Engineers are always trying to find solutions to keep us on the cutting edge of science, math, and technology.
They’re innovators who make the world around us a better place with their ideas of how to run things more smoothly.
So, why wouldn’t they want their software to do the same?
There are many software programs and tools that help engineering firms operate at peak efficiency.
In this guide, we’ll cover the importance of engineering accounting software, what to look for, and review some of the benefits and features of different software to make your choice a little easier.
What is engineering accounting software?
Engineering firms have unique accounting needs, practices, and priorities.
Most engineering firms have practices such as the following:
- Project management
- Resource management
- Data analysis
- Time and expense tracking
- Client invoicing
Accounting software for engineering firms automates, integrates, and streamlines some of these practices so that they don’t have to be done manually.
This saves a lot of time and money and helps the firm run more efficiently.
Engineering firms, for the most part, deal with projects, so engineers typically look for software that’s designed to prepare their financial needs around project accounting.
How can engineering accounting software help engineers?
Engineering software helps engineers in several ways.
1. Organizes, streamlines, and integrates data
Engineering software organizes, integrates, streamlines, and stores data so that engineers can access client records, project management updates, and financial reports with ease.
2. Allows engineers to work on the go
With cloud-based engineering software and mobile apps, engineers have the flexibility of working from anywhere.
3. Makes it easier to communicate with clients
Engineering software can generate shareable documents with clients, such as estimates and invoices, making it easier to communicate through email.
4. Makes it simple to collaborate with team members
Since all of the information is in one place, engineering software makes it easier for team members to log into the program to get status updates and information regarding a project.
The software also makes it a breeze to share documents and reports with team members.
Additionally, you can keep track of these documents and see different versions if needed.
5. Makes financial management a quicker process
Financial management includes expense tracking, generating financial reports, monitoring cash flow, checking project profitability, billing clients, managing project costs, and bank reconciliation.
All of these actions are much simpler and less time-consuming when done with engineering software.
6. Makes the engineering firm more productive and efficient
By automating, integrating, and streamlining financial management, project management, and business management, engineers can save themselves a lot of time and money.
This, in turn, makes the firm and its employees more productive.
How we evaluated engineering accounting software
We examined accounting programs that were tailored to engineering firms based on an independent assessment methodology.
We also reviewed software that was useful for engineers based on the size of their firm, ease of use, features, scalability, and customer support.
Questions to ask when choosing accounting software for engineering
Choosing the right accounting system for your business can be overwhelming.
Below are some questions to point you in the right direction:
- Is the software appropriate based on the size of my firm?
- Does the price of the software fall within my budget?
- Does the software have the features that I need for my engineering firm?
- Is the software user-friendly?
- Is the software cost-efficient?
- Which of these integrations do I want to include in the software for my firm: financial management, project management, or business management?
- Do I need inventory management for my firm?
- What reporting capabilities does the software offer?
- Does the software support the number of users I have in my firm?
- Will I have to pay extra for certain features?
How to choose accounting software for engineers
When searching for accounting software, several features are geared specifically toward engineers that you will want to look for.
Some of these features include the following:
- Project management tools: These are tools that will help to manage and track tasks and projects
- Time tracking: Time tracking is used to make sure that your services and billing are accurate. Time tracking also measures productivity.
- Invoicing capabilities: You want to be able to generate invoices for your clients’ billable hours.
- Customer relationship management (CRM): CRM capabilities streamline the quoting process for clients and projects.
- Accounting features: Accounting features automate processes that would otherwise be manual such as payroll, tax filing, and bookkeeping.
- Reporting features: Engineers need to be able to generate detailed and comprehensive reports to make sound decisions for their firm.
Read our related article on Trucker Accounting Software options.
What are the best engineering accounting software options in 2023?
Fortunately, there’s accounting software designed specifically for engineers, but the challenge comes in choosing the right accounting software for your engineering firm.
In the section below, we’ve reviewed the top picks to help you narrow down your search.
