Easy navigation. Browser-based application makes it easy to use mobile devices. Non-user-based pricing easily accommodates growing company. Excellent reporting. Runs on various databases. Wide selection of costing methods. Cloud or on-premises deployment.
Some users will be able to use the customization tools, but many will need the partner to do this task. Pricing can be confusing. Will need to rely on third-party add-ons if implementing ERP for companies outside the manufacturing/distribution vertical. Report filters not always intuitive. Difficult to estimate licensing costs.
- Bottom Line
With its easy-to-follow navigation, robust reporting, and unusual pricing model, Acumatica is a solid choice for enterprise-scale accounting, ERP, and inventory management.
Like Editors' Choice winner Intacct, Acumatica was developed as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application intended to be accessed strictly through a web browser. The result is a well-balanced app with a modular architecture targeting general ledger accounting, enterprise resource planning (ERP) for midsize enterprises, and also inventory management. It's browser-based user experience (UX) is excellent, with a feature-rich environment delivered through an intuitive user interface (UI). Its pricing model will confuse some customers, but that ding isn't enough to keep it from a well-deserved Editors' Choice award that's consistent across all three of product categories just mentioned.
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Acumatica's unusual pricing structure is based on resources rather than per-seat numbers. Because it's available as a cloud service from Acumatica, in a public or hybrid cloud configuration (like installing it on servers hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS), for example), or as a straight on-premises installation, Acumatica's pricing is based on the amount of app resources a company actually requires rather than a per-user fee. More details are listed below, but Acumatica states that a typical smaller company can expect to pay $1,000 per month regardless of the number of simultaneous users. However, as with all of the vendors here working through a reseller/partner channel, that price doesn't reflect the charges that the reseller will add. And that's not optional as rather than offering the product directly to customers, Acumatica is solely available through its partner channel.
I reviewed the Acumatica Cloud version. For on-premises installation or to run it on virtual servers hosted in someone else's cloud, you'll need infrastructure running Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 on up and a compatible database. Acumatica runs on several popular databases including Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, and Amazon Aurora.
All Roads Lead to the Same Place
As with SAP Business One Professional,NetSuite and others, Acumatica primarily relies on dashboards for navigation. Depending on a user's assigned role, he or she will be shown the appropriate dashboard upon launching the app. It's very easy to define roles and permissions since this is done by simply checking or unchecking the appropriate entries in configuration boxes. This simplifies navigation because only the areas in which a particular user is allowed are shown.
The look, function, and feel of various dashboards can vary widely, too. For example, the Controller dashboard on my demo system consisted of key performance indicator (KPI) widgets, while the Financial dashboard was a process chart with available tasks laid out along accompanying icons. It's also possible to create individualized dashboards for specific employees.
Navigation is just a matter of clicking on the task choices in a dashboard. There is also a double set of ribbon bars at the top of the screen, with the top bar showing broad areas of system configuration such as Organization, Finance, Distribution, and others; while the second layer shows tasks available under that top menu option. For example, under Finance there is General Ledger, Cash Management, Accounts Payable (AP), Accounts Receivable (AR), and more. Choosing one of these opens the available tasks in a vertical pane on the left side of the screen.
Finally, you can get to a specific task by typing it into the Search box at the top of the vertical pane. For example, typing in "Trial" will bring up all the tasks that start with "Trial" and you can launch the one you want by clicking it.
Plenty of Custom Options
As with many of the SME accounting systems I reviewed, Acumatica has extensive customization capabilities. And, as with almost all of the others, you're better off letting the partner you're working with do the heavy lifting on this. You can do some filtering on many of the data screens and reports, of which there are hundreds available. I found some of the data entry screens just a little busy, and this might be one place you ask your partner to do a bit of tweaking. As with AccountMate, your license buys you access to all of the app's source code. The app is written under Microsoft .NET and if you have an IT Department they might be comfortable using Visual Studio to do a bit of optimization.
Import and export capabilities are easily accessed, and the system is Open Data Protocol (OData)-compliant so you can export data to other apps, such as Microsoft Power BI.That's useful in case you need to do further analysis, render different data visualizations, or even satisfy a third-party auditing program.
Account structure is easy to understand. Accounts consist of a five-digit account code that locates where in the chart the account falls under (Assets, Income, Equities, Expenses, and Liabilities), and you can add up to 10 additional three character sub segments to these. Since Acumatica is capable of multi-company operations and consolidations, these sub-segments or sub-accounts can be used to define companies, divisions, departments, and more.
