Hansa Business Solutions
IntroductionIf there’s an area that Apple has struggled to get into, it’s finance. Even companies that run exclusively on Macs, often think they need to resort to a PC for the accounting. Thankfully, Hansa Business Solutions offers a solution to this and many other big- and small-business needs. It provides business software on many platforms, but its roots are firmly in the Mac platform. The first version of its software was launched in 1988, and it was another six years before it had a PC version. Today, Hansa is available for most operating systems, including Mac OS 9 and X, various versions of Windows, Linux and even Palm OS.
There is a confusing array of products available, from the full Hansa Financials application, to the First Office mini-version. The philosophy of Hansa is one of integration. The central package has everything, and is infinitely customizable – usually by Hansa – for any business. The rest of the Hansa products are fragments of the full version, but still use a central application to ensure versions and data remain live and accurate to all users.
It’s difficult to say what Hansa Financials is capable of, because it covers so much. Originally, it was a pure accounting package, but over time it has become much more than that. It handles plain old accounts, plus Sales, Purchasing and nominal ledger. It also does order processing and stock taking.
Beyond that, there are a number of modules that add features that may be useful only to particular businesses. Areas such as expenses, job costing, quotations, and contact management are available as off-the-shelf modules. There are also custom modules aimed at particular types of businesses. So if you want to run a restaurant, there’s a restaurant module that offers everything you could possibly need. It keeps track of food orders, point of sale, ingredients, accounts, and so on.
This could get very confusing, but fortunately the experts at Hansa will assist anybody with the selection, customization, installation and training.
The price is flexible, depending on what you want to achieve, but a good rule of thumb is around £2,000 per seat. This includes customization and training – in fact, everything you need to get up to speed. This may sound like a lot, but getting a custom database to keep track of your sales activities, or a tailored accountancy package, will cost around the same. Hansa Financials can do all those things in one package, and a by-product of that is that everything is fully integrated – which can save time and cash.
Hansa will grow with your needs, so if you start with basic accounts, you can add CRM, scheduling, Web services, e-commerce, or any of the other features. The current version of Hansa Financials is 3.9, but don’t be fooled by the low version number. Hansa is constantly updating its capabilities, with regular improvements at regular intervals. In a way, you could consider version 3.9 as version 39.
If you don’t have the need or the resources for the Hansa Financials package, you can still base your smaller business on the Hansa framework. Office 2 is a stripped-down version designed to help smaller businesses. It’s available as a stand-alone single-user application, or a four-user Pro version. It has all the important accounting functions, as well as the calendar and mail capabilities. The sales and Purchase ledgers automatically generate Nominal Ledger transactions, making bookkeeping as simple as possible.
If you make a mistake, accounts packages should cope, but also keep a data trail of changes to counteract fraud. All accounts packages handle this differently. One, for example, requires you quit out of the system and use a special utility to make changes. Hansa, however, lets you change things from within the application, then hide the changes. But when the auditors come, they need only click a button to show changes. This is a more elegant solution than the competition offers.
If Office 2 is more than you need, then there’s a simpler version in FirstOffice. This offers the basic accounts functions, plus a calendar, but in a single-user package. It’s quite enough for small businesses and clubs, and far better than the spreadsheet systems most often used. If you want to take a look at how Hansa FirstOffice works there’s a full version on this month’s cover CD. You must be in the UK or Ireland, and must register it before October 15. The full version usually costs £95.