|The a business micro, and several companies are now providing original software or conversions of packages from other machines. And with the large program area available on the 128K machine, there's every reason to convert existing CP/M programs to catch the new market.|
Trouble is, CP/M packages and business programs in general are normally stuck with high asking prices, and to sell a piece of software, even a comprehensive product like an accounts suite, you've got to offer your average trucker something special. So do these two come up with the goods?
There are three main areas of business accounts that you might wont to computerise: the Sales and Purchase ledgers, the Nominal Ledger and Cashbook, and Final accounts (profit and loss reports, etc). The Gemini suite only covers the first two of these requirements, as it assumes you keep manual Sales and Purchase ledgers. The : Sage package integrates all three applications, and is a direct conversion of a package they've marketed for some years on other CP/M micros.
The Sage accounts programs are designed to work with a single drive, and you have to follow the instructions to swap program and ledger discs. This happens pretty frequently and becomes annoying after a while. The Gemini programs run under Amsdos. and the program and data run in memory together Although you have to change discs or cassettes to run the other module these swaps are infrequent. Against this ease of use. however, is the fact that the Gemini programs are written in BASIC and the key hasn't been disabled!
Both packages are structured similarly as far as their nominal ledgers are concerned, each providing a number of named accounts, to which you 'post' entries from the sales and purchase ledgers. The Gemini nominal ledger has a total of 199 named accounts, of which ever 100 are already provided with useful names, such as 'Wife's Wages'and 'Accountancy'; a reminder that you shouldn't forsake the services of a professional just because you've got a computer The Sage nominal ledger allows up to 999 account names, but doesn't provide any suggestions for naming them, other than a chat with your accountant.
The main advantage of computerised accounts over their manual counterparts is the ease with which you can obtain reports. Not only can you produce monthly balance sheets and profit and loss listings, but you can display or print out budget forecasts and trial balances at the touch of a few keys. Both systems will help keep the VAT man happy by handling your VAT transactions and producing VAT returns automatically.
At the end of the year, you'll need reports of the full year's transactions to hand to your auditor. The Final Accounts module of the Gemini system will produce these for you while the Sage package copes with them in the same way as it handles the monthly figures.
If you have no accounting training, you'll have to rely on the manuals accompanying each package to help you out. The Sage offering runs to 80 pages, is full of illustrations and is friendly, while still being concise Gemini offers a separate manual with each program, and they generally assume you know more about accounting Neither version attempts to teach you book-keeping, but I felt more at home with Sage's explanations
Either of these systems could help to improve the financial management of a business, but neither can be used without a fair degree of accounting knowledge. You don't have to be a chartered accountant, but you'll certainly need to swot up on some of the terminology. If you're considering switching from manual to computerised accounts, you'll probably know what you're doing, anyway. For my money (sorry) the Sage package has the edge, mainly due to its completely integrated approach.
AMSTRAD ACTION #5