SAN FRANCISCO (03/28/2000) - Following the trend toward consolidation, MYOB US Inc. has melded features from its two flagship accounting programs into one general-purpose package that lets you do it all-payroll, inventory, job tracking, and time billing. On a superficial level, MYOB Accounting Plus 9.0 hasn't changed substantially from earlier versions; the interface may still have you reaching for the manual or calling tech support. But MYOB Accounting Plus is an extremely capable program that, once mastered, will serve small and medium-size businesses admirably.
MYOB Accounting Plus 9.0 offers some of the features of MYOB Premier Accounting, as well as enhancements such as print-to-file versions of reports and forms that you can e-mail to customers and vendors; multilevel pricing options; TCP/IP network support; and the ability to flag items, accounts, jobs, vendors, and customers as inactive. Although the program employs a double-entry system, balancing entries are made for you behind the scenes. MYOB Accounting Plus lets you choose from and customize more than 100 charts of accounts, including one based on the ever popular IRS Schedule C. You choose functions, such as writing checks and preparing payroll, by clicking on buttons in the flowchart-style interface.
Rather than printing a form or report for mailing, you can now print it to disk, using the included JFAX print driver and extension. The resulting graphic file (a Group III fax TIFF) can be sent to a customer or vendor as an e-mail attachment and viewed with MYOB Viewer, an included shareware program based on GraphicConverter. Only a few current graphics programs can open Group III TIFFs, so you'll have to send a copy of MYOB Viewer to each potential recipient. (Optionally, MYOB Viewer can convert the print files to normal TIFFs or PICTs that can be viewed in any graphics program.) As long as users of the Windows version of MYOB Accounting Plus have a MAPI-compliant e-mail program, they can e-mail reports and forms directly from the program. One caveat: whenever we launched an Internet program or attempted to shut down after using JFAX, a system crash ensued. According to MYOB, however, no one else has reported similar problems.
The new version is multiuser-ready; it can be used on a network (including a mixed Mac-and-PC one) right out of the box, though only one person at a time can access the data file. If you want to allow multiple users to access the data simultaneously, you can purchase additional workstation licenses. Version 9.0 also adds TCP/IP to the list of supported network protocols (NetBIOS, NetBEUI, LANBIOS, and AppleTalk).
You can now set as many as six pricing tiers for each item you sell (see "Price Breaks"), allowing you to establish preferred pricing for special customers, for example, or vary prices according to quantity purchased. You can apply pricing tiers in two ways. You can assign a tier to each customer-by default, the customer is charged that tier's price for every item purchased-or you can specify a default pricing tier for all the items you sell and have those prices applied automatically to all sales for which the customer doesn't have a specific tier assigned. This second approach has one drawback: there's no simple way to apply multiple tiers to a customer's purchases. When recording an invoice, for example, you can't choose Level A pricing from a pop-up list for one item and Level B for another; you have to manually edit the prices on the customer's invoice, either from memory or by consulting a price list.
If your company conducts business outside the United States, you'll be pleased to note that you can now record transactions in foreign currencies. All you have to do is specify that a vendor or customer's transactions are in euros, for example, and the program records all their sales and purchases in that currency. It's up to you to keep the exchange rates current by periodically editing the program's Currency List. MYOB Accounting Plus also includes an easy-to-use currency calculator.
Another new feature is the ability to enter interest and service charges in the Account Reconciliation screen. To reduce clutter in product, customer, and vendor lists, you can mark any entry as inactive, thereby preventing it from showing up in choice lists. Importing and exporting capabilities have been expanded to include time-billing data, inventory, and customer and vendor payment terms. Finally, the search function's new Advanced button lets you search by date range or amount range and within memo text.
Macworld's Buying Advice
Like previous versions, MYOB Accounting Plus 9.0 makes setting up and using some features confusing and unintuitive; several features and options are practically hidden. (For example, we created two pricing tiers for an item based on quantity purchased, and we then tried unsuccessfully to apply the pricing automatically to all customers who hadn't been assigned a tier. A call to technical support revealed that we had to set a preference to apply one tier to all items purchased by new customers.) Nevertheless, businesspeople will find that the multitude of features and capabilities in MYOB Accounting make the learning curve a worthwhile climb.
RATING: 4.0 mice
PROS: Network-ready; TCP/IP support; multitiered pricing; supports foreign currencies; improved search function.
CONS: Can be confusing to set up and use; has formidable learning curve.
COMPANY: MYOB (800/322-6962, http://www.myob.com/us).
COMPANY'S ESTIMATED PRICE: $200; $99 per additional workstation license.