When project managers track the hours and expenses of their team, they are able to compare it with the project budget. It quickly gives them the information if they have gone over or still have room to spare. In business, knowing how much the company is earning and spending gives the owners vital information about the health of their business. In fact, accounting does much more than keep track of income and expenditures. It enables business owners to provide investors, management, and government important financial information.
Cloud computing has become highly popular because it offers businesses considerable savings along with other advantages. Online accounting software, like QuickBooks, is also providing users almost the same functionality and reliability of their desktop software, but with the additional benefits that cloud technology offers. As more households pay bills with online banking, check email with their smartphone, more businesses are also updating their business accounts with online accounting software. For example, the global accounting software market valued at $57M in 2017 is projected to grow to $117M by 2026.
QuickBooks Online Software
QuickBooks Online (QBO) is an online accounting solution by Intuit for small and growing companies. Intuit is an American company founded in 1983 that has become successful with its Quicken financial management software. As the company released QuickBooks, it became very popular with small business owners with no formal accounting training. In 2008, QuickBooks reached up to 94 percent share in the retail unit in the business accounting category. Following these successes, it released QuickBooks Online as a cloud service where users pay a monthly subscription fee for its use. It is a distinct product from the desktop version and offers integration with many third-party software, as well as financial services such as banks, credit card companies, and others.
Small business owners usually manage QuickBooks themselves. Otherwise, they have a dedicated staff or an outsourced person who does the bookkeeping for the company. Here are some of the ways businesses use QuickBooks.
- For managing company sales and income. QuickBooks allows users to manage sales and income by creating invoices to track sales. Business owners can do this by customer, and know exactly how much each customer owes them. They can look at their accounts receivables report to view the details of current and past due invoices.
- For bills and expense tracking. The accounting software can automatically keep track of the company’s bills and expenses. This is done by connecting bank and credit card accounts to the software. As a result, all expenses are downloaded and categorized. Other transactions, such as cash or check transactions, can be directly recorded in the software.
- For business reporting. When business owners are recording and managing all cash inflow and outflow activities in QuickBooks, they can generate several reports from the software. These pre-built reports can be run in a few clicks, and are updated in real-time as they enter and save transactions. They can gain valuable business insights from these reports, which they can use when they are negotiating with a potential investor or getting a loan from the local bank.
- For payroll. QuickBooks has a payroll function that automatically calculates and runs payroll for the company. Together with payroll tax tables, doing payroll with the accounting software offers the advantage of having an updated financial statement because of the integrated system.
- For inventory tracking. The accounting software can automatically track and update amounts and unit costs of inventory. Moreover, it has several reports to help manage inventory.
The Cons or Disadvantages of QuickBooks Online
Based on the feedback of users, here are some of what they have to say negatively about the online accounting software:
- Limited reports. Some customers found that reporting is much better in the desktop version than in the online version. The charts are not customizable, and the report builder is limited. Also, cleaning up outdated reports is time-consuming, and exporting reports to Excel or PDF format is inconsistently reliable.
- Difficult to learn. The simple interface does not match with the rich-set features included. Some users complain that it is not as easy to learn compared with other online software. A user finds it overly complicated, unintuitive, and can easily turn into a nightmare if a mistake in the entry is made. Another user suggested that providing a short video tutorial on simple tasks within the current screen would be a big help.
- Limited inventory management. QuickBooks Online tends to be problematic in addressing inventory management concerns. It can be solved, however, with third-party software.
- Wrong/Missing entries. Some users find it worrisome that the online accounting software sometimes incorrectly uses due dates automatically for their next invoice. At times, when they change a category or department in an invoice, it clears out all data from that invoice, forcing the user to start all over again.
- Syncing problems. There have been instances that QBO users experience syncing issues with credit card transactions. It can take a day or two later to sync successfully. A user also complained that the platform seems to go down more frequently than it should be.
The Pros or Advantages of QuickBooks Online
At the same time, many users are happy with QuickBooks Online as their online accounting software. Millions of users globally are able to organize their accounts in one place, and save hours and tax savings as well.
- Payroll automation. Users are glad they are able to run payroll where taxes are calculated automatically and checks are deposited directly. Automated reminders are also very helpful.
- Remote access. One of the benefits of cloud computing is that users are able to access their accounting system from wherever they are. It provides them with convenience as well as confidence in a secured online system. And if they manage multiple companies, they can easily switch between companies.
- Integration. QuickBooks Online allows for easy integration with banks, credit card companies, and other financial management software. It has REST API that can integrate with other solutions such as ERP to automate postings.
