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Accounting Systems for small businesses

Accounting Systems For Small Business

Accounting Systems For Small Business

I see many startups using QuickBooks and QuickBooks Pro vs Premier accounting systems.  The problems with these accounting systems is that they do not have an audit trail.  Historical changes can be made in any month, so a simple review of adjsuting entries is not possible.  What is the next best general accounting system that offers a true audit trail at alow cost?  Microsft Dynamics?

Answers

Richard Connelly
Title: CFO
Company:
(CFO, ) |

I prefer Intacct. It is a complete SaaS accounting system that meets all our needs. It is user friendly and has excellent control features. We also use Adaptive Planning for forecasts and planning.

Hugh Glazer
Title: Managing Director & Founder
Company: WinterView Group
(Managing Director & Founder, WinterView Group) |

I second that emotion on Adaptive. It is a great budgeting tool with out the risks of complicated spreadsheet models. After a review of 5 competitive systems AP came out on top. I have used it with a client that had 300+ cost centers across 12 locations.

Brett Newsome
Title: CFO
Company:
(CFO, ) |

What were the other 4 systems you review?

Angel Santa
Title: Controller
Company: Historic Hudson Valley, Inc.
(Controller, Historic Hudson Valley, Inc.) |

If you are a small business Peachtree is a better software for you than Quickbooks. Peachtree has better reporting and tracking capabilities and has a good support team. However, if you are a non profit organization you need to meet a different level of reporting as required by FASB For these organizations I recommend using either Sage MIP Accounting which is easy to use and very professional or Blackbauds The Financial Edge. Both very good software. Difference is pricing and functionality. One has a table driven chart of Accounts the other a linear chart. I recommend either one of the two. For help with any of these software just drop me a line.

Topic Expert
Paul Benedetto
Title: CFO, Director of Finance, Consultant
Company: Nextwave Software, Rethink Fabrics
(CFO, Director of Finance, Consultant, Nextwave Software, Rethink Fabrics) |

I agree with Richard. I installed Intacct at my last company back when it first came out (2002) and was always happy with it. I actually still represent them, re-selling the monthly subscription to that company, even though I left my CFO position there in 2008.

In my more recent consulting roles, I still continue to recommend the program, to anyone who has a company that is going to grow to over 500k in revenue, and has sights on reaching between 25 to 75 million within 5-10 years. Another good competitor to Intacct is NetSuite; and I am using them with a new full-time controller role that I recently stepped into. Microsoft Dynamics is a good program also, especially if you are looking to coordinate with their CRM, Exchange, etc.

Intacct and NetSuite are very stable and secure programs and have a large user base now that they are established. If you want your staff to operate with freedom of access (anywhere in the world), and NOT have to deal with server/network issues, that is the way to go. It is also attractive from price standpoint, as you may per user and module, on a monthly basis for Intacct, quarterly with NetSuite.

QuickBooks has its place, but for the very small company; and even then I can't recommend it. I constantly pull my hair out with it; continual bugs. I spend more time fixing peoples problems than getting benefit out of it. I used to be a ProAdvisor with Intuit, but dropped that designation and fee; I can't support a program that I don't believe in.

Finally, each company is different and the software out there caters to different niches; some connecting better with your other systems. I suggest anyone perform a needs evaluation before jumping headfirst with the first shiny object. Your goal is to get a piece of software in place that will serve your needs for potentially many years; as it is significantly more work and headache when a changeout becomes necessary. I am happy to help out anyone with such evaluation steps and have some materials I can forward.

Jennifer Munro
Title: AVP Finance and Accounting
Company: Air Lease Corporation
(AVP Finance and Accounting, Air Lease Corporation) |

Hi Paul,

I'm starting to look at replacing QuickBooks with something a little more substantial and would be grateful for any materials you might be able to forward my way to help with the evaluation process. Really enjoyed reading your post.

