Revision of Top 10 Accounting Software Packages Page

I’ve been revising the web site, slowly. There are more pages there than I realized, and updating them takes time. One page that’s been sorely in need of revision is the Top 10 Accounting and ERP Packages page. Take a look.
Actually, I did more than I intended to do. I downloaded new copies of the PDFs for the software packages and put links to the web sites that were needed.
Hope you can make some use of the information on this page. My next job is to put up commentary about the software packages, and review all the information that’s available on them. Meanwhile, if you’re in the market for new ERP software, I’ve started a series on ceoTechCast (my podcast) about needs analysis and how it relates to selecting software. The first two segments are up.

Sage ACCPAC 5.4 PJC Ships

I got it in the mail today: Sage ACCPAC 5.4 Project and Job Cost.
Long history behind this product. Long and spotty.
Here goes. ACCPAC Plus (DOS) had a Job Cost product. It was simple. In the mid-80s it was pretty good compared to Peachtree (which was also a leading software product for what has now become the mid-market). The problem was that by the time ACCPAC was ready to move to Windows, it was still pretty much the same as it had been all along. It still didnt’ support retainage very well. Still didn’t have a great interface to Job Cost. And some other missing pieces. Things like Job Power or Timberline shamed it.
So ACCPAC decided (and announced) that there would NEVER be a Job Cost for Windows product. Network MicroSystems out of Austrailia decided this was an opportunity, and wrote the Job Cost for Windows package. It was basically a copy of the DOS package, and worked well for clients that liked the DOS product. (The web address for Network MicroSystems was, but all I get when I go there is a “Fedora Core Test Page” for Apache Server). So I guess they aren’t around any more.
About 5 or 6 years ago, ACCPAC announced that they had changed their mind. They WOULD in fact be making a Job Cost product. And so they released it. No retainage in the first version. Lacking a number of features and a bit clunky in the second. The third major revision is now out.
I’m looking forward to digging in. Hope they fixed all of my pet peeves.

Dynamics NAV 5.0: Miscellaneous Notes

I’ve finally had time to load the beta, order the beta license from MS, and get the whole thing going in a virtual PC. One of the things I picked out of the “What’s New” training was the fact that some address fields (customers, vendors, contacts) had been lengthened. It’s in the General Ledger part of that training if you’re trying to find it.
I checked out the Names (which aren’t listed as having been lengthened) and found that they, too, were now 50 characters. That’s a good thing. I modified our first version (think it was 3.1 or something like that), and am still getting an occasional error message when I try to do something. The messages usually have to do with trying to copy a text field of 50 characters (what I made the fields) to a field of 30 characters (the old length). Of course, there is the “where used” tool in the developer toolkit, but it doesn’t find everything.
We also noticed that the NA (North American) beta doesn’t have payroll. Payroll 5.0 from Serenic should be out soon and includes a number of things like a wizard for adding employees. I figure the omission is just because it’s a beta.

GP and SL Put Out To Pasture?

Interesting week for rumors. After the rumor circulated about Project Green withering, the new rumor is that SL (Solomon) and GP (Great Plains) are to be shelved. AccountingTechnology editor-in-chief Bob Scott reported both on his Consulting Insights newsletter.
I’m with Bob, though. I don’t think it’s likely that Microsoft will kill a cash cow anytime soon. MS is likely to take a position much like Sage. Milk the dying product until you can kill it with a feather. Kind of like ACCPAC Plus which, after years of threats, Sage finally killed off last year.

Project Green Withers on the Vine

Project Green from Microsoft is dying. When Microsoft bought four ERP software packages, now named Microsoft Dynamics NAV, AX, SL, and GP, the company announced that their strategy was to merge all of these into a single product. Many of us groaned. Not only were the products–for the most part–strong in different markets, they were very different in construction and there were some functionality differences. Great Plains (GP), for example, uses third party software for warehouse functionality. Navision (NAV) has built in warehousing. SL (formerly known as Solomon) is strong in professional services; the other products–for the most part–aren’t. In many cases the place in the software where functions are done is different.
To put it mildly, converging the products was going to be a nightmare for programmers, and a trial for users. But now Microsoft seems to be putting the project on hold. There’s a redo of the interfaces for all the programs coming later this year, but here’s what Microsoft’s head of AX and NAV told eWeek:

“What we went out and said two years ago is that we would go out and converge the product and that was the priority No. 1 for Dynamics. We don’t see that as a priority any more,” said Mogens Munkholm Elsberg, general manager for Microsoft NAV and AX. “We think that over time we will add technology to the products that will be similar—like the SharePoint integration, like Web services, like the UI…It doesn’t make them one code base, but it does make them closer to one another.”