1. FreshBooks – Easiest to use accounting software for engineers
FreshBooks is a cloud-based accounting solution built around simplicity.
It’s known as one of the best accounting software options for small companies such as engineering firms.
You can access Freshbooks at any time from anywhere with its cloud-based accounting software and mobile app.
Freshbooks is easy to set up and navigate since it was originally designed for business owners with little to no accounting knowledge.
The navigation is intuitive and user-friendly and the dashboard provides easy access to an overview of detailed reports.
You can filter reports by client, team member, or date. With real-time data access, you can check financial data wherever you go.
FreshBooks easily tracks mileage with its built-in mileage tracking feature and offers single and multi-project management, a benefit for engineers.
This accounting software provides bank integration features with reconciliations and automatically-processed expense tracking.
Proposals and estimates can be converted into invoices, and Freshbooks even offers multi-currency support.
FreshBooks’ simple interface stems from its easy accessibility, intuitive navigation, and accounting features that simplify the whole accounting process for small engineering firms.
- Lite: $6.80/month (billed annually)
- Plus: $12/month (billed annually)
- Premium: $22/month (billed annually)
- Select: contact vendor for pricing
- 30-day free trial
2. Shoeboxed – Best app for scanning and organizing receipts
Shoeboxed, one of the best receipt scanner and tracker, is a great option for scanning and organizing receipts.
This software turns receipts into data for expense reporting, tax preparation, and audits.
Shoeboxed captures receipts on the go, and there’s even an option for receipts to be imported automatically from Gmail.
Receipts can be quickly searched, edited, and managed for expense reports. Expense reports can be created at any time and from anywhere.
With Shoeboxed, you can create custom reports with receipts attached and even turn business cards into digital contacts for businesses.
When it comes to taxes, the data is automatically categorized into 15 different tax categories.
Shoeboxed also offers a free mileage tracker for business mileage.
Another great feature is that Shoeboxed integrates with other accounting tools and software designed for engineers.
To get started, simply put your receipts into Shoeboxed’s prepaid Magic Envelope and mail them to the processing center to be transformed into digital data.
- Startup: $18/month (save 20% if paid annually)
- Professional: $36/month (save 20% if paid annually)
- Business: $54/month (save 20% if paid annually)
- 30-day free trial
3. QuickBooks Online – Best software for small engineering firms
QuickBooks Online is one of the best engineering accounting software for small engineering firms.
Their software is great for expense tracking, tracking project management, billing, and time tracking—it can even customize invoicing and job costing.
QuickBooks seamlessly creates and sends invoices, tracks income, and expenses, organizes receipts, pays bills and contractors, and issues 1099s.
The software has a built-in banking feed that downloads and categorizes transactions and reconciles accounts.
QuickBooks Online can generate financial reports with anywhere from 50 to 100 financial reporting options depending on the pricing tier.
The reports range from your basic reports such as profit & loss, balance sheets, and expenses to business analytics.
The reports are detailed and generated on a project-by-project basis, making it easy to compare actual data versus budget and gauge profitability.
- Simple Start: $15/month
- Essentials: $27.50/month
- Plus: $42.50/month
- Advanced: $100/month
- Self-employed for freelancers: $7.50/month
- 30-day free trial
4. QuickBooks Time – Best software for time tracking
QuickBooks has another accounting solution that comes out on top for its time-tracking capabilities.
Time tracking plays a significant role in engineering firms and QuickBooks Time is ideal for tracking non-billable and billable hours.
Their software helps engineers budget and track time spent on various projects and tasks. This data can also be used to create estimates for jobs in the future.
QuickBooks Time is a great backup when it comes to invoicing.
Since the software breaks down the number of hours spent on each task, engineers can create more detailed invoices for their clients.
- Premium: $15/month
- Elite: $27.50/month
- 30-day free trial
5. BQE Core – Best project management software
BQE is one of the best accounting software options for project management.
