MYOB Plus v12

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, send e-mail
Published by: MYOB US, Inc., go to the web site
Requires: Windows 98, NT4, 2000, Me or XP; Pentium/200MHz or faster, 32MB RAM, 40MB hard drive space
MSRP: $229

These days, running a small business without proper bookkeeping and accounting is a sure-fire recipe for failure. Tax laws, accounting rules and regulations and bookkeeping requirements demand one of two things: lots and lots of arduous paperwork or one good piece of software. We prefer the software route, especially considering the array of choices available today. MYOB has been a popular choice for several years. The product began life in 1989 and has improved over the years to the point where it is always among the top three rated business accounting programs.

A well run business is one in which the owner and manager know exactly where the money is, where it's going, how it's coming in and why it's going out. You also need to know on a daily basis what's happening with inventories, sales contacts, invoicing, payables, receivables, collections and correspondence. Without this information, you might as well turn out the lights and go home. MYOB provides a complete package of goodies including a basic guide to small business accounting, extensive context sensitive online help, excellent web site support, a good manual and excellent Getting Started guide. MYOB is easy to install and set up too (another good reason for getting your business in order right away). We tried the software on half a dozen computers and it appears to run on almost any Pentium PC and is not a resource hog, which means you can safely multitask MYOB with Word, Excel, Outlook and so on.

We looked at the U.S. version only. There are about a dozen other versions of MYOB for the UK, Malaysia, Australia, etc. Although accounting practices are very similar in many countries (thank the lamented and long dead British Empire for that), the tax structures have significant differences. Most U.S. customer transactions are taxed by State. In Canada, most businesses have to contend with Provincial sales tax as well as the Federal Goods & Services Tax (GST). In the UK you've got Value Added Tax (VAT). Payroll deductions also vary from country to country because of differences in national pension plans, various forms of employment insurance, health benefit deductions, savings contributions and income tax deductions. Each MYOB version is heavily customized and maintained to ensure up-to-date accounting and regulation accuracy. After half a day of online digging, we were hard pressed to find even a single complaint about MYOB's accuracy in any version.

This is not a piece of software to dabble or fiddle with. If you're serious about your service or product-based business and its success, you must use proper accounting software. MYOB is that and much more. Features such as the very powerful Card File and Job Management tools allow for contact management, basic project tracking and even multiple address links for individual clients and vendors. Consultants and other business owners who bill for professional services can track write-offs, carryovers and even bill/invoice by increments. Selling goods and services in domestic and foreign currencies is also a breeze, so you can confidently do business anywhere secure in the knowledge that you can account for it clearly and accurately.

Cons: Because MYOB is designed for product and service-based businesses, there are some notable limitations. Property management businesses for instance can not be effectively handled by MYOB. Any business with multiple independent modules is also likely beyond the scope of MYOB. We'd like to see the ability to set up multiple sub-business modules under a single main company umbrella so that, for example, individual bank accounts and reconciliations can be restricted to specific independent business modules. Report customization revolves largely around changing fonts and colors - hardly useful at all. Invoicing feature is a bit confusing at first - a wizard would help many users. It appears as though you have to upgrade to the latest version each year if you're using payroll functions. Does not track early or late payers. Does not have any strong financing or discount functions. Uses proprietary forms (which cost money) which means free stuff such as W-2 forms (in the U.S.) will not work. When Intuit Canada acquired MYOB Canada, the Mac version was dropped.

Pros: Produce all standard reports including activity summaries, activity details, all forms of transactions, P&L (cash or accrual based), Balance Sheets (cash or accrual based), Trial Balance GL, histories and category lists. Setting up a business and customizing tax percentages, transaction entry, moving data back and forth from Microsoft Word and Excel, importing data from electronic sources (cash register daily or hourly revenue data from existing databases) is simple. The software accommodates multiple payroll users. Each version of MYOB is designed very specifically - the U.S. version for example prints W-2, W-3, 1099 and 1096 forms. Strong invoicing and correspondence features. Tracks all types of inventory movement, recaps and reconciles inventory value as of past dates, edit and modify inventory transfer and adjustments (RMAs for instance), provides running balances of items on-hand, item histories, inventory reconciliation reports. Recommended.

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