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Partly Cloudy with a (Slim) Chance of QuickBooks Online


 MAR 2018 | 4 min read

Thanks to revolutionary cloud technology and web applications, the endless days of sitting in a cubical performing data entry, like CD players and DVD rentals, are quickly becoming a thing of the past. While some are still scanning the sky for this infamous “cloud” and trying to figure out what all the fuss is about, others have tripled down on productivity and are moving forward with leaps and bounds. Cloud technology provides easily accessible, secured information from anywhere with an internet connection.

Bookkeepers and accountants using cloud services and automated software features are able to reduce data entry time, so they can better focus on the needs of their clients and provide guidance and services that they may not previously have had time for. Contrary to what some may think, technology does not change the purpose of, nor eliminate the need for, a bookkeeper. However, automation tools do change a bookkeeper’s workflow allowing more time to provide clients with best practice accounting knowledge and other substantive and procedural improvements. One cloud-based software is Intuit’s QuickBooks Online (QBO). While it may seem more appealing than QuickBooks Desktop, the (totally biased) real-life accountant is here to warn you that you may be headed for a storm.

While QBO is user-friendly, even to the non-accountant, it isn’t the only cloud-hosting option for the die-hard QuickBooks fan.  QBO has made improvements over time, such as the rollout of their latest Bill Pay feature that provides users with the time-saving opportunity to automate the accounts payable function – but be cautious: QBO is not the right fit for every business. There are several capabilities within QB Desktop software that do not exist within QBO. Don’t dismay, below are helpful hints to avoiding the storm by getting on top of the cloud.

STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE – QBO layout and design is a priority that creates a user-friendly environment; however, the substance within the database is lacking. There are several capabilities within the QB Desktop software that do not exist within QBO (below are a few).

INEFFICIENT NAVIGATION – QBO offers very limited reporting capabilities that leave you repeatedly scrolling through menus for reports. Customization for reports is restricted – which leaves you searching for the same thing over and over.

NO POINT OF SALE – QuickBooks (Desktop) offers POS, a platform for taking payments. There are currently no QBO integration options for this feature.

NO PROGRESS BILLING – Progress billing is very important for certain entities. There are workarounds to the lack of this feature in QBO, but they take longer to create and are more susceptible to errors.

LIMITED AND DIFFICULT INVENTORY TRACKING – Only FIFO or Average Cost methods are available in QBO. Further, FIFO is only available with the Advanced add-on module and Average Cost is only available on QBO Plus version.

NOT MULTI-ENTITY FRIENDLY – To avoid switching back and forth between entities, you would need QuickBooks Enterprise.

NO PURCHASE ORDERS – The PO Feature is available in the Online Plus version, with a higher monthly fee.

As promised, here’s the ray of sunshine – cloud options: QuickBooks Desktop (which has many useful features such as inventory tracking, batch invoicing and versions specific to industries like contracting, manufacturing, retail and nonprofit) can be paired with a cloud hosting service such as HarborCloud. This integration is a great solution for providing more accounting features and ease of use options while permitting you access to your Desktop data anywhere internet connection is available. Right NetworksSummit Hosting and iNSYNQ are examples of other QuickBooks Desktop cloud hosting options.

QuickBooks is a great software option and tool for your organization, but it is important to reiterate that it is not the correct solution for everyone. While QuickBooks Online is acceptable for startups, it has limitations. Larger companies, and those that are growing rapidly, need to consider the robustness of their accounting software and what their future needs might be.  Our advice: embrace technology – talk to your bookkeeper or accountant for suggestions and advice on which accounting software is the best fit for your organization, and which automation programs and features, when properly utilized, will add the most advantage and value to your business.

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