Tuesday, March 13, 2007

New Office Accounting 2007 article on Yahoo.com

I'm not sure how I missed this article, but it talks about how both Intuit and Microsoft are embracing online services directly in their accounting applications. The article takes a few shots at Intuit and praises Microsoft for it's efforts:

First, the shot at Intuit:
But Intuit's ballyhooed Google alliance was underwhelming at best. It boiled down to a single icon called MARKETING TOOLS just below the Items and Services link on the main QuickBooks page. ... But why do I need Intuit? All these Google tools are available free without QuickBooks.
Now, some of the praise for Microsoft:

I also give Microsoft the edge for overall feel and ease of use, if only because Microsoft Accounting runs better in the sexy new Microsoft Vista environment. QuickBooks also works in Vista, but Intuit's code lacks that intimate connection to Microsoft Office. Features such as word processing and customer-management tools are not as slickly integrated.

If you run an information-based business like mine, you'll love Microsoft Accounting's letter and spreadsheet features. Contact and financial data travel instantly into both Word and Excel documents. Reports, invoices, and pay-me-right-now-sucka letters are a breeze. Sure, I can get QuickBooks to do the same stuff, but it takes more time. And frankly, it's just not as cool.

Now to the Web. Microsoft flatly - and I mean flatly - wins the online-services battle. The gnomes of Redmond have developed a snazzy Web interface called Marketing Services. It includes a direct link to eBay that automatically updates your inventory balances. You'll also find online account-status information and even links to PayPal, credit card transactions and other features.

QuickBooks has similar capabilities, if we generously assume that Google's embryonic Base service is competitive with eBay. But Microsoft's Marketing Services environment is leagues ahead of the Marketing Tools for QuickBooks page, which feels as if it were tossed together in a few hours by a heavily caffeinated Google intern.

Wow. The author either really hates Intuit, or genuinely likes using the Microsoft product. Truth be told, he's echoing what I've been saying all along. The integration in the Microsoft product is just really, really good.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Office Accounting Express -- More than 1 Million Strong.

Rajat Taneja, whom we've mentioned before here, has indicated that the free Office Accounting Express product has been downloaded over a million times in the first 90 days.

Wow, I'm amazed at this number! I guess I had better start coming up with more tips on this new version, and quickly! I have to say, I'm excited about the growing community of users who can share experiences and tips about how to use the software most effectively. I say, bring it on!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

User-defined fields in Word templates?

Just came across a newsgroup thread where someone from Microsoft mentioned that in Office Accounting 2007, they added the ability to include user-defined fields in your invoice templates and other Microsoft Word templates. This is a BIG deal. It sounds simple and I'll need to go check this out. Here is how it is described in the post:
"If you use Office Accounting 2007, please try the following:
On the quote/order/invoice form, go to Actions->Manage Word Templates and
select the template you want to modify.
Word will be launched and have the template loaded. On the "Document
Actions" pane on the right side of the Word window, you will see the list of
fields that includes several "User-Defined Fields". You can double click any
field in the list to add the field to the Word template."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Carolyn Kepcher teams with Microsoft on Office Accounting

I just came across this interesting little article about Carolyn Kepcher from Donald Trump's "The Apprentice" TV show. Apparently, she has joined with Microsoft to help judge a contest where they are giving away $100,000, a storefront in Manhattan for a year and free software to the best new small business idea. The contest, dubbed "Ultimate Challenge" is described on Microsoft's Ideawins.com website.

The one idea cited in the article wasn't exactly impressive, so get your ideas together and go win this thing.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Number of users supported in Office Accounting

Finally, a definitive source on how many users are officially supported by Office Accounting. Although, if you're looking for a number like "five", you're not going to get it. Jesper from Microsoft says that the previous version, SBA 2006 had some performance degradation that occurred "if more than 5 just happened to use a [database] connection at the exact same time". Luckily, Office Accounting 2007 doesn't have that same limitation. He implies that the number of users is somewhat unlimited, but cautions readers with:
"In fact Office Accounting should scale very well since it relies on Sql Server - but you might find that if your company grows to more than 25 employees it could require more advanced accounting software with more features than Office Accounting."
Read all the details here: Jesper's blog about integrating with Office Accounting

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Word Templates in Office Accounting Express

As I was playing with Express, I noticed that they changed the Microsoft Word template directory, where they store the Microsoft Word template files for things such as Invoices and Quotes. Instead of these being stored in the Program Files directory like they were in 2006, they are now stored in:

C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Templates\Office Accounting 2007\Templates

Just thought I'd mention it...