Acumatica on the Run
Because it's browser-based, I was able to access Acumatica on all three of my mobile devices by using the Chrome browser. While the display was considerably crowded on a 10-inch screen, it was usable by dragging the screen to the area that I wanted to access. For smartphone use, the browser UI is just too clumsy; fortunately, Acumatica offers apps for Android and iOS.
The mobile apps for Android and iOS are identical and have a very different UI than when you access the app in a browser. The app has icons for specific task such as entering time cards, expense claims and reports, and sales/purchase orders (POs), among others. I accessed the iOS app on an Apple iPad Mini Apple iPad Mini and the Android app on a Lenovo Yoga Lenovo Yoga convertible tablet, but they're really structured for smartphone access.
Almost all of the apps I reviewed use some manner of per-seat licensing. Acumatica does not. Rather, license fees are based on resource consumption. When you subscribe to Acumatica, you're working on the SaaS model, which means you're accessing infrastructure running on Acumatica's Cloud servers. Acumatica is billing you based on how much of those resources your particular instance of the app consumes. The license fee is approximately $1,000 a month (billed annually) for a typical small business with a moderate number of simultaneous transactions.
A Private Cloud subscription, which employs a cloud-style architecture but runs on your infrastructure (whether local or in a cloud setting of your own, such as a cluster of virtual servers hosted on AWS or Microsoft Azure, runs about $850 per month, paid annually again with no user restrictions. The licensing fee limits CPU processing, so if you really push the processing capability of the app server, you can upscale by licensing more cores (assuming your server has more cores available). Finally, there's a Private Cloud Perpetual License for a one-time fee of about $30,000, plus an 18 percent annual maintenance fee. Again, all of these prices are estimates I gleaned from Acumatica and are offered without the additional charges you'll incur from whichever value-add partner you decide to purchase the software. Partners will add fees based on services they provide, including installation, pre-sales consulting, customization, software configuration, and training to name a few.
Acumatica's unusual pricing model is a little difficult to wrap your head around at first, but it really caters to a company whose user base fluctuates either through attrition, growth, or seasonal expansion. If those needs change, it's easy to transition from a cloud model to an on-premises installation or vice versa. Couple that with flexible navigation, robust reporting, and easy browser-based access, and you have a financial system that's very workable and provides a great value.
Expanding Into ERP
While it's certainly worthy of its Editors' Choice award as a SME general ledger accounting product, things slightly change when we examine Acumatica as an enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform. While it's still a solid choice as an ERP provider, it doesn't get our Editors' Choice nod here, which instead goes to NetSuite OneWorld.
Acumatica skews its ERP implementation mainly towards the manufacturing and distribution industries. Much of Acumatica's Financial Accounting system already offers features attractive to these types of companies, such as an enhanced inventory that provides support for multiple warehouses as well as inventory costing by using Standard Cost, Moving Average, First In First Out (FIFO), and Specific Cost methods. Acumatica does not support Last In First Out (LIFO), though that's not so bad since this method has fallen out of favor and currently isn't used much outside the US under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Since many ERP systems will be used by multinational entities, this is probably not going to be a deal breaker.
Acumatica also supports lot and serial numbering, which is useful in production tracking as well as two-step transfer so that items in transit are tracked by deleting the item from inventory in the initial location, increasing the Goods in Transit (GiT) account, and then adjusting the GiT account when the inventory items arrive and are checked in at the destination warehouse. This is a common practice but not every inventory system handles it well.
Inventory is further enhanced with Acumatica's Bill of Materials (BOM) and Routing functions. As expected, these features are most commonly used by manufacturing companies. The BOM provides a list of all the parts that go into the production of an item, down to the last screw, nut, or fastener. As part of the BOM, Acumatica also supports kitting, which is performed when the completion of an item produced requires the use of sub-assemblies that have to be pre-assembled before the actual item can be built. These sub-assemblies are then incorporated into the BOM.
Managing Inventory with Acumatica
Inventory systems can be generic, or designed to operate in a particular type of entity. The test implementation of Acumatica that I reviewed was strong in the Distribution and Warehousing area. Using multiple warehouses is intuitive, and you can easily create sales orders that ship different items from different warehouses as part of a single order. GiT can be tracked to individual trucks if desired, which is useful if you have long transit times, and a GiT report is available, too.
