Speaker, Author, Consultant, Fraud Examiner

Intuit is doing everything they can in their marketing endeavors to push all accounting software users to QuickBooks Online. While installing QuickBooks Desktop 2018, I was amazed at the blatant pop up offering three free months if I converted to the online version.

Let me be clear, I get it. After all, QuickBooks Online looks great. Being able to use a mobile app is appealing and having access while you are sitting on a beach sounds great. Although, if I am on a beach, working on my accounting would be the last thing on my mind.

The colors and graphs look amazing, but, what are they not telling us What are we sacrificing by going online?

If you hang around me long enough, you’ll learn how I really feel about.

QuickBooks Online. While many CPAs and consultants do not share my views, if you look from the viewpoint of what is truly best for our clients, most cases, it is not the online version.

There are many valid reasons to not use QuickBooks Online. As I have converted as many Online users back to QuickBooks desktop version, let me explain the problems.

Change your mind? Too bad. QuickBooks Desktop version converts nicely to QuickBooks Online, however, QuickBooks Online does NOT convert cleanly to QuickBooks Desktop. There is no clean backup. I think it’s interesting that Intuit asks why you are doing a backup: as a backup or are you going back to the desktop version? With the increasing degrees of difficulty and required hoops jumped through when converting, it appears they are sabotaging the entire process. In the least, they are not making it easy.

In the past few months, the steps to download have become more refined and easier to follow. However, the data does not download as it appears online. Profit & Loss Reports, as well as Balance Sheet reports, often do not line up when converting to Desktop. This poses a massive problem.

Backups. A recent transition client’s CPA completely revised their QuickBooks Online Chart of Accounts. Incensed, the doctor decided to get off QuickBooks Online and start using the desktop version. An online client for many years, he was frustrated with the consistent errors in his data and felt he had no control.

If you make changes to your online Chart of Accounts, or balances become off for whatever reason, there is no “reset” option in the Online version. With the desktop version, there is a simple restore of your prior backup, which has been done many times with overzealous accountants who truly did not know QuickBooks as well as they should.

This is truly something for you to consider. Are you willing for your accounting data to only be accessible online? To not have a guaranteed copy downloaded?

Really think about it.

Other Names. One of the major missing components from the Online version included in the Desktop Pro version, is the Other Name payee type. The Online version has only three choices: Customer, Vendor, and Employee.

The reason this is significant does not matter to the accountant, who is simply doing your taxes, but it does matter if there is business management oversight.

Customers are patient refunds and employees are paid through payroll, but not everyone else is a Vendor.

A Vendor is someone you do business with through the course of your practice. It is the supply company, the labs, the landlord, the IRS, the professional associations, the utility companies, the plumber, the IT company, etc.

A Vendor is NOT the restaurant, the convenience store, the hotel, the airlines, the grocery store, where you get gas or the pizza delivery. These are all very common transactions in a practice and should be categorized under Other Names. The reason? A great report to review – Expenses by Vendor Summary.

Business management is most effective with separate payee types. Not separating them out convolutes the ability to fully review the report.

Cost. I recommend the QuickBooks Desktop Pro version be upgraded only every three years. In comparing cost, the QuickBooks Desktop Pro version can most of the time be purchased for $199.00 vs. $1380.00 for the Online version (3 months with a 50% discount, then $40 per month.) For me, that’s a no-brainer.

Accessibility. The reason an accountant tells their client they would prefer the business use QuickBooks Online is always for ease of access. There is simply no other reason. Period.

Let’s break that down. QuickBooks Online costs 3x more than the desktop version, for a third of the features. All so the accountant can have uncontrolled access to your data, and most likely only 1-4 times a year.

There are other ways you can give the accountant access to your QuickBooks Desktop version, in a greater controlled environment. Creating and emailing an Accountant’s Copy every month would be sufficient. They can make their changes and then import them into the Desktop version. This also provides a summary of the changes that will be imported for review PRIOR to accepting the changes.

I marvel at how QuickBooks Online has been sold as the only way to access QuickBooks through the internet. There are other options. You can access your computer remotely through GotoMyPC ($23/month), or use an online service such as iNSYNQ, which hosts the full QuickBooks desktop version in the cloud.

Chart of Accounts. The design of your chart of accounts is a vital aspect of understanding your reports. Currently unavailable online is the ability to inactivate any old accounts, vendors, employees, etc. They can be deleted, which is odd, as this removes them from the list, but still allows them to be restored if needed. This is not a smooth process and, I suspect, the reason why it is nearly impossible to download a clean backup copy.

For example, if you delete a Balance Sheet account and it has a balance, QuickBooks Online creates a journal entry for you. Likewise, with a deleted Vendor with a balance. I searched QuickBooks Online help and the alternate answers made me laugh, but it is certainly nothing I would ever recommend.

The order of organization I recommend for the desktop version is by the “weight” (cost) of the practice area, with Doctor Expenses always being last, generally being mostly subjective. The Chart of Accounts Online offers a single version of organization: alphabetical order, parent, and subaccounts.

My clients will start fresh with QuickBooks Desktop 2018 version as of January 2018, and will no longer have any historical data. To this point, I have spent 8 hours determined to give them historical data. They will, however, have a resemblance of this data with all the report detail downloaded from the online version for backup.

I had a previous client call because her IT guy recommended QuickBooks Online. My response to that? They should stay in their lane. Do not allow anyone to talk you into doing anything without doing your homework first. What sounds like a great idea, may not be so grand in the long run.

Just say no to QuickBooks Online.

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