Which Version of QuickBooks Should You Use?

QuickBooks has a wide variety of products.  Deciding which one to use is your first task.

There are 3 PC desktop versions to choose from:

Pro - Most small businesses can use and adapt QuickBooks Pro to their specific needs.  It is a complete, powerful program that contains everything necessary to do the most important tasks – invoicing and receivables, payables, bank statement reconciliation, basic inventory, job costing, financial statements and other reporting.   And it does those things well.  You can customize your invoice and other forms to fit your needs, including adding your logo. 

Premier – This version offers all of what you get with Pro, plus industry-specific editions and some enhanced inventory features.  You can also create sales orders, do business planning and sales forecasting, although the planning and forecasting features are not necessarily as user-friendly as the rest of the program is.  Premier has other features that an accountant might find helpful, such as the ability to easily reverse journal entries, but this is not something the average QuickBooks, non-accountant user would need.   This version would be most useful if you have multiple departments or classes of costs you would like to not only track, but also run class- or department-specific reports for.  Industry specific versions:

  • General Business
  • General Contractor
  • Manufacturing & Wholesale
  • Nonprofit
  • Professional Services
  • Retail

Many QuickBooks Retail users have expressed the opinion that an actual Point of Sale program is better for retail accounting than the QB Retail version.  QuickBooks does have a Point of Sale version, but that is not covered in this article, as we are not experienced with its use.

Enterprise – This version would be overkill for a small business using Abreeze OnCall services.  It is expensive, and is designed for companies with a large accounting department, that have advanced inventory needs in multiple locations and a large customer base.   We will concentrate on the versions that will be more useful to you, the small business owner.

A chart below will show some of the major features available in Pro vs. Premier:

 

Pro

Premier

Max # Simultaneous Users

Up to 3

Up to 5

Pay Bills, Print Checks

x

x

Track Sales

x

x

Track Customer Payments

x

x

Track Sales Tax

x

x

Accept credit card payments in program

x

x

Export to/Import data from Excel

x

x

Multiple Currencies/International Sales

x

x

Accountant's Copy

x

x

Track Inventory

x

x

Create Quotes

x

x

Create Invoices

x

x

Set Reminders

x

x

Download Bank and Credit Card Transactions

x

x

Customize Invoices, Credit Memos and Statements

x

x

Manage Payroll

x

x

Financial Statements by Class

 

x

Forecast Sales and Expenses

 

x

Create Sales Orders

 

x

Industry Specific Reports

 

x

Create Inventory Assemblies

 

x

 

Two QuickBooks products that I do not recommend for any business:

QuickBooks Online – This product is heavily marketed by Intuit but don’t fall for the hype.  On paper, it sounds perfect – you can access it from anywhere.  You don’t have to spend a pile of cash to get started.  You don’t have to worry about backups or losing data.  But the drawbacks to this program far outweigh the conveniences. 

My experience with this version is that it is not user-friendly.  It is extremely difficult to navigate.  It is limited in its reporting capacity as compared to the desktop version.   It does not do job costing.  Perhaps if QB Online was the only program you had ever seen or used, and you had only the simplest of needs, you could make a case that it works fine.  But once you’ve had a chance to work with the desktop version and see all the things you can do with it, you would see that there is no comparison.  It may also seem like a good deal to pay a small monthly fee rather than plunk down a couple hundred dollars on the desktop version.  But when you add up the monthly fee over the course of 2 years, you’ve surpassed the upgrade costs of QuickBooks Pro Desktop by a lot.  You would only typically need to upgrade the desktop version every 3 years.

If remote access is important for you, consider hosting a desktop version of QB in the cloud and skip the Online version.

QuickBooks for Mac – Intuit is discontinuing the Mac product after the 2016 version, and it is just as well.  Many people love their Macs and wouldn’t use anything else.  Macs may be great computers for many things.  Bookkeeping with QB is not one of them.  This version is not nearly as user-friendly as the PC version, is neither as intuitive nor smooth in its flow, and is lacking some of the reporting features as well.  If you are currently using this product I would highly recommend switching to a cloud version of QB PC Desktop, or investing in a standalone PC to house your QuickBooks program.

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