Crunch: Online Accounting In The Cloud

With the ever-rising popularity of web apps, businesses are turning to online solutions for their business needs, as it allows quick and easy access no matter where you are. The days of being tied down to the office to complete work are over as cloud computing and online platforms become ever more a reality in daily business life.

Last month, I took a look at Kashflow, an online accounting system aimed at small businesses helping them to keep their books in order and process simple accounting tasks such as invoices. However, there is now a new kid on the block, Crunch, looking to steal Kashflow’s thunder. It is, like Kashflow, aimed at small businesses who don’t want to have to shell out loads of money for an expensive IT system.

Is Crunch the one accounting system that your small business has been looking for? Let’s have a look at it in a bit more detail.

First Impressions

Like Kashflow, Crunch is aimed at small businesses based in the UK and is entirely web-based, meaning that it will work on no matter what platform you are using. Subscription plans start at £59.50 (around $95) a month or you can save yourself 10% by purchasing a yearly subscription at £642.60 (around $1,000). This seems like an awful lot for simply an accounting system but when you compare it to the cost and implementation of something like SAGE, then it doesn’t seem too bad in the long run.

Crunch Home

The home screen of Crunch

The developers very kindly offer a demo so you can start testing out the system before you commit to buying it. All you need to do is enter your name, company name, e-mail address and telephone number and a password is e-mailed to you in minutes so you can start testing!

Once you’ve logged in and created your memorable password and word, you are directed to the Dashboard, which gives you an overview of your sales and expenses as well as your company performance over the last 6 months and a few other useful indicators.

Crunch Dashboard

The Dashboard of Crunch, showing your sales and expenses as well as your company's performance for the current fiscal period

From the Dashboard you can access all the features of the application. Let’s have a look at these in a bit more detail.

Sales Dashboard

The sales Dashboard manages the complete sales side of your company including invoices you’ve sent out to customers, any outstanding invoices and your client list. Here you can create new invoices and check which ones have already been paid (and which ones are outstanding).

Invoices

To create a new invoice in Crunch, simply click on Add New: Invoice. The system allows you to choose the client and allows you to edit the terms of the invoice, such as the payment terms and customer’s PO number. You can add individual lines to the invoice and Crunch automatically works out the VAT rate for you (you can also define items that are VAT-exempt, such as foodstuffs).

Crunch New Invoice

Creating a new invoice for a client

Invoices are arranged by their reference number (although you can change this) and display the issue date, when they are due, the customer and the total and outstanding amount (in case of part-payment or a structured payment plan). You can easily recognise which invoices are still due for payment and Crunch lets you print them out again (with any outstanding balance) so that they don’t get forgotten.

Crunch Invoice List

Your complete list of invoices in Crunch (including any draft and outstanding ones)

Clients

Viewing your clients in Crunch is easy – simply click on Clients within the sales Dashboard tab and a list of your clients is brought up, along with any outstanding payments that they owe you.

Crunch Client View

Your list of current clients along with any outstanding balance they owe

From this view you can also easily create a new client, edit an existing one or record a client payment.

Expenses Dashboard

With a small business the need to track expenses accurately is extremely important as it shows you precisely where you are spending your funds on. Crunch helps you achieve this by listing all your expenses for a particular period and producing a easy-on-the-eye pie chart helping you to determine which areas you are spending the most on.

Crunch Expenses

Business expenses in Crunch are summed up in a pie chart, along with a list of unpaid suppliers

Crunch also features a handy “Pay Yourself” feature, which determines how much you are owed by the company if you have used your own funds to pay for expenses. It can also work out how much money you can pay out from the company (if you are a sole trader or a business owner).

Banking

The banking section of Crunch helps you keep track of the money in your business bank accounts and any other financial products your company may have, such as credit cards and loans. When you run Crunch for the first time, you will need to reconcile your accounts (i.e. documenting that the account balance is correct) however Crunch makes this an easy task.

Crunch Reconcile Accounts

Reconciling your accounts in Crunch

The Banking section also allows you to record any interest received on bank deposits and it can also calculate loan repayments and incorporate these into your financial transactions.

Crunch Loan Repayment

Setting up a new loan repayment in Crunch

Tax Dashboard

Taxes can be a confusing ordeal for anyone, whether you are a single employee or a large business. Crunch aims to simplify the whole tax ordeal by calculating how much VAT, corporation tax, PAYE/NIC (Pay As You Earn/National Insurance Contributions) are due for the current tax year as well as any savings through the flat rate VAT scheme.

Crunch Tax

Your Tax dashboard, showing the total amount owed to HM Revenue and Customs as well as your business's current VAT returns

Although Crunch won’t fill in your forms for you, it does make filling in your company’s VAT return at the end of year a whole lot easier seeing as the numbers are automatically worked out for you and you can rest assured that they are accurate. You can also record tax payments and rebates on your company’s accounts as well.

