The accounting could be automated

Accounting software comparison 2021: the best programs at a glance

1. The test winners at a glance

Before we get into the details of the accounting software comparison, we will introduce the 3 test winners.

A total of 46 evaluation criteria were included in our 2021 accounting software comparison. sevDesk and lexoffice achieved the most points in the main comparison categories and also impressed with their very good price-performance ratio. The prices for the accounting software in our test are monthly prices for an annual booking.

2. The analysis criteria for the comparison

In the following, we present the main criteria of the accounting software comparison. The focus of the evaluation was on user-friendliness, functionality, interfaces and support.

# 1 user-friendliness: mobile use, automation, user guidance, etc.

Mobile usabilityCan the accounting software be operated via smartphone or tablet? For example via an app.
Booking aidsIs there a search function and context-supported booking aids? Are there booking templates and preset account assignments?
Booking templates / preset account assignmentAre accounts automatically assigned to a receipt? This happens today with AI or so-called learning files, which, with increasing use, make more and more appropriate booking suggestions.
Digital receipt captureCan the accounting software capture and save receipts digitally?
Digital receipt bookingCan the accounting program automatically recognize and post digitally recorded documents?
Bank data importCan the accounting software read in bank postings and post them automatically?

# 2 Functional scope: invoicing, cash book, VAT VA, EÜR

Functions / modulesExplanation
dealsCan you use the accounting software to create offers that are later converted into an invoice?
Credits / invoicesCan the accounting software issue invoices and credit notes? Or also the subscription invoice, the partial invoice and the cancellation invoice?
ZUGFeRD - eInvoicingCan electronically readable invoices be created?
Foreign currencyCan the accounting software generate invoices in a foreign currency?
DunningCan the accounting software match open documents and create payment reminders and reminders?
Cash bookIs a cash book integrated for cash deposits and cash withdrawals?
Payroll accountingCan the accounting software manage employees and create payrolls?
Batch and dialog bookingDoes each receipt have to be posted individually or can you post several processes at once?
Chart of accountsWhich charts of accounts does the accounting software support?
Asset accountingIs there an integrated asset accounting that you can use to post capital goods and automatically calculate the depreciation? This module is important for EÜR as well as P&L and balance sheet.
USt-VA with ELSTERCan you use the accounting program to make advance VAT returns independently via ELSTER?
YOURCan you prepare the income-excess-account yourself? Or only in connection with the tax office?
P&L / balance sheetCan you use the accounting software to create your own annual financial statements with a profit and loss account and balance sheet?
e-balance sheetIs there an e-balance sheet function?
Different financial yearCan you set your fiscal year individually?
EvaluationsDoes the accounting software deliver business evaluations? For example a BWA?
Merchandise managementIs inventory management integrated in the system or is there an interface for it? For example for e-commerce?
Additional modulesCan further additional modules be added?

# 3 interfaces: ELSTER, DATEV, tax consultants etc.

DATEV exportIn order to work with a tax advisor, a DATEV export is important.
DATEV interfaceDoes the program have an interface to DATEV collaboration programs such as companies online? More and more tax firms are working with it.
ELSTER interfaceAn ELSTER interface is important so that the VAT VA can be transmitted to the tax office on time.
Accountant accessAccess is important for the perfect connection to the tax office. In this way, the consultant independently collects important data and documents from his client. Such access is also possible for an accounting service,
Data import / export CSVThis is the minimum requirement for the connection to the tax advisor.
APIYou can use an API to integrate external applications into the accounting software.

# 4 Support and service: manual, explanatory videos, test phase, etc.

Support and serviceExplanation
SupportIs there telephone support, a chat function, a user manual or other accessibility aids?
Test phaseHow long is the test phase?
Number of usersHow many users is the basic version of the system designed for?
Price / monthWhat is the net price per month?
Annual price / 3 usersWhat is the annual price (net) with 3 users? We have already assumed 3 users for larger companies. Our idea is that the boss / managing director, an office worker and an important employee should have access to the system.
What's new in the updated 2021 accounting software comparison?

The accounting software comparison also examines how good the accounting knowledge needs to be in order to operate the accounting software. Some programs explicitly require knowledge of double-entry bookkeeping and a thorough knowledge of the functioning of charts of accounts or charts of accounts. With programs suitable for laypeople, booking is easy without the user having to worry about the account assignment.

Programs suitable for laypeople are suitable for doing the bookkeeping online yourself. They are ideal for freelancers, small businesses and users with little commercial knowledge. The professional programs are useful for larger GmbHs in whose offices there are employees with accounting skills.

Browser-based accounting software can usually be used sensibly in both Mac and Windows. For Mac users, it is important that the mobile app also runs on iOS.

