Bruce Von Stiers
There are a lot of people who are starting their own businesses. But having too little capitol, they decide to do their own bookkeeping instead of hiring a CPA firm to do it for them. But how to go about doing that? Do they buy several different software packages such as a database, a spreadsheet and an inventory program? How about keeping track of customers and sales tallies? Well, today’s accounting software is getting better and better. Especially the kind that is geared towards the small business owner. One such software program is Peachtree Complete Accounting 2003. As its name suggests, the Peachtree program is a complete accounting package. Is it the best one out there? That depends on who you talk to. But for me, it has just about everything a small business owner would need in accounting software.
Some of the things that you can do with Peachtree Complete Accounting are inventory, bill payment, invoicing, sales orders, purchase orders and check writing. Use the Payroll Wizard to set up vacation time, sick time and even 401(k) options.
The installation process is quick and simple. Just pop the disk into the CD drive and follow the installation instructions. It is recommended that you go online and register. If you don’t, then the program will lock up after so many uses and require you to register anyway.
After you install the program you get a splash screen that lets you create a new company, open files from an existing company or convert and import a QuickBooks file. You can also access an online tutorial from this screen or explore a sample company to get ideas on how to set up yours.
Setting up a new company is fairly simple. There is a wizard that takes through the various steps. There is a contact information screen to fill out. Here is where you declare the type of company that will be using the elements of the Peachtree Accounting program. You can list the company as a Corporation, S Corporation, Partnership, Sole Proprietorship or a Limited Liability Company. The program will give you definitions of each one so that you can make an informed decision on how to list the company.
Then you will move on to set up your Chart of Accounts. You can set up the various program elements based on several sample companies or copy the settings from an existing Peachtree Accounting company. Convert to Peachtree from another accounting program or put one together from scratch. Next choose between and Accrual or Cash accounting method and a Real Time or Batch transaction posting method. Finish up the wizard and you will be supplied with a Setup Checklist. You will be able to access the Checklist at any time. When you have got the skeleton of the company set up, it is time to develop the various input screens.
For my test of the program I set up a company called Tumbleweed Candle and Soap Company. This is actually a start up operation that my wife began a few months ago. I soon found out that just dumping information into fields on an entry form wasn’t enough. The program acts somewhat as a relational database. Add an inventory item on the entry screen and you are prompted to supply things like a General Ledger Sales Account number and other General Ledger information.
After setting up inventory items, I added information into a vendor screen. There are two venders that supply materials for the candles that the company makes. Their contact information and purchase history was input on this screen. I also learned that before you attempt to implement a purchase order, an Accounts Payable account must be set up. It is easy to set up and then you can move onto putting together a purchase order for one of your vendors. You will also learn that the account types vary for the type of transaction that being conducted.
You can write checks based on information that is input into your Peachtree Accounting accounts. Write payroll checks or pay for purchases.
The program has a main screen that is called Peachtree Today. It gives you links to specific areas of the Peachtree program. Click on The Daily Register to find out what types of transactions have been entered into the ledgers. Click on My Business to view charts on how well the company is doing on things like Accounts Receivable. My Resources links you to the Internet and services offered by Peachtree online. Use the Preference link to change preferences what the default page will be when Peachtree Today opens up. And the Navigation Aids bring up a window with graphical links to various reports and input screens.
One thing that I found a little annoying was the fact that you can’t design your own invoicing and reports from scratch. You have to use one of the existing reports and modify it to your specs. The field descriptions need to be paid close attention to so that the wrong one doesn’t get on a form or report. I spent about two hours trying to redesign the Plain Sales Order w/ Totals report. I finally got it the way I thought it should look and printed it. It was still not what I wanted. Back to the drawing board once again.
One of the things that the folks at Peachtree do to keep this a viable product is offer online options. For a small monthly fee, your people on the road can plug into Peachtree’s WebAccounting. They can enter sales figures and inventory information via a modem to you via a secured server. A web site creation and hosting service is also available. For those companies who want to do credit card business via the Internet, Peachtree offers a credit card authorization and processing service. The rates for this aren’t too bad and is done through the Chase Merchant Services, LLC. A side product that I wish were in the regular package is a contact manager. This interfaces with the Peachtree Accounting software and is driven by the Act! Contact Manager engine. This side program will cost you $ 200.
The support for Peachtree Complete Accounting is very good. You have 24/ 7 product support via the web or an 800 telephone number. Unfortunately, you only get 30 days of free support. After that, you will have to enroll in one of Peachtree’s customer support plans. They can be a little pricey. If paying for tech support is no big deal for you, it shouldn’t be a problem.
After doing the mock up for the Tumbleweed Candle and Soap Company, I found that I could control inventory, monitor sales and sales personnel, do payroll, send out price quotes, run a financial summary report and a whole slew of other accounting functions using the Peachtree Complete Accounting 2003.
Is this the accounting software for you and your company? Only you know the answer to that question. If you aren’t sure, I would recommend downloading the 30-day trial version of the program. That way you can see how it works and determine if the program will suit your business needs.
The list price for Peachtree Complete Accounting 2003 is $ 299 U.S. Shelf prices might be a little different and Peachtree might run a special deal online for the program at some point.
For more information about Peachtree Complete Accounting 2003, visit the Peachtree website at www.peachtree.com.