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Listing on eBay with Office Accounting 2007

Just saw a new post up on the Microsoft BizIdeas blog that I mentioned a few days ago. It now has a very detailed walk through for both setting up Office Accounting 2007 for selling on eBay, as well as how to actually create listing from directly within Office Accounting. I had walked through this in the beta some months back and the process seems to have become even easier. (I'm guessing they took some feedback from the beta and rolled it in.)

Again, I don't personally have a need for this feature, but it's interesting to see the integration with online services creeping into accounting apps these days.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Another SBA Blog!

Just a quick one: I ran across this new Office Accounting blog in another forum. It appears to be coming from within Microsoft. Check it out: It gives a pretty good description on how the eBay feature works.


Can you run Office Accounting 2007 on a Mac?

Although I assumed it could be done, I just read over on Start a Side Business that using an Apple Boot Camp competitor called Parallels (both allow you to run windows software on a Mac), you can run Microsoft Small Business Accounting 2006. That's great news that someone is doing it. I wonder if it works with Office Accounting 2007? Anyone who knows or is able to test it, please leave a comment!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

More on Office Accounting 2007

I did a lot of searching and reading last night about the new product and finally downloaded a copy of Office Accounting Express. Here are some of the articles I found:
  1. Review: Microsoft's New Office Powerhouse: Office Accounting 2007 (CRN)
  2. Review: Intuit, Microsoft Accounting Add Web Services (PC World)
  3. Microsoft tries to lure 'mom and pop' companies (CNET -- lots of comments on this one)
  4. Microsoft offers free small-business software (InfoWorld)
  5. Office Accounting 2007 - Democratizing Software for Smaller Businesses (Smallbiztech)
  6. Microsoft introduces a new freebie (ZDNet)
  7. The official press release from Microsoft
  8. Ideawins.com -- a site put up by Microsoft explaining the product
There is a lot here to absorb before commenting further. One thing that was raised in a comment was the fact that you could not use Express if you are already using SBA 2006, which I find odd. I haven't tested it, so I do not know if that is truly the case. One anonymous commenter said he tested it, so if anyone else can also attest to that, please leave a comment.

Monday, October 30, 2006

MAJOR Microsoft Announcement!!

Wow, this accounting war is really escalating... Microsoft just announced a FREE version of a new lower-end version of SBA (now called Office Accounting). The new version called Office Accounting Express seems to have most of the same features you find in the Pro product with the exception of less reports and some more "advanced" accounting features. See their website at Ideawins.com for the details.

Also, when I say FREE, I mean FREE forever. You can download and start using it right away. Get it here.

I'll be doing some searching around this morning to find out more information about this. I'll post updates as I have them.

What a morning!!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Great article on the SBA 2007 Beta

Kathy Yakal from PC magazine reviewed the first version of Small Business Accounting and now she's done it again for 2007. Here are a couple of interesting quotes from the article:

"I found Office Accounting 2007's Office-like interface to be more intuitive and aesthetically pleasing than the QuickBooks interface. Each program area (such as Customers and Banking) is represented by a tab, which opens a related menu and flow chart for navigation."
This is an interesting note. Wasn't the whole point of the Quickbooks redesign to make the navigation easier? Apparently Kathy likes it broken out as it is in Small Business Accounting.

"The program's greatest selling point, however, is its tight connection with with eBay and PayPal. You can create, list, and track your items in Office Accounting, and then import sales information. You can also import PayPal sales information into Office Accounting. The feature, facilitated by step-by-step instructions (which make the potentially convoluted process less complex), is best suited for power sellers, but should also prove helpful to anyone who already uses eBay or PayPal. This feature worked well in my testing."

I couldn't agree more on this point. I really like the eBay feature and only wish I had a real need to use it. Perhaps I need to start yet another side business.

"Microsoft's Office Accounting 2007 beta is a vast improvement over last year's edition. It should prove an effective tool for small businesses that don't have large-scale inventory requirements, and for those users who want to track eBay and PayPal transactions better. I'm interested in seeing what fine-tuning Microsoft does—adding more reports and support for more banks, for example—between now and the app's final release date, and whether this already very good app becomes a great one."

It'll be interesting to see what the rest of the community thinks of the improvements. I've said a few times before that I really think that Microsoft is on to something here. One thing is for sure, both with SBA and QB: they are both adding more and more features that have some online aspects to them. Both the SBA - eBay/Paypal work and the QB - Google work are adding new dimensions to accounting software. I wonder how long before Peachtree follows suit.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

MAJOR Intuit / Google announcement!