3. An overview of all 12 providers of accounting programs

We analyzed 12 selected providers for digital accounting based on 46 criteria in the areas of user-friendliness, functionality or support in the large accounting software comparison 2021. The focus was on bookkeeping based on the EÜR for small businesses and freelancers and using double bookkeeping for GmbH and UGs (limited liability). The accounting programs examined performed as follows:

Accounting programgradeSuitability for laypeople (NEW)Eligibility EÜREligibility P&Lprice***
sevDesk / entrepreneur hero
(Very good)
YesYes*STB**15,90 €
Accounting & wages
(Very good)
YesYesSTB26,80 €
Say 50 cloud
Order & accounting
YesSTBSTB29,90 €
Accounting Butler
YesSTBSTB29,95 €
Pro +
YesYesSTB8,00 €
Small business
YesSTBSTB29,00 €
Fastbill Pro
YesSTBSTB26,80 €
Billomat Business
(Still good)
YesSTBSTB16,00 €
Debitoor M
(Still good)
YesSTBSTB24,00 €
complete package
(Still good)
WISO my office
365 plus
(Still good)
YesYesSTB8,90 €
Medium-sized billing documents with accounting
(Still good)
NoSTBSTB49,50 €

* Yes: The program allows you to create the EÜR yourself without the need for tax advice.

** STB: The program is designed for preparatory bookkeeping. So you need a tax office especially for the determination of profits with EÜR or P&L.

Price: Price per month for an annual subscription

The comparison of the best cloud solutions for online accounting already shows different focuses. With sevDesk, lexoffice, paperwork and WISO Mein Büro, you can create your own EÜR without outside help. All other solutions are designed to make the annual financial statements with the tax office, so they should optimize the preparatory bookkeeping.

For certain bookkeeping programs you also need bookkeeping skills, in particular you need to master booking records and debit / credit bookings. These providers include DATEV and weclapp. You can also use others as a layperson.

1st place: sevDesk / Unternehmerheld Accounting

The test winner meets almost all the requirements for modern accounting software. In the "Invoicing" area, the ZUGFeRD / eRechnungs function was still being planned. Overall, a very good accounting program for all legal forms. With asset accounting and the Elster interface, the entrepreneur can make his EÜR system without a tax advisor, if he wants. Otherwise, the connection to the tax advisor is very good.

2nd place: lexoffice accounting & wages

The degree of automation of the accounting software lexoffice is very good and suitable for all legal forms. The entrepreneur can create the EÜR system without outside help. This variant of the lexoffice cloud solutions for online accounting is also the only one with which payroll accounting is also possible. The connection to the tax advisor meets all requirements. A customer administration module is currently being planned, which Lexoffice users still have to do with the help of add-ons. These very numerous add-ons allow the entrepreneur to adapt the accounting software to the most varied of requirements.

3rd place: Sage Cloud Order & Accounting

Sage offers a good bookkeeping program here that scores good to very good in all areas. With the native cloud software, entrepreneurs can manage order management as well as inventory and inventory recording quickly and efficiently, keep an eye on their finances anytime and anywhere and control their operations in a legally compliant manner using standardized processes. It is designed to work with the tax advisor.

Placements from 4-12

BuchhaltungButler Enterprise is an accounting software for commercial companies of all legal forms as well as for freelancers, but also for associations. Document management works automatically. However, there is no dunning in the "Invoicing" area. So that freelancers or small businesses can actually do the EÜR without a tax advisor, the "Asset Accounting" module would have to be added. But that is planned for 2021. A specialty at BuchhaltungButler is that the individual program packages differ in terms of the possible data volume.

Papierkram Pro + offers the self-employed a very good process for submitting offers and invoices. Transferring recorded working times to the invoice is playful. Therefore, in addition to Fastbill, there is a program that freelance solo preneurs who account for their times should look at. The price is of course also interesting for part-time self-employed people. Thanks to an asset accounting, Papierkram Pro + has all the functions for the independent creation of the EÜR system without a tax office. The program is GOBD-certified and can now also create electronic invoices (X-invoice).

This accounting software from the cloud is designed for small businesses, accountants and tax advisors. Freelancers and small businesses should be able to do the EÜR without a tax advisor. Nevertheless, the preparatory bookkeeping, i.e. the cooperation with the tax office, is also supported. A special feature of the invoicing area is the multilingualism of the program, which is particularly important for companies with international business. Due to the missing Elster interface, the program is not 100% suitable for self-sufficient transmission of the EÜR to the tax office.

The strength of Fastbill Pro is the area of ​​quotation and invoicing. The accounting software is also a team player, i.e. 5 users can use it. In this context, time recording is practical, as it allows recorded working times to be converted directly into an invoice without the need for an add-on. Anyone who works with Fastbill will also need a tax office for the EÜR. Because asset accounting is missing.

Billomat Business has its strengths in the field of quotation and invoicing. Because of the many foreign currencies that Billomat supports, it is very well suited for international business. A tax office is needed for the EÜR because there is no asset accounting. Otherwise, Billomat offers very good interfaces to tax consultants, for example via the "DATEV company online" platform, the data exchange portal between tax consultants and entrepreneurs.

Debitoor also has its strengths in the area of ​​quotation and invoicing. Another advantage is the ability to work in a team, because 3 users can operate the program. The creation of an EÜR is theoretically conceivable, but the asset accounting is missing. When it comes to determining profits and the annual financial statements, you need the support of your tax advisor. The test phase is a bit tight at 7 days, so planning the test well is very important if you are interested.

