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Ability Accounts review

Karl Wright
7 Aug 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
76
inc VAT

If you feel yourself lacking either time and patience, then you should look elsewhere.

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Specifications

Ability Accounts was a chore to use.

For a start, the setup wizard was by far the most confusing we've seen. It was very wordy and we felt bombarded with information that we didn't need. When we were asked for input, such as the first month of our accounting period, the explanation of what we were doing didn't feel clear enough to be suitable for beginners who'd never before touched an accounts program.

Past the setup wizard, there's more clumsiness to contend with: you can't see your accounts update as you enter new transactions. To check that you've correctly updated an account, you need to run an Account Enquiry manually. If you want to check the state of your entire Chart of Accounts, you must either print the Chart of Accounts list as a report or export it to PDF, which is very time consuming. The software doesn't simply handle double-entry bookkeeping behind the scenes, either.

Most accounts packages allow you to specify how much you want to transfer and which accounts are affected, and discreetly debit and credit the correct nominal accounts for you. This is not the case with Ability; here, every transaction has to be entered twice. In a way, this could be construed as an advantage; it makes it more difficult to enter the wrong amount by accident (if your debit and credit figures don't match, the program won't let you record an entry at all). However, we'd rather be able to enter accounts quickly but also easily correct errors. Sadly, making corrections is also a drawn-out process. Instead of simply voiding or deleting a transaction, you must manually correct it. If you erroneously debited your bank account and credited an expense account, you must credit the bank and debit the expense account to make good your error. So one mistake will have cost you the time it takes to make four entries. In the other programs it would be one entry and then a right-click to void or delete that entry.

Ability Accounts is marketed as a small-business budget alternative to Sage and QuickBooks. It certainly has most of the features you'd expect of a small-business accountancy package. Based on journal entries, it maintains a Chart of Accounts that you'll be able to hand over to your accountant at the end of the tax year. Using the normal purchase ledger accounts, you can track your company payroll and produce around 25 customisable reports to provide you with the health and performance of your company.

However, it doesn't do online banking. It doesn't even allow you to import standard OFX-format bank statement files. More than this, though, it's just too much hassle to use. If it were less than £50, we might be able to forgive it. As it is, you should buy Accountz or Sage instead.

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