QuickBooks Revisited

quickbooks bookkeeper

I talk an awful lot about online bookkeeping services. For most of my clients, it's the best way for us to collaborate and for them to have real-time access to their books. There are, however, still some clients who just need the power that a desktop app like QuickBooks has to offer.

I've had to do quite a lot more work in QuickBooks over the past couple months, and I've come away from the experience with some strong but varied opinions. Since I know a lot of you still work with QuickBooks, I thought I'd share some of my thoughts.

The Good.

If you have to enter a lot of data at once, nothing compares to the speed of running a local app. I've got a fast internet connection and I've learned all of the keyboard shortcuts from my favourite cloud-based apps...but they still don't come close to QuickBooks.

If you are a data junkie who wants to track an insane level of details, QuickBooks is far and away the best choice. With the right amount of setup, and a lot of time, you can find out which employee sold the most size-10 widgets on Tuesdays with just a few clicks.

As much as I wish this wasn't true, finding an accountant who doesn't insist on working with QuickBooks is rare. Don't get me wrong, there is a growing list of amazing accountants out there who are embracing apps like Freshbooks, Wave, Xero, and Kashoo. If I get the chance to pick an accountant for my clients I've got a wealth of options. The problem is that I usually don't have this luxury. Most of the time people will already have accountants of their own, and from my experience they will never have heard of any of these online options. As such, using QuickBooks will usually be the safest bet if you want a smooth handoff to the accountant at year end.

The Bad.

I'm willing to take the blame here if you all tell me I'm alone on this one, but I have terrible luck with QuickBooks files. QuickBooks is a database, and databases can become corrupt over time. For some reason once my files get to a certain age or size, they start developing errors. In the past 5 years I've had one cloud service suffer from a data error. In that same time I lost count of how many times I've had to restore a QB backup (and re-enter days of data) because it found errors in the file.

When was the last time Freshbooks wouldn't work because the version you were using was no longer supported? Never? That's what I thought. Thankfully, as a ProAdvisor, I get a fresh copy of the latest version of QuickBooks every year. In case you didn't know, that doesn't matter if your client isn't using the same version. If my client runs QB 2012 and I open it with QB 2014, it will demand that I upgrade the file to 2014. That means that once I hand it back to my client, they will need to upgrade to 2014 before they can open their file again. Sure, I've got old versions of QB install disks going back to 2005 or so, but that's really tedious. Furthermore, payroll won't work on older versions. The last time I checked the calendar, it's 2014. My copy of QB 2013 won't run payroll updates anymore because it's a year old. I'm still paying a subscription every month, so it's not like I'm trying to freeload here. I just need to run payroll for my client who happens to run (gasp!) 1 year old software. Sorry...no can do.

The Frustrating.

Sorry...couldn't think of an "ugly" here. Despite all the great things that are happening in this space, I find it all very frustrating. I wish there was one company making the one app to rule them all. Or, I'd even settle for one company making one great client-facing app and one great accountant-facing app. Oh, and these two would actually sync up too. QB has desktop and online versions, but I can't open the same file on both versions.

For clients, or just business owners with moderate needs, there are some truly amazing solutions out there. What I desperately want to see is an equally amazing solution for accountants that works with these client-facing apps without muddying up the clean interface my clients love. Maybe I'm asking for too much, but I'm going to keep asking. If anyone out there has one of those chairs from The Matrix so I could just plug in and learn app development in a couple hours...I'd gladly write my own.

How many of you still use desktop software? Are you happy with it? If you could get your own custom software that fit all your needs, what would it look like?

Eric Matthews

I'm a bookkeeper, husband, dad, music junkie, and general tech geek. When I'm a bookkeeper, I focus on cloud bookkeeping. I write at ThatBookkeeper.com, which helps bookkeepers and business owners move their books online. I work with apps like FreshBooks, Xero, Kashoo, Wave, and QuickBooks Online.

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