Thanks!
Jenny

Topic Expert
Paul Benedetto
Title: CFO, Director of Finance, Consultant
Company: Nextwave Software, Rethink Fabrics
(CFO, Director of Finance, Consultant, Nextwave Software, Rethink Fabrics) |

Jenny,

My apologies - did I ever reply to you on your inquiry; are you still looking for additional insight? If so, please send me an e-mail to my linked account. All the best. - Paul

Michael Metz
Title: CFO
Company: Lexi-Comp, Inc.
(CFO, Lexi-Comp, Inc.) |

Netsuite has been a great tool for our company. We've been with them for about three years, and as our business grows and evolves we continue finding new ways to benefit from the functionality the system offers. We use it throughout our organization: accounting, sales, marketing, customer/technical support. I'm always impressed with the amount of new features they add with version upgrades. We've got a fair amount of customization in the application, and upgrades are painless.

Jane Levin
Title: Corporate Controller
Company: Private
(Corporate Controller, Private) |

I'm curious as to how large your company should be in order to consider NetSuite, Intacct or a similar SaaS product. My defaul has always been Quickbooks for the 20 person company, but QB is missing a lot of things that i would like just right out of the box (and believe me, I'm a QB fan, but it's far from perfect). Is it practical to use something like Netsuite for sub-50 employee companies? Does it make sense from a cost or integration/transition effort perspective? Thanks.

Michael Metz
Title: CFO
Company: Lexi-Comp, Inc.
(CFO, Lexi-Comp, Inc.) |

In terms of how big a company needs to be to get benefit from Netsuite, I'm not sure of a good employee count to throw out there. I think it's more based on the complexity of your business. We migrated off various legacy systems (some third party, some home-grown). The pain of dealing with those systems was significant - we needed a tool to centralize things like customer records. We were only in the 90-110 employee range at the time, but based on the fact that our needs were a little more complex than average, and we anticipated solid growth in the business, we wanted a system we felt could be flexible enough to grow with us. The Netsuite implementation is the only such implementation I've ever been through. There were some challenges, but over the past three years the aspect of Netsuite I've seen improve the most is their customer support. It went from downright bad, to now very solid.

Andrew Fleischer
Title: CFO
Company: GoIndustry DoveBid
(CFO, GoIndustry DoveBid) |

I would echo Michael's comment about complexity over user quantity. I've implemented Quickbooks, Deltek Cost Point, Great Plains Dynamics, and NetSuite at different middle market businesses over the past 12 years. While Quickbooks does a great job for the money, there is a point where business becomes too complex. We reached this point when one subsidiary showed all stars in a P&L because Quickbooks reports couldn't handle $10M in sales! I'm sure they've fixed this now but if you have many subsidiaries that consolidate, multi-currency, project based accounting, or require a truly integrated single system, you need to step up from Quickbooks. I really like NetSuite's integrated internet based approach. This isn't for the everyone but it is years ahead of Great Plains core software which dates back to the mid 80's with the Internet functionality sloppily added on top.

Steve Wahle
Title: Consultant
Company: Basal Enterprises, Inc.
(Consultant, Basal Enterprises, Inc.) |

I agree that it's not so much the size of the company, either in $ volume or # employees, that limits QB. In my experience it is the complexity of the operation and the need for financial information that quickly puts limits on QB. Our inability to integrate the transaction system with QB is what convinced me that it was just too simplistic and, as someone wrote earlier this year, really nothing more than a bookkeeping system. It cannot provide the financial analysis information that a true accounting system should.

Adam M
Title: General Manager
Company: Trigger Networks
(General Manager, Trigger Networks) |

I'd have to agree with Andrew here. While we do suggest QuickBooks for small clients that are looking for a way to track their finances, we find that it comes to a point where you need something flexible and robust enough to really scale with the business. In light of the different laws and regulations that exist for various countries and industries, QB will eventually be a resource sink in my experience.

