Just as I am always seeking out new methods of organizing myself in general, I am even more diligent when searching for ways to manage myself financially. After my recent transition from bedroom-corner office to mid-town, small office suite, it should be expected that I move my notation to "update accounting method" to the top of my To-Do list. Sorry to say, I have not. Needless to say, I'm still searching. To be honest, I'm just procrastinating. Either way, Instant CashBook 2007, an accounting software specifically designed for small business, caught my eye as I stalked my next software review victim.
EzySoft Development, the small, Australia-based Instant CashBook design team, specializes in software tools for both home, small, and mid-sized businesses. Instant CashBook 2007 is definately a program for the smallest of small businesses. Before you read further, however, let me state that, after a bad beginning, this Review has a happy ending.
I really think this software is great. The point of this Review, ultimately, is that a user, in not making the two simple errors I did - one that leads to the next - will find Instant CashBook 2207 a fully-functional, completely productive, and well-intentioned software accounting tool well worth the purchase price.
Error #1, on my part, was not proceeding directly to the "Help" section - as I would to a tutorial [NOTE: I personally feel that Help Indexes should exist mainly for "assistance" but, for properly using Instant CashBook 2207, this section is absolutely essential]. The software opens with a user option of creating, by keying in a name, a first database, or opting to pass and continue into the program. Being that I was "asked", but not expected, to create a database, I assumed, incorrectly, that this perhaps meant a "client" (or vendor) database, and proceeded to enter a client name - this being Error #2. Having made this second error, everything that followed made no sense whatsoever. A full-screen window, titled "Bank 1", opened for posting money transactions (For me? For the client whose "database" I had just created?). Confused, I began clicking along the vertical toolbar, and browsing drop-down menu options. Colorful "Customer" and "Vendor" icons delivered pop-up windows for entering "Payer/Payee" ( For Whom?) mailing, shipping, and billing info. Randomly clicking on the word "Accounts" in the Tools menu, a well-formated list of business expenditures, what I know to be a "Chart of Accounts", opens with no instruction. Completely lost, I closed the program and proceeded to write the beginning of a not-so-nice Review.
For me, the confusion was centered around the use of the term "database". At the developer's website, Instant CashBox 2007 is described as an accounting tool whereby users can create multiple databases. I understand the term "database", especially in software offering "multiple" databases with the creation of the first database being only an option, as meaning a storage place for client and/or vender information. Each database created, then, would ultimately consist of many single, client-specific entities, each containing its own information and money transactions. Generally, most accounting programs begin in a "Company/Business Set-up" mode, with the user entering the name/address/details of the business they own, and then proceeding to a methodical creation of databases - the point that usually places me in "procrastination mode".
Upset more with my failure to create a usable database than I was with the software itself, I immediately began Review Day 2 by clicking the Help icon - after opting to skip the Database creation tool. I soon discovered that, to fully understand and/or utilize InstantCashBook, the user has to read the entire "Help" section, both Contents/Index and, specifically, the "Understanding Databases" section, before attempting a first transaction, or he/she will be completely lost. Oddly, this software is designed with the term "database" to mean all information, as a whole, relative to a single business (i.e. the user's business) including clients, vendors, all payables and receivables, and so forth. Therefore, Instant CashBook's provision of "multiple databases", as described, is meant to benefit lucky users who own multiple businesses. Simple as that. This fact is not clear, in any way, when the software opens, and, once the incorrect entity is entered, that particluar database is completely unusable. However, with this information in mind, if the user enters their business name in the opening Database option, everything that follows makes complete sense, is self-explanatory, has perfect continuity, and proves to be a wonderful method of managing the finances of your small business. In addition, every entry or transaction, including invoices, vouchers, receipts, client and vendor lists, client/vendor details, and money postings, is neat, orderly, and printable.
Always skeptical of software promising to generate instant Reports, Charts, and Lists from general client/vendor/AP/AR entries, I did a quick, second investigation. After creating several each client and vendor accounts, I posted a few incoming receipts, and several vendor payouts. To my surprise, when I clicked to generate an Income/Expense Report, an orderly, titled, tax-time usuable Report page, with all my enetered information in its proper place, opened for me. I instantly fell in love with the program for, ironically, its simplicity.
Aside from being a software tool, Instant CashBook was designed to be used in combination with something most one-person operations can not bear to part with - our file cabinets. The "Help" section specifically states, " The combination of Instant CashBook 2007 and a good filing system will ensure that you are thoroughly organized at all times", and then proceeds to explain, step-by-step, how to organize the user's existing invoice. receipt, bank statement, and deposit/withdrawal file folders so that they ultimately match all transactions now stored within the program. The user, now assured that all information is perfectly accounted for, should feel no stress if and when a tax Audit should occur. I found this information extremely helpful, and Instant CashBook 2207 the only accounting program I know of that even ackowledges our beloved file folders.
I would recommend Instant CashBook 2007, even with the initial room-for-error and slightly steep $79.00 price tag, as completely productive and efficient program for the small business owner or up-and-coming entrepreneur. And, all problems aside, any software developer that kindly states, within its Help section, "We hope that Instant CashBook 2007 & the docmentation provided here, will alway keep you on top of your business paperwork leaving you with more time for family and leisure" definately scores high in my book.
The full-featured, 30-day trial version of Instant CashBook 2007 is currently available for download via the developer's website link at free-downloads.net. Enjoy!