Manzanita. ('Business Works,' accounting software from Manzanita Software Systems) (Software Review) (The CPA & the Computer) (Evaluation)by Winsten, Irwin
Three months of unlimited toll-free telephone support are provided from the date of purchase. Additional support is available for $150 per year.
A separate module called Business Forms (retail $149.99) provides for printing forms such as sales orders and invoices, customer statements, and purchase orders on blank paper using a laser printer. Pre-collated laser paper in two or three colors is available for printing multi-part forms. Business Forms is also compatible with Peachtree Complete, DacEasy, and Pacioli.
Installation is simple. The compressed program files come in both 3 1/2" and 5 1/4" format. Although the diskettes carried the message on the label "To install use the System Manager disk," each module diskette contained the install program. The entire set used about four megabytes. Manzanita recommends allocating 10 megabytes for both program and data files.
As with most lower priced software, the manuals are bound soft cover which are tough to handle when looking things up while seated at the computer. However context sensitive help screens are easy to access and clearly written. "Pop-up" windows make it easy to select accounts and other data. Error messages and prompts are easy to understand and follow. Sample reports are printed in a separate manual section. Tutorial chapters and sample data are included. The documentation, both written and onscreen, is far above average. The only odd terminology is the prompt "Page" to indicate that additional screens are associated with a record. (Most software uses words such as "Next Screen" or "Screen 2").
Some field sizes are included in the manuals, but prospective users may have to call up screens to determine critical field sizes.
The program will support 99 companies, and the data for each company is in a separate subdirectory. The subdirectory name determines the company. Subdirectories can be in different drives. Many screens display the company name and "posting date." This helps avoid erroneously entering data into the wrong company.
Data Entry is Real Time
Each transaction must be accepted into the system before proceeding to the next transaction. Some transactions require changing default general ledger account numbers before accepting the transaction. There is no way to print and review a batch of transactions, such as sales invoices or cash receipts to make corrections before the batch enters the system. This limitation can be troublesome in a network environment with high employee turnover.
Since transactions may be posted to a number of modules (Order Entry can affect Accounts Receivable, Inventory, and General Ledger at the time of entry) the software provides transaction registers for printing transaction lists by transaction type. These lists must be carefully reviewed to identify any errors that may have been introduced.
Each module requires users to enter the number of months for retaining transaction details. If one month is specified, the detail is erased once the month has been closed, a hazardous possibility. Additionally, accounts can be erased if they show zero balances and no transactions in the current month. The loss of the audit trail can present a serious weakness in control. (A better control will not permit erasures of any account with transactions during the current and preceding year.)
Since data entry is real time and the maintenance of transaction history may be limited, users must carefully follow printout scripts in each module, such as printing the transaction register and performing other processes before closing the month.
Another restriction relates to linking the various modules to the General Ledger. Each module is considered to be in "SETUP" mode when data files are created for each company and will not post to the General Ledger. This permits entering opening balances. However the setup mode cannot be returned to once SETUP is exited and production begins. Therefore all opening balances that pertain to a particular company and module, must be entered at the same time. A much more flexible system permits turning the General Ledger link off and on as needed.
New accounts usually can be entered "on the fly." For example, new customers and new items can be entered while invoicing, new vendors while entering purchases. An interesting option permits maintaining an "audit log," which is a list of the 1000 most recent file changes. Cash flow reports are provided in both Accounts Receivable (cash receipts projected from invoice due dates) and Accounts Payable (cash disbursements anticipated from either discount or due dates).
A provision is made for 12 accounting periods and is somewhat rigid. Both conventional and formatting accounts must be included in the chart of accounts, resulting in single formats for the financials. Four positions are provided for account codes, with an optional two position subcode for departments. Users can select one of the many charts of accounts provided by the software (such as manufacturing, retail, service and non-profit), or copy the chart of an existing company. Since the charts provided by the software include formatting details, most users will find it much easier to work one of these charts than to create their own from scratch.
Initializing General Ledger Files
The process of initializing general ledger data files for a new company requires entering the current month and the last month of the fiscal year, as well as determining the number of months to keep journal details. The choices are 1, 12 and 24. This information cannot be changed without erasing the entire general ledger. The current month is moved forward when the current month is closed.
Opening balances are checked to determine that they balance. Opening balances can be changed later so long as the changes offset. Optionally, data can be entered for 24 preceding months, entering and balancing one month at a time.
In addition to permitting a separate budget entry for each month, two automatic budget methods are provided. One method multiplies the annual budget by a percentage assigned to each month. The second method divides the annual budget into twelve equal amounts.
