If you’re running a small business, chances are you’ve cobbled together your existing applications into a makeshift system that meets your business’s financial needs. You may use Quicken for bookkeeping, Microsoft Word or AppleWorks for invoicing, Microsoft Excel for keeping track of payments and receipts, and yet another program for managing contacts. It can get confusing.
Enter MYOB FirstEdge, which includes the features from MYOB’s high-end product, AccountEdge, that are most relevant to small businesses; it’s a versatile package that’s ideal for companies with one or two employees or for the self-employed. We found that FirstEdge was easy to use, and we were impressed by its excellent reporting functions, ability to work with online banking formats, and painless setup.
Out of the Box and Straight to Work
FirstEdge was designed to meet the needs of businesses with no use for accounting features such as inventory management, time billing, and payroll. What FirstEdge provides are features for handling quotes, invoicing, receivables tracking, banking, and contact management-as well as 60 customizable reports–all wrapped in a user-friendly interface.
FirstEdge has an almost effortless setup process. The program’s New Company File Assistant walks you through six quick steps and has you up and running in a matter of minutes. First you enter some basic business information–such as your company’s name, address, and tax ID number. Then you select your business type. FirstEdge ships with 83 predefined business types that run the gamut from religious organization to entertainment company, and each one includes appropriate income, expense, and asset accounts. Once you’ve selected your business type, you can easily customize these accounts by adding or deleting items.
If you already have contact, banking, sales, or payment information stored in another program, and as long as you can save that information in a tab- or comma-delimited text file, FirstEdge lets you import it with relative ease.
But we have a couple of caveats. Although importing banking and contact information is a snap, importing sales data is a bit irksome. FirstEdge is picky about how sales text files are formatted, and importing them can require some experimenting and tweaking.
Getting to the Bottom Line
To make entering billing, quote, invoice, and banking information easy, FirstEdge embraces the register interface familiar to users of Quicken or the defunct QuickBooks. From a single window, you can create quotes for new business, enter sales, view open invoices, show closed sales, and issue credits. You can also view the details of any register item. Adding line items to existing quotes is intuitive, and you can convert any quote into a sale with the click of a button.
When you need to send a quote or invoice to a client, the program can turn it into a PDF file and then attach it to an e-mail, save it, or fax it. (Faxing is not currently available in OS X.)
Banking in FirstEdge works just the way you’d expect it to. You enter all your transactions in a single window. A drop-down menu lets you select whether you’re going to spend money, receive money, create a new sale, or receive a payment from a customer. When it’s time to reconcile your accounts, the Get Statement command lets you import any type of statement you can download from your bank, from text files to Microsoft Money and QIF files. If you’re accustomed to the accountreconciliation ease of programs such as Quicken, you won’t be disappointed with FirstEdge. Reconciling imported statements is just as easy as it is in that program.
FirstEdge ships with a collection of 60 reports–from balance sheets to aging lists (which show you the customers who have overdue invoices and how late they are)–that you can customize for your business. Each report can be viewed within FirstEdge or saved to a variety of formats, from PDF and HTML files (which you can then send via e-mail to your accountant) to tab- and comma-delimited text, which you can easily import into a spreadsheet program.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
MYOB FirstEdge is exactly what kitchen-table businesses have been waiting for: one program that does it all. FirstEdge is amazingly mature for a program in its first release, and we chalk this up to its roots in a more full-featured accounting program. FirstEdge’s easy quotes and invoicing, along with its excellent banking and reporting tools, will delight small-business owners who want to make their financial matters as hassle-free and integrated as possible.