Their software was built by an engineer who wanted to design specialized engineering firm management software to make the daily processes easier and more accurate.
Not only did the engineer succeed in streamlining the business and financial operations of an engineering firm, but the application goes above and beyond expectations as a project management software.
The software combines project management and CRM with time and expense tracking, HR, accounting, electronic payments, and invoicing to maximize productivity, efficiency, and accuracy.
BQE integrates project management tools with project accounting so that you can make more informed decisions about your firm.
Engineers can instantly gauge project and firm performance with detailed dashboards and on-the-go with their mobile app.
You can even gauge the level of profitability based on the firm, client, employee, phase, or project.
At every phase, you can see project performance in real-time to prevent poor performance and missed deadlines.
Reporting, invoicing, and time tracking are all automated which allows more time to spend on the actual project.
You can even use percent-complete values on your clients’ invoices to indicate phased-project management.
BQE is there for you from a project’s start to finish.
- Request a quote
6. Striven – Best software overall and for customer support
Striven is known as the “All-In-One Engineering Management Software.”
This accounting software covers everything from engineering projects and task management to scheduling, communication tools, and financials.
The best part is that you don’t pay for any additional features, since they’re all included in the cloud-based accounting software.
Some of the features that Striven offers include the following:
- Document storage
- Work orders
- Real-time collaboration
- Interactive scheduling
- Milestone tracking
- Performance metrics
- Custom dashboards
- Inventory management
- Project & task management dashboards
- Accounting tools
- Productivity reports
Striven also excels in its customer support.
Customer support is just as important to engineers as the software itself.
Without customer support, you wouldn’t be able to set up or navigate the software in times of trouble.
Striven’s customer support consists of the following:
- Help desk
- Knowledge base
- Phone support
Customer support training consists of the following:
- Live online
Striven’s customer support consistently ranks as one of the highest on G2 and Capterra among accounting software for engineers.
Striven has you covered when it comes to efficiently managing your operations, projects, and finances.
- Up to 20 users: $20/user + $99 monthly hosting
- Up to 50 users: $15/user + $299 monthly hosting
- Unlimited users: $10/user + $499 monthly hosting
- 7-day free trial
7. Deltek Vantagepoint – Best software for scalability
Deltek Vantagepoint, previously known as Deltek Vision, helps maximize productivity, improve efficiency, boost collaboration, increase profitability, and drive business success.
Their system is a combination of cloud-based and project-based accounting software for professional services firms, such as engineering firms.
Deltek provides a report based on information from across 10 countries where you can measure your success against some of the best engineering firms in the industry.
The report contains actionable data and insights with metrics by firm size that you can use to get ahead of your competitors.
This report is a phenomenal tool for mirroring market trends that will help grow your business.
Their CRM and Pipeline Management feature helps engineers to identify projects early, putting your firm in a better position to win the client over competitors.
The interactive dashboards provide proactive actionable insights into the health of your business by zeroing in on potential challenges that could arise.
Deltek also has features to pinpoint the best resources for your projects based on availability and skill, avoid cost and schedule overruns, and make adjustments to meet the changing needs of your projects.
Deltek is one of the best accounting software when it comes to enhancing scalability.
- No pricing info
Frequently asked questions
The three types of accounting software are the ERP system, the billing and invoicing system, and payroll management software.
Percent complete is a measure tracked by project managers to gauge how much of a project has been completed at any given point in time.
Integrated accounting software is application software where all necessary features are all connected.
Taking advantage of software specifically geared for the engineering industry will maximize your productivity skill.
Combining cloud-based technology with project management tracking, financial management, business management, and time tracking will make your firm more efficient and profitable.
Caryl Ramsey has years of experience assisting in different aspects of bookkeeping, taxes, and customer service. She uses a variety of accounting software for setting up client information, reconciling accounts, coding expenses, running financial reports, and preparing tax returns. She is also experienced in setting up corporations with the State Corporation Commission and the IRS.
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