View Full Version : Please recommend a Small Business accounting package

John Coloccia
09-13-2012, 7:11 PM
Can someone recommend a small business accounting package the actually works? Please? I'm finding Quickbooks to be absolutely useless for my needs. To perform the the simplest of transactions I need to enter in volume after volume of information, some of it incorrect just to "fool" it.

My needs are simple. I buy raw materials and items, and build and repair guitars from those items. I need to track COGS, I'd like to track basic inventory, and things like sales tax, etc. I need to be able to do intelligent things. For example, I buy the same item from 5 different suppliers. In Quickbooks there is absolutely no way whatsoever to capture this basic piece of information. I'm not even sure how to create a purchase order with the vendor's part number short of typing it by hand each time OR having duplicate items....one for each vendor. This is a disaster!

Surely there is some package out there that works simply and easily, yet has basic functionality that a real business needs?

Phil Thien
09-13-2012, 8:18 PM
I feel your pain. When confronted with a similar dilemma over 20 years ago, I wrote my own.

When I enter a part # that isn't found in my local inventory file, the software checks to see if it is an item in a database from our vendors (which I import into a giant file). If it doesn't find it there, it asks "Invoice non-inventory item?" If I go with "yes," all I have to do is type a description, a quantity ordered, qty shipped/back-ordered, a price (each), and a cost (each).

I can't tell you how much time that has saved me over the years.

For part #'s I simply enter the manufacturer's part #, or make one up.

What would be smart is if I have the system check the detail file also. That way if I use two or three of the same item over a few days/weeks, I wouldn't have to type the description and cost each time. I'd have to remember the part # I used, but like I said it is typically a manufacturer part #.

Anyway, if you find something, post-back.

John Coloccia
09-13-2012, 8:35 PM
I think what I'm going to end up doing is just using QB for generated invoices and keeping track of COGS, and forget about everything else. I don't need it to track bank accounts, deposits or anything else. Just invoice, sales tax, and cost of good, and I'll just let the "bills" and undeposited funds just pile up and pile up forever....and that's that.

The real stumbling block is that Quickbooks works the way a multi-million dollar behemoth works, yet it doesn't have a strong feature set that lets you handle even the simplest of things. For example, I get 20 different items on a shipment. I enter them into my inventory. What do I do about shipping costs? Recalculate everything prorated the shipping across items? That would be GREAT if QuickBooks just did it for you. How can it not handle this most basic of tasks?

I'll just do this for the rest of the year. Next year I'll find a better package from someone else, or at least a better system to keep track of things.

Larry Browning
09-13-2012, 8:57 PM
I do not know about or have any experience with these, but here is a link to some free alternatives you might want to investigate.

Greg R Bradley
09-13-2012, 9:36 PM

If you need inventory and invoicing or you wish to work on an accrual basis, Quickbooks IS the absolute bottom end, couldn't be simpler solution.

It is completely lacking the double entry accounting, Journal Entry then Posting, checks and balances that a multi person office requires.

I'm using QB in two small businesses, one of which is likely smaller than yours. I'm also using Accubuild for construction and MAS for Manufacturing/Wholesale. Post your concerns and lets get you going. There just isn't anything else out there that will be easier.

John Coloccia
09-13-2012, 9:48 PM
I'm finding QB doesn't even do the SIMPLEST of things. For example, when I receive inventory, it updates the average cost, but then I have to go back by hand and update the actual cost that goes into COGS. Can you imagine that I have to spend an hour entering inventory, and then I have to go through and manually check that none of the prices have changed? It's ridiculous.

I really don't even care about inventory. I don't need it. The only reason I started tracking it is I can't find any other way to track cost of goods sold. The only way I can find to do it is create the items and then invoice. I guess I can update the accounts by hand, but then what's the point? It would be FAR easier to just scribble it down in an actual paper journal.

What I need to have happen is to be able to enter basic items, enter what I'm charging, and enter my cost. I need to not have to do cost item by item, have them sit in inventory, and constantly check that the costs are correct. I'm really floored that it doesn't update item cost by the average cost. The "Enterprise" edition does. I need something that behaves less like an overgrown calculator and more like an actual small business accounting package that works the way a normal person works.

Greg R Bradley
09-13-2012, 11:07 PM
That is not incorrect. QB is completely Transaction Driven accounting. You don't enter the cost of an item. The cost is created by the transactions of that item. The cost that you enter for an item is strictly for your reference. It can also be used to calculate your selling price based upon parameters that you can set.

There isn't really a way to track COGS without inventory unless you wan't to do it in a lump transaction such as the way your Schedule C calculates it on your tax return.

John Coloccia
09-13-2012, 11:52 PM
maybe I'm doing it wrong. The cost that ends up in COGS is the cost that I enter manually. That's part of what's driving me nuts. If it did actually do the whole thing transaction driven, it would be a step in the right direction. It calculates average cost properly, but it never actually seems to use that other than maybe to calculate markup when I ask it to. If I leave it to itself, COGS ends up 0 until I manually enter cost. This is just the most bizarre behavior to me.

Greg R Bradley
09-14-2012, 11:57 AM
Something sounds very strange. There must be something different in the way your QB is setup compared to the ones I use.

What version exactly?

What can you remember about the way you answered questions in the Setup Interview?

