Firstly, we must state clearly that though SmartBiz runs perfectly well under all versions of Windows, it is not a native windows program. It is designed to do its job (of running your accounts) in the quickest manner possible, and not waste resources and time by forcing you to continually interupt your work-flow and take your hands off the keyboard to operate a mouse.
The windows version is now very close, with most modules completed, but because not all of them are completed then the base of your SmartBiz operations is still the MS-DOS based SmartBiz
However, please don't let this deter you. SmartBiz has been doing the accounts for hundreds of companies in New Zealand for many years, and still does so very well on all versions of Windows except XP. If you want your accounts done in the speediest, easiest and most compact way possible, on any computer or operating system (even on an old 386 running MS-DOS!), and at minimal cost then read on...........
SmartBiz - PRIMARY APPLICATION.;
SmartBiz is a full featured, integrated accounting system, designed for medium sized businesses with a turnover from (say) $200,000 - $20,000,000 and typically employing a staff of 3 - 50 persons. SmartBiz "Lite" is an entry level system with many of the same features, even easier to use and designed for smaller companies and home occupations.
Though they have been designed to service all industries, based on our associated companies and staff's twelve years experience of supporting accounting systems, both versions of SmartBiz have particular relevance in the Manufacturing, Construction, Distribution and Service industries. An indent module will be following in the near future for importers.
SmartBiz is designed to operate either in a stand alone mode on an industry-standard P.C. or in a multiuser environment with up to about 20 terminals.
SmartBiz is a fully integrated set of accounting programmes. When any transaction is entered in one ledger and it affects another ledger(s), that secondary and other ledgers will be updated by the original transaction.
The system is designed to run on an industry standard (i.e. "IBM Compatible") P.C. with a minimum of 1 megabyte of RAM and a hard disk, running preferably MS DOS or Windows (or PC-MOS 386, Multiuser DR-DOS or standard networks such as Novell in its multi-user mode).
THE DEVELOPMENT OF SmartBiz - BEYOND 2000;
SmartBiz has been developed by the staff who have been running one of New Zealand's longest established software houses for the last thirteen years, designing, modifying and supporting accounting software for N.Z. during this time.
Whilst SmartBiz has been developed over the last 8 years, it has obviously benefited from our 13 years experience of modifying and supporting P.C. accounting systems.
This is why we believe SmartBiz to be such a superior product - a product developed for the 90's, using design concepts and methods of the 90's that will take our users beyond 2000.
We have of course built in the flexibility and features that thirteen years experience of looking after and supporting over 1,000 users has taught us needs to be there. This makes us the oldest, most experienced "new" accounting software around!
As already noted, the SmartBiz system has been based on our twelve years experience of modifying and supporting accounting software in New Zealand.
As such it has scores of features, much too many we believe to itemise in a document such as this. However, some of the major features that readily spring to mind are as follows:
(1) USER INTERFACE AND SIMPLICITY;.
Despite the power and flexibility built into SmartBiz, our overriding concern has been to design a system as simple as possible for the user to use.(2) OPEN, EDIT, VIEW ACCOUNTS FROM ANYWHERE;
For this reason, the entire system is accessed via "Pull down" windows, following the now standard user interface system, with no reliance on old-fashioned menus.
"Pull-down" Open, Edit and View windows are able to be accessed from anywhere in the system to Open, Edit or View any Account in any ledger, regardless of the ledger and program being worked on at the time.(3) CALCULATOR;
A "Pop-up" calculator can be invoked from anywhere in the system for doing calculations even unrelated to the accounting programs. If the calculator is used whilst in a numeric entry field in the system, then exiting from the calculator places the calculated value into the input field as the default.(4) CUSTOMISABLE COLOUR SET-UP;
Extensive use is made of colours etc for users with colour screens, which is fully and easily user configurable.(5) REAL-TIME, TOTALLY INTEGRATED USE;.
A problem could develop with this sort of approach in a network environment, where different users may have different types of screen. The system therefore creates a separate colour file for each user on the system if they change their colours, with the generic one remaining for initial entry into the system (until the system has been able to sort out who the user is because of their log-in password).
