoices also appear with their status on a sales home page.
Product and service records, too, contain minimal information, including sales price and income account, sales tax, and a description. You can’t enter cost information, track inventory, or set a reorder point like you can in QuickBooks Online. The site’s item tracking tools, though, may be enough for a service-based business or a product-based one that doesn’t need an automated way to count its widgets or gauge individual product profitability.
Limited Tools for Managing Bills or Business Purchases
You can’t pay bills electronically through Patriot Software Accounting Premium like you can through Intuit QuickBooks Online Plus. You also can’t upload documents, such as bills and receipts, to your account through email forwarding, as you can with other apps. Patriot does have separate pages for entering bills and recording bill payments once they’re approved, however. You can upload documents, like pictures of expense receipts you’ve taken, and include them as attachments.
Vendor records, like customer records, contain fields for only the most basic details. But you can specify whether individual vendors should receive a 1099-MISC or 1099-NEC after the first of the year and process them through Patriot Software. You can create and print as many 1099s as you need, but if you want to e-file them, there’s a minimum added cost of $20, which covers the first five that you file.
Patriot Software Accounting Premium puts its accounting and payroll reports on the same page. You get 21 accounting reports, fewer than the amount offered by some competitors.
Reports are divided into several categories: Customer, Vendor, Financial (complex standard reports that accountants generally run and analyze), 1099 Contractors, and 1099 Contractor Forms. Customization is minimal, but some reports, like Accounts Receivable Aging, include a chart. You can’t drill down on most reports to get to the underlying data, but you can export reports to CSV and PDF.
Here’s something Patriot does that I haven’t seen on other accounting sites: It lets you take action on individual line items in reports. The Invoice Detail Report, for example, has links to related tasks like applying payments, emailing the invoice, or voiding it.
Is Patriot Accounting Software Safe to Use?
Patriot Software is safe to use. It protects your data the exact same way that the company protects its own critical data. Patriot Software also adheres to all required federal privacy, anti-fraud, and security laws. The company participates in outside audits and scrutiny by expert specialists. It bonds its employees after putting them through reference checks, background checks, drug screenings, and skill/aptitude testing.
No Mobile Apps
Patriot doesn’t have a mobile app for its accounting software, but you can sign in on a mobile browser. It looks and works much like the desktop version, except that the navigation bar is collapsible, and pages run vertically instead of horizontally, so you have to scroll a lot more than you do on your computer.
Even though there are no downloadable apps, Patriot has done a great job with mobile access. One shortcoming, however, is you can’t snap a picture of a receipt and have the application read it. Minus that one point, it’s comprehensive, attractive, and very easy to use.
Is Patriot Software Accounting Right for You?
Patriot Software Accounting is a good choice for a small business that needs basic income and expense management tools and wants them to be simple, clean, understandable, and affordable. Excellent support also makes this a smart solution for novices. Companies that need time tracking, more robust inventory support, and comprehensive detail in contact records and transactions should consider one of our Editors’ Choice winners, QuickBooks Online or FreshBooks. Both have what Patriot Software Accounting is missing—though they’re more expensive—and both offer excellent feature sets, customizability, and usability. FreshBooks is better for very small businesses.