Review of One-Write Plus Version 2.0: accounting system for the small, unsophisticated client. (Software Review) (evaluation)by Nadel, Robert B.
Editor's Note: For the first time since the inception of this column, we are offering an in-depth review of a software package. It is our hope to review other packages from time to time. We would like our readers' opinions of this new feature and any thoughts they may have on specific application areas or programs of interest. Please send your comments to this department editor. "What's New" is suspended for this issue, and will return next month.
Accounting software packages cover a wide range of capabilities, with a price range to match. Introductory single module packages can be purchased for less than $100 while sophisticated high end packages are available in multiple modules at prices up to almost $1,000 per module. To a large degree, when you pay more for a package you get more functionality, but if you do not need them, it is foolish to pay for capabilities that will not be used. Furthermore, simpler packages are generally easier to use.
The package reviewed here, One-Write Plus by Great American Software, is generally considered a low end package, even though its price is not the lowest available. It is available in four modules, each of which can be purchased and used separately. The Master Module handles Cash Receipts, Cash Disbursements, General Ledger and Financial Statements. Also available are modules for Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, and Payroll, but these are not reviewed at this time. There is also a supplemental package called Datalink, but more about that later.
When used alone, the Master Module offers a simple cash basis system for smaller clients. There is a strong need for such a package among accountants with clients whose needs are simple and whose knowledge of accounting and of computers is not extensive. However, there is not a great deal of such software on the market. Because it is very easy to use, One-Write Plus has been very popular. The manufacturer claims that there are over 20,000 users in the U.S. The capacities of the program are as follows: . General ledger account code length: 4 or 6 digits; . Largest transaction amount accepted: $9,999,999,99; . Maximum number of accounts on a hard disk system: 500; . Maximum number of accounts on a floppy system: 250; . Maximum number of different cash/checking accounts: 99; . Maximum number of different companies on the system: 99.
The package comes with many preset charts of accounts which can be accepted as is, or modified to user requirements. The pre-set charts available appear in Figure 1. There is also a "create your own" option which offers considerable flexibility, but requires that accounts be set up within fixed numerical ranges. For example, account numbers for current assets must fall between 1000 and 1499, property and equipment must be between 1500 and 1699, current liabilities must be between 2000 and 2699, and so forth.
In addition to the expected instruction manuals, the package comes with a booklet, "For Your Accountant." This contains a brief description of the system, a guide to setting up charts of accounts, and worksheets on which a chart of accounts can be entered. The rationale behind this booklet is that a client's accountant can set up the required chart of accounts on the worksheets, and the client merely has to key the information into the system.
The name of the package, One-Write Plus, comes from the fact that the system is based on the old manual one-write accounting systems or pegboard accounting familiar to many accountants and clients. The data entry screen for Cash Disbursements (Figure 2) looks like a check laid over a one-write journal sheet, while the Cash Receipts screen (Figure 3) combines a cash receipt form and a journal in similar manner. The account names and numbers which appear on the journal sheet are set up by the user. A maximum of 50 account columns can be set up, as well as Miscellaneous columns.
The data entry screens are very easy to use because they resemble familiar manual forms. Moving from one screen to another is very easy, and the ESC key will back the user up to the previous menu. Unlike some programs on the market, the commonly used keys on the keyboard do exactly what you would expect. The backspace key backspaces and erases, the delete key deletes forward and the arrow keys move the cursor in the direction of the arrow. The program was tested on a hard disk computer and the screen changes were very rapid. The package automatically picks up the computer's system date for data entry purposes, but you can change this date to work on a previous accounting period.
The user can enter check payment data and have the checks printed by the computer, or information can be keyed in from previously written manual checks. Check numbers are incremented automatically during check entry after you key in the starting number. However, these automatically assigned numbers can be overridden if desired. When entering a check, a 25 character alphanumeric field is available for description of the payment.
In check entry, you may distribute the check to single or multiple accounts by moving the cursor to the appropriate account column previously set up on the screen. When distributing to multiple accounts, after each distributing, any amount remaining undistributed automatically appears on the screen. If you want to charge an expense that was not previously set up as a column you can enter it through a miscellaneous column. If you do not recall the proper account numbers, they can be displayed on a pop-up menu by using a Function Key. If you are not certain what account to use, you need not stop the entry process. The distribution can be made to a Temporary Distribution Account which can be redistributed later to the proper account.