- Expense tracking. Users have the option to create rules to make it easier to track expenses. It can be as general or as granular, depending on the user’s needs. They can group things into one broad expense type, or break it down to specifics.
- Free-form invoicing. Many users like QBO for its invoicing features, which it does very well. They can create products or services, or enter line items in free form for a specialized service. They find it easy to use and can be shared as links or printed in PDF.
QuickBooks Online addresses the requirements of many small business owners for their accounting needs. Like any other software solution, it has strengths and weaknesses. Every business is unique, so the important thing is to know your requirements first, and find out if QBO or another solution would be more suitable for your needs.
Technology is constantly evolving and changing the way we conduct business around the globe and Intuit has created QuickBooks Online to help meet the dynamic needs of businesses today. Using the principle of the cloud, the QuickBooks Online platform is a browser based version of the best-selling QuickBooks software that can be accessed anywhere at any time.
If you’re going through the process of deciding which software package will be best for your accounting needs, QuickBooks Online has several benefits, but also several limitations.
1. Constantly Updated Records – Up to date financial records are vital for any decision maker in a business, whether they’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or the sole proprietor of a “mom and pop” corner store. QuickBooks Online allows any user to view up to the minute reports and figures anytime they log in; no more waiting for someone to send an updated file.
2. An App Store – QuickBooks isn’t perfect and Intuit recognizes this, so they have partnered with many developers to allow an approved “App Store” in which users can find both free and subscription based add-ons that enable extra features. These apps handle everything from payroll and time-entry, to importing credit card merchant data directly into your books.
3. Instant Backups – When it comes to business continuity and disaster planning, backing up computer systems is one of the most important steps to take. QuickBooks Online removes the hassle of remembering to back up your financials, as everything is automatically saved into the cloud. This means you’ll never need to remember to hit save or worry about computer systems on-site being damaged and losing years of financial records.
4. You’ll Need Internet Connectivity – One limitation of QuickBooks Online is it requires an internet connection in order to view or record data. Traditional desktop versions of QuickBooks don’t need an active internet connection, however QuickBooks Online browser based access requires this. If you have spotty or limited internet access, this is something you should consider.
5. Fewer Features – A downside to QuickBooks Online is that it isn’t as feature rich as QuickBooks Desktop versions. For small businesses with less activity, this may be a plus as it’s easier to navigate and work with. But for larger businesses, there may not be enough features when it comes to inventory, job costing, and customer specific costs.
6. Data Drag – This is not an issue for smaller businesses with little data, but if you’re larger with a lot of information and data to house, it can mean slower load times when using the online version.
There are numerous other pros and cons of QuickBooks Online, but I see it as one of the best options available for a cloud based accounting platform, especially if you’re a smaller company or not as experienced at bookkeeping. If you are pushing 10 million or more in revenue, you may want to look into the desktop version of QuickBooks or into another full featured accounting software.
Pros and Cons of QuickBooks | Limitations of QuickBooks
QuickBooks is one of the most popular small business accounting solutions in the market. Great for small businesses, QuickBooks provides an introductory accounting solution with certain packages offering basic inventory management tools. However, as with any system, there are pros and cons to choosing QuickBooks over other introductory solutions or more robust ERP software. While the survey in this post was conducted several years ago, based on additional research from more recent sources, a lot of the same pros and cons apply today. While the pictures below are from the original survey which looked to answer the questions “What users like about QuickBooks” and “What users do not like about QuickBooks” , I’ve added some more recent data about the pros and cons of QuickBooks.
One thing that you may have noticed, interestingly, is that some of the pros are the same as the cons. It appears that mileage varies greatly. However, in summary, here are the generally accepted pros and cons of QuickBooks.
