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Noob Intro and Accounting Question

Posts: 3
Location: La Farge, WI
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Hello All!

Just starting my wanderings in here but hope to bump into many of you more often. In the meantime, wondering if anyone could recommend some farm accounting software that doesn't cost an arm and a leg...we are consolidating several arms of the farm under one business name and trying to find a software package to help track everything. We sell stock and retail rainbow trout, baked goods, and this year, produce, eggs and soon goat milk products...

Any suggestions for software would be appreciated. Trying to get away from QB Online and don't want to go all the way to Excel make my own methods..


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Location: Carnation, WA (Western Washington State / Cascadia / Pacific NW)
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Hi Christine and welcome to you!

First, I'm going to admit a HUGE bias - I work with QuickBooks almost exclusively these days. In the past I have worked with a few large, corporate-business-style accounting systems*: Timberline, FoxPro and Yardi; and before these I worked a bit with MS Access. I researched comparable products, implemented and trained 30+ staff on how to use the Yardi database, and even began writing some custom SQL-script reports for Yardi, so I was in pretty deep with these kinds of things.

That means that while I am biased, I do have some experience outside of QB.

I have worked with QB Online, QB Mac, QB Pro, QB Premier and QB Accountant's version. (I have not yet worked with QB Enterprise.)

What I want you to know is that QB Online is, for the most part, lousy. QB Pro or QB Premier are far more robust, flexible and comprehensive in terms of ease of use, speed and streamlining of use, sales tracking, inventory, reporting and so, so much more. Plus, if you don't need the cloud computing, buying a license (or two or three) once every three years (not including payroll which is annual) can be much less expensive. If you do need cloud computing, one option is hosting Pro or Premier through swizznet.com. Swizznet is not cheap, but I've heard they are excellent.

As an aside, QB Mac only has part of the functionality of QB Pro, and does not have payroll available, so it's not a great option.

One more thing about payroll. What I'm learning from my small business clients is that the QB Enhanced Payroll subscription and a bookkeeper with an affordable hourly rate are much cheaper than most of the payroll services--meaning out-sourced payroll such as ADP or Paychex. Those darn payroll services are not exactly without errors, either!

QB Pro or QB Premier provide a lot of functionality for their price. Compared to some 4-, 5- and 6-figure systems I've worked in, they are a truly an excellent bargain. The worst annoyance about QB these days is that they are including far too many "reminders" and other ways to sell their other related products and services, but it's pretty easy to figure out how to disable these.

Excel (or google or Open Office) spreadsheets can be the most cost-effective, but if you need to produce invoices, statements, payroll, track inventory, or frequently want to look up data per customer or per vendor and aren't a pro at pivot tables, then QB will save you HOURS of time. Hours. Truly.

As for a custom-designed system, I worked for a wonderful boss who was really quite brilliant in many ways. He was designing an MS Access database to fit every accounting, tracking and reporting issue his business needed. His design had great architecture and a great start and....his business grew too much for him to ever have time to fully finish it and work out all the kinks. I don't know how many hours --easily several hundred hours-- he put into that database, but after limping along with it for a couple years, he finally scrapped it and went to QB Pro. It was a big time saver and improvement.

How much is your time worth?

I wish I knew more about farm accounting systems. I imagine they start at 4-figures, but I really have no idea. Any one else have any experience with any farm accounting software?

*Otherwise known as enterprise accounting systems, in the generic sense, not at all meant to mean QB Enterprise, which is the QB brand of an enterprise-type accounting software.
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:

What I want you to know is that QB Online is, for the most part, lousy.
As an aside, QB Mac only has part of the functionality of QB Pro, and does not have payroll available, so it's not a great option.

The book keeper before me used QB online. She was eventually let go, the subscription lapsed and I guess that info went *poof*.

I use QB Mac and it's so so. After 20+ years I had to stop using Quicken for Mac (they aren't particularly Mac friendly these days).

The only thing I use a spreadheet for is to track my hay usage. On QB I can generate reports but it's assuming the sheep get all my square bales and the cows get the round ones. In reality it doesn't always work that way and since I'm attempting to reduce hay usage by 10% every year, a spreadheet is better at micro tracking it.
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