Acumatica makes it simple to track items and components down to a very granular level if necessary. Bit and lot numbers are easy to implement and bar coding is available, using a USB bar code scanner or even a smartphone. Acumatica supports a BOM but, if you require more granularity than a BOM, there's also kitting, which lets you build the components that go into a BOM. If desired, inventory items can have images attached to the record, which is useful if you have similar items that sometimes need to be identified by eye.
The Inventory module also has robust costing methods. Acumatica supports all the popular methods except for Last-in First-Out (LIFO), a method which has fallen out of favor in recent years. Available methods include Standard Costing, Moving (or weighted) Average, First-In First-Out (FIFO), and Specific Item costing. Different inventory items can have different costing methods. There's also a great deal of variety in maintaining inventory levels. You can set up an item using min/max, which specifies the minimum and maximum levels of the item desired, or use Economic Order Quantity (EOQ) to forecast expected inventory needs. Different warehouses can have different inventory level approaches.
Just like its reporting in other areas, Acumatica's inventory module reporting also shines. Inventory reports are plentiful, nicely laid out, and easy to understand. Report filters make customizing the output fairly simple though you'll probably want to work with your reseller partner to make up report layouts significantly different from the numerous standard ones available.
For those with vaired needs when it comes to inventory management, you can also get a MRP (Materials Requirement Planning) module, which is targeted towards production and manufacturing entities. The Acumatica ERP and Inventory modules also integrate with Avalara Sales Tax software to track sales taxes where appropriate, especially useful for real estate and many e-commerce operations. Avalara is just one example of Acumatica's rather large partner ecosystem, so if your business operation requires additional or custom functionality, be sure to investigate Acumatica's Partner Program to see whether your needs can be fulfilled by a vetted third party.
Climbing the Supply Chain
The Purchase and Sales Order features in Acumatica's Financial Accounting module also tie in well to its Supply Chain Management piece. The Supply Chain Management process follows items required to build products from their purchase through shipping or backordering, and finally, to getting them entered in the inventory system, if needed.
Acumatica, like many other ERP vendors, spreads its Supply Chain Management functions across multiple modules. In addition to Purchase and Sales Order Entry, these Supply Chain features are found in a separate Materials Requirements Planning (MRP) module as well as in an optional Production module.
MRP balances sales and POs, production orders, and production schedules to generate schedules and reports that forecast when the company needs to place material and item orders (to assure that inventory is sufficient to meet demand). In some ERP systems, MRP or Inventory often contain Just-In-Time (JIT) Inventory functionality to minimize the time that items are actually warehoused (but Acumatica doesn't currently provide this feature).
Also similar to many other ERP vendors, Acumatica works with partner software makers to flesh out its offerings and tailor it to specific verticals. There are numerous third-party offerings listed on Acumatica's website but, interestingly, Acumatica private-labels the Production module from JAAS Systems. We didn't have the chance to review it, but we're mentioning it here because it'll probably be a requirement for companies that produce goods.
Other ERP Features
Manufacturing and Distribution are not the only areas in which Acumatica is strong. There's a good, basic Product Management (PM) module that lets you plan and follow projects and tasks within the business. As part of the Financial Accounting core, Time and Expense management ties is an easy-to-use feature. While I didn't review this module, Acumatica also offers an optional Service Management Suite that lets you balance service requests with available resources. Service Management includes scheduling, dispatch, route management (which optimizes the route that service personnel take driving to a customer), management of equipment maintenance records, and management of service and warranty contracts. Plus, it provides staff dashboards that can be emailed to employees to show events such as scheduled bookings and appointments. Some of these features, including Route Management and Equipment Maintenance, are also available in separate modules.
Customer relationship management (CRM) is another core ERP function and is available in the base Financial Management system. There's a separate dashboard for the Sales Manager, and you can enter leads, create mass emails and complaints, and follow contacts. An additional Customer Management Suite adds sales and marketing automation as well as sales forecasting and analytics.
To summarize, while we couldn't award the Editors' Choice to Acumatica as an ERP product, we did award it Editors' Choice in both the Enterprise Accounting and Inventory Management categories. The product excels in both these areas, and if you're in the market for an ERP system with excellent Financial Accounting capabilities and you're skewed towards the manufacturing and distribution industries, Acumatica remains a good choice there, too, and still earns its Excellent rating.
Ted Needleman has been covering the world of technology for almost 40 years. He writes frequently on software, hardware, and technology-related subjects. He has been a programmer, accountant, Editor-in-Chief of Accounting Technology magazine, and the director of an imaging and printing test lab. He has been performing reviews for PCMag since the 1990s. More »
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