Mon, 08 Oct 2007 Business Accountz Review
At last, a program that promises to take some of the complexity out of bookkeeping for the small business
- Manufacturer: Accountz.com Limited
- Pros: Chart of accounts automatically updated with each entry to give running balance of the whole business, automatically works out VAT records, calculates capital depreciation
- Cons: Doesn’t get around the difficulty of having to learn about the double-entry system, lacks suppliers table, won’t handle multiple currencies
- Min specs: Mac OSX 10.4, 1Ghz processor (Intel or PowerPC), 1GB RAM
- Price: £69.99
- Star rating:
If you run your own business then bookkeeping is one of those necessary evils that simply must be done no matter how much you might hate it. And though you may be tempted to call in a professional, doing it yourself allows you to stay in control of your business, and can save a bundle in accountants fees.
Business Accountz, from Accountz.com, promises to take much of the sting out of the accounting process. As with virtually all professional bookkeeping programs, it is based on the double-entry system which is practised by accountants worldwide. The basic principle behind this is that every transaction has two entries, because money is taken from one source, and passed to another – an accountancy version of Newton’s third law that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
The basic idea is that all the financial activities of a business are split into different accounts such as sales, stock purchases and bank accounts. The double-entry system will show a credit in one of these accounts and a debit in another, for each transaction. In theory all of the credits should match all of the debits, giving a quick and easy way of checking that all the entries are accurate. Thus, for example, the total of all the bills that you pay should match with the total of the money coming out of your bank account.
Unfortunately, if you don’t have a degree in accountancy, the system is extremely difficult to understand. Business Accountz’s major claim is that it can help to simplify the whole approach to accounting. In truth, this doesn’t really hold up. It replaces the ‘Credit’ and ‘Debit’ approach of the double-entry system with ‘From’ and ‘To’, which at first glance does appear easier to understand. It certainly gets around one of the major problems most novices face with double-entry accounting, namely understanding why money that you put in your bank account is recorded as a debit.
The problem is that within a double-entry accounting system, ‘credit’ and ‘debit’ have very particular meanings whereas ‘from’ and ‘to’ aren’t nearly as specific, and this can lead to some confusion.
The instruction manual that comes with the program does do quite a good job of explaining the basics of accounting, and how to use the program. However, using non-standard terms means that it can be confusing if you read any other books on accountancy.
The strange thing is that, despite its claim to make double-entry easier to use, Business Accountz then forces you to make both the ‘to’ and ‘from’ entries, whereas other competing bookkeeping packages automatically fill in the second entry for you, which takes a lot of the complexity out of the system.
There are a number of other drawbacks with this program. The initial licence only allows you to set up accounts for one business, though you can purchase additional licences for other businesses, which would be handy if you run more than one company. Also, it doesn’t support multiple currencies.
Another problem is that although it has the basic tables of sales, purchases and transfer transactions, it lacks a suppliers’ table, which limits it to certain types of small business. This is because there’s another program planned, Business Accountz Pro, which does have the suppliers’ ledger, but which is not available yet.
Finally, those of us using Macs will have to contend with a manual that as been written by someone using a Windows machine, rendering some of the instructions and all of the screenshots less than helpful.