Business Accountz Independent Review by Henry Hardoon FCCA

Business Accountz Independent Review by Henry Hardoon FCCA
The Company was founded in Cambridge
in 1985 and started trading as Apricote Studios specialising in Music
and Business software and produced the Account Book in 1987 for the
Acorn BBC B.

In 1999 development work commenced
on the architecture of Accountz for business and in the 2009 December
issue of Computer Shopper Magazine the software gained a Best Business
Buy Award (five stars) for Business Accountz.

Prices start from £99 + vat for the
Basic version to £400 +vat for the Enterprise version.

The basic version is for small companies
with few customers and suppliers, the professional version is for companies
who have many customers that they issue invoices to but few suppliers
and the Enterprise version is for companies with a multitude of both
customers and suppliers.

A recent testimonial by A4 Plus Drawing Services Ltd, “We have been using Business Accountz for
a year now after swapping from another package. It's wonderful and requires
10 times less effort.” enticed me to put the software through its
paces.

Product day-to-day overview

Day by day usage revolves around the
predefined 3 transaction areas in Accountz; sales, payments plus general
modules.

Sales and purchases
can be entered in 3 ways into Accountz through the sales and payments
modules:

Directly into the Sales/Purchases
Transactions table (Business Accountz Basic has this option only)
Via invoicing within Customer/Supplier
Records
Directly into a customer’s
Sales or Suppliers Tab within Customer/Supplier Records
Purchase orders are entered through
the supplier records and converted into purchase invoices, by selecting
the appropriate purchase order and clicking on the P icon. Quotations
are entered through the customer records tab and converted into sales
invoices by selecting the appropriate quotation and then clicking on
the I icon.

When cash is received from customers
all you need do is switch the “To Account” field in the customer
record from “Unpaid Invoice” to “Bank Account”.

When cash is paid to suppliers all
you need do is switch the “To Account” field in the supplier record
from “Unpaid Bills” to “Bank Account”.

There is also a facility in both Suppliers
and payments, for preset transactions you can set up commonly occurring
transactions such as direct debits and standing orders on both ledgers.

Transfers and journals are entered
through the Accountz general module:

Transfer transactions record money
being passed around the business or loaned into or out of it, such as
topping up petty cash from your bank, or injecting some money into the
business.

The journal is an alternative way to
do transfers and for making entries for depreciation, closing stock
and salaries.

Weekly tasks

The bank can be reconciled through
the chart of accounts module by selecting the account and changing the
status of each item that has cleared by clicking in the cleared column
and agreeing the statement balance shown to that on the bank statement.

Live
Dashboard

The chart of accounts module allows
you to see the profitability per day or any period you designate by
selecting a start and end date. This is a powerful tool. Other systems
work on a fixed period basis. In summer 2010, the dashboard will be
extended to include ratios, debtor and creditor average days plus bank
positions.

VAT

Running the VAT return requires nothing
more than selecting the VAT module and selecting the print button.

Desk Diary

Under tools there is the ability to
set up a business diary with prompts.

The test drive revealed that it
was easy to use software and that is great for business!

Support

There is free unlimited support for
life using the forum. Response to forum FAQ’s are the same day and
the company often gets testimonial from customers saying how good the
forum has been.

From Oct 2009, business support contract
contracts giving access to telephone support and free updated functionality
as well as new modules have been available at a very reasonable annual
cost..




Security

There is no password security on entry.
Transaction lock date enables you to protect your accounts to the last
period you had cleared and checked, e.g. after a VAT return. You are
also able to lock specific transactions such as auditors and accountants
journals and this is great from an audit standpoint. Budgets can
also be locked. This stops users from making alterations to budgets.

Robustness

Accountz can be set to automatically
backup your data every 10 minutes (and you can set the regularity yourself)
and someone accidentally switching off the computer does not seem to
corrupt the data. Accountz also has a year-end roll back facility in
case you need to make some last minute corrections.

Flexibility

A ‘document editor’ component in
the file module allows customisation of report and document formats.
In addition, data can be exported directly into Microsoft Excel for
further analysis from any module.

