Thursday, September 17, 2009

Converting QuickBooks for Mac to QuickBooks Online

Several months ago Intuit, the manufacture of QuickBooks, released a new version of QuickBooks Online that runs with the Safari web browser. This new version of QuickBooks presents a multiuser alternative for existing users of QuickBooks in a Mac environment, as well as future users of QuickBooks for Mac. It is now possible for Mac QuickBooks users to run multiuser versions of QuickBooks for a reasonable monthly price, and have unattended backups and software updates included in the monthly price.

Besides the Safari interface, QuickBooks Online has been optimized for the iPhone. The iPhone app is basically a read only application, however some added features exist for customer, vendor and employee information as well as the ability to create and send invoices. Another benefit for Mac users of QuickBooks is that there is no longer a wait for updates to the Mac version of QuickBooks.

Installing QuickBooks Online (without the need to convert QuickBooks for Mac files to QuickBooks online files) is relatively easy and straightforward. However, it gets a bit complicated when you need to convert an existing QuickBooks for Mac file to a QuickBooks Online file. Intuit does a reasonably good job of facilitating the online installation.

Manually converting your QuickBooks for Mac file to QuickBooks Online is not that difficult, as long as you carefully follow the instructions and generally takes about 30 minutes. You cannot directly convert your QuickBooks for Mac file to QuickBooks Online. There is an intermediate step that requires you to convert your QB Mac file to a QB Windows files and begins with the drop down menu in QuickBooks Mac. The process begins, by selecting the File menu and then selecting “Back up to QuickBooks for Windows” within the QuickBooks for Mac software. Upon completion of this process, the file is sent to QuickBooks and you receive a notification when the process for converting the QuickBooks Mac to QuickBooks Online is completed. Initially, I was surprised to observe that this process is performed at the Intuit level rather than in real time. A suggestion to facilitate this process, is that in the event you do not receive timely notification of completion from Intuit, I suggest that you contact tech support and ask them to look into the status of your conversion and request that they expedite it for you. Generally, when I have called tech support, and they are very accommodating. They will facilitate the process, although they generally do not give any time guarantee and attribute the potential delay to their busy servers.

Overall the manual conversion process takes approximately 30 minutes (exclusive of the Intuit conversion) and my clients have been happy with QBO. One client was disappointed that the vendor type classifications are not available in QuickBooks Online. The workaround for this is to use one of the fields in the vendor profile as the vendor type. So far, my clients are happy to have multi-user access, the ability to work from anywhere and unattended and automatic backups, despite a slightly sluggish performance attributable to the web connection.

Two words of caution, the first of which is that QuickBooks Online currently does not support inventory applications and the second, that the conversion may require the services of your accountant or CPA to affect a smooth and orderly transition to the QuickBooks Online platform.

As long as you understand up front the limitations of QBO, then you should find the QBO platform acceptable and more importantly, a helpfully financial tool to operate and monitor your business.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

3 Important QuickBooks Online Add-Ons that You May Need to Run Your Business

There are three QuickBooks Online Add-ons that are important to the way you operate and manage your business. This article will discuss three QuickBooks Online add-ons and will provide you with information that you need to consider in order to make an informed business decision about purchasing QuickBooks Online. This article will inform you of some additional expenses that otherwise may not be clear to you prior to buying QuickBooks Online.

By way of background, the three types of QuickBooks Online products discussed are QuickBooks Online -free, QuickBooks Online Basic,and QuickBooks Online Plus. Please refer to my other articles that compare and contrast the functionality of QuickBooks Online Basic and QuickBooks Online Plus.

Add-On for Credit Card Sales From Customers - In order to approve, process, and record credit card sales you need to purchase QuickBooks Online Merchant. Accepting Visa, MasterCard, American Express and other credit card types can attract new customers, help you get paid faster, and save you time in collecting payments. This ability to accept credit card payments is called a merchant account service. With the QuickBooks Online Merchant account, you are able to authorize and process credit card transactions with either QuickBooks Online Basic or QuickBooks Online Plus. This feature automatically records sales from customers, effectively, in real time, thus eliminating the need to manually record credit card sales in your QuickBooks accounts. For this feature, there is a onetime set up fee of $59.95 and a monthly fee of $19.95, along with standard credit card discount and authorization fees. By purchasing from a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor there are substantial discounts available for these services.

On the plus side, the use of QuickBooks Online Merchant does save you money because you do not need to lease phone lines and lease terminal hardware or software. It is also important to note that for in store credit card sales, a merchant service card reader does not work and the use of a credit card reader requires QuickBooks desktop software, 2002 or higher. Intuit designed their product so you do not have to use a credit card reader. The alternative is not that bad, you have to manually type in the credit card number and enter the customer sale information typically included in an invoice. A few seconds later, you are informed if the customer payment is approved by the credit card company. (Even some national department stores still have manual processes. Yesterday, I was in a national department store, and they took my credit card and manually inserted the card for the credit card imprint.)

Add-on for Payroll - Payroll for QuickBooks Online is sold separately and is not included with either QuickBooks Basic or QuickBooks Plus. However, Intuit, offers the following solutions as of the date of this article (a) QuickBooks Online Basic ($9.95 monthly) and payroll ($9.95 monthly)or (b) QuickBooks Online Plus ($34.95 monthly) and payroll ($9.95 monthly),sometimes Intuit offers a 20% discount for Plus version. When you purchase QuickBooks Online Plus from a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor there is an additional 20% discount available to you, which in total is a 40% savings. QuickBooks ProAdvisor discount pricing are subject to change.

Add-On for Inventory - Generally speaking, neither QuickBooks Online Basic nor QuickBooks Online Plus offers an inventory accounting package. Some companies keep their inventories in Excel and record inventory amounts monthly in QuickBooks Online. Alternatively, you can purchase inventory add-ons such as OE Companion which offers inventory accounting with a 30 day free trial or you can obtain inventory add-ons from the Intuit Market Place by going to the Intuit website. I have not reviewed any of these add-ons and make no representations or warranties as to their compatibility, effectiveness and suitability for your needs. On a plus note, Intuit is working on an inventory add on.

This article was written for the purpose of providing information to any prospective purchaser of QuickBooks Online. The article is introductory and does not attempt to assess your specific business needs. Diligence should be undertaken to carefully evaluate your particular needs by either your accountant, CPA, or a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor before you purchase any software application or add-on.