Which version of Quickbooks is most commonly used by small businesses?
September 8, 2014 9:42 AM   Subscribe

I am thinking of getting Quickbooks, but I am wondering which is the best one to get for a small business.

Will Quickbooks Pro be sufficient, or it is really worth it to get Pro plus the Enhanced Payroll Value pack? (I am looking at the selections offered by Costco). Right now I do not have any employees, but lets think positive and assume that I might have a couple of employees within the next twelve months.

Bonus question: are you familiar with having someone login to your Quickbooks remotely? (I have seen this service offered by CPA's). How does that work; is it only available on certain versions?
posted by vignettist to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I am using Quicken Home & Business. My needs might not be as extensive as yours, however.
posted by JimN2TAW at 9:55 AM on September 8, 2014

We had maybe eight employees at the start and at first I used the paper tax tables and my own Excel invention. Later we used Quickbooks with the payroll pack both because of peace of mind and because it made for less work for our accountant so the purchase was at worst a wash. You do the payroll, send the accountant the file and they approve and submit it. Tax laws/rates are changed frequently and a friend who is an accountant, though not our accountant, said that payroll taxes are the most frequently audited.

So two benefits. Your expenses are approximately the same and more importantly your taxes are submitted via a CPA. The IRS see's that and they are much less likely to audit and your accountant protects you from liability.

Hmm. Looking at my history I seem to feel strongly about this. Quoting myself from an earlier post; "Having co-owned a couple of businesses I highly reccommend an accountant. They saved us much more money than they cost and you are insured against an audit which is alone worth the expense. Further, they know how businesses fail and how they succeed. Your accountant has an interest in your success and they, in my experience, are more than happy to answer questions. I am not an accountant.

If I ever start a business again my first visit is to an accountant."

I would spend the extra hundred dollars when you get it.
posted by vapidave at 10:42 AM on September 8, 2014

You can always add payroll later. They often have web pricing specials too. We just use a remote access tool to allow remote access to QuickBooks, which would work with any version.
posted by Lame_username at 10:43 AM on September 8, 2014

If you want accountant access you have a couple of options:

- You can use QuickBooks Online. It's a lot more basic and has fewer features than regular QuickBooks but it's web-based which means anyone can access it anywhere.
- Use some kind of remote desktop tool for your own computer. However that generally means that you can't be doing something else on the same computer when your accountant is logging in.
- Use a hosting service. Anyone using your QuickBooks will have a small program on their computer that will allow you to log into your hosted QuickBooks.
- Back up your Company File and email/share it with your accountant when they need to review/reconcile/etc. My mom is a bookkeeper and this is what she does although she's not on the forefront of technology.
posted by radioamy at 11:08 AM on September 8, 2014

I have Quickbooks. I send the company files to the accountant as needed. We use the payroll system the bank offers and just import the transactions into QB (well, actually we have to enter the journal entries manually, though we can import credit card transactions).

Pay for an accountant to set up your list of accounts and any sales tax info that is needed.
posted by jeather at 12:18 PM on September 8, 2014

Having transitioned a medium-sized business off of QuickBooks Enterprise and helped my partner move his consulting business off QuickBooks Online, I would encourage you to look at other options before settling on any software from Intuit.

First, the pros of QuickBooks:
  • Very common, most accountants will be familiar with it and any issue you're likely to come across is probably going to have been encountered, asked about, and resolved sixteen ways on Intuit's support forums.
  • Support contracts. If you require help and like to spend money, Intuit has call centers and support engineers galore. If you can't find a solution to your problem online or you need a fix NOW, you can call and get help immediately (depending of course on the level of SLA you paid for).
  • Compatibility. If you've got a weird business requirement or work in an industry with unique accounting needs either QuickBooks already has that feature (buried under 18 levels of configuration) or someone is selling a software add-on that you can just plug in and go.
There's definitely good stuff there, but for me it was outweighed by the cons, all of which I would title "Technical Debt". This could easily be seven pages worth of anecdotes, but here's just the stuff off the top of my head.
  • I think I lost no less than two weeks of my life to our IT guys having changed the order in which network drives were mounted on my desktop and thus causing QuickBooks to refuse to open in Multi-User Mode (which is a terrible thing to exist anyway, there shouldn't be such a thing as "Single User Mode"!).
  • Configuration, choice, and more configuration! There's a way to do anything, but sometimes there shouldn't be. Every process takes twice or three times as long to get through due to a staggering, crushing amount of choice, when a more opinionated piece of software could streamline or even automate a lot of your day-to-day bookkeeping.
  • Built for a different world. QuickBooks was built by people who I assume had mainframe envy. It sits on your desktop, or maybe your company intranet (if you've got one of those), or within its own little silo on Intuit's servers, and getting information in or out is torture. If I could have back all of the time I would have saved if Intuit had seen fit to just support importing transactions... Instead, you're gonna pay somebody else for another crufty Windows utility.
I moved both the businesses I mentioned above to Xero. If you can handle your business's financial data being on the cloud (probably better secured than your bank's servers at that) it is really an exciting product. (Okay, exciting for accounting people.) Two reasons, among many, to like Xero:
  • Unlimited users, you pay only based on transactional volume. Invite your accountant, invite their staff, you won't bump up against the arbitrary QuickBooks user limit and have to start *gag* sharing accounts. And of course because it's all online, your accountant can access your books any time they need to.
  • Oh man I'm getting excited again just typing this, but Xero has an AMAZING feature around bank reconciliations. You connect Xero to your online banking account, and then it automatically loads cleared transactions nightly, allowing you to do daily bank reconciliations. DAILY! Not monthly, not whenever, DAILY! Oh gosh you have no idea, this is just the greatest thing ever, you can see your cash in the bank and pending bills all in the same place.
Those two features and others I feel really enable your accountant to be a trusted partner in your business, rather than just some firm who does your taxes and tells you months after the fact that you paid twice for something or otherwise lost money.

All of this though I think is secondary to finding an accountant you can rely on and trust. If you already have one find out what software they're comfortable using, they will likely want your business to have its books structured like their other clients so they can take advantage of reusable report formats and bulk processes. If you don't have an accountant already, scope some out. Xero and Intuit both maintain lists of certified partners.

And on payroll, Xero is also rolling out a payroll feature that I found had an extremely compelling story last year when I looked into it, but it's only in certain states so far and I never had an opportunity to use it hands on. You might want to check out ZenPayroll (but I think they're in the same boat).

Feel free to MeMail me any questions about setting up or transitioning a business.
posted by books for weapons at 1:49 PM on September 8, 2014

If you're open to other options (maybe options that will be more friendly to you handling your data in different softwar in the future, options that won't insist that exporting your data is your own problem), have a look at Peachtree Accounting. I really wish I'd used that from the beginning, although the learning curve is a bit steeper at the beginning. You should be able to find a list of Peachtree-friendly accountants in your area easily.
posted by amtho at 3:10 PM on September 8, 2014

« Older Looking for Chevy Volt ad with male-female couple...   |   Help me survive my thesis defense Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.