Peachtree Complete Accounting 2006 is a powerhouse bookkeeper for small businesses. This $300 midrange accounting app in Sage (formerly Best) Software's lineup is a worthwhile upgrade for users of version 2005. Longtime users should enjoy the refinements, such as updated forms and new reports on customer and vendor transaction histories. Peachtree's core strengths remain the same, especially its top-notch inventory management tools, which let you automatically create purchase orders when supplies run low. Bookkeepers who also want to bank online can download statements from your bank's Web site directly into Peachtree 2006, and the new Bill Pay feature saves you from fussing with checks and stamps. We like the $300 Peachtree Complete, though it's not amazing enough to warrant a switch if you're already happy with another program, such as QuickBooks Pro.Whether you're a new user or upgrading from an earlier version, Peachtree Complete 2006 is easy to set up; software installation took us about 10 minutes. To start, just input your company data, either manually or via data transfer. First-timers will like the New Company Setup wizard that walks you through entering your company name and address, accounting method, and so on. The setup guide is well written and easy to understand, as are those of its competitors QuickBooks Premier 2005 and MYOB Premier Accounting 2005 (part of MYOB Business Essentials Pro.
Importing data to Peachtree Complete from other programs, however, is trickier. For instance, Peachtree can't import or export payroll tax tables, sales tax information, and inventory and job beginning balances from other programs, so you'll have to do this manually. And unlike QuickBooks, Peachtree lacks a wizard for importing data directly from Microsoft Excel, though a toolbar within Peachtree can export reports to Excel. However, if you're migrating from QuickBooks, Peachtree's Convert A Company guide will automatically import your company data.
Longtime Peachtree users will feel comfortable with the interface of version 2006. The My Business screen provides a quick overview of your company's bottom line, and the menu bar provides easy access to dozens of features. Yet Peachtree's menu-driven presentation could intimidate newcomers, who may have to sift through a series of submenus to locate a task. Then again, the Peachtree Demos, accessible via the help menu, familiarize you with common chores, such as how to enter customer credits or e-mail forms. Peachtree Complete 2006 shows off cool new tools for small businesses to do online banking and can download electronic statements from about 300 banks. This upgrade maintains the friendly look and feel of version 2005, with fine-tuned features and improved ease of use. Forms have a slicker, more professional appearance and the ability to set column margins. We also like that you can now run reports from frequently used screens, such as Account Reconciliation: just click the Reports icon and choose from the drop-down list. To help companies avoid trouble with the IRS, the new Internal Accounting Review runs 15 reports to find suspicious transactions, such as duplicate checks and out-of-balance receivables. And to prevent anyone from cooking the books, you can lock prior reporting periods.
Another plus is the new Peachtree Bill Pay service, which lets you send up to 20 electronic payments directly from the program for $15.95 per month. You can't, however, use Bill Pay to make payroll. Rather, you'll have to sign up for one of Peachtree's premium payroll services, which start at about $900 annually for a five-employee office.
Peachtree Complete also comes in a $699 multiuser edition. If you need to project future budgets, track employee compensation histories, and archive company data, check out the $500 Peachtree Premium Accounting. Bookkeeping newbies should start with the $100 Peachtree First Accounting or the $200 Peachtree Accounting.Support for Peachtree Complete Accounting 2006 is very good but expensive. The Peachtree support Web site offers a detailed knowledge center, but you can't access it without a support contract. New users get 30 days of free setup support, but we think Peachtree could be more generous with the grace period: QuickBooks users get one free year of setup assistance. For instance, Peachtree's basic plan with 60 minutes of phone and e-mail support (each e-mail query is billed as 10 minutes) costs $199. Budget your questions wisely because per-incident phone support costs a whopping $5 per minute with a $50 minimum charge. Still, our calls were answered immediately, and Peachtree's polite support staff proved knowledgeable. Phone support is available weekdays, 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET; e-mail queries have a four-business-hour turnaround time.