Our review of Bokio
Bokio is good looking software, which does its best to follow FreeAgent’s lead in committing to jargon-free bookkeeping. It’s easy to navigate, and the menus are well designed and stop the screen getting too cluttered.
Whilst it was inevitable that existing users would be frustrated when Bokio announced plans to start charging for access to some features, the new payment plans do leave Bokio in a precarious position.
The ‘new’ free plan is a very stripped back version of what it used to be, essentially leaving behind basic invoicing software, rather than true bookkeeping software. Though the paid plans do offer a little more to users, even then the features that are available are far behind similarly priced competitors.
For £8.99 per month, you can access more of the invoicing tools such as accepting payments, or £15.99 per month to automate more of your bookkeeping with bank rules. But even then, it’s missing some of the key bookkeeping features you’d expect from paid software these days, such as project tools, mileage trackers, or inventory management.
The new payment plans are likely to mean that Bokio can fund further product development but for what they’re offering at each current price point, small businesses are likely to find their needs better met elsewhere.
Ease of use
User Review( votes)
Ease of Use
Bokio is fairly easy to use in most cases, though a little more thought to the user experience would help improve this further. For instance, there are dropdown menus which make it easier to select the supplier or customer details you want to use for an invoice. This is great, until you have an enormous list to scroll through, so a search box or auto-suggestion list would be a much better solution.
On a more positive note, you can also add new customers and suppliers from the invoice screen without losing any existing progress you’ve made creating an invoice. It's useful if you forgot to do that first!
The menu layout is good, and finding tools and features is pretty self-explanatory, with any software or accounting jargon kept to a minimum.
There are some processes which could be confusing, especially for less experienced users. For instance, when entering our first transaction (for money in). Despite asking ‘what did you sell’, Bokio uses the data you enter to search a list of transaction templates.
Bokio say this is so that users don’t need to worry about taking care of debits and credits (so we assume this means the software manages the double-entry bookkeeping for you). In practice, the process is quite disconnected.
You can either use one of the suggested templates (which don’t really bear much resemblance to any item you might have sold), select a different template, or enter the information manually. Even users with basic bookkeeping knowledge are highly likely to make serious errors here. It’s also worth noting that the smart templates aren’t available on the free package.
Bokio loads quite quickly, and transitioning between screens and processes doesn’t cause any noticeable lag in the software. The simple layout and clear headings mean that it’s quick and easy to use, too.
Those on the free tier will be held back by the lack of automations available at this level, resulting in a significantly slower user experience. You’ll need the most expensive package (£15.99 per month) to use these tools, though do be aware that even them some time-saving features that you might expect from other providers (such as stock control or a mileage tracker) simply aren’t available with Bokio.
Bokio does have the more common bookkeeping features that we’d expect to see digital bookkeeping software offering these days, such as bank feeds, bank rules, payment integrations, and reports.
The bank feeds feature in Bokio is powered by Plaid, so there are lots of banking institutions to choose from, although on the free tier you’re only able to choose one. You’ll need to upgrade to the middle tier (Balance - £8.99 per month) or the most expensive option (Business - £15.99 per month) to use more.
The reporting functions are mostly bare-bones basic (and don’t look that great either), though you can export the data as a PDF or to Excel. The invoicing report is a bit more interesting, and includes a top 5 items and top 5 customers display so you can see what’s doing well at a glance.
You can add employees to Bokio to make expense management a bit easier and there is a director’s payroll feature currently in testing.
The big issue is that Bokio now charge for most of these features, despite promising that the software would always be free to use. Sadly, moving into these paid tiers means Bokio now comes up against much more feature-rich competitors.
As free software, Bokio was very good. Now that most of these features are pay-walled, it leaves the free version of Bokio looking rather anaemic, and it’s now essentially an invoicing tool.
Hopefully the paid tiers will fund more serious feature development, because Bokio currently lacks any sort of projects tool or inventory management feature, even for paying customers.
Bokio’s guides are generally good, and they do offer user support though this is limited to paying customers only. Users on the free option can only report bugs, or ask other users from the community for support.
Balance users (the middle price package, at £8.99 per month) can access specific product support. Live chat support (which some providers such as Pandle offer for free to all users) is only available with Bokio if you’re a Business user, at £15.99 per month.
Despite promising that Bokio would always be free to use, most features are now restricted to paying users only. Announcing the changes, Bokio suggested this would help them develop new features. Sadly, because they’re not yet at that point, the paid packages don’t measure up very well compared to more feature-rich providers.
Free users will have access to very basic invoicing tools, or can upgrade to one of the two paid options.
Balance, at £8.99 per month, allows users to send quotes and accept invoice payments, with an unlimited number of bank feeds, and users.
The most expensive option, Business, is £15.99 per month, and includes the bank rules feature that you’ll need to help automate more of your bookkeeping.
What level of bookkeeping knowledge will I need?
It varies across the software. Using the software is mainly self-explanatory, but there are some areas where novice users are likely to make mistakes, such as entering transactions.
The software looks good, and the introductory guides and ‘things to do’ section are a nice idea.
The pricing just doesn’t offer the features that we would expect to see available at those sort of price points. Judging by the comments on their TrustPilot page, lots of existing Bokio users are furious that the free version has been stripped back to the extent it has.