A Review of QuickBooks Online

I have been using the Canadian version of QBO (QuickBooks Online) for four months now with one of my clients and I thought now would be a good time to write a quick review. First let me tell you what I do like about QBO. Due to the nature of cloud based accounting it is always available in multi user mode, and available from anywhere you have an internet connection. That is a very powerful plus that may influence a decision to go with QBO or not. There is no messing with VPN’s or firewalls, etc. all you need is a reasonably fast internet connection and a decent computer, there is even a smartphone app which works pretty well. Unfortunately, that’s about all I like. While the program itself is stunning to look at with bright colours and fancy graphics the overlay is just hiding an awkward and unintuitive software.

QBO uses a very different way of organizing tasks then other desktop accounting software. This can make QBO actually quite difficult to learn for the seasoned accounting professional, but if you are patient and willing to learn you can overcome this. My biggest issue is that there is no way at all in the Canadian version (yes it is different from the version our neighbours to the south use) to back-up your file or to export it to the desktop version. Canadian QBO will only import data from the desktop QuickBooks not the other way around so once you switch to QBO there is no way to switch back. As for backing-up, many times in my accounting career it has been useful to go back to a moment in time and view that snapshot, say before a bunch of clean-up work on a file. There is no way at all to do this with QBO. I worked on a large clean-up job for my first use of QBO, and not only was I confounded by the newness of the software, but no being able to back-up left me with printing huge amounts of paper to track my changes in case something went wrong, not to mention the amount of time I spent waiting for program to respond. Did I mention slow?  Well, the other major complaint is how slow it is. Intuit needs to upgrade their servers. On desktop software I can fly through entries saving me and my clients time.  Not so with QBO. If you move or tab too fast you can lose your transaction and often I often found myself sitting watching the little circle spinning round and round; which can be very frustrating.

At this time, I would not recommend QBO to any of my clients. I feel it is an immature and unfinished piece of software that was beautifully designed by software engineers who, forgot to consult real accounting professionals.  My recommendation to anyone who is thinking of switching their business to QBO is to contact an accounting professional who is familiar with the QBO and have them set up things right from the beginning. Despite the claims that Intuit makes QBO is not for accounting novices to use and with out a solid background in the accounting basics (think the difference between a debit and credit) you can get yourself into trouble in a hurry. If you think that QBO may be right for your business I encourage you to give me a call and I’d be happy to discuss the ins and outs of QBO and how it might hinder/help your business.

Jesse

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