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There are four well known bookkeeping packages. ACCPAC, Pastel, Quickbooks and My Business Online. Which one should you use?

I’ve listed them in descending order of sophistication and that is one of the factors that you need to take into account. ACCPAC is for the heavyweights and has all sorts of add-ons that enable you to tailor it to your business. It is also the most expensive.

Pastel is probably the best if you employ a bookkeeper as it has a forced audit trail and makes it difficult to “cook the books”. I find it very old-fashioned – it doesn’t act in the way that I would expect of modern software and is not user friendly.

Quickbooks is way ahead of the rest in my opinion. It is modern, extremely user friendly and very flexible. You can go back and change any transaction without having to pass credits, do journal entries etc. This is also its greatest weakness in that it is simple to cook. So, whilst it is ideal for a company in which the owner or family member is doing the books, it is not recommended unless you can trust the bookkeeper implicitely.

I experimented with My Business Online for about three months. It seemed like a great option because it was in the clouds, but what a disaster! It has to be the worst bookkeeping software that I have ever tried. For example, it deviates from the norms of Debit and Credit and changes to Increase and Decrease. Great for someone who prefers the more simple language, but what does an increase of a loan account mean? It depends whether the amount is owed to or by the company and you are likely to have both in the same set of books. There are lots of ways in which it does not do what you expect and it was incredibly slow. I could not print a Balance Sheet. Instead it offered a statement of net assets. What rubbish. I have not re-visited it after about three years and it may have changed to a more traditional approach, but it left such a bad taste that I have no inclination to look at it again.


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