Every year, accounting software manufacturers refresh their product lines by adding new technology, upgrading features or redesigning the software's look and feel. Sage is no exception, although this time, the company says it relied heavily on feedback from its customers, its competitors' customers and folks who still do their books by hand.
According to Deneen Heislitz, Sage's director of product marketing, the company took a more scientific approach to updating the product line by using a variety of methods. They went to customers' place of business to observe them using Peachtree software; they invited small business owners to Sage labs for hands-on use of prototype software; they surveyed these volunteers about their business processes.
"We wanted to better understand the business issues that small business owners face, how they work, how they handle their workflow," said Heislitz. "The way small businesses actually use the product informed the changes that we made."
One of the bigger changes is the addition of a new version of the software called Peachtree by Sage Quantum Edition. This version is designed to handle larger data sets and supports up to 10 named users. Sage says it also includes a support, upgrade and update plan that renews itself automatically every year. Quantum is the high end of the Peachtree by Sage product line, which also includes Peachtree by Sage First Accounting, Peachtree by Sage Pro Accounting, Peachtree by Sage Complete Accounting and Peachtree by Sage Premium Accounting.
Other changes driven by what Heislitz calls Sage's "customer-connected design" include a new navigational interface and a dashboard called the Business Status Center. "We brought customers into our lab and observed them using and reacting to the location of the buttons, the terminology and the screen flow," said Heislitz. "Our goal was to make improvements without disconnecting customers who liked the previous layout. The customer feedback has been uniformly positive, which validates that we got it right."
Peachtree's Business Status Center dashboard offers a broad overview of your small business.
(Click for larger image).
Heislitz said the Business Status Center dashboard offers customers a one-screen overview of eight informational areas that can show the real-time state of their business. "The information provides a holistic view that lets small business owners identify trends and make quick business decisions," she said.
Not every version of Peachtree by Sage includes the new dashboard, however. You won't find it in the first two titles (First Accounting and Pro Accounting) because, says Heislitz, those products are designed for one-person businesses. "The Business Status Center is for businesses with multiple people accessing the system, tracking inventory and other more complex tasks," she said.
Other new Peachtree 2007 features and enhancements include:
Integration with Excel: Export report layouts into Excel (including formulas for calculated values and report formatting); retain viewing capabilities such as freeze pane, auto-filtering and report headers.
Integration with Outlook Contact: Synchronize vendor, customer and employee contacts in Peachtree with Outlook enter contact information once. Dynamic synchronization keeps information up to date.
Custom Fields for Report Filtering: Categorize reports by criteria specifically important to your business.
Simplified Access to Key Lists: View information, such as invoices and payments, from 25 different lists; sort and search lists of customers, vendors and transactions; display list information with one mouse click.
Print-n-Sign Tax Forms (subscription to Peachtree Payroll Tax Update Service required): Print payroll tax forms on plain paper. Includes more than180 state forms for all 50 states.
Recurring Transactions with Year End Rollover: Set up recurring transaction amounts and frequencies and have Peachtree manage the recurrence, including continuation into a new year.
Comparative Budget Spreadsheet Creator: Tie budgets directly to transactions in Peachtree; compare past, present and future budget scenarios.
Change Job IDs: Change the assigned lookup IDs for jobs, phases and cost codes.
Pricing and Availability
- Peachtree First Accounting $69.99, available in early July
- Peachtree Pro Accounting $169.99, available in early July
- Peachtree Complete Accounting $269.99, available in early July
- Peachtree Premium Accounting $499.99, available in early July
- Peachtree Quantum $3,750 ($2,995 as an upgrade), available now
Sage has also updated its industry-specific line of Peachtree Premium packages for manufacturing, construction, distribution, nonprofits and accountants. Single-user editions sell for $599.99 and multi-user versions cost $1,199.99.
Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com
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