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Review of Intuit — QuickBooks Premier 2011

 

Intuit - QuickBooks Premier 2011
800-322-6962
www.quickbooks.com

 

From the April/May 2011 Review of On-Premise Installed Accounting Systems for Small Business

QuickBooks Premier 2011 offers many new features and enhancements. With each new version, Intuit manages to add additional features that only enhance this popular software product.

Best Fit:
Targeted at accountants who support non-accountant business owners who maintain their own books.

Basic System Functions:
QuickBooks installation remains simple, despite the numerous enhancements and features that have been added to the product over the years. The QuickBooks interface has remained unchanged, as well, with Centers remaining the focus of the home screen. Several navigation options are available, including the menu bar at the top of the screen, clicking on the Center icons, or using the workflow areas that are located on the main user interface screen. Menus are easily customized to display as much or as little information as possible.

Strengths:

  • Ease of use & large install base, means eaier to find xperienced users of the application
  • Strong accountant program with good training & referrals to certified ProAdvisors
  • Company Snapshot improvements enable instant dashboard reporting
  • Excellent industry-specific add-ons
  • Client Data Review & Accountants Copy simplify cleaning up client books
  • Canadian & UK versions available with multiple currencies supported

Potential Limitations:

  • Inventory supports only Average Cost valuation
  • Intuit Statement Writer is an extra charge, even to ProAdvisors
  • Date-driven system means non-standard fiscal reporting & budgeting periods (e.g. 4-4-5) are not supported
  • Power user options like import of transactions are difficult
  • Perceived ease of use means many end users implement without consulting their accountant, often causing reporting problems later
  • Accountant Edition supports only Windows
..

The Company Snapshot provides a quick view of vital company information, including payment status, receivables, AR by aging period and other receivables reports, and quick links to frequently used functions. During product installation, QuickBooks provides the ability to choose the industry that best describes the user’s business type, including templates for service businesses, nonprofits, construction companies and retailers. Industry-specific editions of QuickBooks are also available with custom reports in each version.

Once a business type is chosen, the chart of accounts that is installed is defined based on the respective template. Invoice, statement and sales order templates conform to the requirements of different business types, as well. QuickBooks for Mac is also available, although the Mac version has a more limited feature set.

Core Accounting Capabilities:
All accounting activity takes place in QuickBooks centers. Core functions such as GL, AP, AR, and Payroll are included within the program.

Some of the new features for 2011 include:

  • A Batch Invoicing system that allows users to process multiple customer invoices simultaneously if they have received the same products or services.
  • Users can now also process customer and vendor transactions while viewing historical data, rather than opening a separate window.
  • A new Paid Date stamp allows invoices to be prominently stamped when paid, and all estimates, invoices and reports can be emailed to customers and vendors with a single click.

QuickBooks also offers an excellent mail-merge function to prepare a variety of business letters, including collection letters, customer marketing letters, vendor letters, and others, as specified. Sales tax functionality is supported, with the ability to set up tax preferences for a variety of venues. QuickBooks also offers several payroll options, including the option to handle payroll internally, outsource payroll to the QuickBooks Payroll service, or have an accountant handle the payroll for their client. Some subscription plans also support after-the-fact payroll.

An excellent Audit Trail Report provides management with a comprehensive look at any system transactions, with no option to turn this feature off. QuickBooks also offers multi-currency capability. The latest rates can be uploaded directly from Intuit or they can be entered manually. QuickBooks also offers multi-user access, which allows remote users the ability to access files stored on a central computer system. At this time, QuickBooks Premier can handle up to four simultaneous users.

Day-To-Day Operations:
QuickBooks Premier easily processes sales orders and links to both UPS and FedEx for true shipping integration. Sales tax can be calculated using a variety of methods and rates. The product offers an excellent customer database that has been strengthened with the addition of the new Customer Snapshot, which provides detailed information about customers, including purchase history, average payment days and average balances. Invoices and billings can be easily emailed, as well as exported directly to Microsoft Word or Excel for further customization. QuickBooks supports only the Average Cost method of inventory valuation. Any inventory changes are processed in the adjustment account, so users can adjust inventory value or totals as needed.

QuickBooks Premier is designed to handle online bill payments, and offers easy email marketing options. Add-on products are also available for small businesses looking to set up a website. The system also accepts credit cards by utilizing Intuit’s Merchant Services for QuickBooks. Remote access allows users to access and enter data from any location with an Internet connection. Intuit also offers varying levels of hosted QuickBooks applications that are designed for even the smallest business.

Management Features:
QuickBooks offers three snapshot report options: company, payments and the new customer snapshot. All report options are found in the Report Center, where available reports can be viewed, modified, and emailed or exported as needed. Reports can also be memorized for quick access in the future and can be grouped for better organization. A wizard is available to set up new system users. Access levels can then determine (no access, full access or selective access). Selective access allows users the ability to create, print and post transactions, with access provided for each specific area.

Integration/Import/Export:
Data can be imported from third-party applications using a text format. All data files can be easily exported using .csv for Excel formatting. Any data imported using this method will need to be modified prior to the actual data import.

In addition to a large number of third-party applications, Intuit offers a variety of add-on applications designed to integrate directly with QuickBooks, including CRM, email campaigns, and e-marketing options. The Accountant’s Copy File Transfer option is a paid service that allows users to easily send files to their accountant and receive updated files in return.

Help/Support:
QuickBooks offers a wide variety of system Help functions designed specifically for new users, including area tutorials and online assistance from the QuickBooks community. A free e-book, “The Official Guide to QuickBooks 2011” is also available for download. Support options vary, depending on product and issue level. New users receive 30 days of free support and can choose from a wide variety of plans after that. While Intuit does use overseas support staff, higher-level questions are almost always directed back to U.S.-based support centers.

Executive Summary & Pricing
QuickBooks Premier is currently priced at $399.95 for a single-user system. A three-user system is $999.95. Intuit continues to improve this very popular product each year, making QuickBooks the natural go-to solutions for small businesses world-wide. Quick installation, easy navigation, and strong reporting functionality make this a solid product for the small business owner. The availability of industry-specific versions helps make QuickBooks even more desirable.

2011 Overall Rating:

 

 

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