Business Accountz Independent Review by Henry Hardoon FCCA
Accountz.com Ltd 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.
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.
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.
Running the VAT return requires nothing more than selecting the VAT module and selecting the print button.
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!
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..
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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)