MYOB: So Far, Underwhelming

I’ve started my first ‘proper’ business — incorporation and all — and my accountant told me that I should get MYOB or QuickBooks. So far MYOB has not impressed.

I use a Mac. QuickBooks have a Mac variant, but not in Australia. This narrowed my choices down to MYOB or an opensource solution.

But none of the opensource solutions is set up for Australian conditions. The BAS sets a high bar of complexity that nobody wants to try and hurdle in their spare time. So my choices were narrowed down to MYOB, MYOB or MYOB.

I stumped up my $170 for the basic “FirstEdge” version. A few days later it came by post. I suppose that should have been my first warning — there was no downloadable version I could use in the meantime.

So yesterday I sat down to install it. I pushed the disc into the drive. It grunted and spat it out. I pushed it in again. More grunting, more derisory spitting.

A google search revealed nobody with this exact problem. I decided to ring their help desk. I got a message saying that the office was closed, but that their office hours included most of Saturday. So I decided to leave it overnight.

This morning I pulled my PowerBook G4 off the shelf to try loading MYOB into it. The PowerBook is a circa 2002 model, fully tricked out, that I got second hand at a good price. It has the previous release of Mac OS X (Tiger), whereas my desktop has the latest (Leopard).

I pushed the disc in, and it appeared on the desktop without hesitation.

I didn’t want to have to do my accounting on the laptop which I use infrequently, so I decided to copy the disc and try again. I loaded up the Disk Utility program, and on a whim, hit the ‘verify’ button. Disk Utility reported that, in fact, the disc has a corrupted file system. If I understand this correctly, that means MYOB sent me a defective disc. And for all I know, they made a lot of these, as CD-ROM pressing tends to be a fairly exact science these days.

For those of you suffering the same problem, here’s the workaround: load the disc in a OS X Tiger machine and copy the contents to a USB stick. You can’t use Disk Utility to burn a copy disc as it will choke on the corrupted filesystem. Take the USB stick to the machine you want to use, then doubleclick on the FirstEdge.mpkg, which will launch the installer. It seems to work flawlessly.

Update: It doesn’t actually install the program. The installer says it succeeds, but doesn’t actually install the damn program. W. T. F.

With this fix in hand, I decided to ring them to ask for a replacement disc. It’s faulty merchandise and I deserve a replacement as a backup copy. So I rang the helpdesk. A recorded voice politely told me that they were only open on weekdays, then disconnected me.

So here’s the score:

MYOB lies about opening hours: 1
MYOB defective merchandise: 1
MYOB expenses: $170
MYOB programs installed: 0
MYOB customer satisfaction: 0.

And I haven’t even launched the program yet. (Edit: And I can’t, because it didn’t bloody install.)

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16 Responses to MYOB: So Far, Underwhelming

  1. James A says:

    FiveDash is an Australian open-source accounting system.

  2. Jacques Chester says:

    Your timing is awful. On the other hand I might just get a refund and send it back.

  3. Jacques Chester says:

    Small addendum: the documentation on ASIC’s website is as clear as mud mixed with ink.

  4. JM says:

    Don’t use proprietory packages if you can avoid it, particularly if they have binary and/or proprietory file formats.

    I learnt this painfully many years ago when a key tax rate changed during the year and my package didn’t handle it. I then had to reverse engineer the data file format to get my data out.

    I’ve used spreadsheets ever since

  5. observa says:

    The ATO have a small business package for record keeping and BAS reporting but I guess you have ro decide where you’re going. My outsourced guru uses both MYOB and Quickbooks and reckons Quickbooks is far better. He does books for a number of SMEs and has to cope with both but prefers to set you up on QB. He also lectures on small biz and oversees NIES (I think) grants. Whatever you choose you need the full support package and updates which is pricey starting out and then there’s the learn curve. It’s often worth outsourcing to concentrate on what you do best but that’s hard to recognise when starting out. Oh and he’s a JP by the way. If you outsource book-keeping you have to trust them absolutely.

  6. Matt C says:

    Assuming your desktop has an Intel processor, you could always install Windows in a VMWare or Parallels virtual machine and run Quickbooks through that.

  7. Jacques Chester says:

    True, Matt C, but very annoying.

    I am at university this afternoon but tomorrow or Wednesday I will call MYOB and ask to return the software in exchange for a refund. I don’t know if I should deal with a company whose QC is so poor that they ship defective CD-ROMs.

  8. Tel_ says:

    Jacques, if you like perl, postgresql and text/curses mode, I have some code that does the job for me which might need a bit of wrangling for your particular operations. It has the small advantage that you can run it on one server then ssh into the server and use it from anywhere. I’m sure it will save you money, but probably you will have to waste some time in exchange (then again MYOB has already wasted your time and your money).

    BTW, if anyone can recommend to me a good accounting textbook with nice example report layouts (preferably reports that include either GST or VAT) then please post your recommendations, I’m hoping to boost up the report generator but I’m at a loss exactly which reports are the best to generate.

  9. Jacques Chester says:

    I am amused — though not surprised — that all the opensource account software I’ve seen using an RDBMS have avoided MySQL.

    Whatever I think about curses, my accountant probably won’t think too much of it. I’m going to play around with the FiveDash mob James linked to.

  10. woodsy says:

    I’ve downloaded the fivedash software (57M) but when I try to launch it I’m shunted off to a website that calls for a password that I can’t seem to get from any where. Can anyone help ? – I would like to assess the suitability of fivedash for a couple of small business clients.

  11. Jacques Chester says:

    woodsy — on my download there was a ‘readme’ file on the desktop. It says that the username to us is ‘admin’ and the password to use is ‘password’. It’s only a demo version so it won’t store details between startups.

  12. Tel_ says:

    Any actual results on FiveDash?

    I’ll admit to being a bit of a python hater (I mean, it’s try-hard perl come lately, and I already went to the trouble of learning perl; Europeans just like python so they could say they did SOMETHING for the computing world, even if nothing more than a derivative mix of S-plus, perl and Java). That doesn’t mean I would hold back from recommending FiveDash (and even installing it for someone) if it really does a good job.

    So please, update the scoreboard with FiveDash stats (and do yourself the justice of putting your own hours spent on the score too, for both myob and the competitors).

  13. Jacques Chester says:

    Part of my problem is that I’m not an accountant, or even a bookkeeper. To my very basic understanding FiveDash would be fine for those sorts of people.

    It also doesn’t help that my business model doesn’t fit the standard quote-job-invoice cycle.

  14. kylea says:

    I am installing fivedash as we speak – onto Ubuntu 9.04 – If you are still interested I’ll update you all how it goes.

    I am also using GnuCash – its very easy to use but will not automatically produce any output for GST/BAS

  15. Jacques Chester says:

    kylea — I’d be interested in hearing your feedback. In future I might move to fivedash because it uses Postgres as a backend. This means that a) it’ll integrate better with my codebase and b) it uses Postgres, rather than MYOB’s own mysterious backend.

    The warnings about file corruption that appear every time I run MYOB are … less than reassuring.

  16. Tel_ says:

    The warnings about file corruption that appear every time I run MYOB are less than reassuring.

    Wait till you try multi-user :-)
    Maybe they are looking at some moves towards Linux & Solaris backends in future.

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