Cash book applications are a quick way to record your cash flow and receipts in a way that can be handed to your accountant for detailed analysis and reporting. You use a cash book first then an accounting system. One combined system is convenient when your organization is big enough to have a full time accountant. A separate cash book application let you distribute recording to people in the field and send the journal entries to an external accountant. What is available that is easy and open?
If you have a permanent full time or part time accountant, you want a detailed accounting system. Some are mentioned in the page on Accounting. You will see a big overlap between accounting systems and cash books because so many applications attempt to do both tasks. Some of the products on the accounting page are too big or complicated to install when you only need a cash book without the rest of the accounting software.
Some types of businesses should choose their business focused applications first then choose whatever cash book connects direct to receive the journal entries from the main business application.
ERP is Enterprise Resource Planning and gives you management of projects from quoting through to completion and billing. If you are a manufacturer then ERP is the first thing you look at. Cash book entries (journal entries) are generated all the way through the manufacturing process including buying materials, parts, and tools. When you work on a small number of large projects, every purchase can be assigned to a project and the profitability of every project reported whenever you need to check progress. While ERP is not needed for a cash book, there are some businesses where almost all the journal entries for your cash book will be created in ERP and you make everything more accurate by feeding those journal entries direct into a built in cash book.
Most of your transactions arrive from your shopping card software so choose the best shopping cart then use a cash book that connects to the shopping cart.
Your cash register will generate the most important transactions. Look for software that can connect direct to your cash register. Some ERP systems include a way to connect to cash registers which is useful when you start ordering custom stock that has specific delivery dates, seasonal goods for example, and you want to book advertising based on current sales trends. The same transactions can go straight into your cash book without retyping.
You have a call centre calling people all day for donations. Your most important application is your CRM, Customer Relationship Manager. Start with CRM then look for something that can connect to record payments with automatic population of the payment fields. You then save time and reduce errors by feeding the payment transaction results direct into your cash book.
Free Web based applications related to cash flow
Free and open Web based applications
FrontAccounting is based on PHP and can work with the ancient PHP 4 if you already have a Web server and are stuck with PHP 4 for some reason. The PHP 4 compatibility appears to be one advantage of FrontAccounting over webERP. Download from frontaccounting.com.
An intuitive registration form, Journal Entry, can be used to enter specific transactions. You can use up to two dimensions per transaction to keep track of e.g. cost centres, departments, projects or whatever you define it to be. Every transaction line can have its own memo, as well as the complete voucher.
FrontAccounting has a long feature list doing everything in the ERP area. The limit of two
dimensions on a journal entry might be a problem when you want to report by more than two aspects of a transaction, for example project, location, and contractor.
FrontAccounting works with multiple currencies and different tax systems. TurboCASH has better support for different countries and TurboCASH has a page per country describing differencezs. If you run into problems working out how to configure FrontAccounting for your country, you could check the TurboCASH country specific page for your country.
webERP competes head to head with FrontAccounting for both accounting and ERP features. Download webERP from www.weberp.org. webERP uses PHP 5 and a MySQL INNODB database.
FrontAccounting used to have a slight lead because of better documentation in the tax area. webERP looks like a better long term investment because of the more modern software base, a recent update to their Web site, and what looks like better overall development activity.
The Drupal based ERP module, drupal.org/project/erp, offers quote to invoice to payment processing plus time sheets are under development plus a Drupal 7 version is planned. ERP has everything required to create the data for a cash book and needs only a specific cash book module plus export to the accounting package used by your accountant. Drupal users could look long term for a cash book development in ERP or help contribute in the short term to develop the remaining bits.
As a long term investment, the Drupal based ERP has the advantage of a big and growing Drupal base to contribute enhancements.
Blue ERP, from open.mitija.com/blueerp/, looks weak in the cash book area and stronger in the area of converting quotations to invoices and recording payment. There is no information on multiple currencies. FrontAccounting looks like a better choice.
Lazy8Web is a new Web version of Lazy8 Ledger rewritten into PHP using the Yii framework. The application is strictly a ledger and does nothing else of use. Almost every business can benefit from expanding out in some directions. I can save time if I can invoice for time through the system because that will feed many of the journal entries into the ledger. Lazy8 does none of that. Lazy8 might work for a local part time bookkeeper who wants to add a general ledger to an exisitng Web site based on the Yii framework, assuming you can find a developer who knows Yii.
If all you want is a ledger, you can install on any computer or operating system, you get unlimited concurrent updates, and access from anywhere. Download form http://sourceforge.net/projects/lazy8ledger/.