The General Ledger permits the selection of nine journal types, five defined by the software plus four defined by the user. The five defined by the system are standard; General Journal, Cash Disbursements, Cash Receipts, and Purchase and Sales Journals. Each journal batch can contain a maximum of 99 line entries. However only one 24 character description can be entered for each batch. The journal screens provide a running balance, but no totals. Every journal entry is identified by Journal and an eight position reference number, such as the check or invoice number. The date associated with each transaction determines the posting month (this can be a problem if one wishes to assign purchase invoices to a different accounting period than the invoice date). Each journal provides for standard, recurring plus "correcting" entries. This unusual feature permits recalling the entries made in the current month, locating the wrong entry and reversing it. The number of entries that can be recalled is limited by RAM. The manual states that users with 512K RAM or greater generally will be able to access all entries. The General Journal also permits reversing entries.
The other software defined journals simplify journal entry by providing offsetting accounts such as an offsetting accounts payable account for purchases and an offsetting sales account for sales. The codes for the offsetting accounts are selected when entering the journal, thus permitting the use of different offsetting accounts for different batches of entries.
For example, users of different bank accounts can use different journal batches for entering the disbursements against each bank.
The cash disbursements journal provides incrementing check numbers and the sales journal can increment invoice numbers.
The software provides optionally printing each journal batch when exiting the journal. A journal detail report can be selected at any time to print the detail for the current month. This report must be printed before the month can be closed. (Remember that if the one-month-of- detail option had been chosen the entire journal detail is erased after closing.)
A detailed trial balance must also be printed prior to closing. The detailed trial balances provide the best source for analyzing account transactions, although they can be quite lengthy and cumbersome to deal with.
Financial statements are limited to reporting one month and year-to-date amounts, there is no provision for footnotes.
The Accounts Receivable module provides many basic receivable functions such as printing customer statements, computing finance charges, and printing aging reports. The module also provides an invoicing function although it is not linked to inventory. (Order Entry invoicing is required for this.)
Customer IDs can contain up to 12 characters. The software will automatically enter the city and state from the ZIP Code. One ship-to address is provided. Additional addresses must be keyed in during invoicing unless the order entry module is operational. Provision is made for two comment lines of 32 characters each. A terms code (seven codes are available), sales rep code (up to 100 codes), and default sales code can be assigned to each customer, as well as three different sales tax codes. Customers can be tagged for applying finance charges, printing dunning messages, and sending statements. Customer data include sales for each of the past 12 months, month-to-date and year-to-date credits, high balance, and details of last payment. The sales rep files track month-to-date and year-to-date data for sales, adjustments, and payments. The sales tax files track month-to-date, quarter-to-date, and year-to-date total sales, taxable sales, and taxes collected.
The terms code carries the number of discount and due days. These numbers are used when applying cash and computing cash flow. Agings are only computed from invoice dates (not due dates). Prospective users who offer special customer terms and dating may find this a serious limitation.
Those wishing to invoice from Accounts Receivable can set up standard items to facilitate invoicing. Standard items carry a 10 character ID and 28 character description plus three price levels.
A limited degree of invoice format tailoring is provided, such as the choice between 11" or 7" invoices and some selection of data to print. Four formats are provided for line information. Item charges allow the entry of item numbers, descriptions, quantities ordered and sold, and unit and extended prices. Miscellaneous charges carry columns for description and amount. Labor charges include columns for hours worked and price per hour. Comment lines allow additional descriptions of 40 characters per line.
The software provides for both line item and invoice discounts plus miscellaneous and freight charges. Each item can be credited to a different sales account.
Election can be made to print each entry batch of sales invoices, as well as debit and credit memos. A quick invoicing feature is available for entry if sales invoices are printed off the system and can be credited to a single sales account.
Customer cash can be applied automatically or as directed by the user. Discount and write off amounts can be entered during cash applications. The cash entry screen can also be used to write off bad debts and other unpaid balances. There is no provision for entering non-receivable receipts other than cash sales. Such receipts must be entered in the General Ledger module.
Customer statements can be selected by range and limited to either past- due or non zero-balance customers. There is no exclusion for customers with credit balances. Notes as well as dunning messages can be printed on the statements.
Among the more interesting analytical reports are detail transaction reports by customer, sales analyses by ranges of customer, sales rep, or sales account, and lists of open credits and deposits. Sales analysis reports can scan all invoices on file or for a selected month and can show invoice details or be summarized. An accounts receivable flash report provides an interesting summary.
The Order Entry module adds a number of useful functions to those provided in Accounts Receivable. Invoicing and credits can be linked to the inventory module. Quotes and customer orders can be entered and tracked. Provision is made for processing kits and printing pick tickets and packing lists. Reference files can be used for storing shipping instructions (20 characters), ship-to addresses (99 per customer), and credit card companies.
Information about item availability (quantities committed, back ordered, and available) can be displayed while entering sales orders and sales invoices.
Kit processing involves setting up kits in the same fashion as standing orders except that descriptions and prices can differ from the data stored in the inventory module. Kits can include as many as 99 lines.
Order Entry includes item sales analysis which can be selected by ranges of customers, items and invoices. The report does not give effect to returns.
