Peachtree Complete Accounting 2003

By Wayne Kawamoto | Posted April 04, 2003
Companies looking forward to a host of powerful new features in the newest Peachtree Complete Accounting 2003 may be disappointed. Best Software's Peachtree Complete Accounting remains an accounting powerhouse and an excellent program, but while the 2003 version includes some new features and enhancements, they're mostly incremental improvements that won't make a strong upgrade case for many businesses, except those with extensive inventory needs.

Peachtree will still appeal to many small businesses. It maintains its past strengths, such as a module for time and billing, ability to track fixed-assets and depreciation, e-commerce features, a strong audit trail, first-rate job costing, and solid multi-user capabilities. While the new features will be minor enhancements for most users, they are icing on the accounting cake.

Great reporting capabilities, always a Peachtree hallmark, remain robust, offering some 125 customizable reports. In a long-overdue improvement, Peachtree 2003 lets you drill down on financial statements with a single click to view underlying balance and general ledger details, which will help you perform financial analysis or reconcile account balances.

The Daily Register Report, an excellent new feature, shows a summary of all transactions made on a given day and lets you drill down for a closer look. The program makes form printing faster, since you can now specify the type of form, the transaction, and the number of copies and print them from a single screen. The program also comes with Crystal Reports, which offer powerful analysis and reporting.

Businesses that have to track a lot of inventory items will welcome a host of new features, such as new fields that can store SKU numbers and product weight as well as primary and secondary characteristics-you can create master items and then assign attributes to create sub-items.

A Ship By Date feature helps you monitor when a sales order needs to be shipped, and you can cross reference sales orders and invoices. In addition, the program lets you track available inventory so you're less likely to over-sell or under-purchase items. As before, Peachtree effectively manages the building and assembly of parts into final products. And it offers multiple pricing levels.

The program includes enhancements to improve customer communications. A useful new screen makes it easier to create credit memos and link them to outstanding invoices or purchases, and allows you to print line-item detail and notes. Other new features include AP credit memos, and minor enhancements to customer statements. An improved purge process wizard walks you through the process of purging jobs, inventory and related transactions.

Peachtree has introduced two useful new subscription services in the past year. Peachtree Online Backup lets you back up company data on a remote, offsite server and schedule backups from within Peachtree. ACT! for Peachtree helps businesses manage contacts from within Peachtree while the ACT! Link for Peachtree integrates ACT! 6 within Peachtree Complete Accounting to allow customer and vendor data synchronization and display key financial data.

Peachtree continues to offer strong multi-user features. Businesses can purchase individual copies for each workstation or purchase value packs that work in a network, supporting up to five users. The Web Accounting feature lets users access accounting data remotely so employees on the road can view data and enter transactions.

As before, Peachtree offers good online store capabilities. Businesses that want to quickly establish a Web presence can look to Peachtree for such capabilities. Interestingly, while Peachtree offers strong Web options, it still lacks some key capabilities, such as online banking and electronic bill-payment features.

Closer Look
Peachtree was easy to install. We simply inserted the program's CD and followed the on-screen prompts to configure the accounting and posting methods. The program asks if you will be using Peachtree on a network and helps create company files, open existing ones or import QuickBooks files.

We were impressed with the program's 75 templates for businesses ranging from "accountant" to "video rental company" that made the installation process and the creation of charts of accounts fairly straightforward. Its thorough setup effectively walks you through the entire process. While you still need to know a thing or two about accounting, the setup program is well done. Also, online tutorials do a first rate job of showing new users how to enter data and work with customers, employees, vendors and more.

We found the program's interface intuitive and easy to use. Graphical flowcharts display the accounting process while offering menu options that immediately access time & billing, payroll, inventory, customers and other areas. Peachtree does an excellent job of summarizing business data and offers financial information such as past-due notices, transactions on a given day, invoice and customer data — you can even drill down for a closer look.

We were impressed with the program's e-mail alerts, which you may set to monitor key elements and notify via e-mail when certain conditions occur. For example, using this feature, a business can alert a purchasing manager when certain inventory falls below a certain level.

The program's documentation is thorough and well written. It may be intimidating to novices, but accounting in general is intimidating for these users.

Bottom Line
Best Software sells Peachtree Complete Accounting for $299.99 and Peachtree Complete Multi-User Value Pack, which supports up to five users, for $699.99. Peachtree Complete Accounting is available for Windows 98, NT 4.0 (SP5 or 6), ME, 2000 and XP.

Peachtree Complete Accounting is a first rate accounting tool and an excellent choice for businesses that manufacture goods or have considerable inventory to manage. And for this reason, Peachtree is generally a better choice for these businesses than Intuit's QuickBooks. For most businesses that already use Peachtree, the latest version is probably not worth the upgrade. That is, unless a business hasn't upgraded their version of Peachtree for some years, or can use the program's new inventory features.

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