Sounds like an attempt to blur the distinctions between the products. But don’t let the look-alike interface fool you. These are very different products.
Project Green is Dead—for the Foreseeable Future, at Least

FoxPro? Yawn. Took You Long Enough

Microsoft is discoutinuing FoxPro…of course, as diehards will tell you, it won’t happen until 2015, and Microsoft is releasing what eWeek refers to as “core portions of the FoxPro software” to its open source website. Pundits will tell you that FoxPro will continue to live. Like Paradox…and Turbo Pascal…and Clarion developer…
Reality is that eventually FoxPro will die. We’ve been telling clients for several years to watch software based on FoxPro. Things like Sage Pro ERP are already on the winded list…now they’ll go on the milk-the-user-base-until-it-dies-off list.
Sorry. I should be more positive. DON’T hear me saying that you should abandon any software based on FoxPro TODAY. DO hear me saying that I’d be looking for something else in the next few years.
One other thing. In Microsoft lingo, “Extended support” means “really really expensive support that we hope no one but the most desperate will pay for…”
There I go again…
Avoid FoxPro from now on. If you don’t, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Microsoft Puts FoxPro Out to Pasture

Google Sued over YouTube

I’m not really surprised at this one. When Google (equals lots of cash) acquired YouTube (equals business model depending on advertising driven by content owned by other folks [so says Viacom]) I thought, “Big lawsuit coming here…” I see from searching the blog that I didn’t write about it, though.
Oh, well. I’ve missed major trends before. Here’s the MSN entry into the analysis game over the suit. It’s all over the email newsletter horizon today.
What do I think? I think that if–as the articles suggest–YouTube has been negotiating with these companies, there might be something there. After all, if you’re using my comments on this blog on your blog and selling ads, you’re basically stealing my property to sell your ads.
Not that anyone would want to read what I’m writing…
If YouTube is correct (and to a degree, I think they are), and they can’t be responsible for policing all the content on YouTube because there’s too much of it and they can’t really tell without knowing every possible copyrighted piece out there (some amateurs are producing pretty professional stuff), then YouTube may have a point.
Viacom says that YouTube prevents porn from being shown on the site, so why not copyrighted material?
YouTube says…
Well, as you can see, it’s one for the courts to work out.

Nav 5.0 Installation

NAV 5.0 NA (North American) database is now out…actually, the second release is out. I thought I’d try installing the client and the database. I loaded up a virtual machine copy that I’ve got with Windows XP and a couple of other things (like a SQL client) to serve as the base machine. Here’s what I found in the installation.

  • Microsoft.NET Framework 2.0 is required for the install.
  • Looks like the install routine isn’t quite ready for prime time yet. I got boxes for the license agreement for the .NET Framework. I was glad to agree to the boxes. Not sure exactly what I signed off on. It appeared that the document was created with a font I didn’t have.
  • While this was going on, I decided to install Office 2007 on my main machine (the one running the virtual machine).
  • We finally have the new Dynamics “Wave” logo…looks kinda like the opera house in Sydney, Austrailia photographed from the right angle. With the possible exception of the fact that Sydney probably paid less for the opera house than Microsoft did for the logo and the logo has more colors
  • SQL Server Express, the replacement for MSDE, is also (optionally, says the installer) installed for use with Nav 5.0. Rumor has it that 5.1 will require SQL…actually, at this point I’d say it was more than a rumor.
  • The install of Office 2007 bombed out with a nonsense error. Think I had too many things going on at one time for it. No multitasking here…
  • Installation of the C/Side client starts…and gives the standard options for “minimal,” “complete,” and “custom” installation. I choose complete, as usual.
  • Installation complete. 5.0 runs.

Now we’re cookin’ with hot grease…I’ll copy the NA database and our license and let you know later.