Mac users looking for an easy way to keep their books don't have to look much further than MYOB FirstEdge. FirstEdge introduces sole proprietors to real accounting, along with an upgrade path to MYOB's more sophisticated products. MYOB aims its product squarely at very small businesses. While we agree that the program will serve such companies well, we believe that many businesses will quickly outgrow the limited feature set. If you're planning to grow your business quickly, try MYOB's more feature-rich and more expensive AccountEdge for Mac. Mac users looking for an easy way to keep their books don't have to look much further than MYOB FirstEdge. FirstEdge introduces sole proprietors to real accounting, along with an upgrade path to MYOB's more sophisticated products. MYOB aims its product squarely at very small businesses. While we agree that the program will serve such companies well, we believe that many businesses will quickly outgrow the limited feature set. If you're planning to grow your business quickly, try MYOB's more feature-rich and more expensive AccountEdge for Mac.
After FirstEdge's effortless and idiot-proof installation, a Welcome screen prompts you to open your company file or create a new one. Choosing "Create a new company file" takes you to the "New company file assistant" wizard. Just follow the prompts; answer the questions, such as your company's name and address, the fiscal year, and so on; and choose an industry type from 83 options provided, such as design or chiropractic. Next, you're ready to enter transactions manually, import data from spreadsheet or database programs, or collect it from Intuit Quicken using Import/Export. Unfortunately, FirstEdge won't sync with your online bank to grab account data, but if your bank lets you download your account file, you can then import it into FirstEdge.
Next, clicking "Open your company file" opens the Command Center, a cheerful screen in which three buttons--Accounts, Banking, and Sales--give you access to nearly all basic accounting tasks. Use Accounts to create account lists and journal entries. Banking lets you record deposits and reconcile accounts with bank statements, and Sales lets you print statements and invoices and analyze your receivables. In addition, drop-down menus let you search transactions and create or view reports. In general, navigating this program is a piece of cake.
Sales-driven businesses will find a lot to like in FirstEdge. It lets you create item lists and pricing, set global tax rates, or customize unique preferences for each customer profile. And the Sales Register tool even gives you quick access to sales totals, quotes, invoices, and credits.
On the other hand, service-based businesses, such as contractors, consultants, and lawyers, may not get as much out of FirstEdge as sales businesses. Because FirstEdge offers no true time billing, it's not the best choice for professionals who bill by the hour.
Conversely, this rookie-tailored program does an amazing job of managing customer records. FirstEdge divides all of the data on your customer cards into six categories: Card Details, History, Jobs, Payment Details, Profile, and Selling Details. Within these categories, there's room to record up to five addresses, 15 phone numbers, fax numbers, an e-mail address, and a URL. You can even include a picture and personal notes, a five-year sales history, and credit and payment information.
FirstEdge has simple reporting down pat. The program ships with more than 60 boilerplate reports on everything from total sales to outstanding invoices. As with all of FirstEdge's forms and documents, these reports are simple to customize.
Simplicity to a fault?
Here's the downside to FirstEdge's simplicity: the program lacks some features that even beginners might need. For example, there is no payroll function, no integration with any other software, and no real inventory. For those elements, you must upgrade to MYOB AccountEdge for Mac for $249.
MYOB's paring-down philosophy carries over to its technical support, too. FirstEdge customers get no free tech support, and even basic 90-day support costs $49, though you can purchase an annual contract for $189 per year. Fortunately, MYOB's online and offline Learning Center contains many searchable help documents on basic and advanced issues.
The last word on FirstEdge
FirstEdge is an easy, inexpensive introduction to accounting for Mac-based small-business owners, but the program's lack of free tech support and certain important components will leave some users wanting more. If you need payroll and inventory, consider AccountEdge.