When managing your organization’s or department’s finances and budgeting, it’s essential to have a good, reliable and easy bookkeeping system that can help you in your everyday accounting tasks. There are many templates available online to suit this exact purpose, meaning it’s never been easier to ensure you’re making your finance tasks as simple as possible.

But the question still remains – with so many financial templates available online, which one should you choose? To save you time searching online, we’ve rounded up some helpful Excel-based template document solutions. Here are some of the best resources for your accounting and bookkeeping needs.

5 top online accounting and bookkeeping resources

Before we start, it’s important to know that if you’re new to bookkeeping and finance resources, you need to understand what these resources are used for. Most of the options listed below provide some information about what the templates are for, but it’s always worth doing your research first to make sure you’re looking for the correct template to help with the task at hand. Having understood what the needs and requirements for differing template types are, the following resources allow you to download basic templates suitable for each of them.

1. Smartsheet

Smartsheet’s list of Excel spreadsheets is all you need to get started. They have researched the best Excel accounting templates out there and included them in a list ready for downloading. They are divided into categories by purpose, making it easy to get an overview and select the exact template you need. They provide free downloadable templates for a wide variety of use cases, and also have an option to invest in a dynamic solution to further suit your Excel template needs.

2. Business Accounting Basics

Business Accounting Basics offer 16 free Excel bookkeeping templates for many purposes.The list is not as long as some of the others, but it does cover all the bases you need to get started. Resources include petty cash, cash book, business expenses, sales invoice and balance sheet. It’s an excellent resource if your needs are not complex. Business Accounting Basics also offer free bookkeeping software through various free trials, in order to test and see what would suit more complicated needs for your organization.

3. ExcelDataPro

ExcelDataPro keeps you on track with your finances and helps you manage your invoices, profit and loss statements, generate salary slips, prepare balance sheet, track accounts payable and receivable etc. They have a large number of templates, include options to include charts and other types of data visualization, and on top of this offer a suggestion form for if your needs are not being met by the content they have available. Their website also includes information such as glossaries, FAQs and a blog, so it’s a resource which can answer many of the questions you may have around needs and types.

4. Beginner bookkeeping

Beginner-bookkeeping.com is a great resource for finding your basic Excel accounting templates along with useful information about how and where they should be used – for example, what is a cash flow form and how do you use it?

Designed with a beginner and small business focus in mind, they also provide content which clearly talks through the basics of creating documents from these templates, and explains how the results are calculated. Their templates open in Excel but also function in OpenOffice, which is a free alternative to Excel, making it an excellent choice for smaller businesses who are limited in the number of software subscriptions they possess.

5. Themeforest

If you want to crank it up a notch and invest in a low-priced online bookkeeping system with access to more resources than just Excel spreadsheet templates, try looking at Themeforest’s list of accounting systems available online for a small cost. Themeforest provide templates for a wide variety of content types, from CMS website templates to blogger templates and and eCommerce templates. Naturally, they also include spreadsheet templates. Themeforest mainly focus on the visual elements of what can be provided, so they are excellent for ensuring correct colors and themes, but the functionality of accounting templates they offer is not as broad as some of the other options.

Boost productivity with accounting templates and budgeting templates

Your bookkeeping templates allow you to keep track on how you are performing and who owes you money, and it keeps you ready for tax reporting etc. They are a vital tool, which should be easy to use and save you time. At their best, templates are a great tool for increasing productivity and letting you focus on tasks that are more complicated.

Most online accounting systems provide you with templates for you to use and re-use online, no matter what product or service you are selling. If you do decide to use your own Excel spreadsheet on your laptop and create your own templates for your relatively complicated finances, you will find it hard to unlock features (such as automation, which is complicated to embed into a template without specific expertise). As the main aim of templates is to save time and eliminate data entry errors, it’s often much more efficient to use ones that have already been created. It’s also important to note that templates must be adjusted for new accounting rules, legal updates and details, and so downloading and re-using old ones isn’t always a good option.

Another solution could be to invest in an outsourced, cloud-based, software solution in order to save time, lower the risk of human error, and minimize workflow difficulties. These solutions are more expensive, but they do improve workflows and aid productivity, alongside providing a more accurate result. It’s not a solution to undertake lightly though – be sure to always do your research about what has a good track record and proven benefits, rather than just choosing something based off the hopes it will make the job quicker.

Read next: The biggest obstacle to productivity might be your documents

Remember to add compliance checks to your bookkeeping

All of these online templates are great resources for both small and medium-sized companies and independent entrepreneurs. But as any professional knows, relying on templates alone as your company-solution might not be the best idea. Why? Accounting principles vary from country to country and different rules apply to different company types. So templates from the internet may not always be reliable for a task where accuracy and compliance is key, as they can be outdated and contain incorrect information for any particular region.

That's why we recommend you to consult your lawyer, accountant and/or compliance manager before relying on any of the products mentioned in this article.

In general, it is not a good idea to rely only on generic templates from the internet alone - you should use custom templates created by your accountant and that are kept up to date by your compliance manager. That way, you are sure that your accounting templates are always following the company guidelines and includes all the compliance regulations according to the latest international laws.

Improving workflows is beneficial for the entire organization, and simplifying accounting and book-keeping tasks empowers finance teams. However it’s also important to ensure that you’re doing this in a safe and compliant manner which is adaptable to any changes.