Skip to main content


2009 Review of Small Business Accounting Systems: Tier II (Programs Over $1,000)

One Size Does Not Fit All: Client Accounting Systems Offer Varied Functions

From the June 2009 Issue

Editor’s Note: The review of Tier I systems (those costing
less than $1,000 for a five-user license) was in the April
2009 issue

Last month, in a four-mile radius surrounding my house, five small businesses
opened in spite of the financial problems our country continues to struggle
through. Even in a struggling economy, businesses will continue to open, grow
and expand, and it’s important that they utilize the tools that are available,
both as a one-person owned business and as a growing and expanding entity.

In the last issue of this magazine, we reviewed Small Business Accounting
products with a price tag of less than $1,000 for a complete core accounting
product that included GL, AP, AR and Payroll functionality (see
This month, we continue the Small Business Accounting review by looking at products
that range in price up to $5,500.

This opens up the category considerably and lets us look at products that are
really designed for small businesses in transition; such as businesses experiencing
growth, or those with multiple users and/or locations.These products are generally
a step above the products reviewed in the Tier 1 group last issue, offering
a more powerful system with quicker response times, more features and extended

As always, we will look at the vital areas of these products, hopefully simplifying
the decision-making process of finding the right product for you or your client’s
business. The areas we looked at in this review are as follows:
Ease of Use/Basic Functionality. This area is so important, particularly for
the small business owner who seldom has the time or patience to spend weeks
learning complicated accounting software. We look at items such as basic system
setup, tutorials and setup wizards, and user interface screens. Basic functionality
includes a summary of useful features and functions that are found in each particular
product and how they can benefit your client’s business.

Core Accounting/Security Functions. This area looks at what
the product will do. All of these products will contain basic accounting functions
such as GL, AP, AR and Payroll, but we also recognize the additional options
and features that are available, either with the core product or as an add-on.
For instance, if you have a service business an Inventory module may not be
important, but if you have a gift shop it will be a necessity. Security options
are also important, particularly for those with multiple system users where
security is stressed.

Reporting & Management Functions. This is an important
area, and it’s difficult if not impossible to determine the true financial
status of a business without solid reports. We look at the various reporting
options, the ability to email or save reports in different formats, and whether
reports can be customized as needed. Management functions have also grown in
importance. Just a few years ago, business snapshot reports and dashboards were
only found in Enterprise-level products, but they are now common in many small
business accounting products, as well. These management tools can help both
business owners and accountants keep a good handle on business.

Import/Export/Integration. For those businesses with a need
for more flexibility, this area can be a great determinant. Can data be imported
from a prior accounting product? Can business contacts be imported? Can data
be exported into a spreadsheet or word processing document? Does the software
integrate with a good variety of third-party products?

Help & Support Options. Many people don’t really
expect to have to use telephone or email support, but they want to know that
it’s there if needed. Many times, a decent Help file can answer many of
the questions new users have.

Relative Value. If you’re a small business owner just
starting out, you may be in the market for a product that helps you keep track
of your transactions and gives you accurate reports. If you’re a larger
business or experiencing a growth spurt, you may not be ready for Enterprise-level
software, but you do need something more than the entry-level products detailed
in the last issue. You need something that can help you make the business decisions
that are vital to your company. That’s what these Tier 2 products are
designed to do.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

A-Systems Corporation —
A-Systems Visual Bookkeeper Preferred Edition
With Visual Bookkeeper-Preferred Edition, A-Systems
targets small business owners who are looking for a product a step above
the typical entry-level products.
SIDEBAR: With Acumatica’s first release still
in the Beta stages, we were unable to include a full review of the product
here, but be sure to look for it in the very near future. This is a browser-based
product that can be utilized in a SaaS (Software as a Service) model or
hosted in-house, allowing it to be conveniently accessed from anywhere
with an Internet connection
Cougar Mountain Software —
CMS Professional 2009 Accounting
CMS Professional 2009 Accounting from Cougar Mountain
Software is ideally suited to small to mid-sized businesses looking for
a step above off-the-shelf accounting programs.
CYMA Systems — CYMA Accounting
. CYMA is a completely modular system that is a
good fit for businesses in transition, or those looking to purchase a
solid core accounting system now with the capability to add to that system
in the future.
eTEK International —
eTEK for Microsoft Office
A privately owned business, eTEK has consistently
offered accounting and job costing software to companies of all sizes.
Its scalable product line ranges in scope from single-user systems to
those powered by powerful Microsoft SQL.
Intacct Corporation — Intacct
Small Business
Intacct Small Business provides users with the perfect
step up from entry-level products. Offered as a Software as a Service
(SaaS) product, Intacct is ideally suited for small businesses looking
to expand flexibility with their software options.

Intuit, Inc. — QuickBooks
Enterprise Solutions 9.0
As QuickBooks continues to maintain market share
with its small business accounting products, it also continues to push
the envelope with products designed not only to fit smaller operations,
but those that fit well in growing operations as well.
NetSuite — NetSuite
NetSuite offers a completely integrated system
that includes a complete set of financials along with industry-specific
applications such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Order Management
and Fulfillment, Inventory Management, eCommerce, and Employee Productivity.
Red Wing Software — CenterPoint
Designed for the small business owner, CenterPoint
offers real-time transaction processing and provides users with an excellent
entry-level product that can be easily upgraded to the more robust TurningPoint
if and when necessary.
Red Wing Software — TurningPoint
Accounting Software
TurningPoint Accounting Software is an excellent
accounting product for smaller to mid-sized businesses looking to upgrade
from an entry-level product. TurningPoint modules can be purchased separately
or as a core suite of financial products.
Sage Software — Peachtree
by Sage Quantum Accountants Edition 2010
Sage Quantum Accountants Edition varies somewhat
in that it is designed for professional accountants who wish to manage
their clients’ books electronically.
Softrak Systems, Inc. —
Adagio Accounting
Adagio Accounting is geared toward small to mid-sized
companies looking for better reporting and customization capability. Currently
priced at $1,500 per module, that price also includes all product upgrades
and maintenance for 15 months.

2009 Review of Small Business Accounting Systems: Tier II (Over $1,000) — Comparison Chart


Mary began her career as an accountant in the property management industry,
later moving into the healthcare industry. She is now a freelance writer specializing
in business and technology issues and is the author of her first book, several
HR handbooks, training manuals, and other in-house publications. She can be
reached at

See inside June 2009 issue

Whistle While You Work

Tips for Finding Balance in Our Overbooked Lives


2009 Review of Practice Management Programs

In Search of Productivity Perfection... Or at least Improvement