Wondering about Cash Basis or Accrual Basis. It makes no sense to me that you can affect COGS by changing cost in the inventory item screen.

BTW, Enterprise does COGS the same as the others. It just adds FIFO and LIFO costing options for the very few that would need it.

John Coloccia
09-14-2012, 5:26 PM
Something sounds very strange. There must be something different in the way your QB is setup compared to the ones I use.

What version exactly?

What can you remember about the way you answered questions in the Setup Interview?

Wondering about Cash Basis or Accrual Basis. It makes no sense to me that you can affect COGS by changing cost in the inventory item screen.

BTW, Enterprise does COGS the same as the others. It just adds FIFO and LIFO costing options for the very few that would need it.

I figured it out. If you receive inventory and create an invoice on the same day, what you get on the invoice is the previous day's cost. If the item is new, you get no cost. What incredibly bizarre behavior.

I'm starting to make my peace with QB. I stayed up all night last night, with a nice bottle of wine, and figured much of it out. It really is not a great package, though, and it provides next to nothing in terms of meaningful help and guidance. I think next year I will definitely upgrade to a good POS system.

Thanks for the help, Greg.

Greg R Bradley
09-14-2012, 7:43 PM
QB uses a date + a transaction number to determine the order of transactions so that amounts are calculated correctly.

Using my example of my small consulting business running QB Premier Professional Services 2008:

- Last brand new item received into inventory last week. Since it is a new item the Avg cost is that cost of $1498.15
- I create a test invoice selling this item to a customer for $1598.15
- A P&L for today shows $100 Gross Profit since that is the only transaction for today.

- I do a test receive of another of the item for $1598.15.
- The Avg cost on the item now shows $1598.15 since the receipt occurs a minute after the sale of the only item in stock so the QOH was 0 when the item was received.

- I change the date on the test recieve to yesterday.
- My P&L for today now shows a GP of $50 since the Avg cost on the item was $1548.15 (($1498.15+$1598.15) / 2) when I sold it today.

- I create a new item, receive it today, and then invoice it.
- Avg Cost behaves normally with correct information, not the zero cost that you tested.
- I have to assume there is something very wierd in your QB setup. Is it possible that your computer clock is WAY off?

John Coloccia
09-14-2012, 8:08 PM
I'm using QB 2012 for Mac. It's got more bugs than I can even shake a stick at. I pray that I NEVER have to do a refund. It's completely screwed up and messes up the books beyond all recognition. I was on the phone with them and my CPA's assistant for over an hour working it out. They took over my computer, and the bottom line was, "Oh, that's a bug". And it's still not fixed as far as I know. That cost an additional $150 billable to my CPA.

But I'm slugging through it. I do appreciate the help. The problems that I'm running into are just flat out bugs. I open "Adjust Inventory", and it defaults to the previous day. Everything is OFF unless I manually change the date to today. I do this all the time because I make a small mistake in my receive inventory entry. That drove me nuts for about 5 hours. Just little things like that. Now that I'm figuring them out, it's working better, but it's a nightmare. I have to remember to set the date on inventory one day in the past when I get an item, fix the guitar, and invoice it the same day.

I think the Mac version is just garbage.

Scott Shepherd
09-15-2012, 8:27 AM
John, I'm with you. I've been around long enough to have seen a lot of good and bad programs in many different categories. I rate QB as one of the worst programs I've ever seen in my lifetime. It's the most complicated, backwards program I've ever seen that's promoted as a small business solution. It might be if your small business employees an accountant, but for people with no real accounting background, they make it so complex.

I had so many simple issues that should be so obvious (not to mention the ability to even LOOKUP something with ease) that the solution is buried so deep there's just no way anyone would ever "figure it out" on their own. It's a sad, pathetic excuse for a user friendly program, in my opinion. You know what? Everyone else out there is in the same boat and they all feel the same way. Sadly, there isn't a good solution. People tell me if you hate QB, wait until you try peachtree. Then you'll change your opinion on QB.

I don't do the books here, but I've had enough interaction with it to look for other solutions.

You're on a Mac, there are some things that look pretty darn good to me on the App store. If I did the books, I'd probably be looking to one of those.

We also looked at the Mac version of QB and it doesn't have the ability to do payroll, without using their online service, which we didn't want to do. The Mac version is neglected from Intuit, for sure.

Phil Thien
09-15-2012, 9:39 AM
The Mac version is neglected from Intuit, for sure.

I'm wondering when Intuit is going to do something about that. Their Quicken for Mac doesn't handle the investment stuff like the Windows version. I've never done QB for Mac, but it does seem to me that Intuit isn't making much of an effort for Mac when everyone else IS.

Curt Harms
09-15-2012, 10:29 AM
I am woefully ignorant about this topic but is gnucash worth considering? The price is certainly right if it does what you need done and isn't horrendously convoluted.

Steve Rozmiarek
09-16-2012, 11:58 AM
I have two accountants on staff to do battle with our QB "system". They resort to a lot of general journal entries to make the stupid software provide the correct answers. Accurate balance sheets with inventory that changes prices is a nightmare. Excel and a bunch of little programs for the various parts of the business is our "solution".

Intuit has point of sale software, and I bet that to get the functionality that you want, they will need another $160 to add that.

I wish there was something better. Personally I am considering a full custom Vertical package.