Who would have anticipated the extent of hype and massive changes within the accounting systems arena ? There has almost always been a huge array of alternatives, however, today, we’re seeing unprecedented change and competition.
Accounting has not actually changed much for literally hundreds of years. Debits still must equal credits, debits are still on the left side, there’s still a thing called a balance sheet and and income statement. Sure, tax law, accounting standards and legislation regularly tweak how the debits and credits must align, however, the basics of accounting remain unchanged.
What has changed dramatically, particularly in recent years is the user interface. The process of recording the debits and credits is now automated and simplified to enable almost anyone to preform standard, basic accounting functions, often without ever being exposed to that debit credit stuff.
Comments within this section will focus on the primary contenders downunder (Australia & New Zealand). We’ll look primarily at the SME market – (Small to Medium).
The primary players include:
Logos displayed are intentionally a partial display of our badge collection. We have actually trained and qualified on each of the products we’ll be reviewing.
Product Platform & Overview
Product Platform & Overview
MYOB was the long established favorite desktop product in Australia & New Zealand for many years. As Xero seriously eroded the loyal client base, MYOB responded with vigor, re-writing their desktop product in SQL and created the cloud enabled version.
The new look MYOB (Account Right Live) is a hybrid product, requiring software to be installed on your local computer. The database can live in the cloud, at your office or can be moved in and out of the cloud. This approach is brilliant and addresses the issues typical with a slow no non existing internet connection. The new look product is however, by design very similar to the dinosaur found in the legacy software. Loyal, long time users find the similarities ease the pain of migration to the new platform and indeed love the new product. New users, accustomed to other products – both cloud and desktop often find the product ‘clunky’ and less than intuitive.
MYOB claims customers who jumped ship are returning for 1) human support 2) cost and 3) Depth of features. The support is very valid – MYOB does indeed have excellent telephone support. Cost is, but should not be a factor. The differential when dealing with the similar products should not influence your selection – spend the required amount to get the software which suits your business. Features is now less clear than it was 3 years ago. 3 year ago, Xero was a joke – an empty GL requiring addons to do anything serious. Xero has come a very long way over the last three years and now seriously challenges MYOB on a feature for feature evaluation.
MYOB Essentials is an entirely separate product withing the MYOB offerings. Unlike the legacy foundation within Account Right – Essentials is a brand new product. The product is entirely cloud based thereby eliminating the requirement for a local install of software.
Essentials offers considerably less ‘depth’ in features when compared to Account Right, excluding for example, inventory control and job tracking. Essentials does however include payroll.
QuickBooks Online. Most New Zealand businesses attempting to select a an cloud based accounting solution will have no idea what “QBO” as it is referred to might be. Lets start with – been there much longer than Xero, about 1.3 million users (double Xero), the product of choice for cloud accounting in the USA.
Why don’t we know about it in New Zealand ? Only because Intuit, the owners of QuickBooks have not and probably will not, made the effort to specifically market the product in New Zealand. Australia is quite different, Intuit and QBO are very much alive and well in Australia – and indeed in heated competition with Xero and MYOB.
QBO is ‘localised’ for the USA, Canada, Australia, UK, Singapore, France, and Malaysia. The localised versions are specifically designed to speak the local ‘tax language’ and provide location specific enhanced tools for accountants. As New Zealand does not feature in this chosen list, we fall within the ‘Global’ version of QBO. Yes, the global version can deal with New Zealand GST, however, you will not find a specific menu option to produce a GST 101 return. QBO will produce the required information for your NZ GST 101 – but QBO will not present the data in a form that actually resembles a GST 101 form.
QBO is a full feature, entirely cloud based solution providing stock control and job costing functionality. Like most cloud solutions, the functionality within the advanced features is of course limited, however, day to day processing of typical business transactions is rock solid, intuitive and efficient.
It is very important to understand, QBO is an Intuit product and has noting to do with Reckon – the former agents for QuickBooks products. Intuit and Reckon are now competitors.