It is important to realise that SmartBiz is NOT a batch orientated system - it is designed to function exactly the same as the average users office does.(6) COMPACTNESS AND ROBUSTNESS;
Normal business would grind to a halt if nothing could be sold on a particular day or at a particular time because that is when deliveries were being received, or conversely trucks could not deliver because items were being sold.
Typically in a small business (or even larger ones in todays economic environment), one or several office staff handle all facets of administration. The office functions and runs much more smoothly if work can be done as it arrives.
For this reason SmartBiz is designed so that the user operates by Function, rather than by Ledger as many systems do. Once the user has entered the system, they are operating in all ledgers and only need to select a ledger once they have invoked a function (such as Transactions, Reports, etc).
As an example of real time integration the user may be generating an invoice because a client is collecting goods. As the client leaves a truck arrives delivering goods. No problem, the user can immediately enter the goods into stock, simultaneously updating the Creditors ledger of the amount owing, whilst at the same time updating the Purchases, Creditors owing, Balance sheet Stock on hand, etc, in the General Ledger.
While this is happening, a user rings for information and in the middle of entering the Creditors invoice the user is able to "pop open" the view window and answer the users enquiry about stock prices, quantities on hand, state of his account, etc.
At the same time another Debtor may have rung advising of a change of address. Rather than writing the information down on a scrap of paper and entering it into the system when the user is next editing in that ledger (if the piece of paper has not been lost in the meantime!), the user is able to "pop" open the Edit window and edit details of the Debtor right there and then, even thought they are currently working on a Creditors invoice.
We believe that SmartBiz must be the most compact system available on the market.THIS COMPACTNESS HAS BEEN ACHIEVED
SmartBiz is a complete, fully integrated Debtors/ Creditors/ Stock Control/ Job Cost/ Order Entry/ Purchase Orders/ Export/ User Designed Reporting system using just 35 programs and four main data files (Accounts file, Transactions file, Analysis file and Orders file).
(7) in the case of the Data files by a unique "Database" concept, wherein all accounts in all ledgers are held in one Accounts file, all transactions for all ledgers are held in one Transactions file, all analysis types, cost centres, employee records, etc are held in one Analysis file, and(9) MUCH MORE THAN AN ACCOUNTING SYSTEM; - A SERVICE AND MARKETING TOOL
(8) in the case of the programs, by sophisticated programming techniques.
It will be appreciated that the more data files that there are open at one time, the more possibility there is that the information in each may get "out of sync" with each other, particularly in a multi-user environment, and also more room for potential problems in the event of a power failure.
Therefore, because we only have to keep track of 4 main data files (3 if Order Entry is not in use), then it is self-evident that the system must be much more robust than other systems that have tens or scores of files open at one time, particularly in a multi-user environment, and we believe this to be the case.
Also, the fact that there is only one accounts file gives a clue to the level of integration possible - all records can be updated at once, regardless of their ledgers, without having to open multiple files as noted above, or store information in temporary files for later update as older batch-orientated systems do.
It also explains how the design concept of the real-time system described above is able to be invoked as the ability to Open, Edit or View Accounts for any ledger regardless of the ledger or program being worked on at the time. Such a concept would be virtually impossible to invoke with any significant level of stability and robustness in a conventional system where scores of files need to be open to accommodate all the various ledgers.
We have found over the years helping users that they often want need than just accounting out of their accounting system.(10) SALES REMINDER NOTES;
For this reason SmartBiz has been designed to become a complete office automation tool, holding a lot of information that users previously had to use other programs apart from their accounting system to hold.
For instance, as discussed in the section re flexibility, it is very easy to modify the system to hold non-accounting information for any type of account in whatever format is required.
Also, the ability to "pop open" notes and diary forward future action on any account at any time means that SmartBiz also becomes a Credit Collection and/or Sales and Marketing and/or a Service tool.
We ourselves now use this system in-house for our control of jobs, available to all relevant staff in addition to accounts staff.
Previously the major problem in our organisation (and, we believe, in most other service-orientated organisation like ourselves) was that clients got very frustrated because the person they were last discussing a matter with is not now available and they needed to repeat everything to the new person or wait until the new person could discuss the matter with the last person it was discussed with.
Now, thanks to the "Notes" facility, whenever a user rings, his total history is instantly available to the person he is speaking to, including what was discussed and with whom during any previous call or visit.
