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Dec 2, 2022 5 min read

Accounting Software vs. Practice Management Software

Practice management software isn’t about keeping track of credits and debits. It’s about keeping track of the success and growth of your company!

Accounting Software vs. Practice Management Software

Are you looking for accounting software or practice management software? Or, are you still not sure? Well, we can help! There’s actually a big difference between a practice management solution and accounting software and we’re going to demystify the big bad world of these different products today - getting you back on track and finding the solutions you need! 

First, don’t feel bad. Practice Management solutions and Accounting solutions are very similar and often answer similar needs.  And if you’re an accountant to begin with, what’s not to like about accounting software? 

The fact of the matter is, accounting software is not practice management software, and if you’re mixing the two up you could be missing out on tools you need to grow your business. Let’s take a closer look.


Accounting software is not practice management software

First up: accounting software  

Accounting software is a cost-efficient way for small business owners—and maybe even heads of households—to keep track of their finances. 

Owners of small businesses—i.e., auto garages, laundromats, roofing companies, restaurants, dry cleaners, dental offices, local orchestras, the list could go on for a long time, right?—use accounting software to make sure they earn more than they spend. Depending on the product, their accounting software could come with a few more bells and whistles than that, but not many. 

Note to self: remember to save such and such percentage of the invoice for taxes—that sort of thing.


Second up: practice management software

Practice Management software, by contrast, is for running, operating, maximizing, streamlining, and transforming your accounting practice—we’re talking about every aspect of it—into a well-oiled machine. 

Practice management software isn’t about keeping track of credits and debits. It’s about keeping track of the success and growth of your company! 


Why you need practice management software to run your accounting business

A more appropriate action verb than run would be something like streamline. Amplify. Supercharge. Unclunk. What practice management software really does is clear the runway so you’re accounting practice can takeoff

If you don’t currently have an accounting practice management software, you undoubtedly have parts of one: your half a dozen subscriptions or accounts with various apps and software programs for managing day-to-day operations—from scheduling appointments with clients to creating invoices, sharing and editing documents, automating workflow, storing and archiving documents, and even keeping track of email, just to name a few. 

Accounting practice management software brings all of these services—all of these mission-critical functions—into one place, onto the same dashboard. In other words, no more going back and forth. No more keeping track of 17 passwords and usernames. No more wondering where something is saved or figuring out the best way to share it with a client or colleague. 


The accounting industry is changing. You might need some new gear, so to speak, to keep up.

The shortlist of an accounting practice management software’s key components might look something like this: 

  • Client Management. A feature that centralizes all the information you have about your clients. Like contact information? Well, duh, obviously. But also all of your client records, all of your communications, all of your appointments, and notes on the calendar. Client management keeps track of and manages client requests. It makes bulk actions like sending out emails, adding tags, and assigning owners possible. At Canopy, this is the core module that all of the other modules plug into.
  • Document Management. In the old days, you had a filing cabinet and an incredibly smart squirrel in a back room that fetched you the files you asked for. It sometimes took days, even weeks for those files to reach your desk, but eventually, they made it there. A document management service like Canopy’s lets you create, share, save, edit, read, store, and protect documents the way God intended you to online, in the cloud, and from anywhere in the world, even the ski resort chairlift, assuming your phone has enough bars. This means you never have to wait for that squirrel again. 
  • Workflow Management. Are you tired of banging on the wall and shouting through the sheetrock to ask your assistant where he or she is on the Borgnino file? Because if not, you should be. Workflow software takes care of the shouting for you. It tracks all of the tasks you and your colleagues are working on (yesterday, today, and next week). It automates processes that can be automated. And it instantaneously gives you a birds-eye view of where you’re at with a particular client—anytime, anywhere.
  • Time & Billing. Drop the ball on this one and your accounting practice is in big, big trouble. An accounting practice management suite like Canopy puts time & billing on the same dashboard, so to speak, with all of your other day-to-day work functions. It tracks time and automatically sends out invoices—no system-switching and no double entries. Everything related to the process is simplified and streamlined. In the past, time & billing was a hassle you put up with because, well, you had to. Not anymore.   


Escape the chaos. Clear the runway. Be the accounting firm your parents always dreamed you could be. 

You just learned about the difference between accounting software and accounting practice management software. Do you know what that means? With this new knowledge, you can make educated, informed decisions about the products and strategies your company uses to take care of clients, win new ones, and grow your bottom line. You can take your firm to the next level! 

Of course, there’s still a lot to learn about accounting practice management software. Let the experts at Canopy help you.


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Dave Nielsen lives in Salt Lake City. He holds a PhD from the University of Cincinnati and writes regularly about business and healthcare.


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