MYOB Accounting 17 review

Price when reviewed

MYOB’s Accounting 16 earned a deserved place on the PC Pro A List last year thanks to its mix of powerful reporting functions and ease of use, allied to a respectable price. But there are a growing number of bean-counting alternatives, from popular web-based invoicing programs such as Blinksale ( and Netsuite ( to new desktop alternatives, particularly Microsoft Accounting. With such stiff competition, can the new version still hold its place?

First impressions aren’t encouraging. Accounting looks nearly identical to previous versions. That’s not always a bad thing, but the program’s simple Command Centre, comprising chunky icons that denote the six main elements of the program (sales, purchases, stock, contacts and a list of accounts), has hardly changed in a decade or more and looks dated.

it_photo_5480Its logical flowchart of Command Centre functions is helpful to small businesses that may not be comfortable with more intimidating applications, but it lacks the sort of important business information – such as an overview of your cash flow – that is instantly at your fingertips when you open QuickBooks Pro 2008.

And as far as offering help for small businesses is concerned, we’d have liked to see features such as electronic invoicing via PayPal, which is available in Microsoft Accounting.

Perhaps not surprisingly, given increased concern over corporate financial data, it’s security that’s given highest priority in Accounting 17. MYOB Accounting has always offered good security settings: you can, for example, require incorrectly entered transactions to be reversed rather than edited – sensible for audit trail purposes – and lock previous financial periods to prevent post-period end adjustment.

But in the past you could only lock periods in monthly intervals and the requirement to reverse wasn’t comprehensive. Now you can set a specific date to lock accounts and even a future lock-in date.

When you edit an existing Receive Items transaction, an audit trail entry is now triggered, reversing and locking the original transaction and generating a new transaction with your changes.

Accounting now lets you restrict access by individual user to certain accounts and employee cards, contact logs and employee reports. We like how simple this is to use. In a User Access window you select a user and then check off the accounts you wish to deny the user access to.

In larger companies, setting access individually could turn into a marathon, so the ability to copy settings from another existing user is helpful. We’d have liked it to go a stage further and let you set access according to groups of users. Alas this feature is missing.

MYOB’s reporting functions have also seen moderate improvement – although the ability to do something as simple as preview purchases and supplier forms before printing them (new in this version) – is overdue.

You can also now sort invoice statements based on credits or discounts applied and add debit and discount information on remittance advice slips given to suppliers.

MYOB’s often-overlooked Microsoft Office integration features work well. It’s very simple to send reports generated in MYOB to Excel, link letters to Word’s mail merge and even synchronise contacts with Outlook.

But these integration features don’t match those of Microsoft Accounting, which, with additional software, can even share customer data inside Outlook, turning the program into a fully featured customer relationship management tool.

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