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QuickBooks has an established reputation for being the primary, all-inclusive accounting and finance management service for businesses of all sizes.
It only makes sense that the next transition would be taking your accounting to the cloud. There is a plethora of cloud accounting web apps available, but you’re probably already using QuickBooks on your desktop. If this is the case for you, you should definitely save time and money by migrating to QuickBooks Online. Not already using QuickBooks? It still has one of the most trusted names in the finance world, which is quite valuable when you’re dealing with your money, client information, bank accounts and transactions.
In this article, we’ll review the entire setup and use of QuickBooks Online, go over the prominent features and benefits, and cover pricing plans.
Creating an account and setting up your business is a breeze. Once you enter the basic information and upload your logo, QuickBooks Online asks a few more questions which is uses to anonymously compare your company to similar businesses and create a customized experience with features and settings for your business.
You’ll notice the user interface is clean and modern, yet functional. The home page presents income, expenses, profit/loss ratio and bank account/credit card balance. On the left is the panel to access the following categories: customers, vendors, employees, transactions, reports, taxes and apps.
Under Transactions, the subcategories are banking, sales, expenses and Chart of Accounts. The Banking section enables you to connect QuickBooks Online to your bank account(s), in which you can automatically import transactions and expenses without manually entering them.
The Sales section is where you can manually create invoices by clicking the blue “New transaction” button in the top right.
There are a large number of reports that you can use to study trends and progress within your business.
In the top bar, accessible from any page, you’ll notice three buttons: Search, Create and Recent Transactions. These are what you might call “quick links” that you will probably use most often.
By clicking your company name in the top right corner, a drop-down menu appears, presenting several settings and options to choose from. This is where you can change company settings, apply a different custom form style to your invoices, and view lists such as all products and services or recurring transactions. From here, you can also access QuickBooks Labs which has additional features you can enable to improve your user experience.
QuickBooks Online has all the key features and advantages of online accounting, as well as additional ones you get only with a complete accounting web app. Probably the most significant advantages of using QuickBooks Online are automatic data entry and backup to the cloud.
QuickBooks Online offers a range of features depending on your type of business and the plan you choose.
Primary features (available with all plans):
- Track income and expenses
- Download transactions from bank and credit card accounts
- Automatic online backup
- Bank-grade security and encryption
- Mobile access from tablet or smartphone
Top features worth having: these are features that I would deem necessary to efficiently run your business:
- Unlimited estimates and invoices (Simple Start, Essentials, Plus)
- Print checks and record transactions (Simple Start, Essentials, Plus)
- Import from Excel/QuickBooks desktop (Simple Start, Essentials, Plus)
- Manage and pay bills from vendors (Essentials, Plus)
- Schedule payments for later (Essentials, Plus)
- Automatic scheduled invoicing (Essentials, Plus)
- Custom budgets (Plus)
I do wish that Intuit would make some (what I would deem essential and “worth having”) features available to all plans. These include unlimited invoicing and estimates, printing checks and record transactions, importing data from the QuickBooks desktop, automatic invoicing and scheduling bill payments.
Starting your business? Simple Start will help get you going. The Essentials and Plus plans offer the bulk of “advanced” business features that you may come to want eventually, and definitely need if you’re a larger business. Below are plan prices and key features with each plan.
Simple Start ($12.95/month)
- Invite 2 accountants to access data
- Integration with applications
- Plus top 3 features in “Top Features” list
- Compare sales and profitability with industry trends
- Control what your users can access
- Plus top 6 features in “Top Features” list
- Create/send purchase orders
- Track inventory
- Prepare/print 1099s
- Limited access to employees/subcontractors for entering hours worked
- Track billable hours by customer
- Categorize income/expenses using class tracking
- Track sales/profitability for each of your locations
- Plus all in the “Top Features” list
There’s no doubt QuickBooks Online is the go-to cloud accounting app based on reputation and features. The pricing structure may seem a bit steep, but keep in mind you are getting top grade security and encryption used by banks, as well as a reputable company with reliable customer service. When you look at it from a business and time standpoint, the additional cost compared to those “other services” is a wash.
What online financial tools do you use? If you use Quickbooks Online, did you switch from the desktop application? What has been your own experience? If you are new to cloud accounting, give QuickBooks Online a try and share your thoughts in the comment section below.