Intuit Inc. — QuickBooks Premier Accountant Edition

From the Nov. 2008 Review of Client Write-Up Systems

Intuit’s QuickBooks Accounting line is obviously well-known across both the small business market and the professional accounting market, with the company’s mid-range versions of the system, Premier, available in various formats tailored for general business, contractors, manufacturing and wholesale, non-profit, professional services, retail and for professional accountants. Greatly due to the continued dominance of QuickBooks in the small business environment, the Premier Accountant Edition has become one of the most widely used write-up systems by accountants, offering direct integration, client collaboration tools, remote access to client data, and other features that ease many of the processes involved in write-up services.

The system can be used to support any number of client entities and includes full general ledger, customizable charts of accounts with templates, trial balance capabilities, basic asset management functions, setup wizards and analysis tools, and produces full financial statements that can be tailored to specific client needs. Pricing for Intuit QuickBooks Premier Accountant Edition 2008 is $449.95 for a single user; $1,195 for three users. Pricing for the 2009 edition is $399.95 for a single user and $1,099.95 for three users. The professional accountant version also includes versions of each of the other industry varieties of Premier.

Key among the usability features of QuickBooks is the collection of interfaces, which is anchored on the Home screen. This window provides a full workflow diagram that shows many common task types, organized into areas for vendor, customer and employee activity. The primary interface also maintains various icons for accessing key features, such as the Customer, Vendor and Employee Centers, which act as hubs for functions relating to these entities, providing outstanding selection lists that offer several options for filtering, sorting and searching, as well as quick drilldown into transactions, reports and even journal entries. Top-level information is immediately displayed, providing access to customer payment histories, invoices, employee records and other data.

Initial setup of the program is guided by the EasyStep Interview, which walks users through setup of basic company and banking information, charts of accounts, products and other information. Experienced users and professionals can opt to skip this wizard and jump directly to setup functions, or users can convert existing data from other accounting programs. Both during setup functions and during routine transactional data entry, QuickBooks screens provide numerous selection lists and automatically populated fields that greatly speed data entry, while also allowing quick access to prior information, inventories, pricing structures and tiers, service/item descriptions, departmental costing and other areas. Many aspects of the interface are also user-customizable, essentially resulting in a system that is an intricate web with virtually endless connections between every component of the program, which lets users get comfortable with operating the program in whatever manner is most conducive to their own productivity.

Among more notable recent additions to the Accountant Edition of QuickBooks Premier is the Accountant’s Copy feature, which allows the professional accountant to easily access, open and adjust any prior period client records, while the client is still working within the current period. The system works via a one-click secure online transmission of the data. This can be a timesaving feature for many tasks, especially reconciliation functions and when posting adjusting entries. Data is then imported back into the client system and automatically updates throughout the program. The Accountant Edition also provides options for automated backup and remote access to the client system. For 2009, enhancements to the Accountant’s Copy system include improved importing and mapping, while a new Client Data Review feature provides a streamlined process for error checking and making corrections with a customizable task list. An always-on audit trail logs all transactions and data activity.

The system’s built-in Financial Statement Designer uses a spreadsheet-like interface that maintains dynamic links to client data, thereby keeping information up-to-date with any changes and alerting the user to new or missing accounts affecting a statement. Customizable GAAP-compliant reports include balance sheets, income statements (summary and detail), cash flow statements, budget reports and financial ratio reports. All financial output provides complete drilldown access to the transaction level. Reports can be e-mailed from within the program and can be saved into Excel or Word formats. For 2009, an Excel-based Intuit Statement Writer add-on offers templates that can be applied across clients.

The Accountant Edition of QuickBooks shares the same program structure and data formats as the Pro version and the other industry-specific Premier versions, which generally eliminates the need for manual entry of client data and maintains account structures and transactional information. The Accountant’s Copy feature further aids in client data transfer, while remote access functions allow the professional to directly access and work on the client’s system. The Accountant Edition also interfaces with ProSeries and Lacerte for year-end compliance, with the Lacerte system offering additional trial balance integration.

Countless wizards guide all setup tasks. Multiple functions are available for content-specific Help, tutorials and automatic FAQs, and additional assistance features abound within QuickBooks. Intuit’s online support center offers a knowledgebase in addition to a professional user community. The new Live Community feature of the 2009 version also connects users to the millions of QuickBooks Community visitors looking for help. Technical support is free for members of the QuickBooks ProAdvisor Program.

The Accountant Edition of QuickBooks Premier is pretty much a must-have for practices that provide write-up services to client bases that primarily use QuickBooks. With streamlined dataflow between the client application and the professional version, it can save significant time and also help ensure data integrity.

2008 Overall Rating: overall rating