Greg Jones
Title: Vice President Planning
Company: Kiel Labs
(Vice President Planning, Kiel Labs) |

Could you share some information the costs of Netsuite and the costs of customization>

Kathie Lee
Title: Director
Company: Ravix Consulting
(Director, Ravix Consulting) |

Hello- we are looking to expand our Netsuite implementation from a single entity (US) to include our Europe branch and China branch this year. Do you use multiple entity or instance reporting to cover your worldwide needs? What has your experience been to date? We were quoted an outrageous ($50k - half for license and half for consulting) to add OneWorld to our NS application to cover the additional entities. While I think it would be easlier for consolidation and currency conversion, I cannot fathom why it would cost so much. Any alternatives or advice?
Kathie

Allan Kaplan
Title: CFO
Company: Euclid Systems Corporation
(CFO, Euclid Systems Corporation) |

Kathie,

I'm in a similar situation now in terms of a China subsidiary operation, and noticed this post from last year. I'm wondering how you resolved your problem.

Adam M
Title: General Manager
Company: Trigger Networks
(General Manager, Trigger Networks) |

Hi Kathie and Allan,

As a NetSuite partner located in Beijing, your question is one that we see from our clients with operations in China very often.

The quick answer is that "it depends", but with the proper setup, many of our clients are indeed able to use the Mid-Market Edition to cover all of their China operations as well as the US operations. It really depends on what you are doing in China more than how many users you have here or even what industry you are in.

For example, one of our clients has a factory here with only a few users, but they need OneWorld. Another client does sourcing and Trade with a large office of employees, but can get by using Mid-Market.

If you decide to go without OneWorld, you WILL most likely need to customize some parts of NetSuite's reporting or invest in another inexpensive Chinese software package for local reporting purposes, such as Kingdee/UFIDA.

My advice for you would be to very clearly map out your company operations and workflows, both now and in the projected future. You'll want someone who understands China tax law as well.

One thing Trigger has done in the past was a consulting project with the client, resulting in a document that maps out processes and helps clients make the decision.

We found that it's worth taking a bit of extra time to be sure before moving forward.

I'd be happy to chat with you more - let me know if you'd like us to get in touch.

Kelly Wunderlich
Title: Financial Consultant
Company: BERG Professional Staffing
(Financial Consultant, BERG Professional Staffing) |

Paul,

Appreciated your insight on Proformative relative to accounting systems. I have a client that is contemplating a systems change from a version of Microsoft Dynamics GP that is no longer being supported. They did $120M in sales last year and are growing rapidly. Any materials that you could send me would be greatly appreciated.

Andrew Azzara
Title: VP Corporate Controller
Company: Steel PArtners Holdings LP
(VP Corporate Controller, Steel PArtners Holdings LP) |

I have read through most of the posts here, but would like to ask your opinions on accounting software options given some specific company information.

Revenues $30 to $50 million. Service based business. Mostly e-commerce with credit cards, pay pal, etc. Has to handle upwards of 20,000 vendors. I definitely prefer a SaaS product. Total number of licenses 4 to 6.

Intacct and NetSuite are mentioned, and I will check their websites. I would appreciate any additional recommendations from the group. I would also appreciate it if you can point me toward sources of relatively independent info on the packages. (The ASA website has some good general info, but I found it dated).
I thank you all for your feedback.

Palvi Mehta
Title: CFO
Company: ExtraHop Networks, Inc.
(CFO, ExtraHop Networks, Inc.) |

We are looking for a system that does a good job with consolidations, inventory, BOM and WIP management at multi-locations, handles RMAs well and has a good deferred revenue module.

Do you have pros and cons for Intacct vs NetSuite

Rita Leung
Title: Self-employed
Company: Rita Leung CPA
(Self-employed, Rita Leung CPA) |

Hi Paul,

I would love to get your evaluation steps and materials that you would like to share on accounting software selection.

My company has outgrown of Quickbooks and am in the process of evaluating other viable accounting software. My company has contract manufacturers to make replacement LED lights. As a start-up, we have a small budget only. However, we do want to get a cloud-based and scalable solution.

Thank you.

Rita Leung
Controller, Private Company

Bryan Frey
Title: VP Finance/Corp Controller
Company:
(VP Finance/Corp Controller, ) |

Don't forget price. One of Quickbooks' greatest advantages is that you can get a pretty darn full-featured accounting platform for multiple users for a couple of hundred per user per year. That's pretty much free, when it comes right down to it. I have used QB at a number of small companies for years and have passed every audit and raised lots of funding based on those books. And BTW, you can, indeed, control monthly closes on QB and disable the ability for users to make postings in prior months. You can also set up audit trails - so the basic controls are there and if that is really all you need then I'd stick with it. Learn more about audit trails here: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/using-audit-trails-in-quickbooks.html.

