Review: Peachtree by Sage 2010

The tax man’s exacted his pound of flesh and spring is in the air, which can mean only one thing. It’s accounting software season. Peachtree 2010 represents Sage’s annual embellishment, and while it comes with a few welcome tweaks and adjustments, it’s pretty much the same, reliable Peachtree program of the last few years.

If 2010 were a new model car, it would feature improved wheel bearings. Of course, bearings are important to a vehicle, but their addition won’t rev you up with excitement. This criticism isn’t solely leveled at Peachtree. The company’s competitors, including Intuit’s QuickBooks, have also been running on empty in recent yearly upgrades

Peachtree 2010
The Dashboard provides a first-rate overview of your business and a means to access graphs, reports and other key information.
(Click for larger image)

This year, Peachtree offers “expanded capabilities around customization, access and control.” And there are new features that help you refer to industry and company information, better track inventory and customers and to apply stronger security.

Will these new features make your business life easier? Probably. But the bigger question is: Are you getting a lot for your upgrade money? That’s more of a perhaps.

The New Features

Business analytics offer a great new feature that lets you view current financial trends and compare how your company is performing against others by weighing total revenue, gross margin and more. The tool can potentially provide you with key data to assist in your decision making.

A new transaction history lets you see just about everything that’s related to a particular customer or vendor at any point in the sales or purchase process, even letting you view forward from a quote to a receipt or backward from a payment to a purchase order. The convenient Customer Management Center compiles and displays client information in a single place and lets you look up customers by any shard of contact information and filter the results by date. 

An intuitive, customizable dashboard displays key customer information such as invoices, converted and unconverted quotes, receipts, time tickets, aged balances, items sold and more.  And you can drill down and view underlying data as well as export customer information to Excel for further analysis. A new “Item Sales History by Customer” report helps you analyze what customers are buying.

You can now store an unlimited number of contacts per company and a handy new Contacts tab tracks details on multiple contacts within a company. There’s also a new field for recording notes to track unique information about each contact. Peachtree now lets you open multiple companies at the same time and toggle back and forth between them ‑‑ a great feature for larger organizations.

This Peachtree upgrade accommodates additional employee data that includes: emergency contact information, performance reviews, hiring dates and more. You can also set alerts to remind you of key events such as reviews.

Password security has been improved with customizable options that include automatic password expiration and lock-outs after multiple incorrect password attempts. It’s easier now for people to change passwords without bothering IT. There’s also a convenient new backup feature that lets you create a schedule and automatically backup data. And Peachtree doesn’t even need to be running to accomplish this.

The Good

There’s so much that’s good in Peachtree. The program displays an intuitive snapshot summary that displays key business information such as balances, vendors with open balances, customers who owe money, graphs and more. And from here, you can easily call up financial statements and generate reports.

A couple of areas stand above those found in other accounting programs. Peachtree’s time and billing feature offers lots of flexibility to track billable time in detail and easily apply it to invoices.

Peachtree 2010
Peachtree now makes it easy to track multiple contacts within a single company.
(Click for larger image)

Another traditional Peachtree strength lies with inventory. The program lets you track up to ten price levels and monitor bills of materials through assemblies. For businesses that manufacture goods, Peachtree is a clear choice among the accounting programs in its price range. You can now search on inventory data in sales or purchase descriptions as well as note fields. Data entry has been streamlined to let you set default item classes that are based on common inventory types (stock, non-stock, service and more).

Peachtree thoroughly covers the business bases with online banking, as well as with payroll features that range from using the program to “do it yourself,” or subscribing to Peachtree’s payroll service that, in addition to printing checks, takes care of all of the complicated taxes and deposits (extra cost). The program does a great job of integrating data with Microsoft Office as well as Sage’s own ACT.

Peachtree does a great job of walking you through the initial setup. After installing the program, Peachtree asks you to choose a type of business from a generous selection, make a few choices, for example, select between accrual and cash, set sales tax and more, and it automatically creates the detailed chart of accounts.

The Product Line

Peachtree offers a range of editions beginning with First Accounting, a good starting point for sole proprietorships in simple retail and service businesses. The Pro, Complete and Premium versions go beyond with QuickBooks conversions, quotes, sales and purchase orders, payroll, Microsoft Office integration and job and project tracking.

The Complete and Premium versions add Microsoft Outlook-based contact synchronization, online banking reconciliation, online bill paying, multi-level security, audit trails, ability to track inventory sub items, pricing levels, time and billing and the fixed assets tracking module.

The Premium edition also offers unlimited budgets, serialized inventory tracking, departmentalized financial statements and Crystal Reports. Peachtree by Sage – Quantum is the most comprehensive application in the Peachtree family. Designed to accommodate 10, 15, 20 or 30 licensed and named users, it’s faster and comes with one year of unlimited support, updates and upgrades. Peachtree also offers industry specific versions for accountants, construction, distribution, manufacturing and non-profits.

A venerable accounting stalwart, Peachtree is a great program that offers lots of capabilities and features and is easy to use. It often lies in the shadow of Intuit’s QuickBooks, but it has its advantages, particularly for manufacturing, and if you’re in the market for accounting software, it’s definitely worth considering.

As far as current customers go, the new features are nice, but may not be enough to justify an upgrade.

The Pricing

Peachtree First Accounting lists for $99.99, Peachtree Pro Accounting sells for $199.99. Peachtree Complete Accounting costs $299.99, and bumping up to Peachtree Premium Accounting sets you back $499.99.

Peachtree Complete Accounting is available in a Multi-User Value Pack (five seat license) for $699.99. A Multi-User Value Pack (five seat license) for Peachtree Premium Accounting 2009 sells for $1,199.99.

Peachtree by Sage Quantum starts at $3,975 current customer upgrades. New customers pay $4,450. It’s available in 10, 15, 20, 30, and 40 seat licenses.

Wayne Kawamoto has written more than 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 troubleshooting notebook computers.

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