Wow. I was quite taken aback by the announcement Intuit and Google made yesterday. The summary is that Quickbooks is going to call a number of Google services directly from within the product. Here is the short list:
  • Google AdWords: Small businesses will be able to sign up for AdWords directly from the QuickBooks 2007 home page. New advertisers will get a $50 AdWords credit to advertise their businesses online.
  • Google Maps: Data within QuickBooks will pre-populate a set of fields in Google Maps, to create an online listing for the business.
  • Google Product Listings: Small businesses can automatically upload inventory information to Google Base. That way anyone shopping online will know that the business carries certain merchandise in their brick-and-mortar store.
  • Google Desktop: The Google Desktop search capability has been integrated into QuickBooks. Users can easily search the data in QuickBooks.
Be sure to look at the screens at the end of the announcement -- these will make it really clear what they are talking about. I have to hand it to them, this is very future looking. We haven't seen anything this innovative from Intuit in years. Perhaps we should be thanking Microsoft for introducing Small Business Accounting and lighting a fire under Intuit.

Either way, I'll be excited to see if Microsoft has anything else in their bag of tricks as they come close to launching their new version of SBA.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

SBA 2007 Reviewed.

Here is an article I came across yesterday on the new SBA 2007 beta. Note, the name appears to have been changed to just "Office Accounting 2007" (I may have to change the name of the blog!!).

Now that some of this stuff is publically available, I should be able to share some of the details of the beta. I have to say, the eBay stuff is WAY cool!


Friday, August 18, 2006

Manual Payroll with Excel -- Summary

For those who didn't follow the blog early on, I thought I'd pull out and consolidate into one post, all of the different posts about how to use the manual payroll feature in Small Business Accounting. I probably need to add one more post that shows how to finalize the payroll, but here is where we are so far:
3. http://sba2006.blogspot.com/2005/10/diy-payroll-with-excel-part-iii.html


Wow. I just saw this over on the Microsoft SBA blog: http://www.sbaisbetter.com. The site looks like it's targeted at accountants and there's a lot of great information comparing SBA and QB Pro. I'm not sure I buy all the claims, but it's good to hear more from the MS folks.

Also, I'm a little struck by the number of product reviews over the past 11 months and most of them look pretty good.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Anxiously awaiting the SBA 2.0 Beta

I signed up for the new Small Business Accounting beta, but have yet to receive it. Has anyone else out there received their copy yet?

I'm eager to see what changes and new features will be there...

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Supported bank list updated

Wow, last time I checked the supported bank list for Small Business Accounting, there were only about 30 or so banks listed. There are many more now, although it's fair to say that most of the banks supported allow you to import a bank file.

Check it out: http://sba.microsoft.com/bank_list.html

I should say, I'm still on my quest for automatic Wells Fargo Support, however.

New Microsoft Blog on SBA

I haven't searched around for new information on Small Business Accounting for a while, but my recent searching has yielded an interesting new blog from the folks at Microsoft. Actually, it looks like it's been there for a few months already. There isn't a bio page, but it looks like the blog is written by Rajat Taneja, who leads the small business efforts at Microsoft, including: SBA, Business Contact Manager and Microsoft Point of Sale.

The posts are quite dense with some interesting insight into how products are designed and developed there. Interesting read -- I'll be keeping my eye on it...

It's been a long winter...

Anyone else have the same feeling? I think I'm out of the woods for now.

One thing I noticed a week or so ago was an invitation to the new Microsoft Small Business Accounting beta. I signed up, but haven't recieved anything else yet. I'm looking forward to see what kind of changes they've made.

Anyway, I plan on contributing more here over the next several months.

Monday, January 23, 2006

SBA Update 2 Details

It has been a while since I've posted, so I thought I'd chime in on the new SP2 (details here). It seems like Microsoft is jumping on the rapid-fire release train that Intuit has been on for a while. (Intuit puts out 8 or so updates to QB per year) It'll be interesting to see how many more we get out of Microsoft this year.

One thing I have to commend them on is addressing feedback from users.
  1. Matching transactions is painfully slow -- Fixed!
  2. Memo and Reference numbers can't be printed -- Fixed!
  3. Time entry dates are not carried over to invoices -- Fixed!
  4. Journal entries don't have totals -- Fixed!
etc, etc, etc...

They fixed a bunch of user feedback in SP1 as well. Personally, I'm excited to see how far they take it.

