By Kathy Yakal  |  Posted 2004-07-20 Print this article Print

Accounting Mainstay Gets Better with Age

Best Softwares Peachtree line of accounting software has made steady (sometimes slow) progress over the years. The latest version, Peachtree Premium Accounting 2005, has again added only a few new tasks, but the handy improvements keep it near the front of the pack among accounting packages.

Peachtree Premium does everything that most other products in the Peachtree line do: It provides a very thorough framework for creating and processing the records, transactions, and reports required to maintain a general ledger, accounts receivable and payable, inventory and time billing, job costing, and fixed assets. It offers extensive setup guidance and a fairly intuitive—but aging—interface whose integrated network of windows, icons, and menus automates bookkeeping tasks for users who understand the basic concepts.

Users can build detailed, customizable data records for customers, vendors, employees, and inventory/service items (data can also be imported from ASCII, Quicken, QuickBooks, and so on). Entering transactions like invoices or purchase orders couldnt be easier; you simply pull in related data from other program records. A new (long in coming) tool automatically generates purchase orders when inventory levels run dry. Peachtrees analytical tools have not progressed as much as we might have hoped, but its scores of customizable reports are top-notch and made even more powerful by the inclusion of the respected Crystal Reports application in Premium.

Peachtree Premium (and the less expensive Peachtree Complete) are improved by the addition of several new tools. Integration with Microsoft Words mail merge simplifies mass correspondence, transactions screens now display customer balance and credit information, and you can now lock prior periods. Other significant changes include UPS integration, a new payroll service, conversion of reports and financial statements to PDF format, and an inventory trend analysis tool. New features that appear solely in the Premium edition are less impressive. You can now archive company data, set up departments for more compartmentalized financial statements, and record serial numbers in inventory records.

The price, $499 (direct) for a single user or $999 for the multiuser version, is reasonable for more complex businesses, especially considering that QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions, which also offers company consolidation, starts at $3,500. That said, QuickBooks Enterprise offers functionality that Peachtree Premium doesnt, such as the ability to handle up to ten simultaneous users, more sophisticated business analysis, and superior performance and usability.

Still, existing Peachtree users who need company consolidation and improved data tracking should definitely consider an upgrade to Peachtree Premium. New small businesses with less complex needs should look to Peachtree Complete or QuickBooks Premier.

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