An alternative to online accounting software with payroll.

Following up on my last post I decided to look for some accounting software I could run on my computers or servers. Jam paying for web accessible software if I can’t load it on my own cloud servers. Double entry accounting is not that complex a subject. Neither is payroll and neither are tax rules for small businesses.  I also wanted to be able to access the database behind the accounting software and payroll had to be in there. I started with GNUcash, Quicken, then SQL Ledger. I was happy to pay a fee for support.

SQL Ledger was looking nice, but it’s not a 5 minute install affair. If only they had an apt-get installer. Quicken has evaporated into the cloud. Xero and MYOB just said a flat “NO” to me buying even a binary to load on my own systems. Finally I came back to GnuCash. It’s a bit different, but it’s actually way easier to use. You can download QIF or OFX files from the bank to bring in your transactions and it does automatic transaction matching like MYOB Essentials although you can’t build rules as yet. Then again, the gnu cash method combined with the fact that it runs lighteningly fast more than makes up for it. Now I am tending towards quickly checking transactions as some of the text pattern matches I made (usually late at night when I’m fading) have been incorrect. It has an auto transaction download feature which I’ve yet to set up with the banks. AAAannnnd,, drum roll please,,,, wholly cow, it is able to connect directly to a remote SQL database (Postgres or MySQL).

How bloody awesome! I’ve yet to test the SQL connection, but just the fact that it’s there is good. Because it’s open source there is no rubbish in there. No bells and whistles which a marketing department has asked for. It just works. The only thing is that there is no automated payroll. When you think about it though, for the business with only a few employees, what’s the big deal? It’s pretty easy to ammortise 8.4 weeks of sick leave, public holidays and normal holidays over the other 43.6 weeks of the year.  Super is 9.5%. Tax is just read off the tax tables from the ATO. A spreadsheet and throwing the saved chunks into liability accounts until they come due. No probs. When it becomes more complicated well it’s not too hard to write a web app to automate it if you’ve access to the SQL database in the background. That’s if the people at GnuCash don’t get to it first.

An other thing is the sub accounts feature. You can make hundreds of levels deep. MYOB is only about 4 or so.

I’m not going to say I’m totally sold, but I am testing it from here on in. Watch this space for how it goes as the months pass by. If you want my spreadsheet templates for payroll, let me know and I can make a download page for you.

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