PeachTree Ripe for Picking

By Wayne Kawamoto | Posted July 13, 2006

An anniversary is a time to look back and reflect, and in an industry as young as computing, Peachtree's 30th anniversary is a true milestone. The company stood at the forefront of the technology era and is still going strong today.

While it might not seem like there's much more that Peachtree can add to its accounting mix, the company's announcing its Quantum Edition, intended for companies that fall into the medium range of small-and-medium-sized businesses.

The brand's traditional accounting programs now come with a solid new interface and other various improvements and enhancements. Most of the features are geared towards power users who will be the most likely customers to upgrade.

What's New
The Quantum Edition supports up to ten networked users, offers faster performance and includes support, upgrades and updates in an automatically renewing yearly plan. The program is designed for businesses that have up to 250 employees and need to manage many transactions and large amounts of data.

It's also a huge jump up in price from Peachtree's traditional offerings, but costs far less than a mid-market accounting solution when you consider technical requirements and training. It also gives fast-growing small businesses another step before taking that big (and expensive) plunge to mid-market software.

The ideal Quantum candidates include businesses that are outgrowing Peachtree Premium or Complete. These companies typically have more than five people who need to access the accounting application, and they're also experiencing significant load times for reports and transactions due to large volumes of records.

Peachtree Complete, Premium and Quantum feature the new Business Status Center — a dashboard that offers an overview of your business and displays various account balances. The intuitive screen also reveals real-time information about the business through various indicators, measurements and displays — for example, which customers are most profitable and what bills need to be paid.

Peachtree by Sage screen shot
The Business Status Center offers an overview of your business and displays real-time information and various indicators and measurements.
(Click for larger image)
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If you like, you can drill down to view underlying data in reports and lists. Even when you look past the considerable hype, the Business Status Center is indeed an intuitive and useful new interface screen that most people will welcome. Peachtree delivered on this one.

This year, Peachtree programs offer stronger links with Excel and Outlook. You can now export Peachtree reports into Excel, and the resulting spreadsheet tables will maintain formulas, reflect the format of the original Peachtree report and retain viewing options such as report headers.

The results in Excel are very impressive, and this major improvement will appeal to people who rely on Excel to analyze their accounting data. In addition, Peachtree's improved its contact synchronization with Microsoft Outlook to help keep vendors, customers and employees listings current.

The addition of side menus that are visible from each screen has improved overall navigation and provided more options. The menus also offer better access to data and common areas and tasks such as customers, vendors, inventory, employees and reports. Peachtree retains its traditional pull-down menus as well. If you like, you can create customized shortcuts to the functions that you work with most.

With the new Comparative Budget Spreadsheet Creator, you can tie budgets directly to the accounting transactions maintained in Peachtree. This way, you can quickly compare past, present and future scenarios. The budget creation screens resemble Excel spreadsheets, so if you know Excel, they're easy to work with. You can choose to create budgets based on historical Peachtree data, or import financials from Excel spreadsheets.

Incremental Improvements
As usual, Peachtree also includes an assortment of secondary improvements. New custom fields and report filtering features allow you to better categorize information. Some 25 lists let you conveniently see all your records in a single view to review invoices, payments and customers. You can easily sort and perform searches, as well as drill down for data. This is a welcome addition.

Peachtree by Sage screen shot
Peachtree now offers lists so you can see all your records in a single view to review invoices, payments, customers and more. You can also sort and perform searches, as well as drill down for data.
(Click for larger image)
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If you subscribe to the Peachtree Payroll Tax Update Service, you can now print payroll tax forms onto plain paper, which eliminates the need to use pre-printed paper forms, which are a royal pain. The program includes 180 forms for all 50 states. You can also set up recurring transactions to accommodate regular payments such as monthly rent and have Peachtree manage the recurrence and forward it to the following year.

Something for Everyone
Peachtree offers a package for just about every small business, and as you progress up the product line the packages add more features to the accounting mix. Peachtree maintains past strengths, including inventory and reporting; time and billing; excellent payroll and an accompanying service; the capability to track fixed-assets and depreciation; audit trail; first-rate job costing and solid multi-user capabilities. And the programs remain intuitive to use.

At the name implies, Peachtree by Sage First Accounting is designed for small start-ups and offers the basics to manage transactions and customers and support accounts receivable and payable. This one is good for small service businesses.

Peachtree by Sage Pro Accounting adds basic inventory to the mix, as well more reports and financial statements, integration with Microsoft Office and the comparative budget creator. It's a good fit for small retail businesses.

Peachtree by Sage Complete Accounting adds high-level inventory features such as support for assemblies, various costing methods and back order support, which will appeal to businesses that manufacture or assemble products.

The new Business Status Center feature makes its first appearance in Complete Accounting along with multi-user, time-and-billing and job-costing features, which will be helpful to businesses that have to bill clients for their time or work as contractors. Complete also offers options for paying bills and reconciling bank accounts online.

Peachtree by Sage Premium Accounting supports departmentalized financial statements and serialized inventory and offers advanced features for creating reports and managing budgets. The program also comes in specific versions for manufacturing, construction, distribution, non-profits and accountants.

Pricing
The suggested retail prices are as follows:

•Peachtree First Accounting 2007: $69.99

•Peachtree Pro Accounting 2007: $169.99

•Peachtree Complete Accounting 2007: $269.99
(Five-seat, multi-user value pack: $699.99)

•Peachtree Premium Accounting 2007: $499.99
(Five-seat, multi-user value pack: $1,099.99)

•Peachtree Quantum: $3,750
($2,995 for upgrades)

Wayne Kawamoto has written over 800 articles, columns and reviews about computers, new technologies, the Internet and small businesses. Wayne has also published three books about upgrading PCs, building office networks and effectively using and troubleshooting notebook computers. You can contact him through his Web site at www.waynewrite.com.

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