No doubt both Netsuite and Intacct do more, are more powerful and more like "big company" systems, but they can get expensive very quickly (don't forget that there is pretty much always some customization and that costs a lot up front) if you have many users on the platform or if you use a lot of modules. The costs will certainly be in the tens of thousands per year and can run to the hundreds of thousands. Now that is still "cheap" relative to Oracle and SAP, but the ROI for QB in a company that can use it is very high.

Anna Bielecki
Title: Chief Financial Officer / Controller/Sen..
Company: ToBe Enterprises
(Chief Financial Officer / Controller/Senior Consultant, ToBe Enterprises) |

I have to disclose that I may be little biased here because I am advance QuickBooks (QB) Proadvisor.
Jim, you are talking in your question about startups and usually those companies don’t have large accounting department and one or two people do everything. It’s difficult to have any internal controls no matter what software you are using.
QB Premier has some better user rights setup and Enterprise has pretty good security setup.
I was a user of MS Dynamics (previously Great Plains) and it’s good application but it’s not easy. Bryan made great point about the price. Dynamics is expensive – in thousands, and the setup cannot be really done by you. Definitely not a software for a startup.
I disagree with Paul’s comment. Intuit (parent company of QB) created a product that can really take a company from one employee to 500. I have manufacturing clients on QB with 300 employees and good internal controls practice. I would suggest you give another look into QB. Here is the link that can provide a review of different Intuit products http://quickbooks.intuit.com/product/accounting-software/quickbooks-comparison-chart.jsp and make sure you read what’s new in 2010 version http://quickbooks.intuit.com/product/accounting-software/latest-business-accounting.jsp

Carl Snyder
Title: CFO
Company: The Best Business Builder, LLC
(CFO, The Best Business Builder, LLC) |

I have done accounting on many platforms; including the off-the-shelf like QuickBooks. QuickBooks is by far one of the best that I have seen. Quite frankly, when one says $25M to $75M, it is all relative. I ran a multi-site produce distribution company on QuickBooks that had over $50M. This really isn't that big of a deal since each trailer of produce was worth $10K - $15K. It adds up fast. And, QuickBooks had a closed period date also. If I had a beef, it was that I could only show the Balance Sheet, P/L etc in certain pre-determined (changeable) columns. Other than that, it went well. One last thought, many municipalities and public agencies in PA have gotten some cheap or free copies of QuickBooks and will only accept a backup copy of QuickBooks as the required financials. Because of the audit steps, they can tell if you tried to fudge the numbers. Best wishes on finding the right software for you! We all need to do the search. Carl L. Snyder, Jr.

Topic Expert
Bob Stenz
Title: Controller
Company: Silicon Valley start-up
(Controller, Silicon Valley start-up) |

We've come very close to moving from QB to another ERP solution (contenders being Netsuite and Intacct) and hope to do so at some point in the future. That said, QB has not failed us (...we're a late stage start-up with solid revenues and 3 subsidiaries) and has made a lot of things easier than what would be the case with another ERP solution. And, as said by Bryan...the cost differential is huge. Our upgrade to QB Enterprise cost us next to nothing and we have over 6 users and great performance.

John Herndon
Title: Senior Consultant
Company: NOWCFO
(Senior Consultant, NOWCFO) |

Jim et al;

My experience has a different perspective, Quickbooks is not a scaleable platform for an entity with revenues in excess of $10M USD. It certainly isn't a true mult-entity ERP system and the reporting capability is not very robust.

Considering that business today operates on a global scale, Quickbooks is not the long term answer rather a short term phase I solution in an early growth model.

