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.

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