When cash disbursements are being entered, the screen shows the remaining balance in the appropriate checking account. This balance is automatically reduced as each check is entered. A check transaction can be easily changed or cancelled before entry. Normally, you would batch print computer checks, but if you need a check in a hurry, you can "hot print" a check by printing it out at the time it is entered and posted.
Supplementing the cash disbursement process is a system called "Vendor/Customer Cards." These are disk records which contain the full name and address of vendors or customers and the account that should be charged or credited for them. The account number can be overridden if desired. The program also has a search facility whereby you can search the files and locate any previous transactions by date, payee name, payee address, check number or account number. Wild card searches can also be initiated by using the asterisk.
With computer-printed checks, you can first print a pre-check report to review before actual check printing. During the process of posting to the general ledger, a posting register is printed first and you are given a chance to confirm the accuracy of the register before the actual posting takes place.
The process for cash receipts is generally the same as cash disbursements. Individual bank deposits can be recorded separately and funds can be transferred between accounts in one of two ways: either a check can be drawn on one account and deposited to another, or a journal entry can be used. Bank account interest and charges can be easily handled.
Account numbers are normally four digits, but six digits can be used with the extra two digits functioning as departmental designation. Before posting, the general journal can be printed to be certain that it is correct. Posting to the general ledger can be made at any time as long as the posting is made before the close of the accounting period. To be certain that you have posted everything, you must scan the General Ledger Report. Unposted items will be indicated, but they do not stand out and can be missed. However, it easy to go back and post missed items.
The Temporary Distribution Account mentioned earlier works like a regular account and will appear on the trial balance with the other accounts. However it will not print on the financial statements. It is meant to be temporary only, and must be closed out to permanent accounts before statement printing takes place. If this is not done, the statements will be out of balance, but it is no problem to go back and make the corrective distribution.
When printing any of the general ledger reports, you have the options of printing: . Current period; . All periods; . Starting and ending with selected dates. Detailed posting in the general ledger can be retained for the entire year so that reports can be printed by account showing all transactions for the year to date.
The journal entry screen is particularly easy to use because it provides separate columns for debit and credit entries. Some programs on the market force you to differentiate debits and credits with a plus or a minus sign, an approach that is cumbersome and errorprone. Plenty of space is provided for journal entry descriptions: three lines of 30 alphanumeric characters each. Journal entries that recur each month can be set up to be automatically entered without re-keying the same data over again. This automatic feature can be overridden if desired.
This processing, which has its own screen, performs the following functions: . Post cash receipts and disbursements, if not already done; . Print and post general journal entries; . Print trial balance; . Print general ledger; . Print financial statements; . Check to see that all transactions are posted; . Check disk space to insure that there will be enough room for next month's transactions.
This processing is controlled by its own screen. It will close all income and expense accounts to the Equity/Net Worth control account, remove transaction detail from the prior year, and set up the accounting period table for the next year.
Printing and Reports
Available reports are listed in Figure 4. It should be noted that no cash flow statement is provided. This may be created using Datalink, described below; though in view of the new accounting reporting requirements, it would be expected that this facility will be added to the package. All reports printed can be handled by an 80-column printer. While the data or printing appears on each report, the time of printing does not. This can make it difficult to determine the latest report if different versions of a report are printed on the same day.
The Balance Sheet and the Statement of Income and Expenses are available in a single format (Figure 5 and 6). You can make only the following changes: . General ledger account can be in regular four digit format or in six digit format for departments; . Statements can be printed for one selected department or for all departments; . An optional one-line footnote can appear at the bottom of each financial statement page. However, through the use of Datalink you have virtually unlimited ability to format financial statements and reports.
Datalink is a separate program which interfaces with One-Write Plus and provides linkage to such programs as Multiplan, Lotus 1-2-3, dBase, Wordstar, and other word processing programs. Data link can read detail fields in standard One-Write Plus files such as the following: . General Ledger Accounts. Number, name, and current period balance for 13 periods of this year and three for next year. . General Ledger History. All debits and credits posted to General Ledger. . Cash Disbursements. All checks and cash disbursements for all periods and all cash accounts. . Cash Receipts. All cash receipts recorded for all periods and all cash accounts. . Journal Entries. All journal entries for all periods. . Vendor/Customer Cards. Vendor and customer information on "pop-up" cards set up in Master. . Customers. Customer file for Accounts Receivable module. . Sales/Receipts. All sales and cash receipts for Accounts Receivable module. . Invoices. Inventory invoices entered in Accounts Receivable module; Service invoices entered in Accounts Receivable module; Professional invoices entered in Accounts Receivable module. . Vendors. Vendor file for Accounts Payable module. . Purchases/Checks. All purchases and cash disbursements for Accounts Payable module. . Employees. Information on each employee in Payroll module. . Paychecks. All paycheck information in Payroll module.