I have administered and worked with all the 'A' tiered and most of the 'B' tiered ERP systems, in my opinion SysPro is one of the best alternatives. It is one of the only platforms that is truly multi-currency capable and can handle multi-entity models in either manufacturing and/or non-manufacturing environments. The reporting is extremely user centric and the implementation is less of an exercise in customization and more 'out of the box' functionality implementation.

Hope this helps.

John
Accounting Advisors: Accounting/Finance/Tax Advisory.

Randal Shields
Title: Consultant/CFO
Company: Randal Shields, CPA
(Consultant/CFO, Randal Shields, CPA) |

A couple of comments. First, I and others have found the following website useful when researching accounting and ERP platforms for companies.

The major ERP applications (Oracle, SAP, etal) are now coming out with service offerings for smaller-mid sized businesses.

Depending on what hardware structure or intends to invest in, the company has should weighing this capital cost vs. having web-based accounting applications that have taken hold in the marketplace. Significantly less capital cost up front, typically pay licensing and transaction fees.

www.accountingsoftwareadvisor.com

It has small-mid-large applications being reviewed in the context of price/value, pros/cons, industry preferences, etc.

Jennifer Munro
Title: AVP Finance and Accounting
Company: Air Lease Corporation
(AVP Finance and Accounting, Air Lease Corporation) |

Hi Randal,
Thanks for the referral to www.accountingsoftwareadvisor.com. What a great site!

Mark Linder
Title: VP Finance
Company: Performance Solutions
(VP Finance , Performance Solutions) |

Just be careful with the information from that site. They have not updated a number of the products on there in 5+ years and software has changed significantly over that time.

John Kogan
Title: CEO/CFO
Company: Proformative, Inc.
(CEO/CFO, Proformative, Inc.) |

Agreed. In fact if you look at their "top 40 systems" it lists QB 2003! Honestly, I just don't think you could trust info that is this old.

Rajesh Bahl
Title: CFO
Company: Reliance Life Insurance
(CFO, Reliance Life Insurance ) |

May I know how much is the cost of 100 licenses of quick books.
Rajesh

Jeff Taylor
Title: CFO
Company: Communications Co.
(CFO, Communications Co.) |

you'll have to call them. they only list costs for the first few licenses on their site. http://quickbooks.intuit.com/product/accounting-software/small-business-software.jsp

Marty Koenig
Title: CEO and CFO
Company: cxotogo
LinkedIn Profile
(CEO and CFO, cxotogo) |

Intuit says only 5 people can simultaneously use QuickBooks Pro or Premier. Enterprise takes that up to 30. Maybe its me, but I can't see any use for 100 licenses unless you're going to resell them.

Also, I agree with the others, QB does not scale well, and Enterprise comes no where close to MAS 90 or MS Dynamics as the next step beyond QuickBooks.

Leslie St. Bernard
Title: Fiscal Director
Company: in-between
(Fiscal Director, in-between) |

I know a person at Intuit that can give you that information;

Corey Spear 214 387 2393

He'll be in 8:00 am Mon.

Mark Linder
Title: VP Finance
Company: Performance Solutions
(VP Finance , Performance Solutions) |

Seriously, if you have 100 users, you are WAAAAYYY too big for Quickbooks. Get away from the bookkeeping level systems and get yourself a true accounting/ERP system.

Topic Expert
Keith Perry
Title: Consulting CFO and Business Operations A..
Company: Growth Accelerator
(Consulting CFO and Business Operations Advisor, Growth Accelerator) |

100 users and no audit trail? *That* would be terrifying. I get nervous at 2, and give up at 3.

James Disken
Title: President
Company: Disken Consulting Corp.
(President, Disken Consulting Corp.) |

Does anyone have knowledge or experience with Epicore software?

steven graham
Title: SVP CAO
Company:
(SVP CAO, ) |

James,

I wasn't a direct user but I supervised a department that used it and all they did was complain until we switched to oracle.

Carol Glowacki
Title: CPA
Company: In-between
(CPA, In-between) |

Epicor was the parent company of a manufacturing software that we used called Vista (before Miscrosoft's Vista)and I had to order all my forms, etc. from them. Vista was just one of the products offered by Epicor.