Collmex is a program for accounting professionals. Some tax advisory firms and accounting offices work with it. The program is designed for use on the desktop and essentially has its strengths in the accounting functions. There are also expansions for e-commerce, trade, craft and service providers working on a project basis. The look and feel as well as the usability are no longer completely up to date. The program certainly needs a well-planned familiarization, because a lot of things are not intuitively accessible here. Anyone who has made friends with it will certainly be able to work well with it. Other programs are certainly more suitable for bookkeeping novices.

Optimizing office processes with the support of a good tax advisor is the motto at WISO Mein Büro. All work with receipts is supported, although not with an app, but based on a large number of receipts that are sensibly made at the desk anyway. The user interface is self-explanatory and tailored to practitioners with little commercial experience. In this context, the long test phase of 30 days is also very helpful. Freelancers or small businesses can do the EÜR without a tax advisor, because asset accounting, the EÜR module and the ELSTER interface are available. The cooperation with the tax advisor could be improved by direct tax advisor access.

DATEV is the industry standard. The vast majority of all tax consultants work with DATEV programs. The program considered here should also not be used without consultation with the tax advisor. It is a professional program for trained accountants who have mastered double entry bookkeeping and the correct posting of accounts. It is a self-booking program designed to work with the tax advisor. All billing functions can be perfectly mapped with chargeable modules. In combination with DATEV company online, this program, if perfectly configured, is a good choice for small and medium-sized SMEs. For the solo preneur, other programs are certainly better.

4. 2021 Accounting Software Comparison: The Details

In our report "Accounting Software Comparison 2021" you will find the complete analysis of each of the 12 cloud solutions for online accounting. Here we show you an overview of the main results.

For a better overview, the comparison of the accounting programs is divided into two groups of 6, which are sorted in descending order according to the rating:

Group 1: sevDesk, lexoffice, Sage 50, BuchhaltungsButler, paperwork, Reviso

Here we present you the 6 best placed in the 2021 accounting software comparison. These are the programs sevDesk Accounting, Lexoffice Accounting & Payroll, Sage 50 Order & Accounting, Accounting Butler Enterprise, Papierkram Pro + and Reviso Small Business.

propertysevDesk / entrepreneur herolexofficeSay 50Accounting ButlerPaperworkReviso
Program versionaccountingAccounting & wagesOrder & accountingEnterprisePro +Small business
Can be used by laypeople      
Create EÜR   With STB With STB
Create income statementWith STBWith STBWith STBWith STBWith STBWith STB
Mobile app      
Search function      
Context-based booking aids      
Booking templates / preset account assignment      
Automatic account assignment      
Graphic evaluation of important KPIs      
Digital receipt capture      
Digital receipt booking      
Bank data import      
Range of functions Offers - invoices      
Create offers      
to draw up the invoices      
Create credits      
Recurring bills      
ZUGFeRD or e-Invoicein planningin planning    
Invoices sent by email      
Invoice design without provider branding      
Own invoice layout      
Foreign currency - invoice in English      
Accounting functions      
Business evaluations (BWA) or similar evaluations      
Cash book      
Payroll accounting      
Interface to payroll data      
UST-VA with magpie      
Asset accounting      
Create EÜR      
P&L / balance sheet      
E-balance sheet      
Different financial year      
Stack and dialog entries      
Document entry      
Online banking      
Cost centers      
Standard chart of accounts      
Additional modules      
Merchandise management      
Time tracking      
Number of additional modules53327no5
DATEV export      
DATEV interface      
ELSTER interface      
Accountant access      
Data import / export via CSV      
Support functions      
Personal direct support      
Test phase, user and annual price      
Price / month (annual subscription)15,90 €26,80 €26,91 €29,95 €8,00 €29,00 €
Test phase (days)143014141514
Number of users1unlimited1313
Annual price for 3 users308,40 €321,60 €Upgrade needed359,40 €Upgrade (€ 240.00)468,00 €
OVERALL RATINGVery goodVery goodWellWellWellWell
Grade (1 = very good)1,11,31,92,12,12,1
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Group 2: Fastbill, Billomat, Debitoor, Collmex, WISO Mein Büro, DATEV

Here we present the accounting programs from Fastbill, Billomat, Debitoor, Collmex, WISO Mein Büro and DATEV.

propertyFastbillBillomatDebitoorCollmexWISO my officeDATEV
Program versionPerBusinessM.complete package365 plusMedium-sized billing documents with accounting
Can be used by laypeople      
Create EÜRWith STBWith STBWith STBWith STB With STB
Create income statementWith STBWith STBWith STBWith STBWith STBWith STB
Mobile app    Cloud use possible 
Search function      
Context-based booking aids   partially  
Booking templates / preset account assignment      
Automatic account assignment      
Graphic evaluation of important KPIs      
Digital receipt capture      
Digital receipt booking      
Bank data import      
Range of functions Offers - invoices      
Create offers      
to draw up the invoices      
Create credits      
Recurring bills     Additional module required
ZUGFeRD or e-Invoice      
Invoices sent by email      
Invoice design without provider branding      
Own invoice layout      
Foreign currency - invoice in English     Additional module required
Accounting functions