From the December 2007 Issue
By M. Darren Root, CPA.CITP
This review encompasses four of the top high-end accounting systems in the market
place. Each system is aesthetically pleasing to work with, and each provides
an intuitive user interface and a full set of modules to accomplish most any
task or process.
Powerful infrastructures; the ability to grow with your business; integrated
modules that include standard core accounting functions, distribution and manufacturing,
workflow management, human resources, customer relationship management and much
more make any of the packages reviewed worth taking a look at before making
a software solution selection.
Third-party software vendors have developed many robust vertical solutions
for businesses that require specialized services. Whether you have one location
or multiple, software solutions today provide flexibility. You can customize
the user interfaces, work with dashboards, work remotely, have your complete
system hosted in an ASP (Application Service Provider) environment and much
Each of the products reviewed here provides valuable tools such as access
to source code for customization and extensibility. Reporting is extensive and
flexible, providing for tight integration with Microsoft Office products such
as Excel and Word. And each product reviewed provides substantial training and
support options to make sure you protect your software investment well into
To provide consistency among the reviews, the following areas were evaluated
for each package:
- Modules/Scalability — This section highlights the
available modules as well as any other significant features that merit recognition.
This section also indicates new modules and enhancements that have recently
- Usability/User Experience & Security — This
section evaluates the overall user experience in using the product, from the
menus to transaction entry. A requirement for any system in this class is
the ability to tailor workflow to meet a user’s needs and how that impacts
the overall user experience. As expected, each of the systems uses some form
of role-based security.
- Extensibility — This section examines the availability
of third-party vertical solutions and integration to solutions that extend
the product’s base functionality to include niche areas such as payroll,
human resource management, fixed assets, CRM, Point of Sale and more. Each
of the products reviewed here has a moderate to extensive list of add-ons.
While the quantity of available add-ons is certainly a plus, this review also
recognizes the quality of the integration with these additional modules.
- Integration/Customization — The ability to tailor,
customize and integrate high-end accounting solutions with other critical
applications is imperative. Each of the systems reviewed here provides numerous
tools to help. This section describes import and export capabilities, screen
customization, integration, and custom programming tools.
- Reporting — Each product offers a fairly extensive
variety of quality reports. Several provide built-in custom report writers
that let users create reports based on specific needs. Other systems include
Business Objects’ Crystal Reports, which has become the standard for
many mid-market and high-end accounting systems. Financial statement report
writing tools vary from product to product, and each offers a dashboard of
some sort as well as a variety of business intelligence tools.
- Support, Training & Help — This section evaluates
each program’s online Help system, as well as the availability and methods
of product support and training. Reasonably priced classroom or web-based
training should be available at convenient times and locations.
- Overall Assessment — This section looks at the strengths
and challenges of each of the products reviewed. Every system will excel in
some industries and fall short in others. For that reason, this review attempts
to identify the best industry fit for each of the systems and assesses the
quality and value of the system based on its best fit.
While software reviews provide valuable insight into a system’s features,
strengths and weaknesses, it should never be the final authority for selecting
a system. A thorough needs analysis and system evaluation is absolutely essential
for selecting a high-end accounting system.
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- Microsoft Corporation – Microsoft Dynamics GP
- Microsoft Dynamics GP continues to be one of the flagship products in Microsoft’s mid-market accounting lineup. Version 10.0 of Microsoft Dynamics GP, released in June 2007, only helped strengthen its already strong position in the market. Microsoft has improved Dynamics GP by continuing to focus on molding the user interface to look and feel more like Microsoft Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007.
- Microsoft Corporation – Microsoft Dynamics NAV
- Microsoft Dynamics NAV is a strong player in the mid-market accounting software lineup. NAV is a great choice for mid-size operations of larger organizations or mid-size companies. NAV’s greatest client load consists of companies with five to 500 employees. The multi-language and multi-site capabilities allow NAV to compete internationally with competitors such as Accpac 500 ERP.
- Sage Software, Inc. – Sage Accpac 500 ERP 5.4
- Sage Accpac 500 ERP 5.4 is, at core, a sophisticated, robust accounting, enterprise resource planning (ERP), and operations business management system designed for small and mid-sized businesses. With this system, users can create a strong, lasting fit for their business by implementing only the modules needed today and then building out the financial system over time by adding more modules and options.
- Sage Software, Inc. – Sage MAS 500 ERP
- Sage Software MAS 500 ERP serves the upper mid-market space of today’s businesses. Sage MAS 500 is the strongest player in the Sage Software line-up of accounting solutions. Built from the ground up using Microsoft SQL Server, Visual Studio, .NET and Microsoft Office technology, Sage MAS 500 is a complete enterprise management solution.