Notes can be printed and sorted by Account (e.g. Debtors sorted in any order), by Date in newest to oldest chronological order and by date range selection (so you can get a report of all jobs/calls, etc done today), or notes by Type by Date by Account (such as "All service jobs from yesterday" and importantly, "All Sales call from last week", etc).(11) SECURITY;
Furthermore, any note can have a date for follow-up action diaried forward and it is possible to print out a list sorted by date for further action, either for today, a range of dates, or all dates.
The power of this can be readily seen. The Credit department can use it to ensure adequate follow-up action on slow payers. The sales department can use it to record all sales calls and diary follow-up action. The service department can use it for all service records as well as diarying when the next call is necessary and of course follow-up sales action can recorded and monitored client by client!
Given the above need for flexibility with non-accounting staff accessing the system and also given the expanding use of networks, we believe that it is important that there is comprehensive security built into any modern accounting system so that users can only access the information or programs that they are cleared to use and none other.(12) LETTER WRITING INTERFACE.;
We have therefore built into the full version a comprehensive security system that allows up to 20 users and restricts users to only the options they are entitled to. It is important to note that this facility applies in both single user and multi-user environments - quite often in a single user environment there are still several people who may do accounts work and the Manager does not necessarily want the office junior to be able to access the General Ledger.
The three extra uses discussed above (Credit control/ Sales and marketing/ Service records) are further helped by the advanced letter writing facility available which interfaces to any common word processor (full version only).(13) MULTIPLE COMPANIES;
This facility has such advanced features as a lower case converter (given that most people keep their Accounting system information in upper case, yet when they send letters they would want the address to be in upper/lower case, the same as the rest of the letter).
A male/female converter (so that the system knows whether to put "Mr" or "Ms" in the address line if not already there), and an alogarithm that sorts out whether the details held already include a christian name or not (so that it knows whether to put "Dear Mr Smith" or "Dear John".
Furthermore, the ability to pick up and include anywhere in the letter such details as the current balance, overdue balances, credit limit, etc, even further facilitates credit control (and thus cash control) for the user.
The one set of programs can run up to 16 companies, automatically creating its own independent company database as appropriate.(14) MULTIPLE LEDGERS;.
We have found over the years that many smaller users do indeed want to run several companies from one set of programs.
Furthermore, each company can then run up to 16 ledgers in the full version, which can be any combination of Debtors, Creditors, Stock, Job Cost (full version only) and General Ledger.(15) MULTIPLE WAREHOUSES;
Why would you want to have more than one type of ledger? Manufacturers might want 2 stock ledgers, one for raw materials, one for finished products. Other companies may well want to use 2 debtors ledgers, for different divisions of the same company.
However, one of the most powerful uses of this feature is to fully exploit the prospects and leads capability of SmartBiz. You can have 2 or more "Debtors" ledgers, called "Sales Leads" or similar that are in reality only for prospecting and telemarketing. These ledgers are keeping a full history of the prospect, all conversations and correspondence etc with him/her, but without cluttering up your main debtors lists.
However, if the prospect ever becomes a customer (by purchasing something) then using an advanced, unique facility of SmartBiz, that of moving accounts between ledgers, you can move the prospect from the prospects ledger to the main Debtor's ledger, and the customers whole history automatically comes with him.
If you have several branches or offices, there is a "Multi-Warehouse" option available, that allows you to run up to eight warehouses.(16) FLEXIBILITY IN NUMBERING AND SORTING METHODS;
For each warehouse, the system will keep records of the quantity on hand at that branch, the quantity on customer order and supplier order, the quantity sold month to date and value sold month to date, as well as the value sold year to date and the profit year to date.
For each Ledger in the full version, the user can nominate whether Account codes are to be Numeric only or Alpha numeric, whether Left or Right justified, whether the primary sort order is to be by Account number, Account description, Analysis code/ Dept User defined sort code and whether the Automatic postings to the General Ledger apply.(17) MULTIPLE PRINTERS;.
NOTE: Despite the above primary sort order, in the full version most reports can still be printed in any order or orders at time of printing, such as sorted by Account Balance, Sales this Month, City, etc, etc.
