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.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Topic Requests?

Not that I've run out of topic ideas, but I'd like to hear from you if you have anything you'd like to see on the blog. If so, post a comment. (...and yes, I'll finish the payroll postings one of these days.)

Friday, October 14, 2005

"Microsoft vs. Intuit: The Battle Begins" (CPA Technology Advisor)

Three new articles hit the web today on CPA Technology Advisor that continue down the path of pitting Microsoft Small Business Accounting against Quickbooks directly and leaving Peachtree and the other accounting packages pretty much out to dry. Of particular interest is the dismissive attitude from the other accounting vendors in the second article.
Recommending The Right Small Business Accounting Solution To Your Client: Understanding the key differences between Intuit’s QuickBooks and Microsoft’s Small Business Accounting software

"Microsoft’s introduction of Small Business Accounting (SBA) has had a positive impact on the small business software market. Microsoft has built this product from the ground up. Consequently, the development team was able to create new features and innovations with the product that take advantage of the Windows platform in ways never seen before. By bundling SBA with Microsoft Office and taking advantage of SQL server database technology, Microsoft has forced competitors to reconsider their current strategy and product features. It has also given consumers a reason to stop and think about their accounting solutions for their small businesses. What should you be recommending to your clients based on this new entry to the market? To appropriately advise your clients, you’ll need to do the following:"

Microsoft’s Entrance Draws Attention Of SMB Accounting Vendors
"Over the last year, much of the attention in the small business accounting area has been focused on the brewing showdown between Intuit’s QuickBooks software and the just-released Small Business Accounting program from Microsoft. The entrance of Microsoft will likely have major effects on this market in the coming years, and the increased competition should spur continued development of functionality and features in accounting software. QuickBooks currently accounts for about 90 percent of the small business accounting software sold at retail stores each year."
Should You Consult For Microsoft, Intuit Or Both? A Developer’s Perspective

"Microsoft’s release of Small Business Accounting 2006 (SBA) carries with it excitement and top-level positioning in the minds of small business owners. This is Microsoft’s marketing machine in action. The impact on your firm is that your clients and prospects expect informed guidance regarding their accounting software in general, and SBA in specific. Each time the topic comes up, a new opportunity arises to strengthen client relationships, gain new clients and grow revenues."

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Another SBA Blog

Always good to see another Blog dedicated to Small Business Accounting. Lets hope we see more content there soon.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

DIY Payroll with Excel, Part III

Microsoft Small Business Accounting Software (SBA) Excel PayrollNext Up: Doing the payroll calculations. As I said in the last few payroll posts, once you have the payroll setup done, you don't have to touch it again until you have tax rate changes, new employees or new pay rates. For the most part, this should be once or twice a year.

When you started this process from within Small Business Accounting, you were asked for a payroll period. This payroll period was used as the basis for bringing over timesheet/time-entry data and is used to form the basis of the payroll period calculations on the Run Payroll worksheet tab. If you don't see any hours on this worksheet, you don't have any time logged against the employees shown, or you don't use SBA's time logging capabilities. Either way, you can directly enter the hours on this worksheet (click to see the image as an example). If you do use SBA's time logging capabilities, and you realize that there is a problem with the hours, you can always toggle back to SBA (using Alt-Tab), make any changes to the timesheets and/or time-entries and then click the Update Employees and Hours from SBA button. This will ensure you have the latest data from SBA without having to restart the process. Note, the calculations are done automatically, so really all you need to provide are the correct hours.

Finally, once you are satisfied with the information, you can check the pay stubs by clicking on the Pay Stubs worksheet tab. Again, these are filled in and automatically calculated using the setup information per employee and the pay run details. Back on the Run Payroll worksheet tab, click the Create Checks in SBA button.

Finalizing the pay run in the next and final Payroll post...

Saturday, October 08, 2005

"Can Microsoft Upstage Intuit with SBA 2006?"

"Priced under $200, Microsoft’s Small Business Accounting solution -- coupled with Microsoft’s extensive penetration of the small business desktop productivity market -- may create the first real threat to QuickBooks’ market dominance.

Yet, Intuit customers have proved impervious to rival attacks in the past, and Intuit has proactively announced a new version of QuickBooks -- code-named Denali and slated for release in early 2006 -- to counteract Microsoft’s SBA launch.

“One thing’s for sure,” concluded Arjun Mehra, “Microsoft will help educate many of the small businesses that have yet to adopt accounting software about the benefits of doing so -- which will likely spur sales not only for SBA, but for competitive offerings as well."

Full Article: AMI-Partners

Friday, October 07, 2005

SBA content on

I came across this while browsing different sites talking about Microsoft Small Business Accounting and was a little surprised at how detailed some of this content is - it's great. The site appears to have a lot of detail for most of the Microsoft Business Solutions software, written by J. Carlton Collins, CPA. Below, are links to the content for Chapter 8 only, given it's focus on Small Business Accounting:

Chapter 8 - Small Business Accounting

Thursday, October 06, 2005

SBA on SBS -or- SBA using SQL?