The Datalink program is very logical and easy to use. Instructions are shown clearly on the screen so that constant reference to the manual is not necessary. Specific fields in the desired files may be selected or omitted. Selection ranges can be indicated for such fields as Account Number. The length of a field can be specified as well as formatting details such as commas, minus signs, and parentheses. The results of what you select can be previewed on the screen or printed out. Specific field selections for a file can be saved and used again.
Through its ability to act as an interface between One-Write Plus and various spreadsheet, database, and word processing programs, Datalink provides a wide variety of report options to the user. Some examples are: . Consolidating general ledgers of multiple companies using a spreadsheet; . Creating a budget v. actual report using a spreadsheet; . Creating financial ratios using a database program; . Performing job cost tracking using a database program; . Creating completely customized financial statements using a spreadsheet.
The program comes with two different manuals, both clearly written. One is a tutorial that walks the user through the entire system using both the manual and a tutorial company that is furnished on disk. This enables the user to both read about the system and apply this knowledge with hands-on activity. The second manual is a reference manual which is well illustrated with sample screens and has a good index. This manual contains all error messages that can appear on the screen with an explanation of each. There is also a glossary of accounting and computer terms.
While using the program, there is usually a short help or guidance message at the bottom of each entry screen. Often this message changes when you move from field to field. The screens also state which function keys are applicable and what they do. Finally, the F1 function key will pop up on the screen context-sensitive help messages.
Technical assistance is available from Great American Software without charge over the telephone. However, this will be a toll call to New Hampshire. This reviewer was able to set up the program, use it, and get out of some awkward situations relying solely on the manual. This is not always the case when reviewing programs.
If you exit One-Write Plus and return to the DOS operating system you will not lose the data from One-Write Plus as long as it has been entered. Since you would normally enter all data immediately after it is keyed, you are usually safe.
The system provides the facility to backup all data files. The DOS utilities for backup or diskcopy are used, but this fact is unimportant to the use of a backup screen. The backup screen gives you the following choices: . Backup files using DOS Backup (hard disk); . Backup files using DOS Diskcopy (floppy disk); . Restore files using DOS Restore; . Format blank diskettes. The program will remind you to back up files before it will do month-end processing.
There are many built-in safeguards to prevent unintended erasure of data. You cannot delete an account that has activity. If you void a check already posted, which you can do, an entry will appear in the Cash Disbursements Journal with a void notice in it. The original entry in the General ledger will be marked as "Void," it will not be erased. The voiding will take place in both the cash account and the effected expense account so that the General ledger will remain in balance.
Printing and posting of journal entries is combined and printing is allowed only to the printer, not to the screen. Thus there is always printed evidence of all postings. Once a General Ledger entry has been posted, you cannot edit or change it directly. Any desired changes must be made with an adjusting journal entry. You cannot post an unbalanced journal entry.
There are other, less obvious controls in the system. For example, for a check to be printed by the system, there must be a check number other than zero. In other words, the computer will not print a check unless it can generate the check number. This prevents the duplicate printing of checks that were previously prepared manually. In addition, when funds are transferred from one cash account to another, they must go through a required account called Cash Transfers. You cannot transfer directly from one cash account to another. Thus an audit trail is preserved.
One-Write Plus is an extremely easy program to use, and is particularly well adapted to novice users. Such novices may be new to computers, new to accounting, or both. While the module reviewed here will only handle cash basis accounting, integrating additional modules for Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, and Payroll is easily done. There is little flexibility, in the reports produced by the system, but much of this can be overcome through the use of Datalink. Great American Software 9 Columbia Drive Amherst, NH 03031 800-528-5015 603- 889-5400 in New Hampshire
Prices . Each Master, Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, or Payroll module: $79.95. . Datalink: $79.95. . Accountant's Desk Copy: $99. (Master module and Datalink for CPAs and accountants only).
System Requirements . IBM PC, XT, AT, PS/2 or compatible. . MS-DOS or PC-DOS version 2.1 or higher. . 384k RAM recommended. . Master module requires floppy disk or hard disk. Other modules require hard disk.
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