There are a couple of reasons why entry-level cloud accounting software may no longer be suitable. The company’s business model may have become more sophisticated and new requirements can only be addressed using add-on software. Or the number of transactions in connected bank accounts are above 1,000 per month, or the number of suppliers and customers passes 5,000 (Xero’s respective limits).
One solution that handles these limits and more is the simplified version of NetSuite provided by Australian partner JCurve. The cloud accounting app JCurve is reasonably new and is promoted as a stepping stone to the full blown Netsuite platform which is used to run multi-national companies. The transition from the accounting app to NetSuite is seamless, so a business should never need to change accounting programs no matter how large it grows.
JCurve has potential to support both business growth and the need for more comprehensive functionality because NetSuite is an all-in-one ERP platform (ERP stands for enterprise resource planning). As well as standard accounting features it supports a complete CRM (customer relationship management database), an e-commerce site, advanced inventory, point-of-sale, etc. It virtually eliminates the need for add-on programs often required by less featured apps such as Xero and QuickBooks Online.
So would I recommend JCurve? I think this solution does have potential.
I signed up for the 45-day free trial to evaluate JCurve as a solution for the small businesses that are pushing the boundaries of Xero and QBO.
It took me a while to become comfortable with finding my way around the software but probably no more so than any other product. The dashboard was virtually infinitely customisable with just about every imaginable widget available which was good. I also liked the customisable task bar at the top where I could place shortcuts to frequently used functions for speedy access.
A comprehensive setup wizard is helpful as JCurve can be a little complex – but the initial setup is always the most complicated part of any new software implementation.
JCurve can import CSV files for customers, suppliers, items and chart of accounts but the apparent lack of a sample file to structure the import meant I went through a few attempts. I later discovered default templates in the Help section but they were only available for customers, suppliers and items, but not the chart of accounts. DIY novices beware!
After that it was reasonably plain sailing. Even from the initial setup it was evident that JCurve was a serious ERP. There was a lot of functionality included that was frequently missing or limited in entry-level software.
- It has basic functionality such as default payment terms and credit limits that I have sorely missed in Xero (QBO has default payment terms).
- There is a choice of FIFO (first in, first out) or average cost at the item level in inventory – at this stage I don’t know what costing methodology Xero will use when its inventory module is released but QBO just has FIFO.
- There is a choice of department, class and location categorisation on transactions with the option of one of each per transaction or one per line with the further option to make each Mandatory or Warning. (I found the mandatory option was unworkable as it was an all or nothing proposition. I would not normally want to classify transactions like cash receipts from customer and bank transfers.)
- Comprehensive user roles enabled very granular definition of user access. I find both Xero and QBO too limited.
- There is an incredibly comprehensive set of reports all of which could be customised and the format saved for future use (also available in QBO).
- There is a transaction date and a posting date for each transaction. This is so good and sorely missed in entry-level software. In other programs, if I have completed my December accounts and receive a late supplier invoice for December without a posting date, I need to record it as January.
- I could click a link to see the general ledger postings on every transaction. This is probably something that only excites accountants but I do miss this in Xero and QBO. I could also arrow backwards and forwards between transactions – love that. These features are both in the desktop version of Reckon Accounts (formerly QuickBooks).
Other features I also appreciated:
- Account numbers were optional (also in QBO)
- Sales and purchase orders (both in QBO), CRM, E-Commerce
- I could rename transaction types so for example a bill can be named “supplier invoice” which makes the user interface more friendly.
- On both supplier and customer invoices I could use either an item or a general ledger account (available in Xero but not for customer invoices in QBO).
- There is a default general ledger account against a supplier. This is great for data entry consistency. It is partially present in QBO and Xero as they can remember previous transactions.
I did encounter some challenges and some dislikes along the way:
- Response times, especially when saving transactions, were poor.
- The naming convention for tax codes was so user unfriendly it would daunt all but the most intrepid. (To think I complained about Saasu tax coding.)
- Bank feeds are only available via Yodlee. No partner banks appeared to be available.
- Setting tax periods. Mine kept being set to calendar year not fiscal year and I was unable to change unless I deleted all entered transactions.
- Customising the customer invoice wasn’t as flexible as I would have liked and I couldn’t resize the logo.
- Make Deposits function doesn’t allow for recording a tax code (same limitation in QBO). It is needed to record the refund of worker’s compensation and similar events.
- Doing a look-up on the chart of accounts when entering transactions such as supplier or customer invoice didn’t display the account type and it wasn’t context friendly. It didn’t display income accounts for a customer invoice and expense accounts for a supplier invoice.
- I couldn’t easily see how I could indicate on a supplier invoice that the amount included or excluded GST.
- The layout of the customer invoice screen gave plenty of real estate to the header but very limited for the lines. This compares very unfavourably to the clear layouts of both Xero and
- And the biggest disappointment – multi-currency is only available in the Advanced (NetSuite) version. This is very much a limiting factor as most small businesses I work with need multi currency either in suppliers or customers and having to go to the full NetSuite product means there is no set-up wizard etc.
I didn’t explore the payroll module in detail, mainly because reviewing payroll is always a very time consuming task. Suffice to say it looked as though it covered all major functionality for Australian payroll. There was an employee portal which is now an industry standard.
I couldn’t find any evidence that JCurve was SBR-enabled which means no automatic links into the ATO Portal. Xero has led the accounting software world in embedding links to the ATO although QBO can now do this using a third-party program, GovReports.
Pricing starts at $49 per user per month (including one external accountant user and five restricted employee users). Given that this is a product you would probably only use if you had outgrown entry-level cloud software, I would expect most businesses would require at least 3 standard users so it is definitely more expensive than Xero or QBO with their unlimited user plans (Xero’s plans are tiered on number of employees).
However, given the comprehensive nature of the product, most businesses probably wouldn’t require add-on software which is where the cost of a Xero or QBO solution can multiply.
So would I recommend JCurve? I think this solution does have potential. There were quite a few things that I didn’t like and especially the response times and lack of multi-currency is a concern.
But overall it looks to be a solid product that should support both business growth and more complex business models under the one umbrella. Hopefully future releases will address some of the usability issues bringing a dynamic all-in-one solution for growing businesses.