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CheckMark Software — MultiLedger

From the June/July Review of Small
Business Accounting Systems

Although it may not have the brand recognition of some of the other software
companies in this review section, CheckMark Software has been developing small
business accounting and payroll systems longer than most of them, starting in
1984 with payroll and general ledger. The company’s MultiLedger software,
which is designed for use on both PC and Mac computers, provides core accounting
modules that include AP, AR, inventory with support for multiple pricing levels,
MICR checkwriting and job tracking. It also includes 1099 reporting and integrates
data from CheckMark payroll with support for commissions, wage reporting, financials
generation, budgeting tools, trial balance and contact management capabilities.

The base package of the MultiLedger system can support any number of businesses
and departments at one geographic location, and is network-ready, allowing installation
on up to 10 computers and with licensing for up to 10 concurrent users included
for $399. The optional CheckMark Payroll module costs $249 and can be used independently
of the accounting program if desired. Payroll tax table updates cost $125 annually.

Ease of Use/Basic Functionality — 4 Stars
After a simple installation and setup process that provides some guidance features
like sample charts of accounts, the primary user interface for MultiLedger starts
with the Command Center, a rather unique screen that provides three groups of
function buttons arranged by task type, including Set Up, Transactions and Reports.
Each group of buttons takes users directly to specific functions. For example,
the buttons in the Transactions category include links to tasks such as creating
or searching customer invoices; setting finance charges; making vendor payments;
inventory functions; bank reconciliation; the general ledger, sales and disbursement
journals; and creating quotes and purchase orders. Selection lists for customers
and vendors are accessible via buttons in the Set Up section, providing overviews
of customer accounting information such as credit limits, terms, customized
discounts and pricing levels, but the lists offer limited sorting and no filtering
options. Customer and vendor screens can include linked e-mail and website addresses
that automatically open the user’s mail or browser when clicked.

Although the interface seems like a throwback to earlier computing environments
and provides little customization options, it is still quite functional, providing
very quick access to primary program functions. For most users, the core work
of the program is found in transaction data screens when creating and posting
sales, accepting payments from customers and when paying vendors. These screens
are simple to understand, with the ability to add comment fields to transactions
and popup selection lists for posting to specific accounts, job centers, terms,
shipping methods and other details, while also providing quick access to related
reporting and printing functions.

Core Accounting/Security Functions — 4 Stars
MultiLedger’s strength is in its simplicity. That is, it focuses primarily
on traditional dual-entry accounting functions and provides GL, payables, receivables,
inventory and reporting functions along with job cost tracking, cash flow management,
support for multiple companies, commission functions and averaging costing methods.
The included inventory module is designed to accommodate multiple pricing, customer
discounts and variable tax rates based on jurisdiction. Users can also set quantity
reorder levels. The inventory system also supports assembly items created from
multiple existing inventory stock. The optional CheckMark Payroll system can
be used live or after-the-fact and provides multiple pay rates per employee,
benefits management and wage reporting.

While CheckMark has foregone bloating the MultiLedger system with many of
the add-on features that have been added to more expensive programs over the
years, this can be a positive aspect to some users because it keeps the price
point low and keeps the program focused on its core functions while also preventing
the program from growing overly complex. That said, the program does not offer
advanced contact management, “dashboard” views of task summaries
or alerts. The MultiLedger system does include a secure, full-time audit trail
and other user security features. The newest version (7.0) includes an enhanced
Command Center, a cash flow report, improved inventory management and printable
deposit slips.

Reporting & Management Functions — 3.5 Stars
Reporting functions in MultiLedger are very easily accessible, and the system
offers a good range of financial reports that includes individual income statements
for each cost center or subsidiary unit, financial snapshots, cash flow, balance
sheet reports and trial balance. Prior-year comparisons and budget comparisons
are available, as well. Financial reports also include drilldown capabilities.
Users can view, print or output reports to PDF or plain text, which enables
copying the data into Word or Excel for additional manipulation. No tools are
available for reminders, alerts or to-do lists, although users can add any number
of comment fields to transactions.

Import/Export/Integration — 3 Stars
MultiLedger fully integrates with CheckMark’s Payroll solution, but does
not offer direct integration with Word, Excel or Outlook, which results in no
calendaring or direct client communication tools and requires users to export
to plain text and then open in Word or Excel for using these programs. Likewise,
the program does not offer remote access functions.

Help & Support Options — 4 Stars
MultiLedger is very easy to learn and use and provides adequate built-in assistance
features, while online DIY Help options include a Knowledge Base and tutorials.
Support is included for the first 60 days and is offered afterward through subscription

Relative Value — 4 Stars
MultiLedger is a good, basic small business bookkeeping system that is fully
capable of handling the nuts and bolts of dual-entry, GAAP-compliant accounting
while providing a full-time audit trail and other security features. The system
does not offer some of the perks of its competitors, such as dashboards, to-do
lists, alerts, calendaring, remote access or reminders, but this has also helped
to keep the cost of the system in the very affordable range of $399 for up to
10 users.

2008 Overall Rating: 4 Stars