Friday, December 09, 2005

SBA now with Point of Sale support

I was at an accounting conference in Utah earlier this week and was surprised with this announcement. Microsoft has connected Small Business Accounting with their existing Point of Sale solution. The announcement is located here. Also, see a demo of the Point of Sale product here. Finally, you can get a lot more information about POS in general here.

Would be interested to hear from anyone who tries this out.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Vacations, Vacations...

Sorry I've been dark as of late. I'm on vacation and thought I'd just drop a note to that effect. I'll be back in full force after Thanksgiving. Happy holidays all -- enjoy your vacations.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

SBA *now* supported on SBS

Hot off the presses is a whitepaper detailing how to use Small Business Accounting with Small Business Server in a supported way.

If you are looking for details on how to make this work, get the details straight from the horse's mouth: whitepaper.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Import transactions into SBA with Excel -- Finally!

A reader emailed this to me yesterday and I know there have been numerous requrests from people desperate to get their transactional data into Small Business Accounting. It's not the cheapest solution, but depending on how married you are to your historical data, this may be one way to go.

Check out the offerings from DP Solutions LLC

Monday, November 07, 2005

Templates in a multi-user environmet

Greg on the alt.comp.software.financial.quickbooks newsgroup had the following comment about Small Business Accounting:
> Oh, here's another thing... document templates (invoices, quotes, etc.)
> exist as separate files and need to be distributed to every machine on which
> they're used.

This is a great point. There are two solutions to this one:
  1. Create a central fileshare that contains templates used by your company.
  2. Email the templates required to those who need them.
In both cases, to use the templates, users will have to copy them to the templates directory on their own PC -- not a huge problem. A better template sharing story is probably in order, but the reality is that it's not like the whole company needs the templates -- typically it's less than a handful of employees that are printing quotes or invoices.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Mobile access to SBA and BCM -- Coming Soon

I ran across a new 3rd-party application called Aqivo for Small Business Accounting and Business Contact Manager by 360 Degree Solutions yesterday. Details are a little sketchy, but the concept sounds really cool -- access your data from both of these applications from mobile devices while you are away from the office. I'm assuming that the application uses some sort of web application and works it's magic even across a firewall without a lot of setup (or at least, lets hope so).

The web page says that it'll be available in November -- more details when it appears.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Tips for using the Add Links feature

A feature in Small Business Accounting that one reader asked for more information about is the Add Links feature. This feature in a nutshell allows you to link files located on your computer or network to a document or other item in SBA. This is a powerful concept that could enable you to work in a more paperless way. For Invoices or POs recieved by email or quick scans of important bills or other documents from customers, vendors or employees, this feature lets you associate these external documents within SBA. Not every company will fully take advantage of this feature due to diminishing returns, but using it in a selective way to improve your business processes may make sense. To make best use of this feature, my recommendation is to create a directory to hold files being linked to in a structured way (see image to the left).

With this structure in place, you can start to capture more electronic data than ever before. Some examples include:
  1. Job specifications attached to quotes
  2. Invoices attached to Bills (see example to the right)
  3. PO's attached to Invoices
  4. Contracts attached to Jobs
  5. Scans of Item Receipts
  6. Etc...
Since these "links" act like shortcuts in Windows, they are a familiar concept. One thing to be cautious about is security. Make sure you store your files in a secure place and only share out the location to those you trust (the files you link to may contain information you may not want to share with all of your employees).

Even with the challenge of maintaining a separate file system folder to store these files and the security and backup around it, I am glad that these files weren't wrecklessly just added to the database. If these files were placed in the database, we'd all be needlessly sending around HUGE files just in the name of digitization.

Monday, October 31, 2005

How to run SBA on SBS

An update on running Small Business Accounting on SBS has appeared on Susan's SBS site. You can find the cleaned up list of steps to make this work here:


Don't be scared by the number of steps, they're just very detailed (which is a good thing).

Friday, October 28, 2005

Migrate from MS Money to SBA

Many, many people seem to want to move or migrate their data from Microsoft Money to Small Business Accounting. I came across the following workaround to move the data:


I haven't tried this workaround myself and it seems like a lot of steps, but for those users unwilling to depart with their historical data, this should work.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Welcome Intuit!

Using my blog stats as a guide, the blog has seen a fair amount of traffic from the good folks at Intuit, both in California as well as from Texas. It's ok, I know you're watching Small Business Accounting like a hawk. Please continue to come back and join the discussion.