Michael Reifsteck
Title: CFO
Company:
(CFO, ) |

I've used Epicor's Vantage ERP platform for 11 years. It's a solid system. A few deficiencies but nothing game stopping.

Kurt Kipfer
Title: CFO
Company: International Medical Group, Inc.
(CFO, International Medical Group, Inc.) |

We considered Epicor along with a group of its competitors for our $50M company with 8 subs and FX. The winner was Solomon, now known as MS Dynamics. It was less costly and seemed more robust/flexible for our needs.

Steve Rabin
Title: CPA
Company: Steve Rabin CPA
(CPA, Steve Rabin CPA) |

Consider Quickbooks Enterprise as a migration up from QB and QB Pro. Enterprise has an audit trail, has some support for consolidated f/s. I am a certified Enterprise proAdvisor and I have used it to produce audited public company f/s and I believe it can be used in a manner that complies with SOX404. However Enterprise does not enforce the close as strictly as one might like therefore it is essential to run a full backup every time f/s are generated. It does include new and improved builtin tools for detecting prior period entries. Enterprise only supports weighted average inventory, the user count and transaction volume limits may be problematic for businesses above several million $ in revenue, and the maximum data field entry is $99M.

Mark Linder
Title: VP Finance
Company: Performance Solutions
(VP Finance , Performance Solutions) |

Enterprise really offers nothing over QB or QB Pro except for the additional users. And having been through a SOX audit with several clients, all versions of QB - including Enterprise - would fail miserably. There simply is not enough accounting control built in to the product. QB really is nothing more than a glorified bookkeeping system. If your company is in a position to need a SOX audit, you are way beyond QB.

Jennifer Temen
Title: Treasurer
Company: SIFE
(Treasurer, SIFE ) |

How well would QB work for a non-profit banking system of a university that tracks financials for over 100 budgeted campus organizations, committees, etc. where allocated and nonallocated funding needs constant updating?

Mark Linder
Title: VP Finance
Company: Performance Solutions
(VP Finance , Performance Solutions) |

It would not work very well. Accpac and MIP work very good in that type of environment.

Michele Riffe
Title: Owner
Company:
(Owner, ) |

It would work VERY well with the proper setup, training and use. Same as any software system.

Topic Expert
Mark Sphar
Title: Chief Accounting Officer
Company: Veracity Payment Solutions
(Chief Accounting Officer, Veracity Payment Solutions) |

This topic has obviously struck a chord with lots of folks. I'll throw my two cents in as someone that is in the middle of converting off of the online edition of QB over to Microsoft Dynamics. I looked long and hard at several solutions (Netsuite, Intacct, Epicor) before deciding on Dynamics. I have been paying $45/month for the last 3 years and its been ok. I finally got to the point that I was spending more time managing data in external spreadsheets that should be housed in a real ERP that I had to switch, along with a host of other reasons mentioned above.

In my opinion, Dynamics has very good bang for the buck. Solid network of resources to call on if necessary. Good 3rd party network of application. All key when trying to keep pace in today's environment.

Anyone who wants to discuss the points that lead me here, let me know. Happy to share.

Jeff Taylor
Title: CFO
Company: Communications Co.
(CFO, Communications Co.) |

Is Dynamics fully server based or is any SAAS available?

Mark Linder
Title: VP Finance
Company: Performance Solutions
(VP Finance , Performance Solutions) |

Look at the total costs for SAAS based products. They sound good at first, but pricing isn't always as good as it seems up front. SAAS is IMHO just a way for software companies to develop a nice continual revenue stream. The 2 most important things to look at when you look for an ERP system are 1) Quality and reputation of the VAR (yes, this is absolutely #1), and 2) How well does the software fit your business/solve your business issues. Don't limit yourself to SAAS based products - just find what fits best with the VAR that has great referrals (insist on some site visits to their existing clients).

Topic Expert
Mark Sphar
Title: Chief Accounting Officer
Company: Veracity Payment Solutions
(Chief Accounting Officer, Veracity Payment Solutions) |

fully server. that being said, there are lots of people that will host the server for you or can be hosted in a vm (which is what we are doing).

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