In December 2012 I moved our accounting system over from FreeAgent to FNB Instant Accounting. The reason for the change was to have a better system for managing our books and monitoring our project spending. The main reasons for choosing FNB Instant Accounting were:
- The easy importing of banking transactions (automated for most accounts)
- The service is free of charge (we are banking with FNB)
- The possibility to create multiple sub-ledger accounts (to assist with monitoring project spending).
Getting started wasn’t as quick and easy as we thought it would be. We had some teething issues. As a secondary user on the banking profile with only viewing abilities it wasn’t straightforward to set up. Only the primary account user can see and access the information. This was resolved by creating a secondary user who would then be able to access and use the accounting system. Unfortunately after that the primary user and main account holder, Arthur Attwell, could not access to his own FNB Instant Accounting profile. To date this has not been sorted out.
One of the nice features that FNB Instant Accounting has is the ability to automatically assign transactions to general ledgers using rules. FNB starts assigning some of your banking transactions for you that it recognises before you even start. These include banking charges, telephone expenses and so on. This would have been lovely feature to use. However, we needed to keep track of transactions per project and therefore needed to manually allocate transactions to their various related sub-ledger accounts. I had repeated instances in the early stages where I had disabled the rules and FNB re-enabled them again. After contacting FNB to have this feature disabled it was fixed by the end of March 2013.
One thing that I have found incredibly frustrating is the length of time that it takes for the program to load a transaction, refresh and update the data. The pages just hang and it takes ages to capture one manual transaction after another. You can only press save once otherwise you end up with duplicate transactions that you then need to create multiple reverse entries against. For those of us who can multi-task and have two separate screens to work on, this is not too much of a problem. Most of the time this means that the transaction has been captured but it’s best to double check.
Fortunately I had no need to capture invoices in Instant Accounting so I have not experienced issues here. If you need to keep track of debtors and creditors there are some useful discussions available for managing your accounts and VAT returns in Instant Accounting.
More issues that I experienced were with a split transaction that become corrupted while Instant Accounting froze. This meant that I ended up with a trial balance that didn’t balance. This was resolved with the help of support. After this the bank balance did not match the actual bank balance. Since I was not able to add or remove transactions that are automatically imported, support was needed to assist here as well. The support team did not let me know when they had made changes and what changes they had made. These turned out to be wrong and so I needed to go back and advise them again. Since then, they have made an effort to let me know what changes they have made.
I logged into Instant Accounting … only to realise that I was logged into another unrelated company’s profile
One day in January 2013 I logged into Instant Accounting and was pleasantly surprised to see that our income had dramatically increased – only to realise that I was logged into another unrelated company’s profile: Women in Finance. Unfortunately this also meant that I could not access our own accounting profile. I forwarded screen shots to FNB to prove that I was in the wrong accounting profile and they changed my profile back to having access to Paperight’s financial data.
Trying to find transactions and view historical data is not that great. To search for an amount, you need to know the exact amount you are looking for in order to pick the transaction. Trying to view historical data can be time consuming. FNB Instant Accounting decides for you what you want to search for. Even if you select the previous financial year and select to view all transactions it will still search for transactions within the current year. You then have to clear the filter items it has chosen and start the search again.
The most recent issues experienced were the scroll option no longer working for selecting ledger accounts. It was recommended that I use a different web browser. Later on I was not able to access my ledger accounts at all. Each time I tried to access them Instant Accounting would freeze and log me out. It turned out that I had too many ledger accounts and was asked to delete some of them in order to continue working.
All in all I have been much happier using FNB Instant Accounting than FreeAgent, Wave Accounting or Omni. As long as you don’t need a program that works quickly (especially in the mornings) their system works okay for entrepreneurs and start-ups. Most of the bugs mentioned have since been fixed.