When it comes to accounting, invoicing, and billing, a lot of small business owners find themselves quickly overrun. They have so many tasks to oversee in the early stages, when they can’t afford a lot of help, that the finances can swamp them and ultimately lead to their demise. That’s why a lot of businesses rely upon top-rated billing and invoicing software to get the job done for them. QuickBooks is one of the most widely used and highly rated options according to almost all of the QuickBooks reviews. Let’s take a look at this software and see if it’s really worth the hype.
Intuit QuickBooks software is some of the largest and most widely used software available for accounting, billing, and invoicing. Tons of businesses rely on them, whether small or large because they have comprehensive options that generate tons of reports and can handle nearly any function you throw at it. Check out our comprehensive review to learn about everything they have to offer.
When you sign in to QuickBooks Online, the first thing you see is their home page. This is called your dashboard because it offers a great overview of all your needs and tools. These will link you to your balances, income, expenses, charts, totals, and tasks. They even link you to relevant activities related to the subject you’re exploring, like creating invoices and maintaining your accounts.
This area also has graphs to take a look at. It will display invoice and expense status sheets, let you see your profits and losses, tally your sales total, and check your account balances. The charts also link you to your tax and audit trails.
Although you can find what you need with their dashboard, it is a feature that needs to be revitalized. It’s pretty old and was never the best to begin with. Hopefully, they’ll take a leaf out of Xero’s book soon.
Everything is displayed vertically on the left side of your browser. There’s a giant group of tabs that house each of the major site areas. These tabs are meant to highlight the most frequently performed tasks for QuickBooks small businesses and take you quickly to different areas. These include printing checks, apps, accounting, mileage, reports, taxes, sales, projects, expenses, workers, and banking.
There are also additional icons in your toolbox. These let you create new transactions, search for specific accounts or records, and get help when necessary. You can also find the gear icon that takes you to your account and settings if you need to adjust anything there or easily access lists of products, services, and transactions. They also have user management, data for importing and exporting, budgeting, and other tools.
When you're on a screen to perform your actual work, QuickBooks uses a series of charts, lists, and drop-down menus to help you operate. It’s designed to be easy to understand for people who haven’t studied accounting, but it isn’t the easiest either way. A lot of new users will be frequently checking with tech support for help because the online documentation is minimal.
Thorough Data Records
One of the most convenient aspects of using accounting software online is that your information is saved and the system learns more from you as you continue to use it. Once you enter some information, it gets sorted so you won’t need to reenter it again. This means that creating customer records that have their details, or inputting vendors that you use regularly or your regularly offered services and products, leaves them in the system. The next time you need to perform an action with one of them, you can just pull the data you’ve already entered and prepopulate the form or report.
This also means that when you want to create reports or transactions using these records, you can just find them and have them populate for you in your templates. Although it’s less customizable than Zoho Books, it’s got massive and thorough templates in the library so you should never need to build custom fields into your forms.
Customer records can hold a wealth of good information. The standard templates contain contact information, but they also have different sections where you can keep track of relevant tax information, preferred payment options, attachments, and billing preferences as well as make any notes you need to know.
They’ve also created the option for multiple languages. Business is expanding globally, so QuickBooks offers the ability to create sales forms in 6 of the most common languages found in business then send them.
When you finish with a record, QuickBooks can display the information for you in a lovely layout. It will create a homepage for each customer that lets you toggle between interactive lists for their transactions, projects pertaining to the customer, and their information.
Vendor records are just as easy to use. They collect billing rates, opening balances, terms of the contracts, and account numbers. The QuickBooks product records are some of the best in the business for accounting software. They will allow you to have separate templates for inventory and non-inventory needs, bundles, services, and assemblies. Their inventory templates also include fields for when you purchase and sell the items, relevant information, and the costs and accounting related to that item.
You can even track your inventory by inputting a starting quantity and let QuickBooks track it for you. This allows you to generate reminders when stock is getting low so you can reorder them or decide to stop stocking them if they don’t move quickly enough. You can also adjust these levels.
This software also allows you to track billable and non-billable time when you spend it to create service records of your company’s offerings. Just click the plus symbol that shows up in the horizontal toolbar at the top of the screen and they’ll appear. This includes timed activity reports for individuals. These reports are thorough enough to include costs and rates, taxable status, customers and projects, and the employee name. You can enter your time and choose whether to mark it as billable. This even integrates with Intuit’s TSheets!
Still the Champ
A lot of companies have entered the market hoping to steal the top spot from Quick Books, and each of them comes with their own set of strengths. Some of them offer options that QuickBooks doesn't have, like the flexibility and power of Zoho Books. Still, QuickBooks retains the top spot because it has an insanely reliable and comprehensive system with a payroll solution that covers the entire USA.
The price for QuickBooks has gone up, but it’s still cheaper than other premium plans, and a substantial deal for everything it entails. Other services would require nearly as much money for their more basic plans and then require you to pay even more licensing fees to the additional apps you’d need for things like payroll and project management that aren’t included the way that QuickBooks includes them.
QuickBooks still takes the top spot for effective and comprehensive software. It has extremely useful tools that are flexible and deep enough to handle anything you throw at it. They’re great for small businesses but their large capacity and scalability mean that even larger businesses can use them. This makes it a great option to grow with your business instead of starting with a small software that you'll outgrow when your business does well.
Here are some of the great features that QuickBooks has to offer.
Sales and Expenses
When you click the link for a specific area in your navigation bar, it will take you to another set of links. The Sales link will give you several different options. You get an overview of your income and invoices, including a chart on display and some extra links for setting up new tasks and transactions.
If you click over to All Sales, you will probably see a multicolored display bar across the top of your screen. This bar will instantly inform you of your account status for Receivables. This lets you know your pending estimates and gives you a total in dollars. Unbilled activity is also reported, and you can see your open invoices as well as the ones that are overdue and the ones that have been paid within the last month.
Clicking one of the tabs in that bar will change the lists yet again. This will allow you to see only the transactions that pertain to the totals you clicked. It allows you to select a subset of them so that you can work in batches instead of individual invoices. This lets you print out a bunch of packing slips at once or send invoice reminders to everyone whose bill is coming due. This area also lets you access underlying transactions and sort your customer list by various filters.
The last couple of columns in the tab show you the status of your entries (whether they’re pending payment, overdue, paid, etc.) and link you to any transactions that are related. These may include linking you to actions like sending reminders and receiving payments. It also allows you to export these lists to Excel or print them out. If you need to modify the columns, you can.
The next Sales tab will open your invoices and the one after that allows you access to your customer data. Products and services that you offer will always show up as lists when you click the last tab. These tables will all follow the same format that All Sales uses when highlighted. That means that you will see interactive lists that display relevant data and link to additional actions that you may need to perform.
This module is the biggest and busiest of any screen in the QuickBooks software set. Small businesses will need up to date information in as much detail as possible in order to protect their business and get an accurate picture of their financial health. Expenses and vendors will work in a very similar fashion to Sales, but they will pertain more to purchases and bills, as well as orders.
Accounting Software - Accounting Method
QuickBooks offers 2 different types of accounting. You can use the standard accounts method, or you can track it by cash flow. This gives you the flexibility to monitor your business your way.
Reports and Mobile
QuickBooks excels at reporting. No one else seems to be capable of reaching their level when it comes to reports and functions. QuickBooks offers dozens of different report templates, and they are extremely customizable. Of course, they offer the standard reports. They even structure their software’s core functions around these reports. These include expenses and vendors, sales and customers, accountant reports, accounts payable and receivable, and tax information.
You’re allowed to save your reports and save modifications to the reports. When you do, they show up in your list of custom reports. They also offer 3 different types of management reports so you can see everything you need to about your sales, expenses, and overall company finances.
Although the apps can't possibly replicate all of the browser's functions because of the limits of mobile phones, they can provide shortened versions of nearly everything. The reports won’t be anywhere near as detailed or comprehensive as the browser version, but you can still see product records and customer and vendor information.
The mobile versions also allow you to take quick actions like emailing and calling contacts. Although you can’t pay your contractors, set sales taxes, or create and manage projects from the app, you are able to do other things. You can find transaction forms that are just as detailed on the app as they are on the browser.
The Android and iOS versions are very similar to each other and they are designed to work as close to identically as the systems allow. You get a dashboard that will show subsets of everything in the browser version, activity tabs to show recent activity in your account and a vertical menu that lets you navigate. This menu slides out when you click a button so it doesn’t take over your screen when you don’t need it. You can even see a big plus symbol if all you need to do is quickly add data, accounts, transactions, and records.
Hardware and Software Requirements
The good news is that, although QuickBooks used to take a lot of installation and hardware power, they have moved to QuickBooks Online, which allows everything to occur based on cloud services. If you still prefer the hardware, you can always download and install the classic version.
