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Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting
Contributed by: G3nu1n3, at 11/08/2004 01:07:00 AM.

If you're keeping business books using Excel and Word, you'll be happy to learn there's a better way. Microsoft has announced Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting (Office SBA for short), aimed at making life easier for spreadsheet bookkeepers.

Office SBA permits up to five concurrent users, and it can import QuickBooks data. Microsoft has already targeted small-business users with Microsoft Office Small Business Edition 2003 and Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager.

Microsoft plans an extended beta test period, with the U.S. retail product scheduled to ship in late 2005. The beta may be downloaded soon, although Microsoft could not guarantee that the link would work today. The software pricing and its availability for other countries has not yet been determined.

Office SBA will work as a stand-alone application, but it really shines when used together with Microsoft Office 2003 and an updated version of Microsoft Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager. These will come bundled as Microsoft Office for Small Business Management.

Office SBA lets you design forms using Word, so you can easily add a custom logo to your invoices. It also supports transfers of financial data and calculation formulas to Excel, to make "what-if" forecasting easier. You can track customer information in Outlook, adding products to a sales quotation, then transfer that quote to Office SBA to prepare an invoice and bill the customer. You can even convert Outlook appointments to billable time in Office SBA, a neat and simple way for professionals and service personnel to track chargeable hours.

The new software also offers capabilities for tracking sales and customer accounts receivable, disbursements and vendor accounts payable, along with banking and financial reporting. Employee payroll is handled by integration with a special version of ADP's online payroll service. There are also plans to link to credit card services, online banking, and check and forms suppliers.

Who Should Use It?

Office SBA is easy to install with attractive flowcharts that guide nonaccountants in its use. However, Office SBA in its current form doesn't have all the capabilities of QuickBooks, particularly for specialized businesses. Microsoft is also releasing today a Solution Development Kit so independent software vendors can create product add-ons.

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