In our September 2006 issue, we examined the current field of mid-range accounting
programs, a growing market that shows considerable diversity in the available
programs. (You can access this review in the archives at www.CPATechAdvisor.com.)
During the year, this magazine also reviews small business accounting products,
not-for-profit systems, and high-end systems designed for larger entities (see
the high-end accounting review in this issue on page 38). As we determine where
specific products fit, programs occasionally get missed or opt not to participate
because their most recent release isn’t ready in time for the review.
Such was the case with the review of mid-range accounting products.
Specifically, there are three additional major options on the market that should
also be considered when a business outgrows its low-end accounting system: QuickBooks
Enterprise, Peachtree Quantum and Microsoft Small Business Financials. While
every entity searching for a new mid-tier accounting and business management
package has varying reasons for the change, the reasons generally include the
need for more concurrent users, greater support for inventory or manufacturing,
higher-volume processing or improved integration with other programs.
The factors driving the desire or need for a change of software systems, in
addition to the projected needs of the company in the next few years, are the
keys to finding the best accounting application for that entity. So first determine
the business needs, then consider the products featured in our September mid-range
accounting review as well as the following three mid-range accounting systems.
— QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions
Version 7.0 of Intuit’s mid-market QuickBooks Enterprise is geared straight
at the growing business, keeping the simplicity of QuickBooks that many small
companies are used to but also delivering additional capabilities that enable
the system to handle the needs of businesses that have outgrown their regular
SMB accounting system.
For starters, QuickBooks Enterprise supports up to 20 concurrent users and
sports all of the traditional features found in the Pro and Premier editions,
with additional features including support for SQL databases and remote locations,
as well as stronger financial management tools. Enterprise’s interface
utilizes a customizable flowchart/business process model, which simplifies most
common tasks and eases processes such as turning estimates into invoices with
a single click. QuickBooks Enterprise offers great integration with MS Word
and Excel for report generation and customization and client correspondence
and data analysis, as well as with Outlook for appointment scheduling and contact
In keeping with all QuickBooks systems, Enterprise is simple to learn, especially
for those already using another version since the interface and all functions
remain the same across most of the versions. And since the programs are built
upon the same code base, no data conversion or transfer is required for upward
transition from the other QuickBooks versions. Enterprise utilizes standard
double-entry accounting methods and includes integrated GL, AP, AR, invoicing,
payroll capabilities and job costing functions. The program’s inventory
also supports multi-part assemblies and other advanced tools. Enterprise also
includes a full-time audit trail.
Intuit has recently added enhanced customer tracking and inventory functions
that can manage more than 100,000 customers, vendors, employees and inventory
items, as well as non-inventory and service items, with support for varying
units of measure and custom price levels on estimates. Other new additions include
improved shipping management, a revamped employee/contractor time management
system, more custom form creation tools, additional functionality in the Payroll
Center and new online marketing services from Google, such as AdWords and the
new QuickBooks Product Listing Service.
Intuit also offers the QuickBooks Enterprise Solution Provider Program, which
is designed to help accounting professionals grow their practices by delivering
value-added services that meet the sophisticated needs of QuickBooks Enterprise
users. Solution Providers receive QuickBooks discounts; quarterly commissions;
customer leads; educational, marketing and sales resources; and dedicated support.
QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions starts at $3,000 for a five-user license, with
additional five-user packs available for $1,500, and up to a 20-user license
Software, Inc. — Peachtree Quantum
This year, Sage introduced the premier version of its Peachtree line, Quantum
2007. The system provides all of the features and capabilities of the Complete
and Premium versions of Peachtree, plus the capabilities available in the industry-specific
versions of Peachtree (Manufacturing, Distribution, Construction and Nonprofit),
which are boosted by Quantum’s additional strengths geared to benefit
businesses who may have outgrown certain aspects of their small business accounting
package. Foremost among Quantum’s capabilities is its support for up to
10 concurrent users, up from five in the other versions of Peachtree, as well
as a more robust database that gives it the ability to handle greater numbers
of transactions, clients, vendors and inventory. The system shares the same
general design structure and interface as its siblings, and data is automatically
migrated into the system when upgrading.
The key to Peachtree’s ease-of-use lies in its redesigned interface,
which is centered around the customizable Business Status Center, which provides
a series of executive dashboards that can be set to display virtually any business
data that a particular user wants to keep tabs on and have instant access to,
depending upon security access rights. Dashboards are available for Business
Status, Customers & Sales, Vendors & Purchases, Inventory & Services,
Employees & Payroll, Banking, and Company. The system’s features are
also accessible through a flowchart diagram.
Peachtree Quantum offers a comprehensive array of integrated modules for GL,
AP, AR, billing, inventory and vendor management, and integrates with Sage Software’s
ACT! for more advanced contact management, and with Timeslips for enhanced time
and billing capabilities. The system includes the same exceptional and customizable
reporting functions as the other versions, as well as analysis, benchmarking
and trend identification functions. All reporting can be output to Word, Excel
or *.PDF, and can be enhanced with charts and graphs. The system also integrates
with Outlook for contact management and e-mail functions, including the ability
to send invoices, sales orders, quotes and other items from within the program.
Peachtree Quantum costs $3,750 for a license that supports up to 10 users.
Dynamics — Small Business Financials
Microsoft’s Small Business Financials is based upon the same code as Microsoft
Dynamics GP, providing an exceptionally strong and upward-migratable base for
an application geared toward small and mid-sized businesses whose financial
or business process needs can no longer be met with their off-the-shelf SMB
accounting system. The system comes with the MSDE desktop server and is also
compatible with SQL.
Small Business Financials supports up to 10 concurrent users and includes
integrated GL, AP, AR and other financial management features, as well as built-in
modules for sales, purchasing, inventory and advanced reporting. Optional modules
are available for payroll, asset management and magnetic media, as well as FRx
Designer and Crystal Reports. With the optional U.S. Payroll module, the system
offers strong HR and pay management functions, automating most processes and
providing direct deposit, benefit management, government reporting and tax table
The program’s interface is very intuitive and maintains the look and
feel of a Microsoft Office program, providing both workflow design methods of
navigation as well as various menu options for accessing the system’s
primary modules and features. Small Business Financials uses Excel-based budgeting
that should be instantly familiar to most users, and it offers excellent support
for distribution processes, helping to streamline sales order processing. The
system also provides strong supply chain management and back-end e-commerce
capabilities. Small Business Financials integrates seamlessly with Microsoft’s
Office programs, including Word for all reporting, which makes editing and customizing
reports very simple. Financial data can be output to Excel or exported into
FRx for further analysis. It also integrates with MS Outlook for e-mail functions
and contact management.
Microsoft Small Business Financials is available only through Microsoft partners
who also offer installation, training and support services. The cost of the
system, without installation or other services, is $995 for a two-seat license;
$1,395 for three users; $2,195 for five users; and an additional $400 per user
thereafter, up to 10 users. Support is free the first year but is thereafter
priced at 18 percent of the software cost.