Payroll and Add Ons
QuickBooks Online is one of the only 2 sites that offer a companion payroll solution along with the accounting application. Most of them require third party installations, but this allows you to work with one already built into the application. There are 2 different levels of payrolls integrated – self-service payroll and full-service payroll.
Not only that, but QuickBooks Online can extend beyond its own payroll. If you decide you don't like how theirs works, you can also integrate third-party payroll services that will expand upon the built-in functions. If there’s something you need that QuickBooks can’t handle, it will be compatible with an add-on app that can.
Building a Foundation
QuickBooks can handle a lot of different things and it plays well with other technology. For example, if your accounting data has been saved to CSV and Excel friendly files (or if you have been entering it in files that can export to these types), then QuickBooks Online makes it really easy to automatically import that information. You can import your Account Chart, your customer and vendor data, and even the files on your products and services!
A lot of times, moving data from one application to another one can be really tricky. It may require a financial advisor and numerous stressed out calls to tech support from both applications, one of whom won’t be happy you’re leaving their service. The good news is that it’s easy with QuickBooks.
Another thing they do is make your foundation easy to build. A while ago, you might have had to go through hours and hours of frustrating setup wizards on your desktop to get the accounting software to install. As long as you completed them, you could start working, but they took a while. Now, you can rely on QuickBooks to ask only enough questions as necessary. After that, it can do most of its setup process in the background. This lets you get started much faster and all you will need to do is make sure it tweaked the right settings to accommodate the type of business you need to do.
Without the setup wizard, you can still get right to work. This will just take more time and effort because it will require you to manually enter all of your item records, customer information, billing, tax rates, and more as you work. This approach will mean that you’ll have to activate all the little features you need yourself and manually set up payment processing and banking transactions.
One of the areas you’ll be asked for your preference is in Sales. You can turn almost any aspect of the sales forms on or off depending on your needs. This includes shipping, discounts, and customizable options. This is also where you will be able to turn your inventory tracking options on and off and customize your invoice forms.
The Advanced tab offers even more options for you to explore. You can tell QuickBooks which accounting method you prefer, the type of business you run, and set local currency. The tools include automation of things like invoices for unbilled activity, automatic application of bill payments, and recurring payments. It even lets you track your time on projects and track classes as a user-defined category.
Calculating the Project Profitability, Mileage Deduction
Something new that QuickBooks Online offers is project profitability reports. When you properly document your projects and are careful about recording details, you can start seeing the percentage of the profit at different points along the project. This is one of the most comprehensive coverages available on the market for this type of task.
This is immeasurably helpful for most businesses because it affects your planning. Knowing which endeavors are profitable and which ones are losses can prevent costly mistakes and bad investments in the future. This helps you control variables like pricing and how much time and resources you devote to your projects.
When you start a new project, you can designate a customer to it. Then, you can assign invoices, expenses, payments, estimates, bills, time, and more to the specific project. QuickBooks software will create a “home page” of sorts for that project which lets you see the current costs and income at a glance for the category. Aside from this, you can also see any related transactions and time spent on activities related to the project. The profit margin will always be displayed at the top of the page.
Mileage tracking is a feature that was extremely popular with QuickBooks Self Employed that they have ported into QuickBooks Online. This lets you enter your trips based on the start and final addresses and let the software automatically calculate the number of miles you have driven and deduct them from your taxes. You can also enter it manually in cases where practical routes are more circuitous than direct mileage thanks to roads and traffic patterns. You can automatically track your mileage through their app, too, by turning on the phone’s location tracker and allowing the app to access it.
QuickBooks Pricing Overview
QuickBooks Online has a few different versions, so you can choose the one you need for your business. All of them look and work in very similar ways, so you can scale up as your business grows. Simple Start is around $25 a month and it’s made for microbusinesses. This version lets you track your expenses and income and create and send estimates and invoices. You can run the basic reports, track your sales tax, and connect to bank accounts.
For $40 each month, you can have the Essentials plan. This comes with all the features of the Simple Start Plan but adds the ability to have 3 different users, tracks time, and allows you to manage bills. For $70 per month, you can upgrade to the Plus plan. This adds inventory tracking and project profitability to the list and increases users to 5. Their Advanced level costs more, but it supports up to 25 users and includes tons of advanced features designed for larger businesses that work globally and need midrange accounting solutions instead of basic and simple software.