The problem with finding the right mobile apps for accountants and tax preparers is not the number of platforms for which an app must be written and marketed (IOS, Android, Microsoft, Blackberry, and more), but the way that we define what an “accounting” app might be. No two firms have the same software needs, and no two professionals have the same application/widget needs.
Our own experience bears this out. We asked professionals on our Facebook site to list their most useful mobile app, with the following results (rounded):
A little research into the “Best apps for Accountants” and related categories will yield the same general list of five, seven or ten productivity apps, most of which have nothing to do with accounting per se. These generally include a cloud storage and file sharing application; a scanning application; a mileage and expense tracking app; a note-taking text editor; a password manager; and apps that extend the mobile capabilities of other software used by the firm.
One category of apps that accountants generally do not conduct by mobile phone is the primary accounting software. The Android Play Store, for example, lists 250 accounting applications from virtually every vendor. These are used extensively by small businesses, while their accountants prefer the power of a full desktop software suite.
This is consistent with a need for tight integration between the major elements of an accounting system that are not as robust or flexible in an apps environment.
The best mobile apps for accountants are those that enhance the productivity of each professional, but there are a few general guidelines:
- Maintain a basic social media presence. This includes Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In, but may be expanded to also include Pinterest and Instagram.
- While many “best apps” lists include a consumer file sharing and storage solution – often Drop Box or its equivalent. The issue here is whether a consumer system will fully meet the requirements of Circular 230 and the Federal Trade Commission for secure client communications. There is no room for error on this issue; due diligence is critical.
- Utilize company-provided applications. If the firm already has solutions for time, billing, expenses, and mileage tracking, there is no sense in using an incompatible mobile app to do the same thing. The same rule applies to payroll, check writing, customer relationship management, scanning apps, and other functions.
- Find a text editor you are comfortable using. Why no decent text editors are included with the standard apps for mobile phones is a mystery, given how much such apps are needed for quick-and-dirty note taking. I favor Evernote, but there are dozens of good apps to fill this need.
Source: Supersite for Windows at http://winsupersite.com/windows-10/microsoft-announces-windows-10; Microsoft at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/preview-iso