For a new fledgling business, it is important to keep control of your expenses and revenue. It is even more important for a startup, than for an established and successful business.
A startup has to be really careful with their money. So when it comes to choosing your accounting software, the cost is probably the most important. When I was starting my business, I had the impression there would be a free or open source solution which would work for me.
Pastel and anti counterfeit yearly licence
I was averse to Pastel Products since, in my experience, they involved an annoying yearly licencing process, which they say is necessary to combat counterfeit software. I had to deal with their completely inadequate licencing hotline, for hours every year. Their approach to this, and the cost of the products that I had been using (in larger businesses) convinced me that their product would not be right for me.
Free and open source Accounting Software
FNB advertised a free solution for business account holders. However, I had to use my personal account for almost a year before CIPRO finally updated my CC info so that I could even apply for an account. So I had to try something else.
I was sure open source or free was still the only option for me. After a bit of searching, I found Palladium Individual. This was great. I could get my invoicing and receipts done easily.
Palladium Individual 2012
When you open Palladium Individual the first thing you notice that not all the functions are available to you. OK, so to use advanced features you will have to pay. Anyway, it seemed to work for me. I could send invoices and receive payments. I must add that I had 17 years experience in accounting. I have used mostly Pastel, but have used other products. So with my accounting experience I had no trouble getting Palladium to do what I wanted.
Processing into ‘last year’
Everything was going along fine, until I came to the year end. I copied the company so I could start my next batch of invoicing in a new company, and then sent off the previous years trial balance to the accountant. She found some problems and asked me to correct them. I could make changes to the ‘last year’ company but in my current year my opening balances were now wrong. But in Palladium Individual you cant process in the previous year. So I had to make adjustments on the 1st March (first day of the current financial year). I decided this was a deal breaker.
Edit: According to Stephen you can set the earliest edit date to allow processing in previous financial periods. Sorry I cant test this as I no longer use Palladium.
Searching for Accounting Software
I started my search again and found Pastel My Business. The accountant could not understand why I was not using Pastel. I thought oh no, I have to go through the pain of Pastel licencing every year. But after a bit more research, I found that this entry level product is licensed once only.
Pastel My Business was advertised on the Pastel website, but the link to their online store took me to an empty page on the store, and after searching it was not there. Instead they had Pastel My Business Online. They seemed to be phasing out the off line version. My Business Online sounds great IF the business has superfast and reliable internet. For people like me that would be a deal breaker. After emailing them they said I could have if if I paid them R999.
I paid my money, and was disappointed not to be able to download the software immediately. I like to push my slow and unreliable internet connection every now and then. But in a few days, my DVD was delivered and I was soon in business again. Now I can process in any period. In any financial year. The user interface is much more polished.
There are 2 small annoying ‘features’. When you open Pastel My Business the program takes over the whole screen so you can’t see the Windows taskbar. One feature of Palladium that I miss: when processing supplier invoices, you could select the payment type, so the receipt would be processed at the same time. With pastel, the receipt is an extra step. Aside from those two bugs I think Pastel Individual is superior, and is worth the R999 price tag.
It took me a day to process an entire years transactions. An added bonus is the ability to import your bank statement.
Now if you forced me to use an online service, that would be a deal breaker. For me with my expensive, slow and unreliable internet connection, its not an option.
Aside: After installing Pastel My Business my computer was stuck in a Windows update loop. It took me a while to figure out how to fix it. I had to remove Microsoft dot Net (all versions) and re-install Microsoft dot Net Fx 4.0. After that windows updated without a problem.
|Product||Palladium Individual 2012||Pastel My Business v3|
|Available to download||Yes||No|
|One Step Supplier Invoice and Payment processing||Yes||No|
|Slick and Modern Interface||No||Yes|
|Processing in Previous Financial Year||Yes *||Yes|
* Requires configuration change.
The verdict: if you need to process to ‘last year’, you have to make changes to configuration in Palladium Individual 2012; but this works out of the box for Pastel My Business. If you like pretty software, get Pastel My Business. If you want free accounting software, then get Palladium Individual.