Pros of QuickBooks:
- Easy to use and learn
- Integrates well with other systems and flexible with 3rd party applications
- Provides good accounting reports
- Affordable price
- Easy to access from any device – phone, tablet and computer (depending on the version)
- Easy to find and fix errors/mistakes
- Easy to look-up customer information
Cons of QuickBooks:
- Lack of industry and business-specific features (such as lot tracking, eCommerce and barcode scanning)
- Lack of key reports outside of accounting
- Instability/system crashes
- Lack of direct professional support
- File-size issues/limitations on number of transactions
- Limitations on the number of users
- Built with a “small business mindset”
- Data is not always backed-up so you risk losing information
- Lacks invoice design tools
- Easy to find a fix errors/mistakes (which makes it easy for someone to manipulate your books)
Just about everyone would agree that QuickBooks is a great introductory system for new and very small businesses. One of the most important considerations to make when starting a business is what (if any) software is required to manage the business. For the most part, the first software purchase is based around the need for managing accounting and financials, and in this situation QuickBooks is the logical choice. It is only as your business grows and your requirements become more diverse than the limitations begin to show through. Let’s briefly explore the limitations of QuickBooks:
- Limited reporting and transparency of your business health – lack of custom reports
- Double entry and keying errors across systems and departments
- Limitations with file size and data, as well as the number of users
- Generic and impersonal support
- A standalone application which lacks integration and automation between other systems
Still unsure as to whether or not to replace QuickBooks? For more information on QuickBooks pros and cons, read our post: Top 5 Reasons to Replace QuickBooks.
Cons of QuickBooks: Inventory Management
Aside from the limitations listed above, QuickBooks tends to be particularly problematic when addressing robust inventory management concerns. If inventory management is crucial to your business, QuickBooks may fail to meet your needs. As a new business, simple tools like Excel and pen and paper may be adequate to manage inventory and the picking, packing, and shipping process. However, as order volume starts to increase, the time will come to seek out an appropriate inventory management software package that includes integrated accounting, order entry, and processing tools and contact management etc., to replace QuickBooks.
QuickBooks Online Review
QuickBooks Online offers small business owners a cloud-based accounting program that provides many features, including business payments, income, and reporting.
QuickBooks Online operates solely online, but offers more than just basic accounting. It’s meant to help small business owners simplify the back-end of running a business.Tip: With the ability to add up to 5 users with one account, people throughout the company can be on the same page, minimizing mistakes. The program also offers the ability to give additional limited permissions to users as you see fit.
A few of the features you’ll find with QuickBooks Online include:
- Creating and evaluating financial reports
- Expense tracking
- Profit & loss statements
- Client portal for clients to see their invoices, pay them, or address concerns
- Bank reconciliation
Getting started with QuickBooks Online is as easy as entering a little information about your company and watching a few tutorials. Don’t let these simple steps fool you, though. In order to get the most out of the program, plan to invest many hours setting your preferences and learning how various features work.
With one dashboard for everyone to work on, it helps to eliminate confusion and, most importantly, mistakes throughout the company. Rather than worrying about logging out and letting another employee do their job, you can all work on it together. The risk of miscommunication may be decreased with the cloud-based program.
WHO IS QUICKBOOKS ONLINE BEST FOR?
Hands down, QuickBooks Online is reserved for small businesses and freelancers. If you operate with very few employees, yet have complex transactions, this system may work well for you. If you’re a sole proprietor looking for a smaller-scale program, Quickbooks offers that, too. Make sure to read our Self-Employed review.
QuickBooks advertises this program for mid- and large-sized businesses too. It does offer the complex accounting features companies of this size may need. However, companies with many employees may want to look elsewhere, as the costs for payroll can add up rather quickly.
REASONS WHY WE LIKE IT
- Easy to use interface and navigation: The color-coded interface makes it easy to find what you need quickly. You can view everything on one page or get more detailed information by clicking on each topic and creating filters.
- Easy invoice customization: Creating a brand for your company is important, which is why we like the customization features in QuickBooks Online. You can import your company logo and information to create one-of-a-kind invoices for your business. You can also customize the look of the email the system sends out when it’s time to send invoices. It also gives the option to use pre-made templates if you prefer.
- Unlimited invoices via email: Sending invoices online may save you time and even money on postage. It also helps keep everything in one place and may help you get paid faster.
- Mobile accessibility: You can access your dashboard on your phone, making it possible to manage your accounting from just about anywhere.
- Online banking: You can link bank accounts and credit cards to your QuickBooks Online account. This eliminates the need for manual entry of every transaction as the system automatically downloads each transaction. QuickBooks currently integrates with more than 18,000 banks.
- Works well with third-party apps: If there’s a function you need that QuickBooks Online doesn’t offer, they offer many third-party apps that may offer the services you need. The benefit in working with partnered apps is the integration they provide for your accounting system.
- Customize your dashboard: If you have the time, you can customize your preferences so that the dashboard only shows the information you need. You’ll have to activate each feature that you need, which is best to do at the onset of setting up your account with QuickBooks Online.
- No software to install: We love the cloud-based systems because you get the automatic backup and the ability to export to programs like Excel. But you also gain the ability to work on the system from just about anywhere, while also sharing the details with as many as five other authorized users.
To start, check out the latest promotions.