One thing I have to say about the good folks at Intuit is that they've stepped it up again. I received mail from them on QB 2006 and it included a link to help "educate" me on the differences between QB and SBA. Now, ordinarily I'd be glad to see this kind of info, but I was a bit disappointed in what was presented. Anyone who has spent any time with SBA will immediately see the wrong info being pointed out on the comparison page. Everything from what versions of Office are supported by SBA to how SBA works with Excel to the claim about customer and vendor centers, etc, etc, etc. I could go point by point and offer updates to the incorrect info, but it's just not worth my time.

In addition to the direct claims on the comparison page, there are a few paid-for "reviews" of SBA -- one by Laura Madeira and one by Doug Sleeter. Again, both of these "reviews" are so 100% biased that it's hard to sort out what is right and what is wrong. Fortunately for me, having used SBA extensively, I know that the cash-basis examples that she calls out have already been fixed in the SBA update. Her claims about how the ADP payroll service tell me that she hasn't used it. (Hey Laura: It's free for 30 days right now -- try it and see how the expense and liability accounts are automatically updated for the user.) Finally, her claim about the Accountant Transfer feature in SBA may have some merit, but when you realize that most accountants don't use the QB Accountant Copy feature because of it's limitations and wind up sending the entire file anyway, the issue kind of falls apart. The Sleeter review contains similar inaccuracies: lack of custom address on job invoices, reports by class, etc.

In short, I'm disappointed in the Intuit guys this time because I thought they had more integrity -- this hard-line marketing is barely a notch above mudslinging. Honestly guys, if you're going to shoot at the Microsoft product (which is expected), at least keep it accurate.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Using the Transaction Journal report to track changes to an invoice

One of the key features in Small Business Accounting is the ability to see evolutions of a posted document over time, like an Invoice. Most products have a transaction journal report, but they only include the "current state" of the document. That is to say, it shows what accounts have been posted to and for what amount. The transaction journal report in SBA acts a little more like an audit trail, so if an invoice changes, the transaction journal report shows each of the different versions of the invoice as voided documents as well as the current invoice. As an example: Lets assume that I create an invoice for a customer with two items that I stock in inventory. I finalize the sale and post the invoice. Now, lets assume that before I recieve payment for the invoice, someone who has access to AR changes the invoice such that the most expensive item on the invoice has a 100% discount -- effectively giving the item away for free. There is the potential here for receiving a payment for the invoice of the lower amount and being shortchanged.

Using the transaction journal report, we see both of these invoices (one as voided and the latest one). By comparing the two, I can see what has changed, including which accounts were affected in one vs the other. To change it back, drill down on the current invoice, Edit the invoice and make the appropriate changes. Also, note that this is not a substitute for the Change Log report, it's only more detailed. My recommendation is to use the Change Log report on a regular basis to determine what things are being updated in your books and use the transaction journal report to probe deeper on suspicious updates to transactions.

A couple of tips:
  1. Using the transaction journal link on the Actions menu seems to be "auto-filtered" to the invoice you are looking at. It doesn't appear to take other filtering options well. In light of this, launch the transaction journal report from the reporting area and filter from there.
  2. Best filter to apply is the combination of A) document number and B) document type (e.g., 1000 and Invoice)
In short, the transaction journal report can help track down changes to a given document and help users correct any wrong doing. We've already seen raging debates in the newsgroup over whether or not you should be able to delete invoices or if these details should remain for audit purposes. I'll just summarize the debate with these words: business owners mostly dislike this because it's "their" data, but accountants appreciate the trail because they can finally figure out what the heck is going on. I'll leave it at that.

Friday, October 21, 2005

3 New SBA Yahoo Groups

Thanks to Susan Bradley for pointing these out a few days back.

Small_Business_Accounting - For users of Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting, this group will answer questions and offer advice on taking full advantage of the software's features. Discussions will include integrating Small Business Accounting with the other members of the Microsoft Office Family.

Small_Business_Accounting_Advisors - This group is for CPAs, accountants and other specialists who install or advise their clients regarding Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting. The Group will answer questions and offer advice concerning installations, training and the variety of Independent Software Providers that have applications that integrate with Small Business Accounting.

WA_SBA_Users_Group - This group will answer questions and offer advice on taking full advantage of the software's features plus will deal with issues specific to Washington State businesses. Discussions will include integrating Small Business Accounting with the other members of the Microsoft Office Family.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Multi-currency and other Intl Features in SBA

While the current version of Small Business Accounting doesn't support multi-currency, a lot of newsgroup posts over the last few weeks have been inquring about such international features. A newsgroup post Tuesday by Microsoft again confirmed that a version of SBA for the UK market is on the way in the fall of 2006. Excellent news.