Learning is fun (Even if it's just accounting...)

Spent the bulk of today learning the basics of how to do the accounting for a small corporation in Canada. I'm planning to use GNUCash for the primary accounting system. We're going to be fairly small and simply structured, so it seems like a good fit. (I realise it seems weird I wouldn't just write my own accounting package, given that I write accounting-related software for work, but we shouldn't have any requirements for custom functionality at all... so why reinvent the wheel... I've got enough "new" things on my plate this month).

Unfortunately, the gnucash website has been down most of the day, so the main source of documentation was offline. I read through the whole GNUCash user's guide (including the sections on stocks, loans and the like, just to get an idea of how that all works with it), then the Aerospace Software guide for business users (conveniently written by Canadians for Canadians) I wound up rather heavily customising the set of accounts offered in that howto...


  1. Jeff Kowalczyk

    Jeff Kowalczyk on 05/22/2006 9:34 p.m. #

    Nothing against GnuCash, but using a web-based accounting packages may make it easier to use outside accountants for year-end and audit type services. SQL-Ledger is based in Canada: http://sql-ledger.org

  2. Mike Fletcher

    Mike Fletcher on 05/22/2006 11:36 p.m. #

    I looked at SQL-Ledger before investigating GNUCash. I realise it's terribly shallow seeming, but I'd largely discounted it because I couldn't see how to customise it for my needs (from the demo interface).<br />
    <br />
    That is, the demo seems to focus on the needs of someone who is building things, rather than delivering a service. There's a segment for services, but I didn't see how to drop all of the physical-product operations or how to break down particular accounts or enter new ones... it all seems hard-coded when you look at the demo. It seemed I'd have to get my hands dirty with PERL to tailor the system to my particular (small) company.<br />
    <br />
    GNUCash, by contrast, lets one create new accounts right from the main interface. Of course, it could be SQL-Ledger does as well in a non-demo config... I just never got that far in looking to see whether it does. Interestingly, now that I've gone through the process with GNUCash, I would feel more confident approaching SQL-Ledger, but it still feels like overkill for my little company somehow.

  3. Evelyn Mitchell

    Evelyn Mitchell on 05/24/2006 1:48 a.m. #

    I looked at gnucash, but find double entry bookkeeping non-intuitive. I know how to do it, but it reminds me of Perl, the frequency with which I have to consult a reference manual.<br />
    <br />
    Plus the reporting of gnucash is crap. Reporting is 90% of what I use my accounting system for. On the other hand, if you have a database of your transactions, there's lots of choice for reporting tools. <br />
    <br />
    I always suggest to use a tool that works for you. With the caveat that bookkeeping is one of the first tasks that a business needs to outsource. Not reporting or analysis, but the front end data entry work. That can suck up a lot of time even for small companies. And, it's not a high-value added bit of work for your customers. But it's critical to your business. I'm blessed to have a terrific person doing that for me.

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