Intuit Turns to Online Features to Keep QuickBooks on the Desktop

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print

QuickBooks forged the path for many solution providers to get involved in the accounting applications arena, but hosted applications have started to put the squeeze on continuing successes. Can a refresh of QuickBooks help the channel to battle new comers? Read along and see what QuickBooks 2009 has to offer users and purveyors alike.

Accounting is the bedrock of any business and it takes good accounting to build a good business. For years, SMBs have turned to Intuit’s QuickBooks to keep finances under control. And, despite Intuit’s direct-sales history, solution providers are often the ones sourcing, installing and supporting QuickBooks in SMB environment.

The accounting and finance application market is shifting with the emergence of hosted solutions. Many solution providers are finding that the unprecedented flexibility and low startup fees of hosted solutions offer their customers, as well as the high ROI for those choosing hosted applications.

Intuit has reworked their top of the line product into QuickBooks 2009 Pro QuickBooks 2009 Premier. Both products offer a slew of minor enhancements and a few major ones that will that will fortify the reasons for an upgrade or entice new users. Premier and Pro differ in a few key areas. Pro focuses on the typical needs of a business, while Premier adds reports and business planning tools to help with forecasting and growth. What’s more, Premier adds more product pricing options and an enhanced inventory module. Premier also adds some accounts payables features, such as purchase order creation and order tracking.

Both QuickBooks 2009 Pro QuickBooks 2009 Premier have improved online banking capabilities. That is one area where hosted services seemed to always have an advantage. QuickBooks offers a multifold increase in ability to integrate onsite accounting data with supported financial institutions. Part of that benefit comes from automation; users can now schedule updates and data synchronization with their selected accounts and financial institutions. That capability makes several mundane chores much easier, such as checkbook reconciliation and balance tracking. An added benefit is that decision-makers now know what checks have cleared and have a better day-to-day understanding of cash flow, balances and credit limits. All important issues in today’s challenging economic times.

QuickBook’s offers a deeper view into a company’s financial health through the new Company Snapshot feature. Company Snapshot basically converts all of the esoteric financial data, which was once only available from reports, into an accounting "Dashboard." That dashboard offers information such as which customers still owe them money, what bills they need to pay, and what they need to do by the end of the day.

One of the biggest services expenses many businesses have are accounting fees. QuickBooks helps to make many tasks easier for accountants by incorporating tools that speed up the review of a client’s data. That can translate into reduced costs. A collection of clean-up and review tools are also offered which can help save hours of finding and correcting client errors. An enhanced accountant’s copy feature offers improved client data importing and added account mapping capabilities.

Data backup is another area that hosted services have held an advantage, after all - the hosted service is responsible for the protection and backup of data, leaving the customer to worry about other tasks. Here, Intuit has added features that make backup much easier and faster, perhaps with the biggest benefit coming from enhanced multi-user features. Employees no longer have to wait for others to finish with QuickBooks before they can start their own work. New enhancements enable QuickBooks users to run reports while others work simultaneously in the same company data set. Users can now locally backup data while in multi-user mode, eliminating one of the bottlenecks that previous version of Quickbooks had. A new QuickBooks Messenger application brings IM like capabilities to bookkeeping staffs, allowing the instant communication of issues, problems or requests to other team members.

Further enhancing administrative control is the ability for administrative users to log other users off and perform maintenance chores. In the past, an administrator would have to manually make sure all users had logged off before applying updates or patches. Now, an administrator can kick logged-on users out of the system to perform administrative tasks.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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