From the Jan./Mar. 2008 Issue
As we start off a new year, it is a great time to review the developments in the small business accounting market with Intuit’s QuickBooks. I hope you regularly read Doug Sleeter’s QuickBooks column since he always has useful ideas. I have grown to enjoy speaking with Doug and helping him where I can, including in his annual Sleeter conference. However, I thought it might be appropriate to discuss some of the opportunities for your business with QuickBooks, and to understand the impact of QuickBooks 2008 and beyond.
FOUR MAIN SETUP ISSUES
From field visits to tax and accounting firms as well as their clients, it is still common to see errors in basic QuickBooks setups. There are several correct ways to install QuickBooks, and dozens of incorrect ways. The main issues revolve around the new database introduced in 2006, attempting to support old versions of the product, speed and remote access. These four items frequently seem to be issues with installations.
- A SEPARATE SERVER
Reasonably good results are occurring in firms that install QuickBooks on a separate physical server — a server only used for QuickBooks. This is particularly true for firms that have a large write-up practice using the product. A server-grade machine, often a 1U blade server, is added to the server farm with the sole purpose of supporting QuickBooks. By using a separate server, the database installation can install cleanly and without conflict from other applications. I have seen QuickBooks installed on both Windows Server and Windows XP using this approach. This separate server often helps with speed issues, as well.
- A VIRTUAL MACHINE
As an alternative to a separate server, I suggest that a virtual machine approach to support each version of QuickBooks would work well. This approach allows disk files to act like servers, and to share the application among multiple users. This approach also provides the most isolation and portability of the QuickBooks applications, regardless of version year. Installing QuickBooks on VMware seems to work the best.
- A SEPARATE NAS UNIT
Another common installation approach is using a separate NAS (Network Attached Storage) unit to store all versions of QuickBooks and QuickBooks files. The NAS approach could be used in conjunction with virtual machines to isolate different versions of the product.
- REMOTE ACCESS
The ease of supporting QuickBooks with remote access is improving with each version. If remote access is particularly important to you, having a separate server or virtual machine for QuickBooks can make the remote connections easier via Terminal Server or Citrix. Intuit is evaluating the possibility of offering hosting services, but at this time has no formal plans to offer hosting services. Additionally, the WebEx Remote Access in QuickBooks 2008 has a new pricing plan with improved
So what does QuickBooks 2008 bring to our clients and our practice? First, QuickBooks 2008 has made gathering client data from the front-end easier. Additional support has been added for payroll and tax integration, with this version providing a framework for full-service solutions from firms that want to provide a complete client solution.