Reporting software can help your business. But wouldn’t it be nice if it were free? Read on for good news.
This article looks at four free reporting software options. See the full list of free reporting software solutions here.Numbers are everywhere, from your monthly rent to the square footage of your office. But little useful insight can be gained by gathering all those numbers into a big bag, shaking them up, and dumping them out on your desk like jigsaw puzzle pieces.Luckily, financial reporting software can take all of the numbers from your accounting software and turn them into digestible information you can use to make business decisions.Being able to measure how well your business strategies and tactics are working can help inform which initiatives to abandon and which to double down on.You may be thinking that financial reporting software sounds a lot like business intelligence software. Here’s the difference: Financial reporting software processes the numbers to show you what has happened, while business intelligence software analyzes data and attempts to show why things happened the way they did. Both of these can help your business, but we’re focusing on the former. If you’re looking for free business intelligence software, we have you covered here.Though reporting software can be expensive, there are free and open-source reporting software options out there that even Ebenezer Scrooge wouldn’t hesitate to sign off on.
4 free and open source reporting software
We’ll look at four financial reporting tools that have a completely free version, have a user rating of 4.5/5 stars or better on our financial reporting software directory, with at least 30 reviews, and include the following essential features—balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement (these three statements are required by the GAAP).The final option (#4) is also open source, which means it has been developed over years by a community of volunteers and is completely free with all features included. On the other hand, because it’s free, there is no paid staff to help you with technical support if you get stuck. You’re also responsible for storing all of your data.So, if you have a tech-savvy staff and plenty of storage space, and you’re looking to save money, the final option might be a good fit for you. If not, don’t worry, the first three offer free versions but also have upgraded paid versions with all the perks.The products are listed in order of number of reviews, from most to least. See our full methodology here.
User rating: 4.5/5 Reviews: 800
With millions of users, Wave is without a doubt one of the most well-known accounting tools in the world. Since launching in 2010, it has been a go-to, entry-level accounting system that small business leaders can use on-the-go from their phones and tablets. And because it’s on this list, of course it is free and offers the reporting tools you need.Wave’s dashboard view gives you an organized look at your cash flow and profit/loss statements, as well as overdue invoices and account balances.
Wave is completely free for multiple businesses, unlimited bank accounts, receipt scanning, and guest collaborators.
Wave is designed for small businesses, so if you’re expecting rapid growth, it probably won’t be able to grow all the way with you. Payment processing and payroll are also paid, optional features.
Users like that Wave is designed with simplicity in mind, meaning that if all you want to do is get a quick look at the money coming in and going out of your business, you can easily do that.
The free version includes only email support (payment processing and payroll include chat support). If you need a lot of assistance, you’ll either need to look elsewhere or upgrade to one of those services.
How much does it cost to upgrade Wave?
Payments are 2.9% 30 cents per credit transaction, or 1% per bank transaction. Payroll starts at $20 per month plus $4 per employee. Wave also offers dedicated bookkeeping services starting at $49 per month and 30 days of accounting coaching for a one-time fee of $49.
User rating: 4.5/5 Reviews: 80
ZipBooks might make you think of similarly named products such as QuickBooks, FreshBooks, or Zoho Books, but ZipBooks has one very important difference from those other accounting tools: It’s free for unlimited invoices, vendors, and customers.And of course it also provides a nice selection of financial reporting tools. In addition to the essential balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement, ZipBooks also offers advanced reports such as business health score and invoice quality score. You can even compare your business to other businesses that use ZipBooks.
ZipBooks is a modern, intuitive accounting app. It earned the No. 3 spot—right behind our next tool, SlickPie—on our latest most user-friendly software report. Users also love ZipBooks’ customer service, which is always a good sign.
The free version only includes essential reports. If you want the fancy stuff, you’ll have to pay.
In addition to basic reports, ZipBooks offers advanced reports and uses machine learning to auto-categorize transactions and help you improve your invoices. ZipBooks can even remind your customers to leave reviews and help optimize your online presence.
Recurring invoices only come with the paid plan ($15/month), so if you send out a ton of invoices and have your heart set on a free tool, this could be a dealbreaker.
How much does it cost to upgrade ZipBooks?
$15 per month adds automatic billing, reminders and notifications, multiple bank accounts, time tracking, and five additional users. $35 per month adds advanced reports, unlimited users, tagging, and secure document sharing.
User rating: 4.5/5 Reviews: 50
One of the best things about SlickPie is that it isn’t just a free financial reporting tool, it’s a fully functional business accounting tool, appearing on both our Top 20 Most Affordable (#8) and Most User-Friendly (#2) accounting software reports.So if you don’t have accounting software yet, or if you’re not thrilled with the accounting tool you’re using right now, you may have just fed two birds with one scone.
As the name implies, users find SlickPie’s interface clean and slick and they say it’s as easy as pie to use.
While most routine transactions are easy to pull off, some users say that more complicated features—such as setting up inventory and tracking sales tax—take a little more accounting knowledge to navigate.
SlickPie allows unlimited users, even in its free version.
It is a free financial reporting tool, but some users find the charts and graphs to be less than impressive. On the plus side, the main graph is fairly informative.
How much does it cost to upgrade SlickPie?
$39.95 per month adds phone support and lets you work with 50 companies instead of 10 in the free version.
User rating: 4.5/5 Reviews: 30
GnuCash is an open-source reporting and accounting software option with roots dating all the way back to the late 1990s. As part of the GNU project, a free software initiative that began in the ancient year of 1983, every part of GnuCash is free. And there are a lot of parts.Because it has been in development for more than 30 years, you can use GnuCash to do pretty much anything that other accounting software tools can do, from tracking your stock portfolio to setting up loan payments. Of course, if all you want to do is check your statements, you might not want or need those features, but it’s nice to know they’re available as your business grows.
Since it is open source, you’ll never have to pay a dime for GnuCash (though you are responsible for data storage, which most vendors include with paid packages).
With GnuCash, the focus is on functionality, not marketing, so the logo and even the interface look kind of like they’re stuck in the late 90s. So you might feel like Doogie Howser while you’re using it.
GnuCash has a lot of features, comparable to the top accounting software on the market. And because it is open source, new features are added all the time.
It’s open source, so there isn’t a tech support desk to help you when you can’t figure something out. Instead, your options are to read through the 200-page manual or email your question to the mailing list.
How much does it cost to upgrade GnuCash?
Because GnuCash is open source, it’s completely free without any paid features. You are responsible for your own data storage and tech support, though.
The reports window in GnuCash showing a graph of expenses over time (Source)
The value of reporting software
Picking the right financial reporting software for your business is a big step. It can unlock hidden value, help make better decisions, and enable you to measure the impact of decisions you made in the past.These four free and open source reporting software options should give any sized business a good place to start the reporting and analysis journey.If you need more options, check out Capterra’s full listing of reporting software solutions.
Products considered for this article have to:
Offer a free version of the software (not a trial version of the software where you must purchase a product after a limited amount of time).
Include the following essential features: balance sheet, income statement, and cash management.
Have a user rating of 4.5/5 or better on Capterra’s directory, with at least 30 user reviews.
*Listed pros and cons are derived from features listed on the product website and product user reviews on Gartner Digital Markets domains (Capterra, GetApp, and Software Advice). They do not represent the views of, nor constitute an endorsement by, Capterra or its affiliates.