[CLUG-tech] Pastel vs Quickbooks

Christopher Roomes christopher at microbiotica.co.za
Fri Nov 23 13:45:46 SAST 2001

I was really amused at your response.

Both QuickBooks and Pastel have their advantages and disadvantages, I have studied both and will give you a more unbiased opinion (not completely unbiased though).

Pastel is locally written, but is distributed internationally, and Pastel have branches in other countries, so whether Pastel's revenue is actually coming back into the country is not confirmed.  It can also run in Afrikaans, so this gives Afrikaners a warm fuzzy feeling.  QuickBooks runs locally in English only.

Intuit, the makers of QuickBooks and Quicken were almost bought by Microsoft about 12 years ago and the US FTC prevented them.  You may remember the MS money vs Quicken debacle.

Some of Pastels main disadvantages are:

 (1) written in Visual Basic and therefore inherently unstable (although newer versions appear to be more stable),

 (2) batch based - definitely not a good idea for small businesses,

 (3) multiple file database based on Btrieve,

 (4) backup procedure is horrible - needs to be bulletproof, especially in small businesses

QuickBooks, however:

 (1) is written in C (and newer versions are more web based) making it most likely to be ported to Linux before Pastel

 (2) is immediate and correctable.  Each entry affects the TB, BS and other financials directly - no antiquated posting.

 (3) single file based database, allowing multiple companies to be run from a single directory.

 (4) backup and restore procedures are infinitely better, allowing proper spanning of floppy disks and not requiring MS backup.

In addition to this QuickBooks is also fully multi-currency (version 9) and has extensive reporting.

My main criticism of QuickBooks is its difficulty in importing data from other accounting packages.  Every time a customer gets sick and tired of running Pastel and wants to upgrade their accounting system, the importing process of line items is monumental.  Taking on requires tab delimited files that have to be done exactly right, otherwise a full import is not possible.  On the other hand, I have never yet seen any accounting package that can fully import every single detail of another accounting package.  It is theoretically possible to do this in QuickBooks, but for all economic reasons it is impractical.

QuickBooks can also produce invoices and statements in PDF form without having to buy Adobe Acrobat.  This is useful for sending unmodifiable invoices electronically.  Other features that are also great is its spell checker, a feature that Pastel doesn't have, as well as a really well thought out user interface.  QuickBooks ability to capture information quickly beats Pastel hands down.

If one was comparing QuickBooks to MYOB there might be a debate, but comparing QuickBooks to Pastel is like chalk and cheese.

QuickBooks is supported in this country, in fact it has one of the best support infrastructures available - Microbiotica.  Not only can we supply, install and setup the infrastructure, we can get the system running properly on any network (have not tried Samba on Linux yet), but can run on NetWare and M$ networks.  We can also supply and install, and maintain every single aspect about the network it runs on, including the printers, UPS, etc.

One of the reasons why Pastel is so well entrenched in this country is not because it is a good package, but because it is rammed down the throats of BCom students at practically every university as well as by most of the auditing companies.  All the auditors I have spoken to in this regard have never even tried QuickBooks and are therefore not in a position to make a value judgement.  This is what is known as "making their problem their customer's problem", and is not very professional.  Unless both packages have been evaluated, by these organisations, any one sidedness is obviously bias.

An invalid criticism made by auditors about QuickBooks is the fact that it's TB, P&L and BS is effected directly and changes can be made at any point in time.  This is actually one of its strongest features.  For all the auditors that fear changes made to deliberately change information, there is a feature that allows full auditing.  This audit trail can be switched on or off and when switched off, QuickBooks logs this switch off in the audit trail.  Therefore this fear is completely unfounded and is purely a mechanism for lazy auditors not to learn QuickBooks.

As regard to your comment about QuickBooks not being cofigurable:  This indicates strongly that you too, have not looked at QuickBooks, because not only is it extremely customizable, it is the most customizable small business accounting package.  In the last 15 years we have looked at and supported the above two as well as Brilliant and the various flavours of ACCPAC.  I would even go as far as to say that before I use Pastel, I would choose any of the others, and ACCPAC's pricing really sucks as is its databases's integrity.

A good reason for supporting Pastel is its support intensiveness (i.e makes money for support personnel).  Every time Pastel creates a zero bite file (SOHO version 5) it is impossible to return into the program by default as Pastel Opens the last used set of books.

If you are still unconvinced I could provide more information, and am interested in your response to this.

Christopher Roomes
CLUG Treasurer

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