Choosing a new accounting system can be a daunting task.  Make the right decision and you will reap the benefits of your decision over and over again; the wrong choice and you wind up with a system that results in a loss of productivity and lack of flexibility.

During my career many people have asked me to compare Microsoft Dynamics – GP to Quickbooks Enterprise.  They have a hard time justifying the cost difference and rightfully so.  They are both robust packages that come with significantly different price tags. Read on to see what I have found to be the Top 6 things to consider when making this choice.

 #1. Is the software period based or date driven?

Some software provides the ability to associate more than one date with a transaction; a posting date and a document date.  Other software is date driven meaning the document date controls to what period the document posts in the GL.  With the former, the posting date controls which period the transactions posts to.  Periods are defined in a setup screen.  Each period consists of a range of dates; The document date is used to calculate the age of the document.

FACT: Microsoft Dynamics GP offers two dates per transaction; Quickbooks Enterprise is strictly based on one date.

WHY THIS MIGHT BE IMPORTANT TO YOU: If you require flexibility in the document date and posting date and need to have flexibility in period definitions.

 #2. What database management system does the system use?

FACT: Microsoft Dynamics GP is based on Microsoft SQL.  Quickbooks Enterprise is built on a proprietary, locked down version of Sybase.

WHY THIS MIGHT BE IMPORTANT TO YOU: If you are a SQL developer or like to make Query calls to the database, you will need a third party tool like QODBC in order to access the data.  Also, there are many industry standard report writers that are made for SQL Databases.  On the Quickbooks side, If you are creative, you can access the data it is just not as straight forward.

#3. Is the software capable of handling large datasets? 

FACT: the efficiency with which Microsoft SQL handles data is hands down the best.  Microsoft Dynamics GP has been tested with extremely large datasets with millions of records and hundreds of thousands of transactions being processed at the same time by multiple users.  Quickbooks Enterprise has limits on the number of master records and the database size.

WHY THIS MIGHT BE IMPORTANT TO YOU:  If you have many transactions and multiple users, you should be looking at a database that is made for large datasets.

#4. What are the annual applicable enhancement fees?

It has become industry standard for software companies to charge annual enhancement fees and support fees for software.  This fee is usually a percentage of the retail price of the software and gives the owner access to updates, service packs, and feature releases.  The option to renew is optional.  However, you should check with the manufacturer about any penalties that may be assessed if your plan lapses.

FACT:  Microsoft Dynamics – GP has an annual enhancement fee ranges from 16% -25% percent of the retail price of the software.  The 16% assessment does not include a support component; the 25% includes unlimited support.  Intuit’s Full Service Plan is a flat fee depending on the number of users and all Full Service Plans include unlimited phone support, on-line backup and other on-line benefits.

WHY THIS MIGHT BE IMPORTANT TO YOU:  Software costs are usually the smallest portion of your investment in a software solution.  Implementation costs, on-going support and maintenance, and training is usually the largest so it is important to take the on-going fees (year 2 and beyond) into consideration.

Conclusion: In addition to the above, there are many other areas that are handled differently by these two packages.  When making the choice, you certainly want to look at capabilities and features of the software too.  Areas that can often cause issues with off the shelf software are pricing, commissions, and inventory valuation.  Since each company has their own way of handling each,  Intuit, the makers of Quickbooks Enterprise,  and Microsoft both have an extensive network of third party developers that have created integrated software solutions that address the shortcomings in the base system.  Those options should also be considered when making the final decision.

By Robert Milton Smith, CPA, CITP of eIS Business Solutions, Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM Partner out of California

Top 5 considerations when deciding between Quickbooks Enterprise and Microsoft Dynamics GP is a post from: Accounting Software Blog

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