What Microsoft is to office software Intuit is to accounting programs for small business? Intuit produces Quickbooks. This has the biggest market share of small accounting programs. Peachtreeis the main competitor. These programs service the bottom tier of small business. They can handle most general business accounting needs.
The problem that many businesses have with them is that they don’t run themselves. Expertise in accounting is needed to install and set them up properly. Many accounting firms will help set the programs up and train personnel to run them. The problem that business owners find is that they initially pay a few hundred dollars for a program and then a couple of thousand dollars in consulting costs. Unfortunately, there is no getting around the necessity of some accounting training to operate these programs.
Mid-range programs include Great Plains and MAS90. These programs are for larger businesses with specialized needs.
Great Plains has been taken over by Microsoft, so it is getting the full MS treatment. Great Plains is one of the most successful business solutions in the marketplace. In operation, users are pleasantly surprised to see how easily data can be passed to and from Microsoft products such as Word, Excel and Outlook. Great Plains also provides additional functionality including full back-to-back order processing and inventory management, modules for Cash Book with Automated Bank Reconciliation, Credit Control & Cash Flow Management, Fixed Assets, etc. $1,270 is the bottom price for this product. For this price, you do not get the functions that come with Quickbooks or Peachtree.
Restaurants or other businesses with specialized payroll needs may want to use a payroll service and stay with the lower end software.
For other specialized needs, consider also using spreadsheets and databases. You can enter individual transactions there, then just the totals into the accounting program.
Open Office is a free Suite of office programs that rivalMicrosoft’s. It has a word processor, spreadsheet, database, graphics, and mail manager modules in it. It is free. The documentation however, isn’t as much as for Microsoft’s Office.
The major companies are moving to Internet based software. With this concept, you pay an annual fee and run the software off the Internet. Software companies like this because only constant upgrades have kept the money flowing in. The biggest change that Internet software brings is that it shifts the business model from customers buying software to renting software.
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