MYOB Accounting Plus 14 review

£203
Price when reviewed

A veteran presence in the accounts software market, MYOB has refreshed its range of accounts packages, releasing version 14 of MYOB BusinessBasics (£52 exc VAT), Accounting (£136 exc VAT) and Accounting Plus. While this trio have very different feature sets, they all share the MYOB hallmark of an easy-to-use, user-friendly front end – a throwback to its distant Mac origins.

The top-of-the-range package, Accounting Plus, has an extensive range of features. You get the standard sales, purchase and nominal ledgers, plus stock control, payroll, jobs management, time billing and basic CRM. Its SME credentials include the ability to handle multicurrency transactions, and it can also operate in a networked environment. There’s an upgrade structure designed to grow with your business too.

The majority of changes are minor, if fairly useful, such as the ability to resize the Help window. Among the more notable improvements is the Audit Trail Tracker, which tracks who makes changes to the database file – an essential feature when working as part of an accounts team. A data-integrity checker (long a feature of Sage) is included too.

MYOB was one of the first accounting packages to appear on the Windows platform; the first release was a near-perfect port of the Macintosh version, complete with a Mac OS interface. The current release is still available in both Mac and Windows versions (you get both on the Install CD), but they share a common interface that’s populated with thumbnail pictures rather than the standard Windows look and feel. As such, the interface is a bit quirky, but it rivals that of QuickBooks Pro 2005, using logical flowchart diagrams to guide you through banking, payroll, invoicing and other accounting tasks. Accounting Plus’ clean lines also make a nice break from QuickBooks’ frequent ads for premium services.

Accounting Plus doesn’t require product activation per se, although after creating a set of accounts from scratch you have 90 days to legitimise your copy, or 30 days if you’re upgrading an existing install. Printed documentation is of a good order and comprehensive online help is provided. However, this is browser-based and can be a tad sluggish at times – we found particular problems with Firefox.

Accounting Plus’ Setup tool walks you effortlessly through creating your company accounts and numerous records – no prior accounting skills are required. Drop-down menus link you to related financial duties, such as a to-do list and a nifty analysis feature that examines every financial measure (profit and loss, cashflow, receivables and so on) and presents instructive graphs and tables.

A well-designed reconciliation facility lets you download your online bank statement in the usual QuickBooks formats too. Where transactions match, they’re automatically reconciled and eliminated, leaving all unmatched transactions highlighted for review.

The sales side of Accounting Plus offers similar neat touches. For example, you can knock out a quote and turn it into a sales invoice without re-keying it. Even better, instead of posting invoices or reports, you can conveniently email them in PDF format and even save print-outs as HTML. It’s easy to track payments from customers and analyse debtors too. And, because you’re able to allocate sales and costs to individual jobs, each job can have its own private P&L statement. Accounting Plus’ reporting side is also strong, with more than 70 predefined reports to choose from.

Accounting Plus’ principal rivals are Sage and QuickBooks Pro, although Sage is very much an accountant’s tool and is priced accordingly – if you want all the features found in Accounting Plus, you could easily pay three times as much for a Sage-equivalent bundle. For many people then, that leaves QuickBooks Pro 2005. For setting up new accounts, there isn’t a great deal to choose between them, but QuickBooks Pro 2005’s wider choice of online services just pips MYOB Accounting Plus to the post.

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