2014 Review of Intuit QuickBooks Online & QuickBooks Online for Accountants

Intuit’s QuickBooks Online (QBO), along with the QuickBooks Online for Accountants (QBO4A) multi-client tool for accountants using the application, provide a capable cloud-based platform for managing small business finances for multiple organizations.  (Note that this review is not evaluating the on-premises based version of QuickBooks (Pro, Premier, and Accountant) and its Client Data Review tools for accounting professionals.)

Strengths

  • Extensive ecosystem of add-on applications through the apps.intuit.com platform, and tight bank/credit card integration for data import from financial institutions.
  • Large base of users who are familiar with the desktop version of the application, including most paraprofessionals who took bookkeeping courses in the last 15 years.
  • Includes tools for importing data from the desktop version of QuickBooks, as well as the import of standing data using preformatting spreadsheets.
  • Cloud platform reliability has improved significantly over the last three years as Intuit migrated hosting to new data centers.
  • Strong multi-client capabilities with the free QuickBooks Online for Accountants tool and an benchmarking tool called Trends, which compares financial metrics for the active QBO company against anonymized summary statistics for others in the same industry group.

Potential Limitations

  • Some advanced features of the on-premises application are missing, including job costing and multiple currencies (US only).  Most users who need inventory management will have to subscribe to the most expensive QuickBooks Online Plus plan ($39.95/mo)
  • Many common business needs require users to subscribe to additional services (e.g. Mavenlink CRM, SOS Inventory, SmartVault, Exact Online, etc.)
  • The user interfaces for both the desktop version of QuickBooks (Pro, Premier) and QBO have been changed to make the user interface for the two platforms more similar in 2013.  The applications are developed and maintained by different product teams, resulting in different implementations of similar features.
  • The product is due for some reporting enhancements in 2014, including a more robust report writer.  The popular QuickBooks Statement Manager tool for creating financial statements in Excel does not work with QBO.
  • Intuit’s cloud-based suite of applications for accounting and tax professionals (e.g. Intuit Tax Online, QBO, QBO4A, Intuit Online Payroll) does not include a platform for making tax-only adjustments, a fixed asset and depreciation solution, a workpaper management tool, or a portal solution.

Best Fit

QuickBooks Online will most likely prove to be successful for many service-based small businesses and their accountants, as well as those who need a robust ecosystem of available add-on applications.  The QBO ecosystem has a number of limitations, however, and may not meet the needs of manufacturers, contractors, those who handle multiple currencies, and larger organizations who require more than a handful of profit centers.

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