Account software suggestion



Hello, all!

I have a small dilemma and I'm hoping for some suggestions. And let me
preface this by saying that I have very little experience with

I recently took a job as an project manager in the marketing
department of a college. One of my responsibilities is to keep track
of the departmental budget, across 14 different expense accounts (one
for advertising campaign expenses, one for travel expenses, one for
printing expenses, one for expenses related to work study students,
one for special events, etc... you get the idea) as well as keep track
of incoming invoices and bill payments. I don't need to do anything
related to payroll, I don't have to manage any other accounts,
generate invoices, or anything very complex at all. All I need is to
keep track of total to-date expenses versus budget and track

I have a decent amount of autonomy on how to do this and what software
system to use. The college uses an accounting system called AS400 for
institutional budgeting, but this does not have functionality to track
individual line item expenses for each account. Right now, the
department has a very informal and messy way of keeping track of the
budget, using a mish-mash of Excel spreadsheets.

Basically, I need to be able to track all of the department expenses,
in detail, line by line, within each account. But I also need access
to account summaries so that I'm able to quickly advise my supervisor
on how various proposed projects could impact the budget and pre-
existing projects so he is able to make informed decisions. This is in
addition to developing some sort of invoice tracking system to ensure
that all invoices are received, processed, and paid in a timely

I've looked into using Microsoft Access, which I liked because it
could be customized to do exactly what I want with specialized data
input forms and reports that will look exactly how I want. However,
without at least some knowledge of VB programming, customizing it is
proving frustrating and nearly impossible. I also looked into
Microsoft Office Accounting, but it seems to provide a lot more
functionality than I need and not really be geared toward my
simplistic accounting and budgeting needs. Using the free Express
version, I cannot find any budgeting tools and the Professional
version is rather expensive when I'd be using maybe 10% of the
functions that we'd be paying for (basic accounting and budgeting).
I've also considered sticking with a series of Excel spreadsheets, but
that seems very cumbersome and messy as far as data entry and

So, do you guys have any suggestions for me? Any other software that
would work for what I need or suggestions for which of the above
programs might work best?

Thanks so much for any advice you may have. And, again, I'm pretty
inexperienced here, so I apologize if I'm misunderstanding any
accounting terms or concepts.

Thanks again!


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