Weighing the Options… Which QuickBooks to Choose?

As a QuickBooks ProAdvisor and an Intuit product user for over two decades, I am clearly a proponent of their products.  However, when I get the question, “Which version do you recommend?,” it is shocking how much thought goes into deriving an answer!

Let’s get a few things out of the way first…. 

1)  ANY version of bookkeeping software is better than a notebook of chicken scratch and paper receipts that you hand off to the accountant at tax time.  Yes, the paper method is inexpensive but it is also a stone-age way to track a business.  The majority of the human race loathes bookkeeping, but it is essential for understanding, managing, and ultimately growing your business.   I loathe laundry but don’t walk around in dirty clothes, at least not Monday through Saturday. 

2)  I do not recommend the Online Simple Start option.  The functionality is so light that it is misleading, and not worth the effort of configuring in most cases.  In my experience, this version leads to clients either abandoning the prospect of coming out of the stone-age, or quickly outgrowing the functionality and needing to upgrade.

The most fundamental decision is whether you want an online version or a locally installed desktop version.  Online perks include automatic backups, anywhere access (provided there is internet), and better integration with auxiliary apps such as banking or payroll.  The fee for QuickBooks online is charged monthly or on an annual basis.  And, upgrades are automatic – which may be viewed as either a pro or a con, depending on your personality. 

Desktop versions are faster, don’t depend upon internet connectivity, support multiple panes simultaneously, and the software is owned by the user. Users are therefore also responsible for upgrades and backup procedures; failing to be disciplined regarding backups can be catastrophic. 

Both versions have decent “workarounds” trying to accommodate the strengths of the other.  For example, Intuit offers desktop backups to the cloud and mobile apps that link into the cloud.  This is a good alternative and an option I often recommend. 

You may wonder… what type of QuickBooker am I?  In my business, I use QuickBooks Premier for both my accounting and rental companies.  As an accountant for other businesses using QuickBooks, I find it is easier to manage when clients use QuickBooks Online!


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