Looking for a personal finance manager? You won't find it here. MYOB's feature set, which includes an easy-to-understand interface and automatic alerts to obvious errors, caters strictly to individual entrepreneurs and small-business owners. Luckily, the program is straightforward enough and offers enough hand-holding that small companies won't need to employ dedicated IT or financial departments to use it. Unfortunately, we encountered problems with MYOB's installation tech support, which soured our overall experience. Before you buy anything, you might want to wait for CNET's upcoming QuickBooks Pro 2003 review.
Because MYOB is geared toward independent contractors and small-business owners who may not have a sophisticated understanding of current accounting practices, it's important that the software be easy to understand and use. In this arena, MYOB doesn't disappoint.
MYOB's Command Center, its main interface, provides access to all of its major features, including Accounts, Banking, Sales, Time Billing, Purchases, Payroll, Inventory, and the Card File, which lists all necessary contacts--customers, vendors, and employees. Like QuickBooks, MYOB uses flowcharts to enable you to navigate through its various functions; click an icon, and the appropriate flowchart appears, making it easy to quickly find the task you need to perform.
MYOB's Easy Setup Assistant offers a list of ready-made accounts that you can tweak for your specific business.
Aside from a single hitch, MYOB installed easily on our test system. The program comes set up for an individual user, but if your business grows, you can purchase additional workstation licenses online for $99 each.
Setup is a cinch: an Easy Setup Assistant, accessible from the top menu, lets you customize the program at large and adjust specific features, such as accounts, sales, purchases, and payroll--a real plus for new entrepreneurs who may be unsure of what they need at the beginning. If you miss a step, MYOB warns you: in testing, when we forgot to enter necessary information for payroll, MYOB popped up an alert window, then let us immediately enter the missing info.
The efficient import process allows you to easily bring tab- or comma-delimited data into current MYOB files.
Once we began using MYOB, we found it simple to track sales, purchases, and other procedures. As with any other accounting package, it takes several hours for full setup, and your mileage may vary, depending upon how familiar you are with accounting procedures. But once that's over, you'll find it easy to track your books.
MYOB also offers several ways to cut down on ramp-up time. For example, MYOB includes copious lists of ready-made accounts for both retail- and service-based businesses; we were able to quickly set up accounts for both a bookstore and a consultancy. In addition, the software's efficient import function can pick up any comma- or tab-delimited ASCII files from, say, a database or a text file, which can cut down considerably on start-up time.
MYOB is ideal for individuals and small-business owners who have forgotten most of their college accounting courses. (The MYOB Web site has an area called Accounting 101 to bring you up to speed on basic accounting terms and practices.) MYOB offers comprehensive tracking for both service-based and retail businesses, including different price levels for individual customers, automatic back ordering, and the ability to handle multiple currencies.
MYOB includes a comprehensive supply of reports that you can customize to suit a business's specific needs.
You can access MYOB's wide-ranging and customizable supply of reports from the aforementioned Command Center. There, you'll also find a to-do list, a search function, and an analysis of your current financial status. We appreciate that the Center gives such easy access to important functions.
Although MYOB 12.0 offers no revolutionary changes over the previous edition, it has added several helpful features. For example, the new Items Register window lets you easily track your inventory, an expanded number of inventory report templates give you myriad ways to present your information, and MYOB's separate password security for the Contact Log keeps unauthorized personnel from seeing your client list.
Unfortunately, our experience with MYOB's tech support left something to be desired. Laudably, the company offers 30 days of free technical support upon registration. However, when we called with a minor installation problem having to do with MYOB's use of Microsoft Word macros, the person who answered the phone told us that a Word glitch was not MYOB's problem, and when we insisted that she find a solution, she told us to send e-mail to Quality Assurance, with no promise of an answer. Inadequate help is inexcusable in a product geared toward nontechie small businesses.
MYOB has some online support; however, even e-mail support is limited until you subscribe to one of the paid support plans.
The package's internal HTML-based help could also use some beefing up. In CNET's tests, it sometimes took several searches to find the information we needed. Even MYOB's useful online data could use some organizational help. For example, we were unaware of the 30 days of free support until after we had actually registered the product. If you're willing to pay for more comprehensive service, MYOB offers an annual support plan for $189 or pay-per-call assistance for $4 per minute with a $40 minimum, which is less than, for example, Peachtree Accounting's rate of $5 per minute with a $50 minimum.