From the December 2005 Review of High-End
Offering a zero-administration and zero-setup solution, Intacct’s ERP
On Demand is a completely browser-based package of accounting modules accessible
through a simple Internet login. Intacct has weathered the rise and fall of
a number of other web-based accounting packages, to be one of the few that offers
a library of features that competes with other desktop applications. ERP On
Demand is available for a monthly usage-based subscription fee. Customers pay
only for the number of users and specific modules they need. This model allows
the company to competitively service everything from very small single-user
needs to the large enterprise-level multi-location businesses with up to 1,000
Brian Hassett, Accounting Manager for DHI, Inc. (www.dhi.us),
has used Intacct for about one year. Its primary business is conduction water
hydraulic engineering for various clients, which include city and federal governments.
The company employs 30 people and has locations in Oregon, California, Idaho,
Pennsylvania and Florida as well as one office in Canada.
Hassett says the most beneficial aspect of Intacct is the ability to access
the data from the Internet. He also appreciates the ability to set up timesheets
and expense reports to have various approval levels. On the other hand, he notes
that his company does not own the software, making customization difficult and
Data is real time, which Hassett sees as both a positive and a negative. For
example, he says: “If I post an AP bill, the expense shows up in the GL
account. However, if the bill is deleted in a different time period, then that
change affects the time period the bill was entered. Also, creating invoices
is a long process, and the ability to edit a created invoice is impossible.
Thus, the user has to delete the invoice and recreate it, which is a real time
waster. A user cannot put an invoice on hold before posting it, which creates
a problem if the accounting department needs a project manager to approve the
invoice. So if I create an invoice on September 30, and the project manager
comes back on October 20, and says the invoice needs to be changed, I then have
to delete the invoice and create a new one.” Despite this, he says that
“the technical support at Intacct has been outstanding.” And while
the vendor offers a LiveHelp link, Hassett has found the response time with
LiveHelp to be about 15 to 20 minutes.
(The company noted that as part of a planned application upgrade to be launched
on Saturday, October 29, Intacct will introduce a Reclassification feature,
which makes it possible for users with special permission to edit any invoice,
even if it’s been paid. This feature will instantly be available for free
to all users. Because ERP On Demand is a single software instance, its monthly
upgrades are immediately available to the entire customer base in real time.)
Modules Available/Scalability – 5 Stars
ERP On Demand is available in a number of different “solution suites,”
aimed at different user markets and company sales channels. Among them are the
Multi-Entity Edition, Enterprise Edition, ISV (Independent Software Vendors)
Edition, and Outsourcer Edition. While the underlying application platform is
the same, these editions are built to fit different needs. The Multi-Entity
Edition incorporates features for multi-unit management applications to run
distributed enterprises, such as restaurant franchises, retail chains and global
The Enterprise Edition provides applications delivered as services for small
and midsize businesses to customize workflow and manage business operations
anywhere, anytime. The ISV Edition is targeted at system developers and integrators
who provide their clients with customized solutions by fusing back-end and front-end
functionality. The Outsourcer Edition offers accountants and other business
services outsourcers the ability to offer Intacct’s application platform
to their clients, with no need to leave the office, maintain on-premise hardware
and software, or hire and train client-site staff.
Intacct offers the following modules: GL, AP, AR, employee expenses, cash management,
inventory, purchasing, order entry, professional services automation, time and
billing, ERP ReportWriter, CRM and payroll. Nearly infinite scalability is built
in, since the entire suite is accessed directly from Intacct’s web servers.
In my interaction with the product via a cable Internet connection, access was
very responsive, nearly what you would get with a typical desktop application.
Screens are optimized to move very little information between the server and
your desktop. Although a high-speed Internet connection (DSL, cable modem or
LAN) is recommended, the system can be used on a dial-up modem connection as
Ease of Use/Transaction Entry – 4 Stars
After signing in, a homepage provides access to the “Accounting Console,”
which is simply a page with links to all licensed applications, resources, company
message board, new features, main shortcuts, report shortcuts and an application
drop-down pick list. Each application (module) has its own series of pictographic
workflow screens that are hyperlinked to various input screens and reports.
