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2006 Review of Small Business Accounting Programs — Executive Summary

From the June/July 2006 Review of
Small Business Accounting Systems

Every business has unique workflow processes that determine the amount of time
it takes to complete a sale or perform a service. Every business has unique
inventory or pricing needs. Every business has unique payroll situations or
customer and vendor relationships. Yes, every business is unique. But the general
attributes of a business are usually pretty consistent with other businesses
in their industry and in their particular trade.

So despite their unique niches, it isn’t that difficult to find a software
system that can help them manage the various aspects of their business, from
managing sales and invoices, maintaining inventory, to handling payables and
payroll, as well as keeping a reliable and secure chart of accounts. But different
programs are certainly more adept at different processes, and each has varying
usability characteristics.

The programs reviewed here offer the basics, plus many provide additional
productivity-enhancing features including payroll, advanced contact management,
HR functions, analysis and forecasting tools, time-based billing or point-of-sale
hardware. Remember that the small business management software employed by a
company becomes the backbone of that business. So in addition to handling the
books and core financials, the system must also address the business’
workflow processes in an intuitive and easy-to-use manner. The method of exporting
business financial data should also be a focus for the professional accountant
serving this business, since the data may need to be transferred into the accountant’s
write-up, trial balance and tax preparation systems.