Peachtree Complete Accounting 2005 isn't for accounting wimps. If you need to crack open Accounting for Dummies to bone up on balance sheets, this feature-packed bookkeeper isn't for you. On the other hand, Peachtree Complete 2005 ($299.99 single user; $699.99 multiuser value pack for up to five users) delivers the goods to small-business owners who know their way around a general ledger. It holds its own against Intuit's similarly pricedEditor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click , which is easier to use if not as comprehensive as Peachtree in certain areas, such as inventory management. Current Peachtree users won't be dazzled by version 2005's new features; still, they will find compelling reasons to upgrade ($219.95), including the Find On Report window for searching for text within a report or a financial statement and the Auto-Creation tool that generates purchase orders when inventory drops below a user-specified level. Peachtree Complete 2005 is a good choice for the accounting master but too high-end for the apprentice.here to find out more. Peachtree Complete 2005, like its core competitors QuickBooks Pro 2004 and , is a cinch to install. More specifically, it's this easy: load the CD, make several obligatory mouse clicks, and relax. However, inputting your company data will likely take several hours. Peachtree has an easy-to-use utility for converting company data files from Intuit's QuickBooks, and you can also import files from (and from Peachtree's soon-to-be-retired One-Write Plus accounting program). Unfortunately, it lacks a conversion tool for data--a nifty feature found in QuickBooks Pro--although you can import and export Excel files.
Bookkeeping beginners, beware: Peachtree isn't going to hold your hand. Unlike , which gives users the option of selecting an interface with plain-English accounting terms, Peachtree is awash in green-lampshade jargon: general ledger, account reconciliation, cash disbursements journal, and so on. This doesn't mean, however, that Peachtree leaves first-timers in the dark. Version 2005 provides 20 instructional demos--a new feature this year--that demonstrate basic tasks, including how to close an accounting year, make a backup, and so on. The demos are too passive, though; you simply watch the cursor move through the screens as you read bubble descriptions. We'd like to see more-interactive training sessions.
One big plus: Peachtree Complete 2005's main screen isn't plastered with advertisements for Best Software's premium services, such as its payroll service. (The ads are there, actually, but they're subtle one-line pitches.) By comparison, QuickBooks Pro is a veritable billboard for Intuit's fee-based extras. Version 2005 is a refinement, not an overhaul, of its predecessor, with a dozen or so subtle enhancements that add analytical skills and boost integration with and the UPS shipping service. Longtime users will appreciate the new Find On Report window, which makes it easier to ferret out information in reports and financial statements. This feature works pretty much like the search tool in Word or Excel: When you're working in a report--your cash disbursements journal, let's say--and you want to locate a particular account name or number, you click the Find icon at the top of the screen and enter the search text in the Find What box. It's hardly cutting edge but is extremely helpful. In fact, according to Best Software, the Find On Report window was the most-requested feature among Peachtree's longtime users.
Peachtree Complete's inventory-management tools are among the best in its class, and version 2005 hones them with its new Auto-Creation Of Purchase Orders tool, which automatically generates purchase orders when inventory drops below a user-specified level. Microsoft Word users will like the new mail-merge feature, which allows you to funnel your Peachtree customer, vendor, and employee data into Word's mail-merge tool to create newsletters, collection notices, and so on. We like the fact that Peachtree includes an easy-to-use wizard to assist in the Peachtree-to-Word data transfer, as mail-merge tools are often tricky to configure.
Version 2005 also comes with a new module for UPS customers. You can add tracking numbers to invoices, print shipping labels, and calculate shipping costs. But first you must sign up with UPS's online service, which is easy, thanks to the included UPS Registration Wizard. So why a UPS module and not FedEx? Best Software says the majority of its small-business clientele ship UPS.
Like its competitors, Peachtree offers add-on services with prices that are on a par with those of QuickBooks, MYOB, and Simply Accounting. For example, Direct Deposit costs $1.50 per transaction with a $75 one-time setup fee. E-mail and phone support are always expensive add-ons with business accounting software, and Peachtree Complete 2005 is no exception to this rule. You'll need to purchase a pricey support package--annual fees range from $179 to $299--or you can opt for the $5-per-minute phone help (with a $50 minimum). These support packages include e-mail and phone help (via a toll-free number), as well as access to the comprehensive Peachtree Knowledge Center (pictured below). One note about the Knowledge Center: While anyone can browse through the existing Q&As, you have to purchase a support plan to post a question. New users get 30 days of free support after registration; upgraders are allowed one free support call for up to 30 days after installing version 2005.
We found Best Software support to be highly responsive and accurate. The vendor promises a 4-hour response time (during business hours) to e-mail queries. Our queries were answered in less time than that; one query was answered in less than 15 minutes! Phone and e-mail support hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET.