QuickBooks v MYOB – The Great Debate
By Heather Kennedy
Registered Tax Agent
Professional Partner - Consultant Reckon (QuickBooks)
Certified Consultant MYOB
One of the big questions faced by business owners once they make the decision to computerise their accounting system is "Which software should I use?"
Both MYOB and QuickBooks offer a fantastic product range for the small and medium business owner, but which one really is the best for your business (or if you are an accountant, your clients businesses?)
We have a large client base of both MYOB and QuickBooks clients and I am Accredited/Certified with both products. For the first 4 years of my business I used MYOB, and then switched to QuickBooks eight years ago and I have never looked back.
Since switching to QuickBooks I am able to get far better management reports, (which was my main reason for switching in the first place); I can check my bookkeepers work more thoroughly and my bookkeeper spends less time doing the data entry and finds it very user friendly.
Both QuickBooks and MYOB systems are tailored towards small and medium businesses. They both offer a range of products to choose from, from very simple systems for small business, through to larger more flexible systems for medium and larger businesses that have multi-user requirements and also need a larger range of features and reporting options.
Both programs offer Payroll; Time Billing; Cost Centres; Job Costing and Inventory control. QuickBooks includes a timer which can be useful when using time billing and its inventory system is a little more flexible and simpler to use than that in MYOB. (Bear in mind however that working with inventory is never easy, no matter what system you use…)
The latest versions of QuickBooks and MYOB are both first rate. They are easy to use, have a great look and are both feature and report rich. Every time a new version of their software is released by either company, we get more automation, the ability for faster data entry, greater use of technology, more features, more flexibility and better reporting. (All a very good reason to use updated software...) This is particularly true since Reckon Australia released their SQL version of the QuickBooks software in 2008 and MYOB released their SQL version late 2011. Releasing their software on a completely new platform, the SQL platform, has given the products a flexibility that was not possible in the older versions of the software. It has also made both more able to cope with business growth. The Enterprise version of QuickBooks is suitable to be networked between 30 or more computers.
In 2009 Reckon released a Cloud based (online) version of their QuickBooks product, known as QuickBooks Hosted. This Online version uses their most fully featured Enterprise version of the product yet still starts from a low, single user price. This product can be used by both Windows (using the Standard Hosted product) and MAC (using the Premium Hosted product). The offers a level of security and accessibility previously unknown. MYOB also has a Cloud based (online) version of their product also but at this stage it is only available in a very basic version of their range (MYOB Live Accounts). MYOB plans to release their standard MYOB range of products, in the Cloud (online) in 2012.
At this stage the QuickBooks hosted product is the most feature rich of all the accounting software on the market that is "in the Cloud" (online).
The latest version of MYOB (AccountRight 20) has lots of great features and is far more flexible than it's previous versions which were written on a very old platform (from the 1990's - dinosaur age for computer software). It is only very newly released so if it has any bugs in it these will be sure to come out (and be solved) over the next year or so. MYOB has gone to a lot of trouble however to release their new software with minimal bugs and has not released the software to market until they were beyond confident with their product. This should mean, we hope, a relatively trouble free release of their new software. MYOB has also gone to a lot of trouble to make the new product strongly resemble their old product in terms of its look and feel so loyal MYOB customers should not notice a big change in how their software works. What this change means however is that the MYOB Accounting software range now has the potential to move forward in leaps and bounds in terms of its functionality, flexibility and reporting. The product will no longer be constrained by the technology (or lack of it) in its very old software platform so it will be very interesting to watch as the new versions come out over the next few years.
One of my favourite features in accounting software is the ability to be able to automate regular tasks and management reports. Both QuickBooks and MYOB provide a memorised transaction (recurring transaction) feature which gives us the ability to automate direct debits and regular transactions; however QuickBooks memorised transaction feature works more smoothly than its MYOB counterpart and has less restrictions.
QuickBooks also has a fantastic Memorised Report feature which enables us to create reports, modify them to our exact needs and memorise them in a management group. MYOB's customisation of reports, at this stage, does not even come close in its functionality. For example, using QuickBooks, you might create a group of reports called "Johns monthly management reports" or "Karens BAS checking reports" and customise and memorise all the reports that you need for these business processes. Your whole group of reports will then be one click away whenever you need them.
Both MYOB and QuickBooks contain a Company Data Auditor which makes checking the system before the BAS or Tax is prepared, a breeze. They are very similar in nature but I do prefer MYOB's version of the Company Data Auditor over QuickBooks counterpart.
Both programs have a very good, integrated payroll system within them (in the Plus versions and upwards of both products) so if you are looking for a stable, simple payroll system for a small to medium business either QuickBooks or MYOB is suitable. Both programs enable you to amend and delete previous pays if required (and if the user has the appropriate security rights).
