QuickBooks was born in 1994 when Intuit purchased the rights to use a double entry accounting program called “MoneyCounts”. The software program that we all know and love started taking shape in the years to come. Its ease of use and simple application to so many different types of small businesses has made it one of the industry leaders in accounting software. After more than 10 years of constantly improving a desktop program, QuickBooks decided to take on the cloud, and released a version of its software that was intended to provide thousands of tech savvy internet users the ease and flexibility that “software as a service” provides. The intent was great, but in my opinion, Intuit should have named the product something OTHER than QuickBooks. Those that use QuickBooks on a regular basis have come to expect certain reports, and functionality that is sadly lacking in the online version. There was a period of time when I wouldn’t touch QuickBooks Online (QBO) with a ten foot pole. However, times are changing, and finally, QuickBooks Online is changing too. Even though the online product is still missing the ability to customize printed reports, it provides many features that the desktop version doesn’t. For a small business owner with no inventory, and a relatively simple invoicing structure, I would actually advise a client to purchase a subscription to the product if the following two points are important.
- Accountant’s live access. Each version of the online product comes with free access for their accountant. This allows the accountant to enter year end journal entries easily, to view midyear performance, and year end performance for tax planning purposes, and to assist with any technical issues and questions that might come up over the course of the year. This is a great feature for business owners that welcome help from their accountant during the year.
- Storage in the cloud. Cloud storage is very conducive to users working from multiple locations. I have one small client operating out of Ohio, but his bookkeeper lives in Pennsylvania. Before QBO, the two of them would send backup copies of the file back and forth as each needed to do their piece of their job. QBO makes each of their jobs much easier, plus eliminates a potential disaster if someone restored the wrong copy of the file.
The ability to see relevant information at a glance has gotten much better and the user interface can actually be called somewhat intuitive after one gets used to it. A big part of the success or failure of any piece of software is taking the time to understand what the software can do for you. QuickBooks Online is no different.
Levin Swedler Kennedy has QuickBooks Professional Advisors on staff able to help you decide if QuickBooks Online is a good alternative for you. Please contact us if you need any additional information.
Written by: Kathy Drake, CPA