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Simply Accounting Pro 2005 review: Simply Accounting Pro 2005

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The Good Supports up to six users; improved interface; syncs contact lists with Microsoft Outlook; offers new forms designer.

The Bad Costs three times as much as its predecessor; tech support needs help.

The Bottom Line Simply Accounting Pro 2005 is a powerful, affordable business-accounting program for small shops, although its tech support could be better.

7.0 Overall
  • Setup 8.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Support 5.0

Review Sections

Simply Accounting Pro 2005

First, the bad news: Best Software Simply Accounting Pro 2005 is thrice the price of its predecessor--$300 vs. $100--bringing it in line with leading competitors MYOB Business Essentials Pro and Intuit QuickBooks Pro 2005. Now, the good news: Simply Accounting Pro allows up to six users, whereas MYOB and Intuit charge $500 to $750 for a five-user license. For the most part, Simply Accounting Pro 2005 is an evolutionary upgrade. Its interface is less cluttered and easier to configure; you can import Quicken data; and you'll find numerous inventory, payroll, and inventory enhancements. On the downside, Best Software's technical support could be better. Yet given its competitive price, rich feature set, and well-designed interface, Simply Accounting Pro 2005 is a solid buy for small businesses. Best Software made Simply Accounting Pro 2005 (SA Pro 2005) easier to set up and use than version 2004, although the new version retains the same easy-to-follow guides for creating your company file. Small businesses that have outgrown Quicken will appreciate SA Pro 2005's ability to import data from Quicken. Granted, the process is laborious and tricky--first we had to prepare a file to export from Quicken, use SA Pro 2005's Setup Wizard to import the data, then examine the transferred vendor, customer, and employee records—but we were pleased with the result.


The My Business screen in Simply Accounting Pro 2005 provides easy access to all accounting modules.

Simply Accounting Pro 2005's interface is cleaner and less cluttered than the boxy, busy design of its predecessor, although you can retain the old layout if you prefer. At start-up, a new My Business screen provides one-click access to major modules, such as Account Reconciliation, Sales Invoices, and Paychecks. Another plus: Simply Accounting Pro 2005 will hide features you're not using. Don't need purchase orders and quotes? Simply uncheck a box in the Vendors And Purchases setup section, and only purchase invoices will appear. You will get pop-up pitches if you try to access premium services, such as online payroll, but these ads don't clutter the interface as they do with QuickBooks desktop edition.

The Daily Business Manager, a combination calendar, to-do list, and invoice tracker, still loads in a separate window, as do many Simply Accounting Pro 2005 tools. Some users may like this à la carte arrangement, but we'd prefer to see the Daily Business Manager incorporated into the unused real estate on the Home window of Simply Accounting Pro. Longtime users will appreciate a new toolbar icon that allows a single click to close all open windows except for Home.

Though this upgrade triples the price from last year's edition, it nevertheless brings Simply Accounting Pro 2005 in line with comparably equipped competitors, including QuickBooks Pro and MYOB Business Essentials Pro. Simply Accounting Pro 2005 offers several welcome enhancements, such as the handy new forms designer to create invoices and other business documents. One gripe: Simply Accounting Pro 2005's forms designer, as with the one in MYOB, lets you undo only the most recent action. You need greater flexibility to experiment when you make new forms. QuickBooks' designer, on the other hand, offers multiple undo levels; we undid 10 changes to a form during one test.


Simply Accounting Pro 2005 has numerous enhancements, including the ability to add a salesperson's name to invoices.

The nuts-and-bolts accounting tools refined in Simply Accounting Pro 2005 are also praiseworthy. For example, a drop-down list gives you the option of adding a salesperson's name to invoices, orders, and quotes, thereby easily tracking sales per staffer, as you can with the Pro versions of QuickBooks and MYOB Business Essentials. And Simply Accounting Pro adds a toolbar to Microsoft Outlook so that one button automatically syncs your accounting and e-mail contacts. By comparison, QuickBooks and MYOB can export contacts but can't add a toolbar to Microsoft's ubiquitous e-mail program.

Simply Accounting Pro 2005 is a good buy overall, especially for six users. QuickBooks may dominate the small-business accounting market, but it's no bargain. The five-user edition of QuickBooks Pro costs $750--more than double the price of the six-user Simply Accounting Pro and ahead of the $499 charged by a five-user license of MYOB Business Essentials Pro. And if you don't need advanced features--such as departmental accounting, support for up to six users, and the ability to run on Pocket PCs--then Simply Accounting Basic is a great small-business alternative for only $49. At the high end, the $499 Simply Accounting Premium 2005 competes with QuickBooks Premier 2005 and has plenty of analytical, reporting, and forecasting tools.

Support packages for Simply Accounting Pro 2005 are priced competitively, but we were disappointed by the quality. Best Software's e-mail support doesn't live up to the company's name; two of our simple questions about integrating Simply Accounting Pro with Outlook went unanswered. We had better luck with the phone support, where representatives responded quickly and accurately to our questions.

As with MYOB Pro, you get 30 days of free installation assistance with Simply Accounting Pro, whereas QuickBooks Pro users get one year of free setup help. For phone assistance with Simply Accounting Pro for issues other than setup, Best charges a competitive though pricey $150 per 100 minutes or one year, whichever comes first. By contrast, QuickBooks offers unlimited phone help for $399 per year, and MYOB offers the same for $299.

The printed support for Simply Accounting Pro 2005 is comparatively skimpy: you get a 12-page quick-start text booklet. MYOB Business Essentials Pro, on the other hand, provides a 234-page illustrated user guide, alongside two books on accounting basics. However, Simply Accounting Pro offers beefy support via PDF files: there's a total of 880 pages, including a user guide, a workbook, and advanced topics.

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