Both companies have a range of services and tools that work within their products. MYOB has its M Powered services range which provides services that assist with bill paying, bank integration, making superannuation payments and receiving customer payments. QuickBooks includes services that assist with making superannuation payments, receiving customer payments, bank integration and an interesting Google Marketing tool. Both companies provide most of these services for a small additional charge.
With regards to navigating the systems, it is a matter of personal choice as to which is the best. Both systems are simple and easy to move around. They both use “Plain English” terminology and guide you through what you need to do using a simple navigator system. They both have very good “Help” systems within the software. QuickBooks ‘Find' Feature far outdoes MYOB’s ‘Find Transactions' feature. Using ‘Find’ in QuickBooks, you can find literally anything in a second. This makes the arduous task of finding a previously entered transaction, or the even more arduous task of trying to fix up a system that has not been used correctly - relatively simple, or at least as simple as it is going to get.
QuickBooks generally is quicker to move around than MYOB. What may take 3 or 4 “clicks” of the mouse with MYOB may only take 1 or 2 “clicks” in QuickBooks (once you know what you are doing). This can make QuickBooks significantly faster to use than MYOB and in the case where you are paying a bookkeeper this can mean a smaller bill (assuming of course the bookkeeper knows how to move around the program efficiently).
As far as which one is easier, again I think it is personal choice. I have heard people tell me that QuickBooks is much easier, but then again I have heard people say the same about MYOB. I personally think they are both easy to move around once you get used to them. QuickBooks is more customisable on its navigation screens which can make it easier and quicker to move around than MYOB.
An important area to look at is the reporting and customisation area. This is where you will find that QuickBooks is superior to MYOB. With MYOB you get what MYOB has given you. There are many reports & graphs to choose from, which is great but they are very inflexible. With QuickBooks the reports can be customized to your hearts content.
The data-entry screens themselves can also be customized in QuickBooks (but not in MYOB). This is particularly important for clients that have very distinct requirements for Invoicing, Purchase Orders etc. I therefore find that with my more complex clients who have very distinct requirements, that I always recommend QuickBooks. This is because there are things that I am able to do for clients using QuickBooks that I could never do for my MYOB clients without incorporating a third party product.
Security in both products is good. QuickBooks security in its product range up to QuickBooks Premier is simpler and less time-consuming to set up than MYOB; however MYOB allows a far more detailed choice in terms of who can do what tasks and who can see what reports. If a QuickBooks client needs this full blown security however they can purchase the Enterprise version of the product, which can be purchased as a single user product, right through to a 30 or more user product. The Enterprise product is perfect for bigger companies where good and flexible security is essential. The Enterprise product is the product used for the Hosted (online) version of QuickBooks so all online users of QuickBooks have access to this fully flexible security feature.
From a time and management perspective I find QuickBooks is generally superior to MYOB. Little things such as Reckons “Memorised reports” function can save significant amounts of time each month and is extremely beneficial from a management perspective. The “memorised report” and “grouping” feature in QuickBooks means not only can you customise a heap of reports to your exact requirements, but you can also produce them each and every day/week/month/quarter at the click of a button. This is a great time saver and an excellent management tool.
From an accountants perspective I know that MYOB has always been the popular choice. I think this is probably because MYOB marketed better in Australia in the early days and as Accountants we mostly learn MYOB at University or TAFE. Also if you have looked at the original versions of MYOB and QuickBooks, you would know that they both left a lot to be desired, but MYOB was probably better from an accountant’s perspective in that it was more difficult for clients to “stuff up” previous work that had been checked and fixed by the accountant. Now however they both can be “locked” once a period has been completed meaning that an accountant or bookkeeper can know that once a BAS or tax return has been done there will be no changes made. Both systems can also be set-up for security purposes so that users such as secretaries cannot delete or edit any transactions once they are made. You also have the option to allow changes to be made if required in both systems. QuickBooks has an Accountants addition of their product range which has an interface specifically designed for Accountants which I think they will find very appealing.
In summary, both MYOB and QuickBooks give us a great range of products which I am happy to promote. If you are a small business with fairly simple needs then really it is just personal choice as to which one you and/or your Tax Agent prefer. If you need Time Billing or Inventory, you can use either product but you will find QuickBooks less frustrating and more flexible. If you network or want multi-user capabilities both will give you this. If you want to be able to custom design your system and reporting to your own specific requirements then QuickBooks is definitely the choice to make and if you are planning on expanding your business then I would also advise that QuickBooks would be the way to go.
For more information or specific questions regarding the two packages and your requirements, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.