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Technology should make our lives easier
• Plenty of customizable reports
• Payroll support
• Simple, clear & effective interface
• Professional accounting standards
• Customer service & support is not great
With its extremely user-friendly interface, its wealth of reports, and its masses of interesting features, QuickBooks is one of the deserved leaders in accounting software packages. QuickBooks is ideal for small businesses that need a little extra in terms of accounting, such as customizable reports and payroll. It’s easy to use, and simple to maintain your business’s finances using QuickBooks.
With QuickBooks from Intuit you’ve got the biggest player in small business accounting, on the scene in cloud accounting since 2004 with the launch of QuickBooks Online.
QuickBooks Online is tailored towards small and medium sized businesses. If you have a small business you can choose from three different QuickBooks plans. Simple Start ($12.95/month) is the cheapest and with this plan you can do all the basics including create estimates and invoices, monitor expenses and sales, link your accounting software to your home bank, and run payroll at an additional cost per employee, per month. Essentials ($26.95/month) offers all this plus a Company Snapshot report, the ability to track and pay bills, and a facility to manage foreign currencies (up to three people can use this package). Plus ($39.95/month) is the most expensive plan and adds on a budget preparation tool, a create purchase orders feature, and the tool to manage stock levels (all any small business will probably need. Plus, up to five people can access the software plan.) For self-employed or sole traders, QuickBooks Self-Employed is a tool for managing tax payments and reports, tracking income and expenses, and connecting to your online bank. If you can’t decide, there’s a free trial where you can test out the features.
With over 8,500 employees and a revenue close to $4.5 billion, Intuit is a huge player in accounting software. In 2013 Intuit announced they had rebuilt QuickBooks from scratch. The changes didn’t please everyone – we looked at the software in detail to see how it measures up today.
Invoices & Billing
Invoice creation - Create a customized invoice using your own logo and choosing between colors and typeface settings. With the two higher-priced plans you can set information to be able to record recurring invoices. There is the option to set sales tax and you can fill in as many tax brackets as you need.
Invoicing - The invoice facility in QuickBooks is clear and intuitive. An overview screen displays the estimates you’ve issued, the invoices you have raised, and what activity is going on – unpaid invoices (you can send payment reminders and prompt customers when they are late paying an invoice), invoices paid etc. You can sort the invoices in various ways so you can more easily find the information you are looking for, and also send a group of clients emails or statements.
Estimates - Simply convert estimates to invoices once the client has approved. Quotes can also be stored and labeled as pending, accepted, closed, or rejected.
Inventory tracking - QuickBooks differs from its direct competitors in that it has decent inventory facilities for managing stock. Using the inventory tracking feature you can add a starting quantity to the record and this will be tracked as you bill customers for the item.
The QuickBooks Online software helps to link you and your bank so you don’t have to manually check every transaction between online banking and your QuickBooks account. QuickBooks supplies a breakdown of your expenses so you get a full view of how your business is operating. You can also assign an expense to a particular customer so it appears on their invoice.
With the Plus version of QuickBooks, employees each have their own username and can all sign into QuickBooks and log the time they work on specific projects and for different clients. These hours will be recorded on the individual invoices for clients so you don’t have to do it manually.
Where QuickBooks really excels is through its reports. The reports that are available in all versions of QuickBooks include: Profit and loss; Balance sheet; Cash flow statement; Account listing; and, Sales by customer. You can also generate expenses reports, track VAT and tax, and get a simple, effective Company Snapshot to view the health of your company on one clear screen. As you move upwards in version, you get many more reports – all of which are highly customizable.
QuickBooks Plus gives you a huge number – over 65 reports for your business. On the Plus plan you can create budgets and compare them to actual income and spending. These kinds of reports are comparable to those that an accountant would produce so are extremely valuable for a small business.
Access QuickBooks from any device that’s connected to the Internet; PC, tablet, phone, etc. Apps are available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices so you can connect wherever you are.
Sharing & Integration
QuickBooks offers plenty of add-ons, including popular applications like Method CRM and Mavenlink. Many of the add-ons are Intuit products.
However, there is only one online payment gateway with QuickBooks – QuickBooks Payments – and this is more expensive per payment than other gateways like PayPal. QuickBooks Payroll is available on a cost-per-employee basis and with this application you can process payroll whenever and wherever you like.
QuickBooks is equipped with 128-bit SSL encryption to safeguard customer data, which is backed up every few minutes. The servers are in twin Tier 4 data centers with regular safety testing.
Ease of use
QuickBooks is incredibly user friendly. You start with a screen to choose your type of business and the software selects settings that are typical for your business type, which you can then adjust later. The screens are intuitive and simple to navigate, and the home page dashboard contains an overview of the tasks and features you will be using on a regular basis. The icons are bold and colorful and, in general, the screens are easy to read despite there being a wealth of information on display. There are many options for customization in invoice creation, reports, and features, which small businesses will find useful. But the software remains easy to use (the more complicated features are not prominent, so they don’t distract from the features you are more likely to use on a regular basis), and you don’t need any training.
Help & support
Given that QuickBooks is easy to navigate and has a simple interface, it is relatively easy to find what you need and learn how to use the program. This is fortunate as QuickBooks does not have the most comprehensive support system available. Live chat is available once you are logged into QuickBooks and there is a telephone line, but no email support and the phone takes a while to be picked up. Many people report their frustrations with QuickBooks customer support and label it as ineffective. We also experienced long wait times on the phone but the online reporting form delivered acceptable results. The in-program help function gives you some extra advice when you are completing tasks, and there is a forum and regular videos and webinars, plus blog “how-to” articles on the site.
QuickBooks is the whole package. Sturdy accounting, payroll, inventory management and some useful add-ons to extend the reach of the software. A good choice for small and mid-sized businesses.
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