Peachtree Takes to the Web

SAN FRANCISCO (04/25/2000) - Peachtree Software Inc. is taking its expertise to the Web this week. The publisher of Peachtree Complete Accounting is introducing an online accounting service, ePeachtree.

EPeachtree is directed primarily at one- and two-person businesses without computer-based accounting that don't mind having sensitive data housed offsite.

EPeachtree offers the advantage of remote access to accounting information, a feature that the desktop program lacks, says Chief Operating Officer Doug Meyer.

Unlimited access to ePeachtree costs $9.99 per month for the first user, and $4.99 per month for each additional user.

EPeachtree's primary competitor is NetLedger, a spin-off of Oracle Software.

Based on the Oracle 8i database, NetLedger Plus offers a full-featured, multiuser accounting solution for small businesses and organizations priced at $4.95 per month per user, as well as a basic small business accounting program and a consumer money manager, both free.

EPeachtree's offerings include reporting and general ledger, inventory, customer, and vendor lists, with common functions such as accounts receivable and payable arrayed under them.

In June, ePeachtree will add an automatic payroll service, which will be priced separately at $9.99 per month, regardless of the number of employees and pay periods. This service will initially include tax form updates, and will eventually add quarterly tax filings and direct deposit to employee bank accounts.

Best Face Forward

EPeachtree's easy-to-navigate home page offers various tips and news about the product. It also offers a navigation bar with links to all of the major accounting modules. Clicking one will bring up a menu of accounting tasks such as accounts receivable, accounts payable, or purchase orders displays.

Epeachtree's defaults are list views, but you can switch to form views for editing with a simple mouse click.

What it offers in navigation, ePeachtree lacks in speed. Without a persistent broadband connection, ePeachtree is too slow for data entry. And it only works with Internet Explorer versions 4.0 and above.

EPeachtree also lacks multilevel password protection for limiting access, but that and many other features are planned for future releases. Eventually, ePeachtree inventory and pricing information will be available to you from handheld devices like the Palm Pilot and Microsoft Pocket PC, says Meyer.

Safe and Secure

Peachtree does go to great lengths to ensure data security. Peachtree Software keeps your data, and backs it up several times in redundant and separate SQL Server databases in real time and behind two firewalls. It's also kept in an offsite escrow account.

But that may not be enough to assuage the security concerns of small businesses resistant to changing their business methods, says Kneko Burney, director of markets and computing for Cahners In-Stat Group.

"No matter how large or small you are, if someone comes to you and says, 'I am a startup, so why not outsource this aspect of your business to me?," personally, I'm going to say, 'Sure, why don't you be around for 5 or 6 years and we can talk,'" says Burney. "If your company has an accounting system that works, an application service provider would have to provide a lot of value besides access because that is a sensitive function and, if the ASP goes out of business, you will be up a creek without a paddle."

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