From the October 2003 issue of Entrepreneur

Several new accounting software packages include tools to manage your business the way large corporations do. CRN Test Center examined AppGen Technologies' MyBooks Professional 6.0 (www.appgen.com), Intuit Quick-Books Premier 2003 (www.intuit.com) and Microsoft Small Business Manager (SBM) 7.0 (www.bcentral.com/products/sbm).

MyBooks Pro is a robust accounting tool that's easy to set up and use. You have a choice of 19 customizable business models, and MyBooks has a unique data-storage file system that grows with your company. The product also has a well-designed work-flow system and a sophisticated search engine.

QuickBooks Premier's strength has always been its intuitive interface. Its main window, called the Navigator, has the most intuitive design of the products reviewed. The Navigator window shows several views of the user's data, main company activities and various work flows. The software's work-flow tasks are designed like real forms, and the data entered is available throughout the program, shortening the setup curve for new users. QuickBooks provides different levels of access for multiple users, and it can manage employee benefits and weekly time sheets. Automatic online updates deliver the latest payroll and tax regulations.

QuickBooks provides strong inventory control, allowing users to see quantity on hand or quantity needed for an order. Numerous alerts for order and product status, accounts payable and so on are also featured, in addition to a helpful business-planning tool.

You'll need more accounting knowledge to install and set up SBM. Although it offers a wider range of general ledger formats, the choice of industries is limited. But the software is easy to use. SBM has a kit-building function in its inventory module so you can track the quantity of multiple items and be alerted to shortages. SBM's wizards are also helpful, but some of the secondary screens lack the extra assistance.

SBM's customer purchase order and invoice work flows are well-designed. Order, payment and receivable transactions are connected to every pane in the inventory, customer and vendor sections. SBM also allows user-defined calculations, such as sales commissions, and it exports data to Microsoft Office. Its extensive capabilities and accounting methodology also make it more applicable for midsize companies.

Although the best choice depends on your business's needs, any of these programs will improve productivity and streamline your accounting function.


Michael Gros & Mario Morejon are affiliated with the CRN Test Center, the technology testing facility for CRN, a newspaper aimed at IT consultants and solution providers.