I've been part of the SBA beta, and have been playing with it extensively -
and while it has some really cool features, I still prefer Peachtree :^)
On the SBA cool features list - if you use Outlook as your primary contact
manager / calendar, you can actually flag appointments on your calendar as
billable, along with the Customer/Job it's associated with and billable
duration. Then with a simple menu option, you can transfer your timesheet
to SBA, with all of the time entries showing up in the Job details to be
billed . . .
Another big bonus of SBA is that it uses MSDE as the backend for it's data -
which means you don't have to go through the SBA application to retrieve
data - you can get to it directly from applications like Word, Excel &
Also - if you do retail, the new Microsoft Point-Of-Sale product is awesome
for the small (read: single location) retailer. I haven't seen anything
announced publicly, but it's been rumored that POS is going to integrate
tightly with SBA - as in they'll use the same database, and you'll be
able to view transaction detail from either SBA or POS . . .
I really think SBA has the potential to be a QuickBooks killer . . .
primarily because of it's open data source, tight integration with Office,
and most of all it's underlying architecture. Basically, Microsoft has
taken the stance from day one on this project that they see SBA as handling
the basic accounting functions for a wide variety of 3rd party
industry-specific solutions. As a result, they've engineered it from the
ground up to expose key business functions. What this means is that SBA
ships with everything in place under the hood for 3rd party developers to
build solutions on top of SBA. Basically, this means that 3rd parties will
be able to develop add-ons and vertical-market solutions for SBA in a
fraction of the time it would take them to do so with QuickBooks (or
admittedly Peachtree as well), and those solutions will have much tighter
real-time integration with SBA than they can achieve with QuickBooks or
As for the less-than-desireable parts of SBA? First, when installing you
can't select where you want your data to reside - the MSDE instance &
database have to reside on the machine you're installing SBA on (obviously
you can open a company file on another machine that already has SBA
installed). I'm an IT consultant, and almost all of our customers have
dedicated servers (our smallest client w/ a server only has 3 users). The
problem is that we don't store *ANY*
data on the workstations - everything
lives on the server so it can be backed up every night and taken off site.
Best practices discourage data on the workstations, as well as installing
user apps on the server. As a result, SBA puts us in a bind as to how to
centrally locate & backup the SBA data.
Also - I have a long-time loathing of ADP, which Microsoft has chosen to
provide Payroll services/functionality for SBA. Granted, you don't have to
use ADP's full payroll service, but from what I've seen, you're still using
ADP if you want to do payroll in-house, and even then - it doesn't appear to
happen within the SBA application natively, rather within a web connection
to ADP. Ugh. So forget about not subscribing to payroll and maintaining
manual tax tables . . .
SBA does have online banking capabilites - although I have not played with
those as of yet.
Little annoyances with SBA - they require an entity for each transaction -
E.g. - you have a random someone you need to cut a check to, and you know
you'll never ever do anything with them again in the future. With
Peachtree, you can just fill in the details on the check without setting up
the payee as a Vendor. Not with SBA - you have to set them up before you
can use them in any transaction.
While I really, Really, REALLY would love to see Sage kill off the btrieve
engine once and for all (and I'm hoping SBA using MSDE will help with that),
there are still a lot of features that I like about Peachtree. First, it
has much better security (granularly speaking) than SBA. Next, I like
Peachtree's use of accounting periods, as well as the ability to lock prior
periods. And call me crazy, but I like being able to pull up all of the
various journals, which QuickBooks and SBA apparently don't see as being
very important :^)
Admittedly, if you're a one-man shop with no bookkeeping / accounting
experience and you're looking for a solution that will handle the basics,
then I would strongly recommend SBA. However, if you have accounting
experience and know what you're doing - SBA (like QuickBooks) can be rather
frustrating when it makes you jump through their hoops.
Chad A. Gross - SBS MVP
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