We know from experience that many computer users now have two or three printers that they have picked up over the years and that they get frustrated with changing Invoice/ Statement/ Plain paper all the time as they go from function to function.(18) ADVANCED PROFIT/COMMISSION MATRIXES;.
This is particularly so in the real-time environment that SmartBiz is designed to work in.
We have, therefore, built it into the system that the user can run up to five printers (3 in a single-user, MS-DOS environment) and the program automatically prints out on the appropriate printer, without having to swap leads, switch or even select a different printer in the programs.
The user has the option for each stock item to nominate whether a stock item contributes towards salesmen commissions or not.(19) DISPLAY OF DATE ACCOUNTS CREATED/ MODIFIED/ UPDATED;.
The user can also nominate whether commission is to be calculated from gross sales or profit.
Furthermore, the profit calculated can be individually configured for each stock item to be calculated from the Last in Cost, the Average Cost or the Standard Cost.
The date an Account is originally created, updated via a transaction program or modified via the "Edit" window is automatically generated and displayed in the "View" windows, to allow the user to see how old each Debtor Stock Item Job, etc is and when records were last changed.(20) "GRAND TOTALS";.
This is very handy to see how up to date information is, particularly when the system is being used as a marketing Database in addition to its accounting function.
In addition to keeping the usual "Month to Date" and "Year to Date" figures, the system also keeps a "Grand Total" which is accumulated indefinitely.(21) SCREEN DISPLAYED REPORTS;.
This is because with most systems, immediately after a year end roll-over, most of the historical information is lost and so it is impossible to tell at a glance whether or not a Debtor is a large customer or not, whether a Stock item has contributed a large amount to profit, etc.
With most reports in the system, the user has the option to either display the report on the screen for speed and quick look-ups, or print it out on the printer for more permanent records.(22) USER DESIGNED REPORTS;.
Whilst the standard reports we have built into the system we believe cover most needs of most users, they are really only a starting point.(23) SORT ORDER OF REPORTS;.
To accommodate those users who want reports slightly different (or even radically different), we have built into the full version a powerful, easy to use report generator that allows you to format your own reports in whatever layout you think fit.
To further increase the flexibility of the in-built reports and user defined reports, in the full version all reports can be sorted in any order in addition to the normal orders of Sort Code, Account number or Account description.(24) FLEXIBLE ACCOUNT SELECTION IN REPORTS;.
By this means it is possible to (for instance) sort a Debtors Aged trial balance in descending order of overdue balance, a marketing list sorted by City or Post Code, a stock list sorted by alternative part number or supplier number, etc, etc.
There is a great amount of flexibility with account selection criteria in reports.(25) EXPORT OF DATA;
For instance, in most reports it is possible to select ALL accounts, a RANGE of accounts (which range will be dependent on the sort order of the report), a GROUP (52 possible groups), an Analysis Code (100 Analysis codes for each type of ledger), or by "WILDCARD" (where only those accounts which have particular characters in either their account number or account descriptions are matched).
This latter feature is exceedingly powerful. It often amazes even us with the way people use this feature with a bit of lateral thinking.
Furthermore, in Debtors and Creditors reports it is possible to further isolate particular debtors by the age of the oldest balances and in Stock reports items can be further isolated by the Bin number/ Location.
By judicious combination of this feature with the ability to sort reports in any order described above, the range of reporting is virtually limitless.
For users where even the Report Generator cannot provide enough flexibility, we have built into the full version programs to allow data (both Account and Transaction) to be exported for interface to other programs, spreadsheets, databases, etc.(26) WARRANTY DATABASE;.
Data can be either exported on a ledger-by-ledger basis, or all ledgers at once.
Data can be either exported between a given date range, or new data that has been added or changed since the last export, regardless of the number of intervening date-selected exports which have taken place, can be selected.
For environments where you wish to track sales or jobs, the full version even has a warranty database built in.
The information available includes the item purchased, the date purchased, the invoice number, the price paid, the warranty period, and when the warranty expires.
Customer purchases can be looked up by date of purchase, by stock item purchased, by invoice number or by serial number.
A little thinking about this will reveal that it can be used for far more than just tracking warranties - workshops can use it to keep track of clients Warrants of Fitness (as well as the mileage when any job was done), electricians, plumbers printers etc can use it to cross-reference any jobs they have done for customers no matter how long ago, etc etc.
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