Items can be assigned up to 12 character IDs and a 28 character description. The item record includes shipping weight, costs up to four decimal places, minimum, maximum and EOQ quantities (all quantities can be expressed in three decimals), and bin location. Two 30 character comment lines are included as well. Three vendors from the Accounts Payable module can be associated with each item including the vendor part number (20 characters) and vendor related cost and purchase order data. Provision has also been made for five part substitutions and component lists (maximum 500 components; no fractions).
Five screens are associated with each item; general information, pricing, vendors, substitutions, and components.
Three price breaks can be used along with three pricing methods: fixed price, margin as percent of cost, and markup as percent of cost. Prices can be rounded to the nearest tenth of a cent, penny, dime or dollar and adjusted to an odd amount such as $.98. Provision is made for processing global price changes and sales promotions.
Users have the choice of four costing methods; standard, average, LIFO, and FIFO. One method must be used throughout the company and cannot be changed without erasing all inventory data.
The inventory module includes purchase order functions. Purchase order receipts can be transferred automatically to Accounts Payable. A list of open purchase orders is available. However this information is not accessible when looking up individual items.
A number of action documents can be printed including bin tickets, pick lists, physical inventory worksheets, past due purchase orders, and order recommendations. Transactions can be listed by type and by part. Interesting analytical reports include an inventory performance report, inventory overstock, inventory low stock, margin analysis, and ABC analysis as well as a flash report.
Vendor screens provide month-to-date and year-to-date information as well as twelve months of purchases (but no data on returns and adjustments). Provision is made for 1099 vendors and placing vendor payments on hold.
The system can process recurring invoices and hand checks. Duplicate vendor invoices are rejected. One-time vendors can also be processed. Invoices can be distributed to 20 general ledger accounts. Payment selection can be by vendor, due date, discount date, or individual invoice. Payment selection reports can be printed and selections reversed. Bank accounts can be selected at the time of check printing.
Provision is made for voiding checks and printing 1099 data (which must be copied onto the 1099 forms). Check records can be retained and marked when returned by the bank in order to list outstanding checks for bank reconciliations.
The payroll module of Business Works includes:
* Three overtime multipliers
* Six shift differentials
* Virtually unlimited number of standard, piece, and commission rates. Both piece rates and commissions can vary with quantities and can be added to a base rate. Sales must be keyed when computing commissions.
* Unlimited deductions. A maximum of eight deductions (including local taxes) can be assigned to an employee. Deductions can be variable, fixed, or a percentage of various payroll elements such as gross pay or net pay.
* Virtually unlimited special pays such as expense reimbursement. A maximum of eight special pays can be assigned to an employee. There is a combined limit of ten deduction and special pays per employee.
Federal and state tax tables are provided for all states. Local tax tables must be keyed in. Although Manzanita does not provide a job cost module, the payroll module can track payroll costs by job on a month-to- date, quarter-to-date, and year-to-date basis.
A number of earnings types including holiday pay, sick pay and tips can be selected for each payment. Pay periods can be weekly, biweekly, semimonthly, and monthly. Standard payrolls can be created for employees with little change from one pay period to another.
Payroll entries can be listed and corrected prior to printing payroll checks and journals.
A separate tax menu provides for entering tax deposits and printing tax worksheets. The system also prepares W-2 forms. Employee pay histories can be listed for one year although deduction detail is limited.
Among the more interesting reports are time card exceptions (differences between employees' current payroll and standard payroll), employee telephone and review lists, employee overtime, piece rate and commission activity, and a flash report.
Transfer functions can be used to import data from other systems and export data in one of four formats; Lotus, DBase III, ASCII, and Quoted- ASCII.
* Manzanita includes a number of additional functions:
* A mail function permits sending messages to other users.
* Mailing lists can be maintained with eight selection keys.
* Labels can be printed from the mailing list or the modules (customers, vendors, employees, inventory items).
Manzanita has obviously been designed with an eye to serving the smaller business by including many functions and reports to assist management. It has some features that will not thrill too many accountants, such as its relatively weak general ledger and real time processing and the danger of losing audit trails. Its 80 column report design will prove clumsy on long reports.
Manzanita is a serious candidate for the smaller business with a relatively stable office crew that does not need functions offered by other systems such as sophisticated financials, computation of sales commissions, and multi-location inventory. It offers reasonable flexibility in many of its modules and easily provides some good reports for both asset and sales management. Some of its weaknesses can be minimized by 1) using a large hard disk that will allow storage of many months transactions, 2) careful planning and execution when initializing each module, 3) establishing and following proper routines for monthly closings, and 4) reviewing transaction registers and audit logs for correctness and authenticity.
At press time, Manzanita began shipping three modules which run under the Microsoft Windows interface as well as Business Works version 7.2. The 7.2 version includes some features not found in version 7.11.
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