Alternatively, there are drop-down list boxes across the top of the screen that
provide quick access to all module activities, lists and reports. An important
feature is the customizability of the user interface. You can define exactly
which modules will be visible for each user. For example, a remote salesperson
can be configured to see only the order entry module, which greatly simplifies
the amount of information presented to that particular user.
Transactions are entered into HTML-based data-entry forms. Fields that have
lookups are denoted by hyperlinks, such as Pick or New beside the data-entry
field. Clicking on one of these links opens a separate window with either a
picklist of existing items from the database or a data-entry screen that lets
you add items on the fly to the applicable database. Quite a number of the key
fields also provide easy-to-use drop-down lists that present a list of choices
without the need for opening a separate window. Another powerful feature of
this program is the ability to attach files of nearly any kind to the transaction
itself. For instance, a salesperson could attach a scanned image or other design
document to the sales invoice he is entering, which could in turn be accessed
and printed by order fulfillment personnel in the main office.
Customization/Security – 4 Stars
Many customizations are available throughout different areas of the program.
Some features can be customized on a global basis while others can be set by
the user. Global settings include the welcome prompt, the initial start page
display, e-mail signature, warn on unsaved changes, warn on delete, time zone
and date format, default lines in list pages and picker pages, rows on multi-item
transaction pages, and session timeout, among many others. Most of these same
settings are available to the user if the system is configured to allow users
to make preference changes.
Security is managed through a company user list, where you specify the authorized
users. You may choose three levels of increasing password security. The default
level only requires that the user enter a password of at least six characters.
At the next level, users can be required to change their passwords on a periodic
basis, such as weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly. Security can be further
increased by requiring complex passwords that contain a mix of uppercase, lowercase
and special characters.
Integration/Import/Export – 3 Stars
For initial company setup, data can be imported/converted from QuickBooks. Other
data, such as journal entries, can be imported directly into the system from
*.CSV or *.XML files. The application offers integration with ADP payroll services,
allowing you to import journal entries from files supplied by ADP. Select items,
such as financial reports, can also be exported to *.CSV files. The company
is continuing to expand this capability.
Intacct also supports an open interface that enables developers of third-party
applications to link with its accounting functionality. Using the “Intacct
XML Gateway,” companies can create customized data exchanges for things
like bank information, sales transactions and payroll information.
Reporting – 4 Stars
All modules provide a good library of reports that can be created in a number
of different formats. For instant, online viewing, the report can be presented
as either an HTML page or a text file. You can also download the report in *.CSV,
*.PDF or *.XLS format. Reports can be customized by selecting many different
filter and layout options. For example, you can modify the report title, groups,
reporting periods, detail level, columns and report formatting characteristics.
Many of the reports throughout the system provide drill-down capabilities; amounts
displayed on the reports as hyperlinks allow you to retrieve the underlying
detail for that number.
Support/Training/Help System – 5 Stars
ERP On Demand provides a comprehensive Help system that is accessible from “Help”
links throughout all screens. The Help window opens much like a standard desktop
application Help file, allowing you to view Help topics using a contents, index
or search pane. Help topics are well-written and contain ample links to related
topics. Also available is a button for “LiveHelp,” which is a real-time
chat-based support system that puts you in direct contact with an Intacct support
representative right from the desktop. LiveHelp is available seven days a week
during standard business hours.
User guides and tutorials are also available from the application homepage.
The tutorial section contains material on well over 200 topics, organized by
module. Online Training is also available from the company.
Relative Value – 4 Stars
ERP On Demand demonstrates high-tech web-based software service delivery. For
companies that have distributed operations or want a zero-administration accounting
application, Intacct offers an attractive alternative. Many of the limitations
and aggravations of browser-based applications from days gone by have been greatly
minimized through Intacct’s professional design and implementation. While
the monthly subscription fees may initially seem costly, firms should consider
the high costs that may be associated with maintaining in-house servers, backup
practices, qualified IT staff, software updates and security measures.
2005 Overall Rating – 4 Stars