Download from www.pbooks.org. PBooks looks a little bit primitive and, like Lazy8, is just a ledger. The developer publishes the database schema and has some changes planned. The project does not seem to have the person power required to develop quickly.
Tryton, www.tryton.org, is an application development framework with accounting and ERP modules prebuilt. There are several reasons to choose something else if you want to contribute the development of enhancements. Tryton is written in Python instead of PHP. The only database currently supported is PostgreSQL. An application development company focused on Python might find Tryton attractive.
Oh, there is no cash book listed on the main features page but there are a lot of modules listed on the modules page including time sheets, again something that would interest an application development company focused on Python.
Free and open but not Web based
GnuCash is the cashbook software from the GNU team behind GNOME in Linux. GnuCash runs on Windows, Linux, and Apple stuff including the MAC OS X for Power PC, the Power PC that was the
worlds fastest way to compute until Apple admitted Intel was 2.5 times faster.
GnuCash has a few nice import facilities but does not mention exports to any of the common accounting systems used by external accountants. The data is, by default, locked up in XML files and can optionally be written to a database, suggesting that one day we could add on other applications including exports. When you start digging into the documentation, you find several different references and tutorials with some mentioning export. I tried GnuCash 2.4.0 and could not find a way to store the data in a database.
GnuCash does not use Java, giving GnuCash the change to be light and efficient on netbooks and handheld devices. Offsetting that is a monster download with no option to not install then things you do not use.
There is an account reconciliation feature. You can make each account a different currency. You can record stock. There are lots of nice things for a small business. It fits a small company with few staff and cannot handle multiple updates from different staff at the same time. There is no cash register interface.
Read more in GnuCash.
Download TurboCASH from turbocash.net. The database design is published. There is a book for new users. There are country specific pages for many countries. TurboCASH is a good choice if TurboCASH does what you want and you never want to do anything else.
That is the good stuff. What is the bad stuff? TurboCASH is written in Delphi which is the Borland version of Pascal. No many people know the language, limiting the openness of the application when you want to create an enhancement. Developers have to buy commercial products to compile the enhancement, limiting the number of new developers learning the language. Delphi was not available for Linux until recently, further limiting use in the open source world. You have to enter a name and email address to download TurboCASH, another reason I have not tried TurboCASH.
Lazy8 Ledger is an old program written in the Oracle owned Java and recently updated to work with the OpenJDK used in Linux. Lazy8Web is a new Web version of Lazy8 Ledger rewritten into PHP using the Yii framework. Why would you use the tired old Java version with limited updates when you can use the Web based version on any computer with any number of concurrent updates?
Freeware is here for reference only. You do not get the source code to inspect for evil, stupid, or dangerous code. The URLs do not link to the sites because I do not want to promote closed source software.
Written in Java. Java is supposed to run anywhere. Adminsoft works only on Windows. Adminsoft has lots of features listed. No screenshots. You would have to test it yourself and your testing will have to be very detailed because you cannot check the source code. Some add on modules are not free.
AQURA Lite is a free but not open version of AQURA from Sadhanasoft, www.sadhanasoft.com. A quick look shows the classic trap. While lots of companies could use the free version, they will almost always eventually need one of the features from the commercial version. The free version is not open and cannot be enhanced with that one extra little change you need.
OneStep Accounting Standard Edition
The OneStep Accounting Standard Edition from Enable Computing, www.enablecomputing.com, is not free or open and traps you into eventually buying their expensive version. There is no comparison chart on their Web site to help you work out when you will be trapped.
QuickBooks has a free sampler for use with up to 20 customers. You can reconcile your cash book against bank statements. When you want to download bank information and reconcile automatically, you need the pro version and are hooked into buying upgrades then updates. They do have a 60 day money back guarantee on purchases which might be enough to find problems then cancel your use. Microsoft used to offer office products with a 120 day free use period, people would start using the products, buy at the end of the 120 days, then tun into problems big enough to force a switch to another product.
Responsive Software Ledger
A straight forward ledger and cash book written in Delphi, the same as TurboCASH but is not open. You can buy the source code. You can also buy a professional version. The instant you see a professional version, you know the free version is limited in a way that will force many people to buy the pro version. If you can stand the limitations of Delphi, then use TurboCASH. The only feature the Responsive Software Ledger has over TurboCASH is a fake Web interface. If you want Web access, choose a real Web application from the first list on this page.
Free Web based applications related to cash flow
Simple Invoices is for invoicing and nothing else. The code is open, giving you the option to use the data in other ways. If you like the invoicing and you know PHP or SQL, you could merge Simple Invoices with a PHP and Web based cash book.