Payday by Peachtree

By Wayne Kawamoto | Posted June 14, 2004
In a predictable evolutionary process, each fiscal year yields a crop of enhanced, genetically-altered, bigger and better accounting programs. This year, Peachtree's accounting products offer minute improvements and one major addition — a long-needed online payroll service. It's the strongest family of accounting programs from Peachtree yet.

As before, Peachtree comes in First, Standard, Complete and Premium versions and industry-specific editions. First Accounting is designed for one or two-person shops with basic needs, while Standard adds payroll, basic inventory, job and project tracking and customizable reports to the mix.

For companies with up to 50 employees, Complete and Premium Accounting support multiple users and offers time and billing, more detailed inventory tracking and fixed asset management. The top of the line Premium Accounting offers comprehensive reporting, employee compensation tracking, serialized inventory and departmentalized financial statements.

Building on the features found in Premium Accounting, Peachtree also offers industry-specific versions. Premium Accounting for Manufacturing 2005 also supports work tickets, quantity price breaks and offers in-depth inventory tools. Premium Accounting for Distribution 2005 adds flexible price management and advanced drop shipping to the regular Premium features.

Making Payroll
Peachtree finally offers an online payroll service that works with Peachtree 2005 and 2004. Managing payroll with its various deductions, deposits and calculations has long been a bane for small-business owners, and the Peachtree Payroll Service greatly simplifies the payroll process — for a price.

The Peachtree Payroll Service calculates federal, state and local tax deposits and creates W-2s and prints 1099s. The service also supports 25 deduction and contribution codes, including 401K, 403B and 457B savings plans. With integration through a program called Peachsync, the system transfers and synchronizes data with a PC through an Internet connection. It also produces and delivers checks and reports electronically so you may print them from your PC. You also have the choice of paying employees with direct deposit through an optional service.

An online interface lets you view payroll information via the Internet and you can save reports in PDF format to for printing, e-mailing or archiving. Peachtree guarantees the accuracy of its payroll calculations and pays for any penalties that are the fault of the service. Keep in mind that if you own the 2004 version of Peachtree, you can take advantage of the Peachtree Payroll Service without upgrading to the 2005 version.

Incremental Improvements
Peachtree Accounting, Complete Accounting and Premium Accounting offer several new features. UPS integration lets you use UPS OnLine shipping tools to estimate shipping costs, print labels and store tracking numbers from within Peachtree's sales invoicing screen. You don't need Peachtree to use the UPS Online tools, but it is convenient to do so from within the program.

New Microsoft Word integration helps you write letters and reports that feature Peachtree data. The software comes with templates for writing collection letters, sales specials, sales reminders, employee welcome letters and more. And you can create your own templates.

Now you can save Peachtree Reports as Adobe (PDF) files and distribute them via e-mail. The latest Peachtree can automatically create purchase orders (PO) when inventory falls to pre-determined stock levels, and you can set the software to alert you when a PO is created and then choose to print or e-mail it.

Premium Accounting gets the lion's share of new features. A tracking feature lets you assign serialized numbers to inventory items and maintain detailed records for tracking, recall and warranty purposes. This is the strongest new feature after the online payroll service. At this time, however, the feature can't track serial numbers through work-in-process inventory and offers no support for barcodes, a logical next step.

New graphs depict key inventory statistics such as slowest- and fastest-selling items, cost of sales, inventory trends and more. New departmentalized financial statements let you filter information by divisions, departments and product lines — a plus for larger firms.

The program also offers more options to access and work with data from previous fiscal years. You can access company data from closed years and run detailed reports from archived data. Another new feature prevents unauthorized users from entering or modifying transactions from those earlieer accounting periods.

Test Drive
In my evaluation, Peachtree installed without a hitch and offered first-rate wizards that walked me through the installation and helped me set up charts of my accounts. The program offers a wide variety of templates that accommodate almost any business. Peachtree also offers 20 instructional demos that show how to perform such tasks as making backups, drilling down into data, closing an accounting year and more — a boon for novices. As before, Peachtree's intuitive interface offers graphical flowcharts that represent accounting processes and act as menus.

Complete and Premium Accounting 2005 maintain past strengths that include solid inventory features to handle drop shipments; track assemblies; apply LIFO, FIFO or average costing; adjust prices by percentage; apply multiple pricing levels-up to ten for each item; track weight and SKUs and assign master and related sub-stock items. Thorough reporting features offer 145 customizable reports, and Premium Accounting comes with Crystal Reports, which offers even more reporting possibilities.

Using Peachtree WebsiteCreator Pro and Website Trader you can build a commercial Web site and online catalog and upload the inventory items from your Peachtree accounting software into the catalog. The program also transfers sales orders and customer details into Peachtree, sends order confirmation e-mails to customers, e-mails notifications to employees and creates forms for capturing customer feedback.

Interestingly, Peachtree's accounting programs can't link to non-Peachtree shopping carts to automatically update accounting information based on Web sales. Intuit's QuickBooks, PeachTree's main competition, can't create Web stores of its own but offers options for integrating with e-commerce solutions such as ShopSite and Actinic. Creating a Web store using Peachtree's tools is easier, but it's limited when compared to the results obtained through third-party e-commerce providers.

Small businesses that manufacture goods should definitely consider Peachtree 2005, while retail and service businesses would do well weighing Peachtree against its competition. If you don't own a 2004 version of Peachtree Accounting and want to use the new online payroll service, an upgrade will be well worth it. On the other hand, if you are happy with Peachtree and don't need any of its new features for 2005, you can pass on the upgrade.

Pricing and Availability

  • Peachtree First Accounting 2005: $99.99.
  • Peachtree Accounting 2005: $199.99.
  • Peachtree Complete Accounting 2005: $299.99.
  • Peachtree Premium Accounting 2005: $499.99.
  • Peachtree Premium Accounting 2005 for Manufacturing and Peachtree Premium Accounting 2005 for Distribution: $599.
  • Peachtree Premium Accounting 2005 - Accountant's Edition: $499.
  • Multi-user versions: $699.99 on up, depending on the version.

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