An integrated accounting system for the Macintosh. (Check Mark Software Inc.'s MultiLedger) (Software Review) (evaluation)by Warner, Paul D.
MultiLedger combines general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable and inventory tracking in one integrated program. A separate payroll program, that can be integrated or run as a free-standing program, is also available.
MultiLedger contains all of the modules needed to maintain the records for a medium-sized business. The system handles all transaction entries in a batch mode, which means that any transaction can be corrected up to the time the transactions for the month are closed. After the closing, corrections have to be made either by reversing the incorrect entry in the journal where it was originally entered or via a general journal entry. Changes to master files (e.g., customers, vendors) take place when the entry screen is exited.
The integrated features have been designed so that any feature can be ignored if not needed. For example, a professional would not require the inventory module and can simply ignore it (however, a professional can use the inventory file as a billing rate file). The inventory module is designed to handle finished goods and would not be adequate for a manufacturing company (the next version, due later this year, will handle job-costing). A manufacturer could still use MultiLedger, but would have to use a spreadsheet or some other means to maintain manufacturing costs.
Setting Up the Program
Setting up this fully-integrated program is not difficult, even for those who are new users of the Macintosh. A sample Chart of Accounts is provided, and accounts can be copied from the sample or from any company. Account balances from the previous period can be entered for use by the comparative reports. Each of the accounts uses a four-digit account number and an optional extension for up to nine departments or profit centers.
Once the chart is set up, the financial statement formats can be built. This entails using the financial statements selection from the set-up menu. Each of the category (group) headings can be replaced (I set one up for a trust and replaced the standard items provided). The accounts have to be linked to the headings (make sure that when you set up the accounts that related items are in sequence). All unused headings are automatically ignored when the financials are produced.
Two levels of password protection are available. "Master" users have access to the entire program including all reports. "Restricted" users are locked out of reports that owners and managers consider confidential. Of course, the use of the password protection features of the program is entirely optional.
The last step, unless you want to enter budget data, is to enter the account balances for the period ended prior to the start date previously entered in the company information screen. If MultiLedger is started during the year, then year-to-date numbers should be entered for the P&L items.
Transaction (Data) Entry
Data entry is easy to master. Although this is a complete double-entry accounting system, most of the "debits" and "credits" are handled transparently by the program, making it very easy for non-accountants to understand exactly what's happening when data is being entered. The intuitive nature of the data entry process makes learning the program a quick and painless experience for most bookkeepers.
Because of the extensive use of "pop-up" lists, there is rarely a need for the user to refer to printed lists of customers, vendors, inventory items, salespeople, terms, etc. During the data entry process, tabbing to a field will pop up a scrollable list on the screen. The user can then simply double-click on the proper selection.
Multiple sales tax rates can be used, and inventory items can be designated as non-taxable or non-commissionable (or both). Document numbers are automatically incremented. Entries can be modified or deleted until the month is closed.
Transactions can be entered for the current month and the following month. However, the next month's entries will not appear on the transaction reports until the current month is closed. Entries for prior periods can also be entered. When these are posted, they are flagged in the general ledger with two asterisks (**).
All transaction journals remain accessible until they are posted at month end. Journals must be printed prior to posting, because once they are posted they can no longer be printed out for the closed period(s). The developers of MultiLedger should revise this feature so that journals for closed months can be printed out, if required.
The ability to have automatic or recurring entries is provided; however automatic reversal entries are not (they should be).
Reports, Inquiries, Check Printing, Etc.
The program offers a large number of reporting options. Financial statements can be viewed or printed for any month. Some reports can also be exported as text files (ASCII files) for use by most word processing programs. The account balances can be exported as SYLK files, which can then be opened directly by most popular spreadsheets. Other reports include those for inventory, salespeople, vendors, and customers. Budget versus actual and prior year comparatives are also available.
The program gives users the extra flexibility of open-item tracking. Summary or aged accounts receivable and accounts payable can be viewed or printed.
A useful graphing feature gives the user a quick look at trends in any single account or group of accounts in the Chart of Accounts.
The Bank Reconciliation feature can reconcile several cash accounts. Checks and deposits are sorted by date. To reconcile, you merely click on the items that have cleared. The program maintains a running balance of the difference between the bank and book balances. A listing of the outstanding items and the bank reconciliation can be printed.
Printing can be done with either ImageWriters or LaserWriters. Vendor checks, customer statements, and invoices can be customized by the user. In addition, the program is already set up to print on popular forms available from mail order forms vendors. Mailing labels and shipping labels can be printed, too.
As indicated in the table, a complete set of reports is provided. Although the standard reports are not customizable, the formats for checks, customer invoices and statements are.
A multiuser version, with record locking capabilities, is due out later this year. It will also have greater importing capabilities and job costing.
Those users not requiring accounts receivable, accounts payable and inventory tracking, should consider using CASH LEDGER. This package contains all of the other features of MultiLedger and can be upgraded, at any time, by returning the original disk and paying the difference in price.
MultiLedger is an easy to use integrated package which is well worth its price. It is well suited for the ease-of-use of the Macintosh.
Paul D. Warner, PhD, CPA, Pace University
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