Final Thoughts

This review has simply only scratched the surface of Crunch and you really need to sign up for a free trial to check out its fantastic range of features. The clean, simple and attractive interface makes the program a joy to use (especially when compared to those boring Windows ones) and although it is one of the more expensive web-based accounting solutions out there, the benefits of Crunch clearly outweigh the costs and it will certainly work wonders for your small business.

The developers of Crunch offer a 30-day trial period and when you sign up to it they are even kind enough to give you a call to ask whether you require any help or if you need anything explaining about the program. With such a great interface and such friendly and assistive customer support, Crunch is sure to go a long way.

UPDATE:

The Crunch team got in contact with some more info about Crunch, so we thought we’d pass it along:

Crunch offer a registered office and registered agent service as standard which can handle any tax related matters so you don’t have to. This handling is included in the monthly price, along with which you get an expert team of 2 accountants, your own account manager and a back up just in case. You are also assigned an administration clerk who deals with most of the paperwork from HM Revenue and Customs. With all of this, the price covers a lot more than just the web app!


Summary

An online web-based accounting system aimed at UK small businesses.

  • Crunch  | 
  • Plans start from £59.50 monthly  | 
  • Crunch
9

Responses

Add Yours
  • £59.50 amonth, are you crazy. For small business this is far too much. There is software much cheaper for small business.

  • I agree with Scop, the software looks good but it’s possible to find cheaper solutions.

  • Hi there,

    James is updating the article as there’s a point missing. This isn’t just software, this is software + service.

    Crunch comes with a team of 6 which you can see in the ‘Your Crunch’ tab and includes:

    – 2x expert Accountants
    – Your own Account Manager with a backup if they are away
    – An advisor to discuss your business with before you join
    – An administrator who handles all your post from HMRC and Companies House

    The team are available on the end of the phone and skype for as much as you want to use them.

    We complete all the paperwork and do the VAT return checking, Annual Return and Year End accounts for the customer. All for the fixed price of £59.50 per month.

    It should easily be a 1/2 or a 3rd off the price of normal SAAS Accountancy Software + a Traditional Accountant.

    Sound better? :-)

    Thanks, Darren (Founder & MD)

  • Online systems are an excellent idea. However, always think very carefully before choosing a system, to ensure it will work for your business, as it can be very costly and time consuming to change system once a business has started.

  • Been hunting hi and lo for the easiest way to keep on top of my expenses / taxes etc..

    Tried many software’s but they just come with too much baggage..

    CRUNCH looks perfect is everything i have been looking for to manage my accounts..but I am a freelancer and like many freelancers £59 is just a tad too much per month.. I can totally understand for the price for use in a small business but it would be great if you offered something a little more ‘do-able’ for individuals as they do over at EXPENSIFY. Also a great app but CRUNCH is the whole package.

    If I had an extra 60 to spend a month on controlling expenditure then Id sign up in a second..just just..

    Good Work

  • I switched to Crunch from 2 years with a traditional accountant late 2011. I had no complaints about my traditional accountant, but was taken in by Crunch’s slick advertising.

    To cut a long story short, it was a waste of time and money and I’ve gone back to using Xero online book keeping system (which your traditional accountant can access online). I’m not in any way connected to Xero, just for the record.

    The Crunch online system was clunky to use at best, I had severe communication problems from the start. There were lots of muddles and an abundance of confusion. After 2 months from signing up they still did not have the opening balances ready, so it’s features were useless to me. They don’t allow you to create your own budget headings, so it feels very rigid and “one size fits all” – the direct opposite from my experience using Xero.

    I even made a formal complaint, and eventually received a call from the MD where he refused to accept responsibility and blamed HMRC and my previous accountant for delays, and boasted about how much money they were investing in their company (which did nothing to help me feel better about the issues I had felt the need to complain about). No refund offered, so I’ve had to write-off hard earned cash.

    Steer clear of Crunch is my advice. Seriously, use Xero or some other low cost online book keeping system and a traditional accountant – it’s worked out cheaper for me than Crunch (I’m a small limited company with no employees). Crunch even charge extra to do your personal online tax return – minimum £75 + VAT! This despite their website saying “no costly extras”. Their advertising is very slick, making all sorts of promises such as “accounting heaven” but my view is that it’s all smoke and mirrors.

    Crunch is a great concept and local to where I live and so I’m disappointed that it did not live up to its claims. A rather costly mistake for me both in time and money, but having returned to a traditional accountancy firm with 40+ years experience, who I can meet with face to face and who has already recommended ways to save money for my business, the mistake has helped me make my mind up that Crunch did not get it right – not even close.

    Traditional accountants do everything that Crunch does – and more – and in my opinion do it better. Don’t be fooled into thinking you are getting better value for money with Crunch.

  • I agree with Scop