by Michele Nachum
Published on 27 June 2011
I once heard a comment from an executive at a very large technology corporation in regards to the company's accounting software products. He was asked, who are your competitors? Other accounting solutions? No, he replied. Excel users are our greatest competition.
Over the past few years, more SMBs are discovering that financial software is a viable alternative to harboring massive Excel charts. As such, the popularity of accounting software has increased exponentially as solutions have become more affordable and user friendly. One such solution, E-conomic, offers a feature-rich full fledged accounting solution in the cloud that is scalable to most businesses.
E-conomic has been around since 2001 and now supports more than 36,000 companies and 3,500 accountants and bookkeepers. The solution offers a few different subscription levels for SMBs depending on the needs of the business,. That said, all levels contain general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable and sales modules. E-conomic is available in two versions, Small and Standard. The basic functions in Small and Standard are identical; the main difference is the number of transactions one can make (e.g.: max 4,000 transactions per accounting year in the Small level). Pricing is €12.99 per user per month for the Small version and €24.99 for the Standard version.
While E-conomic allows businesses to automate their accounting process, the solution also provides information on 114 accountants and bookkeepers that SMBs can employee to help with their bookkeeping and other tasks. E-conomic also is available in versions for accountants and bookkeeopers as well as corporations. For the sake of this review, however, I will focus on the "Company" level - which is generally for SMBs.
What does it look like?
I will admit that every accounting solution I have ever tried has been a bit confusing for me. I love money but hate managing it. That said, E-conomic does try to be as user-friendly as an accounting solution can possibly be. Its interface is "functional" - no fancy trimmings here - just a very modular and straightfoward design that is fairly intuitive to navigate. Once you sign up, you can follow the tabs at the top of the screen that include Settings, Bookkeeping, Sales, Report, and Dialogue. Under each tab are several functionalities at the left side of the screen from invoicing to creating quotes for clients. E-conomic does a nice job of managing your questions (if you are like me you will have quite a few) - and has a Help tab at the top right of your screen that is called "e-copedia." The "e-copedia" will become your bible until you are ready to fly solo with E-conomic.
Settings is where you can set up your company information. E-conomic allows you to define your currency, add in VAT codes, client contacts, create product groups, terms of payments and more. If you are the administrator, you have access to the Administrator tab where can enter in your company information and maintain an overview of clients.
The bookkeeping tab is used to enter in customer receipts, create new suppliers, create invoices, payments and remittance advices (these are notes to your customers that they have paid your invoice - a nice to have but not a need to have). You can also create recurring journal entries such as standing orders and direct debits.
Bookkeeping: Audit Trail
E-conomic offers a feature called Audit Trail that allows you to store data in documents that could later be audited - and that is a nice feature. According to the E-conomic website, "An audit trail allows an auditor to trace the financial data from general ledger to the source document (invoice, receipt, voucher, etc.). The presence of a reliable and easy to follow audit trail is an indicator of good internal controls instituted by a firm, and forms the basis of objectivity." Enough said. Clean books equals a clean conscience.
Bookkeeping: Bank Information
Most accounting solutions allow you to integrate your bank information. In E-conomic you can upload your bank statement and automatically reconcile entries with your bank accounts. There are several features including setting up and filling out bank reconciliation fields, automating the reconciliation process, manually filling out the reconciliations and more. The good news, the Help feature offers guidance on this important feature.
Sales: The sales tab is where users can enter in their customer information, produce sales estimates and quotations, and process orders and invoices. As you develop your invoices, you can insert your company logo and tailor the invoice to your company brand. Once you have completed the invoice, E-conomic allows you to print it out as well as email it to the customer.
Other sales features include the ability to highlight overdue accounts and import a product list from a previous system. To help you better keep track of your invoices, E-conomic does a good job of archiving previously booked invoices, credit notes and reminders.
Add On Modules:
One of the features that many accounting solutions have nowadays is the ability to partner with other solution providers so that SMBs can add on features and tools at their leisure. E-conomic provides a wide range of solutions from employee payroll tools to CRM features, stock management and web design. If you are unsure about how to add on these additional tools, the "e-copedia" will provide additional guidance.
Among the many features that E-conomic provides is the ability to print out and view a number of reports from balance sheets to supplier reports (i.e. aged creditor) as well as VAT reporting. If you select an additional module (see above), such as Stock Management or Project Accounting, then the reports relating to those tools can be found as well in Reports. You can export all reports into Excel - however, I found this feature very slow to load.
Mobile Phone Apps:
If you want to view your accounting data on your mobile phone, E-conomic includes an application to synch data with Android phones. In addition, E-conomic will soon offer an iPhone.
Is it for you?
If you are getting tired of using hundreds of Excel sheets to manage your finances, you might want to consider an accounting solution such as E-conomic. The solution is designed for European countries (sorry U.S. customers) - but it is available in several versions and languages including French and German.
E-conomic is scalable, flexible and relatively easy to learn (with some practice and some video viewing in the Help section). The program also allows you to also add on features as your company grows - which is something that boxed accounting products cannot always provide. While the user interface design is rather monotonous, the overall navigation is fairly simple to follow.