Thumbs up

Cost saving benefits

Free lifetime forum support
is at hand via Accountz user forums. These can be accessed by selecting
‘Help>Help Forums’ from within Business Accountz.
Pre printed stationery is
not needed. With some packages you will have to add text fields to object
headers so that you can use plain paper to print documents.
There are 4 link fields
on the contacts tab of suppliers and customers so you can associate
other web pages or folders on your computer or specific documents such as
contracts and terms and conditions with customer and supplier records
(with a specific contact) to ensure that issues can be investigated
and resolved quickly.
The software works on a
variety of platforms Mac OSX 10.4+, Windows Vista/XP/7, Linux so if
you use a Mac and your accountant uses a PC, no problem; everyone can
share the data. This will save time and money.
Time saving benefits

Accountz can be set to automatically
backup your data and you have a choice of where it is kept.
In Sage you cannot move
an item from one accounting group to another i.e. from current assets
to current liabilities. You will need to set up a new account in the
Current liabilities section of the nominal structure otherwise the chart
of accounts layout will be un-auditable. Accountz allows you to move
accounts at will.
The filters can be named
and stored for repeated use and the results they produce can be printed
via the Accountz Designer (Professional and Enterprise only) or exported
to a spreadsheet for further manipulation or printing.
You can view the transactions
on account except deleted entries. This will help scheduling of accounts.
Ease of use

Modules are colour coded
to make it easy to understand and make it difficult to post Items to
the wrong place. It helps novice accounting users. If you are
colour-blind this is no benefit. However, you can select words describing
modules to appear under each icon.
The VAT configuration editor
allows you to set the standard rate % applicable for a particular period.
In tools you can choose
the VAT regime in which you want to operate the software with VAT/General
Sales Tax codes available for all European countries, US, Canada, Australia
and New Zealand.
It does not work on nominal
codes but on account names a feature that helps non accountants who
can get confused by codes. It also means that if you need to insert
an item you don’t have an issue as with Sage. In Sage, if you have
used up all the codes in a group say wages you will have no option but
to use one in another account code category. This makes your profit
and loss layout a mess and will cause errors as it is easy to duplicate
accounts.
Debit and credits are replaced
with money flow entries “credit from” & “debit to”. This
is easier for non accountants to handle.
The user is able to move
and organise columns of data in the screen tabs in the order they think
is most relevant e.g in the chart of accounts view you may wish to see
accounts statement balance and then current balance.
Tables in Accountz for the
three ledgers sales, purchases and nominal have a very high degree of
customization including the ability to turn columns on and off, swap
them around, resize individual columns, resize the whole table, sort
ascending/descending and back to the original order of entry, plus the
data can be filtered in almost any way you need.
The software enables you
to create multiple contacts for each customer and supplier.
You can create multiple
delivery addresses and show them on a consolidated invoice.
From the chart of accounts
tab you can set up multiple budgets and lock them to prevent future
alterations. Budgeting/forecasting is a separate module which can be
purchased as a bolt on to Business Accountz Professional or Enterprise
or received as a part of a Professional or Enterprise support contract.
With Sage and other packages if
your accounting year is longer than twelve months or shorter then twelve
months then you have to run a premature year end and set up a new company
with the opening balances. This is not so in Accountz; the accounting
year end can be shorter or longer than 12 months.

Thumbs Down

There is no fixed asset
module but you can print a list of postings to the Fixed Asset account
and export it into excel. The Fixed Asset module will be available
in the summer of 2010.
The system can sit on a
computer-server for use by many people, but not at the same time because
if someone makes a mistake you will not know who made because
there is at present no multi-user version. The multi-user version is
out in summer 2010.
Ease of use

There is a pre-set journal
facility in the professional and enterprise versions. However, there
are no pre set skeleton journals for salaries, VAT clear down, accruals,
prepayments small write offs or deprecation as with Sage. This may be
helpful to the non accountant. These will be available in March 2010.
There are no chart of account
templates for companies in different industry sectors but it been developed
for introduction in 2010.
The suppliers’ module
is actually called payments and this may be confusing. This confusion
can be alleviated using the “tool tips” facility.
The general tab may be confusing
as really this is where journals and transfers are done. Again one can
use the “tool tips” facility to reduce confusion.
The system cannot show only
deleted transactions as there is at present no preset report but it
can be easily produced. This is important from a fraud perspective.
The remedy is displayed on the Forum.
There are no cost centres/department
codes but there is a scheduled upgrade in April 2010 that will address
this problem.
There is an import facility
that was added some five months ago that allows the import of a transactions
file in csv format.
Summary

I found Business Accountz a very simple
to use accounting package ideally suited to all types of small and medium
sized Enterprise. The ease of use and the power behind the interface
made the review process enjoyable. Whilst researching the products and
the future development path it became clear that the team at Accountz
are very customer focused and have many new modules and enhancements
planned to add to a product range that offers very good value for money.

Henry Hardoon BSc (Hon's), ACA, FCCA,
FAIA, FIMC-CMC, FIMIS, MIIT is an e commerce strategist and lecturer
who is a member of the Financial Reporting and Charity Committees of
the ACCA and the senior partner at H & H Associates, an IMC registered
consultancy practice. (Web site Http://www.hhassociates.co.uk

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