Intuit — QuickBooks: Premier Accountants Edition

From the Nov. 2007 Review of Client Write-Up Systems

Intuit offers two professional write-up systems for accountants: QuickBooks Premier Accountant Edition (QBAE) and EasyAcct, with the QuickBooks system being the most widely used, and offering full integration with client-side versions of the small business accounting software. The Accountant Edition of QuickBooks Premier was also selected as the leading write-up product in last year’s Readers’ Choice Awards. The program provides full support for traditional write-up functions with drilldown capabilities and includes GL, chart of accounts, journals, a wide variety of reporting and analysis tools, and financial statement preparation. The program also features trial balance and asset management functions.

The Accountant Edition comes with complete versions of all of the other QuickBooks editions. QBAE costs $449.95 for a single-user license and $1,199.95 for three concurrent users. If an accountant joins the ProAdvisor program (which costs about the same as the QBAE and also includes the program), the professional also receives a free version of the vendor’s Enterprise Edition, as well as unlimited tech support and discounts across all other Intuit products and services. The 2008 version will be released shortly, but this review primarily focuses on the 2007 version.

QuickBooks has always focused on usability, engaging professionals in design processes. But as the system has evolved and added professional-level features, it has become a little more complex. Fortunately, all versions of the accounting system include various wizards, interview screens and other assistive tools for initial program and account setup tasks, and for those functions that might not be performed frequently. The QBAE interface is notably different than the versions for use by clients, providing quick access to client data files, write-up, reconciliation and other professional tasks through intuitive navigation menus. The various industry versions used by clients provide a more workflow-oriented design, allowing them to perform tasks as they relate to their business. Since the Accountants Edition includes all of the other versions, users can easily toggle to the same view that a client is experiencing in order to provide them with support. The integration of all versions into the professional version also ensures for virtually perfect data transfer from the client system to the Accountant Edition. For 2008, Intuit is incorporating various managerial dashboards that can be customized to present summary information as desired by the professional.

Client selection lists and data are intelligently presented and easily accessible from sortable, searchable lists. Data-entry processes are easy to understand, with smart data fields that allow for selection of accounts, clients, employees, vendors and other items from automatically created lists, and with account balances automatically updating as transactions are posted. Client data can also be easily imported using the new Accountant’s Copy tool and secure online transfer functions, or users can remotely access client data.

QBAE offers extremely easy-to-use financial statement preparation tools that let users quickly add columns, insert rows or group accounts by any method they wish. A wide array of pre-designed reports is also available, including balance sheets, summary and detailed income statements, cash flow statements and financial ratio reports. The system gives users broad customization options, including the ability to create custom cover pages or add notes to compilation letters or financial statements. QBAE’s trial balance functions simplify review and adjustment of account balances, including the entry of workpaper references. A full-time audit trail maintains a record of all activities. QBAE allows export of reports to Excel and Word, and users can e-mail reports from within the system.

In addition to saving into the above-mentioned Microsoft Office formats, the Accountant Edition includes full operating versions of all of the industry-specific versions of the program, ensuring compatibility and aiding the user in providing client support. It also offers export directly to Intuit’s ProSeries and Lacerte professional tax systems. The new SmartMap feature in Lacerte further helps streamline data integration with QuickBooks by remembering how items are treated and then automatically assigning tax fields to trial balance accounts as they are imported into the tax system.

Built-in Help and support features include wizards, interview screens and other assistance during setup processes, in addition to content-specific Help and FAQs that appear on-screen during tasks. An online tutorial and knowledgebase is also available, as is a free professional user community. Intuit includes free initial support, after which various subscription plans and training options are available. QuickBooks ProAdvisor Program members receive free, unlimited technical support from an accountant-dedicated team.

It seems that everybody and their uncle uses QuickBooks to run their business, which has been a driving force leading professional accountants to the system. As the product has matured, Intuit has developed QuickBooks: Premier Accountant Edition into a strong professional accounting system capable of managing monthly processes for virtually limitless clients and offering exceptional ease of use, along with unparalleled integration and client data acquisition capabilities.

2007 Overall Rating: 4.5 Stars