Over the last few weeks, there has been a lot of talk about using Small Business Accounting with Small Business Server and/or with full Microsoft SQL Server. While a lot of the talk has been about how to get it to work, I was confused by the myriad of conflicting information about whether or not it's a supported configuration:

A post on Susan Bradley's Blog indicated that it was unsupported, but had the following tips on how to get it to work:

“What I have done is install Small Business Accounting on SBS2003. This results in an MSDE instance called MICROSOFTSMLBIZ being installed there. The instance can host the BCM database as well. You would install BCM on your workstation, set it up for sharing and add users. Then shut down Outlook and SQL on your workstation, copy the BCM database and log file to the server and use SQL Enterprise Manager to attach them there. Restart SQL and Outlook on the workstation. You should now be able to redirect Outlook to the copy of the database on the server.

Unfortunately this method is not supported by Microsoft as I mentioned in the meeting. In fact, if you have SBS Premium you can upgrade the MSDE instance to full SQL to remove any database size or number of user limitations.”



Another Blog indicated that SBA on SBS is somehow "now supported":

"We finally have a supported SBA/SBS solution. There will be a KB article coming out shortly to address this. But for now here are the details:

Customers/Partners can install SBA 2006 on an SBS Server (standard or premium)
Customers are within the EULA to install the same SBA 2006 media on ONE client (XP) machine

On SBS Premium, the installation must use the MSDE instance included with SBA 2006, not the native SQL 2000. Beginning with the release of SQL 2000, SQL 2000 supports multiple instances on a single server. These multiple instances can be either MSDE or full SQL 2000, or just about any combination of both."



When I talked to Microsoft Support for Small Business Accounting directly, they told me that SBA on SBS (and/or SQL) is still currently an unsupported configuration, but several people in the community have been able to get it to work. They also said that even though it is currently unsupported doesn't mean it won't be supported sometime soon.

Bottom Line: If you need it, it can work, but if you run into problems, don't call support. Look to the community since several have already done it successfully.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

DIY Payroll with Excel, Part II

Microsoft Small Business Accounting Software (SBA) Excel PayrollNext up: Setting up the GL mapping for manual payroll in Small Business Accounting. Setting this piece up is pretty straightforward once you know a few basic tips. First, all Earnings should be mapped to Expense accounts and second, all Deductions should be mapped to Liability accounts. If you had an accountant define your Chart of Accounts, you should ask them which accounts to map to which Earnings and Deductions. If you are on your own, click the image to the left for a basic suggested mapping.

If you need to add new accounts to complete this step, toggle back to SBA, add the account and toggle back to Excel. Click the Update Accounts from SBA button to ensure the latest accounts show up. When you are satisfied with both the Tax and GL setup steps, click the Save Set up button to save all of the information you entered. Note, this setup is saved to a separate template file that is used every time you click the Enter Manual Payroll menu item from within SBA, and it can always be updated and re-saved, as with this first payroll run.

After setup is complete for both taxes and the GL, it's time to enter the details for the payroll period you entered when Excel first opened.
More on entering payroll in the next post...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

New Microsoft Word to include PDF support

I came across this yesterday in a Microsoft blog. Apparently Microsoft is adding the ability to save Microsoft Word documents as PDF files. This is big news because it now means that with the new Office 12 software, Small Business Accounting users should be able to save/send their custom invoices as PDF files for free. Admittedly, I may be extrapolating a bit, but I can't imagine why it wouldn't just work with the existing SBA Word templates. This is great news for those used to sending PDF documents today as opposed to protecting Word documents as I described in my post on 9/26.


Monday, October 03, 2005

DIY Payroll with Excel, Part I

Microsoft Small Business Accounting Software (SBA) Excel PayrollI finally took a deeper look at the DIY payroll in Small Business Accounting over the weekend. This feature was made available in the downloadable update on 9/7 and uses Excel to perform the payroll calculations with info pulled in from SBA. If you only have a handful of employees and/or want to manage payroll on your own, this is a reasonable alternative for you.

For starters, SBA sends over all of your employees, their time entry/timesheet data (for the specified period) and a set of liability and expense accounts to enable an efficient, two-part setup.

To start the process, select the Employee->Manual Payroll->Enter Manual Payroll menu option. The result is an Excel template that opens and asks for the payroll period dates. These dates will be the basis for employee hours that are brought over from SBA's time entries/timesheets.

Setup Step 1 starts with capturing hourly wages, tax rates and other deductions. Note, if you are paying salaried employees, specify the rate per 40 hrs, or number of hours the salary is based on. Also note that the Tax Status info comes from the W4 Form. All in all, a little info about each employee and the setup is done.

After this step is complete for all of your employees, move on to the GL setup.
More on this setup in the next post...

Saturday, October 01, 2005

"Intuit Cuts Pricing, Kills QuickBooks Basic"

Summary: Intuit is removing QB Basic from the line-up in favor of the more popular QB SimpleStart product. The reason given by Brad Smith is that they are reducing customer confusion by simplifying the overall product line. I'll buy that.

Additionally, Intuit cut pricing on Pro and Premier by $100, making Pro now $199. Smith summarized the pricing change using the following words:

"We call it customer-driven innovation. What we found is a big pain point for people when they upgraded from one QuickBooks version to another. They didn't like the hassle of the rebate process to save $100."

"While Intuit acknowledges the presence of Microsoft Small Business Accounting and Microsoft's overall market influence, it [SBA] had no impact on Intuit's pricing decisions. Brad Smith, general manager of QuickBooks said" [bolding by sbaguru]