Avanquest Small Business Pro
- Adequate features
- Ugly counter-intuitive, poorly made, missing obvious essential features, slow performance
Small Business Pro looks like it has all the features you would need in a financial package but is actually rather shoddy.
Price$ 121.80 (AUD)
Avanquest's Small Business Pro 2006 is a cheap, quirky, and ultimately unsatisfying grab-bag of disparate business tools. At first glance, its long feature list seems to offer great value, but compared with other accounting programs, it's too expensive and far too unpolished.
The shipping package of this single-user application includes tools for accounting, financial forecasting, and business plan creation. A payroll feature, the one obvious omission, will arrive with the 2007 version. Small Business Pro's licensing features are unusually customizable. You can buy additional user licenses for each individual accounting module. This is useful if, for example, you have more sales people (who need access to customer information) than accountants (who work in the general accounting module). Unfortunately, the multiple-license scenario requires an IP-based network, and the client and server software can't run on the same machine, which makes Small Business Pro less flexible than small-business accounting programs that can run client software on the data server.
The small-business accounting functions are adequate though largely unimpressive. Unfortunately, an ugly, non-intuitive user interface makes them exceedingly hard to use. Rather than using Windows-style drop-down menus, most Small Business Pro modules depend on clickable Web-style icons, which you have to mouse over for help in figuring out what they do.
The app's menus aren't its only awkward feature. Unlike QuickBooks, which uses easy-to-understand language, Small Business Pro has its own wacky take on accounting jargon. The software is laden with typos ("Wokspace," for example, evidently means Workspace), shows a shaky grasp of accounting terms (using the term "bank synchronization" for bank reconciliation), and mislabels some features (clicking on the Income Tax Preparation icon does not prepare income tax). A clue to the language issues is the logo "Powered by Inventime," a French accounting program.
The application ran like a slug on my 2.4-GHz Pentium 4 PC with 768MB of RAM. Avanquest says that it's correcting the typos and terminology with a pending service patch release. It's also working on the performance issues.
Small Business Pro comes with Design and Print Business Edition (a desktop publisher) and Web Easy Professional 6 (a Web site creator), both of which have relatively conventional and understandable Windows user interfaces. Design and Print is basic but usable, though an included clip art CD offers dated 1998-era graphics. The Web Easy app is better suited to creating personal and hobbyist sites than a small-business site.
Overall, Small Business Pro is no match for either Intuit QuickBooks or Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting. If you don't want to pay a couple hundred bucks for these programs, the US$50 you'd spend on Simply Accounting Basic from Sage Software is a better investment than this funky French import.
Small Business Pro 2006 is available to purchase from the Avanquest website.
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