|QuickBooks and QuickBooks Pro is a low-cost accounting program that
has a 80% market share and nearly 2 million world-wide users. It's easy-to-understand
features appeal to people who need a small business, double-entry accounting
package but may not have the background to understand accounting jargon.
For example, QuickBooks uses the terms "increase" or "decrease" or "payment"
or "deposit" instead of "credit" and "debit." No entry to account ledgers
can be made without a corresponding offset entry, so the user can't make
out-of-balance entries and corrupt their books. And unlike some accounting
programs, corrections can be made in an account ledger instead of through
the more confusing General Journal entry. For example, a common journal
entry is one for fixed asset depreciation. The QuickBooks user can make
the entry directly in the depreciation asset ledger, showing the offset
to the depreciation expense account. No more struggling with which general
ledger account gets credited and which gets debited. QuickBooks also allows
the user to memorize repetitive entries, so that invoices, billing statement
entries, checks, vendor payments, or journal entries can be created routinely
ImprovementsThe version the authors reviewed is an upgrade to versions we have used previously. Versions 5 and 6 of QuickBooks includes a Navigator screen which provides the user with a guide through the accounting tasks necessary to maintain the company books. The QuickBooks 6.0 Navigator is improved, but still contains tabs that provide alternate screen views for different functions of QuickBooks, such sales and accounts receivables, purchases and accounts payable, and payroll, and other tasks, making it easier to create invoices, perform electronic banking, manage inventory or payroll, and even prepare for tax time.
The latest version of QuickBooks also includes a new help systems, right mouse menus, an improved and more detailed password protection system, integrated online payroll, direct deposit, banking and payment, and new wizards. QuickBooks Pro integrates with a time tracking program making it easier to track time and bill for time. Jobs can now be invoiced by milestone, date or percentage complete.
QuickBooks Pro 6.0 is also a networkable product, allowing up to five users at a time to access the QuickBooks data (QuickBooks 6.0 cannot be networked). QuickBooks Pro can be purchased as a stand-alone, single user product. For multiple users, multiple licenses must be purchased for the network version. The five-license package offered by QuickBooks is the best buy for owners who are installing QuickBooks on a network.
The chart "Which one is right for you?" can help you choose whether QuickBooks or QuickBooks Pro is the accounting program you need.
SecurityQuickBooks has always been recognized for its ease in correcting bookkeeping mistakes. But what's positive for some users, may be a nightmare for some accountants and accounting managers. Now QuickBooks allows you more flexibility in assigning users and user passwords and using audit trail reports. With the addition of more than one user, the accounting manager can also setup personal preferences as opposed to company preferences and monitor audit trail reports by individual users.
And while QuickBooks has never included a "period end closing," as some accounting softwares do, the accountant can set a closing date, in which a password is needed to delete, add, or edit any transaction created with a date prior to the closing date. QuickBooks 6.0 includes the routine initially seen in version 5.0 that creates an accountant's copy of the books. This allows the accountant to make adjustments to the books which are then imported into the working QuickBooks file in which the user has continued to process bookkeeping tasks.
System RequirementsQuickBooks system requirements are Windows 95 or higher or Windows NT 4.0 or higher and can be used on a Novell NetWare network. Intuit recommends a computer with 32 MB RAM and a Pentium processor. While the minimum recommendations are less than this, some users have had problems with the program on machines equipped with less RAM. 45 MB free space on the hard drive is needed for QuickBooks, 55 MB for QuickBooks Pro. The program works with any printer supported by Windows 95 and a 3.5 inch floppy or double speed CD-ROM is required for installation.
InstallationInstallation from the QuickBooks CD-ROM is a snap. The disk contains an autostart routine, and the user can choose to install QuickBooks, the QuickBooks Timer, and Internet Explorer 4.0 as the Internet browser. The installation routine automatically places a shortcut to the program on the desktop.
Once QuickBooks Pro is installed, the user can set the program for multiple users by configuring the program through the File menu ("switch to multiple user") and setting up user IDs. The QuickBooks Navigator contains shortcuts to the Internet support resources. You must start your Internet connection before using these shortcuts. One of these resources is a shortcut to the Professional Advisors web page. Several San Antonio accountants are listed.
Caveat EmptorWhen it comes to recommending QuickBooks and QuickBooks Pro to small, medium, and home-based businesses with routine bookkeeping and job costing needs, the program wins hands-down, particularly for those bookkeepers who hate or fear accounting tasks. Job administration is easily managed when compared to the complexity of other accounting programs. QuickBooks' "class" feature allows the accounting manager to differentiate between income and expenses for different departments or cost centers. QuickBooks reports can be customized and filtered to allow an accounting manager to create very specific reports.
Users with complex accounting, inventory or assembly, or job costing issues should explore the program more thoroughly before purchase, preferably with the 25-use trial version that is available from the Net or by phone. Some weaknesses in customized reports have been reported by users with intense needs for custom-designed reports. You can, however, export reports by using the "print to file" command and customizing a report in Excel, Lotus, or through a tab-delimited file.
QuickBooks can be purchase at all computer retail stores, including warehouse clubs, and from the Internet. The average price is about $200 for a single user copy, $600 for 5-user pack. Upgrade rebates of $30-$100 are available to those upgrading from previous versions of QuickBooks or Quicken. To obtain the rebate you must supply original pages from the user manual as described on the rebate coupon.
You can contact Intuit at QuickBooks at 1-800-466-8848 or at http://www.quickbooks.com
Sandra Medlock is a local free-lance writer, the director of Comp-U-Learn Training Center, and a software trainer specializing in database and accounting software. Bill McClusky is a computer software trainer for Comp-U-Learn Training Center specializing in QuickBooks, Quicken, and Microsoft products.