NolaPro leads the pack on web based accounting software alternatives

The majority of small and medium sized businesses utilize some type of desktop accounting software to handle their book-keeping and accounting chores.  Among the most prolific are Quickbooks and Peachtree.  Quickbooks is now offering its own web-based solution called Quickbooks Online Edition for $24.95 per month ($300 annually).  However, from a review of the comparison between Quickbooks Pro 2008 and Quickbooks Online Edition, it appears that the online edition is missing support for inventory tracking and pricing, as well as additional cost for customized invoicing, delayed billing, class tracking, and time tracking. 

Another plus for the online edition is its support for 3 users plus your accountant at the $24.95 per month base fee compared with $200 per user for QB Pro.  If you’re a small company with no inventory, QB Online may provide a sufficient solution, or you may be stuck on your desktop if you are in love with either the QB or Peachtree software for handling all facets of your business.

There is a very acceptable alternative that I have had a chance to review lately that has flown largely under the radar.  An Ohio based software development firm, Noguska, LLC, has developed a web-based accounting software that appears to be a comprehensive solution that is completely scalable in NolaPro.  NolaPro is free to download and install on your server or desktop, however you can opt for a NolaPro hosted solution for $25 per month, $60 quarterly ($20/month), or $200 annually ($16.67/month).

As an accountant I often have instances where I have one entity with multiple companies and multiple QB files and Quickbooks is slower than dirt at switching between the companies as it unloads one database and loads up another.  In NolaPro, separate companies are on drop down boxes that switch nearly instantly.  More than one user?  NolaPro doesn’t mind as it supports unlimited users with customizable rights.

So QB roles out a new edition, you have to run out and buy the latest and greatest, and your accountant has to do the same to remain compatible.  In the hosted NolaPro solution, upgrades are made automatically and free of charge, and if you choose to host yourself, the upgrade is free for download, just as the original program was.  NolaPro makes its money by the natural consulting business that develops from the utilization of its software.  The software is encrypted so that they have the rights to customization and such.  So if you have a highly specialized invoice for customers, but you want to be cheap, you can download the NolaPro program for free and take the money you saved to hire NolaPro consultants to make your special invoice.

QB Online did not offer an inventory solution with its product, but NolaPro includes an integrated inventory/shopping cart program, where the online shopping cart is tied directly to the inventory system within the accounting package.  I do not know how this works on a desktop installation, but it is pretty neat to see it work on a web-based installation.

There is a demo on the NolaPro site, but it has been messed with quite a bit and doesn’t really give you a feel of what your initial installation will look like, but it is at https://demo.nolapro.com/.

I desired to do an evaluation of Netsuite, as I have read about their solutions on WebCPA.com, but it has been almost a month since I emailed the company asking for more information and I have received no reply.  However, I am happy that I found NolaPro in my search for solutions to aid the small and medium sized business customers my firm serves.

Online office Suite Reviews

Over the past few weeks I have tried a few different office suites for personal applications and my experience has crowned a definitive winner.  The applications that I have compared are Google Docs, Zoho Office, and Edit Grid.  For the most part, I care about the performance of the spreadsheet application  (that is why Edit Grid is included although it is only a spreadsheet application-I’m an accountant so the spreadsheet the most important part of the suite in my opinion), but I have had cause to evaluate the word processing applications as well. 

The most important part of any online application for my purposes is speed.  For an online application to be a viable substitute (or even a good compliment to) for a hard disk based program, it must offer similar performance in terms of responsiveness to the user and speed of loading a document. 

Both Zoho Office and Edit Grid strive to give you the familiar look and feel of the Microsoft productivity suite (for Edit Grid this is only Excel), while Google shows no respect for the leader of the pack and gives you a bare bones utilitarian feel.  Google offers several top level toolbars on tabs that may make you think you have less options available because the extra functions you would normally have in toolbars stacked upon one another are really on a different tab.  However, Google does make good use of most standard shortcuts that regular users utilize reflexively.

I was rather impressed with both the Edit Grid and Google spreadsheet programs.  Google was by far faster than Edit Grid, although I may not have the fastest connection at my office.  The connection was fast enough for Google’s spreadsheet to respond with little lag or delay.  One feature in Google’s spreadsheet program that was missing from both Edit Grid and Zoho was the ability to duplicate an existing worksheet into a new sheet.  In Edit Grid and Zoho one had to insert a new sheet and copy and paste the information into the new sheet.  Had these programs accomplished this task quickly, it would not have caught my attention as a problem, however, they both stalled terribly in the copy and paste function of one whole sheet to another whole sheet.  They eventually got the job done, but it consumed a lot of resources on my machine to accomplish what seemed to me to be a rather simple task.

Overall, neither the familiarity oferred by Zoho nor Edit Grid was substantial enough to overcome the shortcomings associated with consumption of resources and slow speed.  Another annoyance specifically associated with the Zoho writer (which looks great) is that it frequently autosaves and on my machine it stalled what I was typing and returned my cursor to the top of the page (thus I am writing this in Google’s writer).  In my opinion, Google’s web based applications would make a suitable compliment if not nearly a replacement for my desktop applications if I were not a professional consumer of Excel.  For my personal needs, having Google based documents is handy and provides a quality experience that doesn’t lead to more frustration than productivity. 

I would love to see the other applications become more competitive, but until they adopt a “function over form” mentality, they product will continue to be subpar compared to Google.