Business-like, isn't he?



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    Simply Accounting takes aim at new entrepreneurs

    by  Alan Zisman (c) 2007 First published in Business in Vancouver April 24-30, 2007; issue 913

    High Tech Office column

    Sometimes you have to wait and wait and wait for new versions of the software you use. Microsoft first released Windows XP in October 2001; many patches later, its replacement, Windows Vista, finally arrived on store shelves this past January. Apple fans were recently disappointed to hear that the upgrade of that company’s OS X, promised for spring ’07, had been postponed until October.

    Using the same version of software for a long time is not necessarily a bad thing. Upgrading can be traumatic and often require retraining and the purchase of expensive new hardware. But some software developers manage to churn out an ongoing stream of new releases. These regular upgrades may prove to be worthwhile and in some cases may be pretty much obligatory.

    British-based Sage Software develops its Simply Accounting product line locally in Richmond. The company claims that Simple Accounting is the No. 1 selling small business accounting software in Canada, and in a 2006 survey, Simple Accounting was most recommended by Canadian accountants.

    Like other accounting software developers, Sage offers annually updated editions to include ever-changing payroll taxes. Simply Accounting’s 2007 editions also allow the company to improve built-in help and to simplify the chore of setting up and maintaining business accounts.

    A new report centre centralizes the variety of reporting tools and includes descriptions and sample views of each report. Backup has been automated to ensure that important business data remains available.

    As previously, it comes in various editions. There’s pricing for single users and multiple users, a ($150) basic version, a pro version with inventory and other features for service and manufacturing companies, and a ($500) premium version aimed at growing businesses with multiple locations or companies, among others.

    A new addition to the lineup for 2007 is the ($70) entrepreneur edition aimed at small and home-based businesses that have outgrown keeping their financial records in chequebook-style software.

    Sage promises users of this edition a simple, two-step setup and no accounting jargon. As with the higher-priced editions, reports can be opened in Microsoft Excel and Word.

    A few years ago, Microsoft bought accounting software developers Great Plains and, since then, has been expanding its line of business accounting products. Recently, it offered a free product: Microsoft Accounting Express 2007. Microsoft claims it’s aiming at “the millions of new businesses that use pen and paper, spreadsheets or personal finance software to manage their business.” In other words, the same businesses Sage hopes will use Simply Accounting’s entrepreneur edition.

    Sage representatives claim not to be worried about Microsoft moving into their turf.

    They note that Accounting Express was designed for the U.S. market only and are confident that their Canadian-based customer support and depth of experience working with the Canadian small- business market would stand them in good stead.

    Trial downloads of the various Simply Accounting versions, good for 60 days of free use, are available at, as is a no download/no installation online evaluation version of Simply Accounting premium 2007.

    Microsoft Accounting Express 2007 can be downloaded from

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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan