My company has been using QuickBooks since our business inception — now over 10 years ago. This review is for the QuickBooks Online version, which my company now uses. For most business and today’s online world, QuickBooks Online is the best version to choose.
It is the most flexible, and I personally would no longer consider the desktop edition. You may already know tested and reviewed Mint.com — also an Intuit product.
These applications are really geared towards personal finance while QuickBooks, on the other hand, is purely for businesses.
QuickBooks is very easy to use, and is perfect for most small business owners. Though, be aware it really doesn’t follow full GAAP accounting standards. For small business owners this really isn’t an issue, as we are more concerned about cash flow and generating invoices. Intuit sacrificed correctness in the name of ease-of-use.
If you have previous experience with other editions, the online edition functions very similarly. We had multiple years of Quickbooks data I tried to import into Quickbooks Online, but never got the import to work correctly. In my case it always timed out and failed.
Fortunately, it wasn’t that big of a deal, but I suspect for others this could be an issue. Be sure to test the importing before making a long-term commitment to their software. Worst case, you may want to switch to their online edition after your fiscal year.
The features of QuickBooks Online is exactly the same as the desktop edition — with a few Internet based features not available with the desktop edition.
- Sending unlimited invoices via Email
- Accounts Receivable
- Account Payable
- Managing customer, vendor and employee data
- Mobile Access
- Easily print checks, pay bills and track expenses
- Online banking
- Many third-party app Intergration
QuickBooks Online Banking
QuickBooks supports around 18,000 different financial institutions. Since this is the same systems used by Intuit’s other brands (Mint.com and Quicken), it’s no surprise it works very well.
In my tests, I had no issue syncing with our business checking account and corporate credit cards. Once the data is downloaded, it will automatically categorize transactions.
It will also remember what was selected from previous downloads and accounts are automatically synced up daily. All you need to do is reconcile the transactions. This is a really nice feature with the online edition.
Unlike traditional desktop software where you pay a fee and the software license lasts say 3-4 years, this is a flat monthly fee — otherwise known as pay-as-you-go. It is also to purchase the additional features of paying employees, file taxes and accept credit cards.
QuickBooks can do a multitude of different day-to-day business functions, that’s what makes QuickBooks so great. But it also runs into the issue of being a jack of all trades. It’s inventory section is OK at best and I would recommend using another product to track this information.
In my opinion here are the features where QuickBooks shines: payroll, invoicing, collections and banking sections. In our case, the business has a technical niche that doesn’t work so well within QuickBooks. We require monthly invoices to be sent out to customers and Quickbooks really doesn’t work too well for that purpose.
Critical of any accounting software is the ability to invoice.
Due to the nature of our business, we do not do a lot of manual invoices and have another system for that purpose. For most businesses, QuickBooks invoice creation is almost exactly the same as the desktop version.
Multi-user support is available in the Essentials and Plus versions of QuickBooks. Their service supports up to 5 users, which should be enough for most small businesses. It’s very easy to grant access. E.g. for your accountant to see your books.
Multi-user access for the desktop edition was always difficult at best. Especially if the users are remote from your location. We tried multiple methods to get QuickBooks Pro to work remotely, and we found the only method that worked reliability was via Windows Remote Desktop connection to a virtualized Windows machine. Otherwise if you need remote access for multiple individuals, QuickBooks Online is really the only way to go.
Unlike the desktop edition, you can easily access your accounting data remotely via my mobile apps. QuickBooks supports Apple’s iPad and iPhone and Google’s Android operating system. For our tests we determined most individuals would focus on iPad usage for in-store or to perform transactions at a remote event. The application is fully featured.
QuickBooks Online Editions
|QuickBooks Online Version||Monthly Fee|
Discounts are available 33-50% of the retail price.
I am very satisfied with the online edition of QuickBooks. Below is a summary of the features I like most:
- Outstanding customer support. Very impressive, whenever I have to call, they have been most helpful in resolving any issues that I may have. Once I have even called in on a Sunday and was able to get a person who not only spoke English but resolved the issue.
- Ease of reconciliation
- Very fast — does not take forever to do things like the previous QuickBooks versions
- Very user friendly interface
Keep in mind, Intuit designed QuickBooks to match the needs of small business owners. If you need multi-currency support then QuickBooks isn’t your option, though I suspect most businesses don’t fit into this category.
Don’t be fooled though, just because it’s an online application it’s feature set is not limited. QuickBooks Online is fully featured, and in someways rivals the desktop edition. The vast array of features can be somewhat overwhelming to a new user. If you already use Quicken for your personal finance, you shouldn’t have a problem using QuickBooks for your business.
Although Intuit offers Quicken Home and Business, my advice is not to use it, as it’s far too limiting. If you are serious about your business, my recommendation is to start with QuickBooks Online Simple Start edition.
If you have more advanced needs or as your business grows, move up to the other editions. Since the online version in the cloud, the migration is simple and painless, and can occur at anytime. Right now QuickBooks Online is the gold standard in cloud based accounting packages, and the one to beat.