Pros and Cons of Quickbooks Online

By December 4, 2009 Businesses

Unless you have a dedicated accounting staff with their own designated office space who handle the finances of your business with little or no input from you, the advantages of the Quickbooks Online program can be numerous.  The ability to outsource your accounting function while maintaining onsite access is every business owners dream.  However, despite the ease and convenience of Quickbooks Online, there are some limitations to be aware of as well.  The following is a quick list of some of the best and worst of Quickbooks Online:

The Pros:

• Portability is the key with Quickbooks Online.  You can monitor your business and financials from anywhere there is a computer with internet access (Are you thinking what I’m thinking – manage my business from the Beach!)

• If you have ever had issues trying to get a Quickbooks copy to your accountant, or perhaps tend to procrastinate when it comes to putting things together for your accountant, Quickbooks Online might be the perfect solution for you.  You can grant your accountant access to your books and let them review, make corrections, plan, or even handle all of your bookkeeping needs without having to wait or risk losing data in the backup and restore process.  You also don’t have the limitations of a regular Quickbooks Accountant’s Copy.

• Quickbooks Online’s Banking Center is easy and convenient.  You can keep your accounts up to date with minimal maintenance through automatic and frequent transaction downloads from your banks and credit cards, whether you are in the program or not.

• Quickbooks Online is far simpler than setting up a network and far cheaper than buying multiple user licenses.  The cost is a monthly subscription fee.  Right now, if your accountant is enrolled in the Quickbooks pro-advisor program, you can get significant discounts (up to 20%).

The Cons:

• Quickbooks Online does not have assisted payroll.  I am told that they are in the process of designing one, but as of December, 2009 they are not there yet.  Quickbooks Online has a payroll program, and you can e-file your federal returns through Quickbooks Online once you have signed up for Federal E-file and EFTPS.  However, many state returns cannot be filed online through Quickbooks.

• What’s worse is that unlike desktop Quickbooks, you can’t upload files from non-intuit payroll services into your Quickbooks file.  If you are with companies like ADP, Paychex, or Paycor, this means you will have to make a payroll journal entry into your Quickbooks online to record your payroll.

• Not all banks are set up to download transactions.  This isn’t as much of a con as it is just something to be aware of.  Most national banks aren’t a problem, but some local banks haven’t caught up with the technology yet.  Other local banks will face interruptions in the constant transaction download if your login times out or if they need you to answer your bank security questions again.

• Unlike desktop Quickbooks, you will have to pay a subscription cost for each company individually.  Each company takes up server space and that is what you are paying for, whereas in desktop Quickbooks you are simply paying for one program.

• If you have been using Quickbooks or another programs and have been printing checks, those checks may not be compatible with the Quickbooks Online format and you might need to go get new checks.

Overall, we recommend Quickbooks Online in many cases.  The reporting and functionality continues to improve and should make Quickbooks Online the preferred product for small business in the future.  In the meantime, if you have a good accountant who can help you with payroll filing and you want good, real time numbers with little hassle, Quickbooks Online may be the perfect solution.