REASONS YOU MAY WANT TO LOOK ELSEWHERE
- Doesn’t include payroll: If you want to include payroll in your accounting system, you may want to consider a full-service program. QuickBooks Online does offer payroll, but at an additional monthly cost plus a surcharge per employee.
- It’s not for beginners: Beginners might feel overwhelmed at QuickBooks Online’s user interface. There is a definite learning curve that requires time and patience. You’ll see accounting-specific jargon that can make you feel lost if you are not familiar with it. If you have the time to go through the numerous video tutorials, though, you may be able to jump on board quickly.
- No project management features: If you want project management software, you’ll have to choose among the third-party apps that integrate with QuickBooks Online.
- You need internet: If your internet connection is down, you won’t have access to QuickBooks Online. You’ll either have to wait for the internet to come back or go to a public place using Wi-Fi. However, that comes with its own security issues.
QuickBooks Online differs from the standard PC version where you pay for the program once and it’s good for a few years. With this version, you pay a monthly subscription. It’s like a pay-as-you-go program. However, you can add additional features onto the basic services, such as payroll, tax filing, and credit card acceptance.
QuickBooks Online offers three different programs:
Price: $25 per month (but they often run promotions for introductory periods)
This plan works well for freelancers and those running rather small businesses online or in-person. At a glance features:
- Import income transactions right from your payment processors, such as Square, PayPal and your bank
- Import expense transactions right from your bank and credit cards, as well as photos of your receipts
- Create, send, and track invoices
- Create and send estimates
- Track sales and connect with your favorite POS
- 20+ built-in reports
- Integration with your bank accounts and third-party apps
Price: $40 per month (but they often run promotions for introductory periods)
Small businesses that want a few more capabilities may prefer this program, which offers all of the above plus:
- Pay and keep track of bills as well as set up recurring payments
- Create checks from any device and save to print later
- Add multiple employees with specific permissions
- Set up auto syncing so everyone is on the same page
- Track employee time or billable hours with clients
- 40+ built-in reports
Price: $70 per month (but they often run promotions for introductory periods)
Businesses with contractors or freelancers working for them utilize the services in the Plus plan, which includes all of the above plus:
- Inventory tracking, including alerts when stock is low
- Keep track of 1099 contractors, including payments made to them
- 65+ built-in reports
QuickBooks Online offers an even smaller (cheaper) version called QuickBooks Self-Employed, reserved mainly for freelancers. Those who don’t need to track inventory, time, and other miscellaneous data can use the minimal tools offered by QuickBooks for a lower price.
SUPPORT AND TRAINING
Setup of QuickBooks Online is as simple as completing one form with your business information. From there, you decide how complicated you want things to get. Through the settings tab, you can set up the features that you know you need. QuickBooks takes those settings and creates a dashboard that suits your needs. You can tweak the setup at any time by going back to settings.
The tutorials provided once you choose your features are all online. You can peruse the tutorials or just dive right in and figure things out as you go along. However, they do also offer webinars on a weekly basis. They are one hour long and require pre-registration. It’s the closest thing you’ll get to live training withQuickBooks Online.
- Customer Service:
This is where everyone says QuickBooks is lacking. They do offer a multitude of online articles, which you can search to find answers to your questions.If your question isn’t answered there or you want customer support on the phone, you’ll have to call between 6 AM and 6 PM Monday-Friday or 6 AM to 3 PM on Saturday. The phone number for customer support is 1-800-488-7330.An alternative to calling customer service is to browse through the Community Forum or even ask your own question. Sometimes getting answers from those using the program is quicker and more efficient than waiting for a representative.
Is QuickBooks Online down? You can check the status at any time by clicking here.
HOW IT COMPARES
- QuickBooks Desktop: Choosing between QuickBooks Desktop or Online depends on your needs. The online version offers more mobility and customization, but requires a monthly fee and internet access. The desktop version is good for businesses operating from one location with few people needing access to the accounting software.
- Xero: Both Xero and QuickBooks Online offer robust accounting services. Where Xero may excel, though, is in customer service and unlimited employee access.
- Freshbooks: This cloud-based accounting service takes top prize for customer service, mobile app user friendliness, and a simple user interface. It does, however, only allow one person to use it at a time. Multiple users will cost an additional $10 per employee.
THE BOTTOM LINE
QuickBooks Online offers many features beneficial for small businesses. If you have less than five employees and are fairly knowledgeable about accounting, it could fit your needs. If you need more handholding or have more than five employees, you may want to look elsewhere.