20 August 2012

Online Accounting Software/Systems Comparison

This post shares the results of our research into various web-based accounting systems for small business. We're upgrading from a Spideroak-based (formerly Dropbox-based) Quicken accounting system to an online system. We have invested enough time researching this that we felt we could reduce other people's research time if we share it with the world.

Note that we have very specific requirements (like any company) and we targeted our research to only those systems that meet our basic needs of
  1. Online Access from any machine with a web browser
  2. Support for multiple currencies
  3. Multiple user access with access control
The services we found that meet these three criteria at this time are Kashoo - Small Business Plan, Xero - Large Plan, Outright, WaveAccounting, e-conomic Small Plan, and Ezyaccounts - Medium plan.

For these six services we've created this comparison chart:

Table - Comparison of Online Accounting Software/Services
Services which we looked at but did not meet these our basic needs were FreeAgent, Indinero, Quickbooks Online, LessAccounting, Twinfield, YNAB, and Sage. (Actually, Twinfield might meet these criteria, but we are US-based and Twinfield only serves the EU, so they were out of the running from the start.)

If you want to contribute to our research and expand this comparison chart by adding criteria or filling in the blanks for services that didn't meet our criteria, leave a comment and we'll share the file with you.

Update 1 (October 3, 2012)

Switched from Wave Accounting to Kashoo. We tried Wave Accounting because it appeared to have the features we needed and it's free. But after more than a week of use, it became apparent that two major shortcomings in their system made it impossible for us to work with:

1. There is no way to note transfers between accounts (from a bank account to petty cash, for example). Actually, one can work around this, but it's complicated and confusing and, really, when you come down to it, why should you have to jump through hoops to do something basic like this? I transfer money between accounts all the time, and I just don't need the hassle that Wave demands. (It's like having a keyboard without the "<" key. Yeah, you can live without it and open the default character map every time you want a left bracket, but who really wants to deal with all that?)

2. It doesn't REALLY support multiple currencies. You can't, for example, transfer money from an account in once currency to an account in another currency (again, if one were to withdraw MXN pesos from a US bank acct at an ATM in Mexico). Plus the implementation is confusing for multiple currencies, and it's not always clear which currency is being shown in the total column.

So, we've switched to Kashoo, which looks very loveable at this point. And if it works like we want, it's a bargain even at $100/year.

Update 2 (December 5, 2012)

Multi-currency support. We had to upgrade from the $100/year Kashoo plan to the $200/yr plan in order to have multi-currency support that the free plan doesn't offer. Alas.

Access Restriction to Specific Accounts. Also, we learned that, while Kashoo allows you to restrict access by other users, the restrictions apply to all accounts in your Kashoo plan.

This was potentially a problem, because I want my bookkeeper to be able to see/modify my company accounts but not my personal ones. If I were to create all my accounts within my primary Kashoo plan, I would not be able to restrict access by account. So, what I've done is created a second "business" (in Kashoo parlance) to track my personal bank accounts, and I am able to restrict access so that only I and my accountant can see them....my bookkeeper cannot.

I was afraid that I would have to pay another $200/yr to add my personal accounts "business" so it would also have multi-currency support. But fortunately Kashoo allows you to add a "business" for only $50/yr, so I'm able to have all the features I need for $250/yr.

Excellent.

By the way, Kashoo just announced a simplified pricing plan a few days ago, so our $200/yr plan is now only $192/year!
Simplified Pricing We’ve  also initiated a simplified pricing plan: Free, Monthly, and Annual. All Kashoo customers will have access to both the complete web and iPad applications. All features, such as multi-currency, payroll integration, invoice templating and bank sync, will be available to all customers. Access to the entire Kashoo platform will be forever free to customers processing under 20 transactions (i.e, an income or expense entry) per month. And as your business grows and scales beyond that milestone, Kashoo will be available for as low as $16 a month (when purchased annually). No restricted features. No gimmicks. Just simple pricing for when your business is ready. 
So far, we really like Kashoo, and it looks like we're going to stick with it.

03 August 2012

Winzip filenames default to uppercase

I have a problem with Winzip 15.5 and sent this message to Winzip support:

> For some reason, Winzip has started defaulting to uppercase filenames> when I create new zipx files, which is irritating because I've not> used uppercase filenames in decades!>> I unchecked the Allow Uppercase Filenames setting, but it has had no> effect.>> How do I fix this?

Winzip technical support responded as follows, and the solution works for me:
I would have to assume that you are using the context menu (right click) when creating Zip files.  What I've seen is that if you: 1. Highlight more than one file or folder 2. Right click and choose Add to Zip file the Add dialog that displays will show the 8.3 naming convention in the Add to archive text box. This also affects the file name. Development is working on the fix for this and will include it in the next version. What you can do for now would be to click the "New" button in the Add dialog, type your Zip file name in the New WinZip File dialog that opens, and click Create. This will bring you back to the Add dialog and the path and file name will be in the long name format you would usually expect to see. Please let me know if you have any further questions. --Bill Glenister, WinZip Technical Support