Now is definitely the right time to start for 1996. It's much easier to start electronic bookkeeping in January than it is to decide in August that you want your finances for the entire year tracked on your PC. For the average consumer or small business, Quicken, Quickbooks or One-Write Plus are logical choices for financial software in an affordable price range.
Quicken and Quickbooks, by Intuit of Palo Alto, have been on every Top 10 Best Seller list since their inception many years ago. Their latest incarnations, Quicken 5 for Windows and QuickBooks Pro continue to add more features to this popular finance software, including inventory tracking and online banking.
Intuit seems to have cornered the market on the $50-$100 financial software for one reason: it's easy to use and requires no knowledge of accounting or bookkeeping. This ease of use, however, has proven to be the bane of many accountants at tax time due to poor audit trails and somewhat non-traditional accounting methods and reporting formats.
One-Write Plus, long considered the more "serious" (but harder to use) accounting package in this price range, has just released its first Windows-based product: One-Write Plus Version 5 for Windows. This may be the first real contender that Quicken/Quickbooks has encountered in a long time. With an expected street price of $69.95, One-Write Plus offers a complete package of General Ledger, Checkwriting, Billing/Invoicing, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, Bank Reconciliation, Payroll and Budgeting.
When I first loaded One-Write Plus for Windows, it looked surprisingly similar to Quickbooks for Windows. Gone was the dull, text-based interface I had previously been used to with DOS One-Write Plus. All accounting functions are now graphically displayed on the toolbar and are only a single mouse click away.
Even though One-Write Plus claims "little or no accounting knowledge is necessary" to master this bookkeeping package, its DOS versions were typically harder for the average user to grasp than were Quicken/Quickbooks packages. With the advent of this new Windows version, however, I foresee a change on the horizon. An easier Windows-based One-Write is going to finally level the playing field between these two competing financial software vendors.
One-Write Plus has historically been widely recommended by many accounting professionals because it follows GAAP (General Accepted Accounting Principles) and features the audit trails and financial report formatting that accountants prefer. Quickbooks and Quicken are often criticized for their lack of audit trails in that you can change or delete transactions anywhere in the registers, rendering previous balance sheets and reconciliations useless. In One-Write Plus, transactions can be voided or edited, but not deleted.
One-Write Plus also features a traditional account numbering system and more choices for Asset and Liability accounts than does Quickbooks. The payroll feature is built right into One- Write Plus, rather than the add-on payroll program, QuickPay, utilized by Quicken/Quickbooks. I found the payroll reports much easier and more straightforward in One-Write Plus than in Quickbooks, which confuses the user with way too much transfer information. Reporting in general was much simpler to configure in One-Write than Quickbooks cumbersome report menu which features almost too many choices. 1099's and W-2's were also a snap in One-Write.
One great feature of the new One-Write Plus is the interactive tutorial that customizes a help menu for your particular business needs. After an online "interview", you are guided through the process of correctly setting up an accounting system for your type of business. One-Write Plus is a division of New England Business Service (NEBS) and as such offers a wide variety of forms to support it's bookkeeping software.
I've been a Quicken/Quickbooks user, trainer, and consultant for years and will continue to
support these products, but competition is always good for the marketplace. And I like what I see
in One-Write Plus for Windows! P.S. Don't wait til August to get going on that New Year's resolution.
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