Updated: Jan 26, 2021
"You can either have me, or you can have QuickBooks Online, you can't have both." - when I was hired as the CFO of DetraPel.
Before I joined DetraPel in 2017, my accounting software knowledge strictly lived within QuickBooks Desktop, it is a powerful desktop program that can handle many business needs, such as building assemblies. Another feature that I still love is having multiple sub-windows within the Desktop window, which makes navigating between reports a breeze. Additionally, I like that users can export reports into MS Excel without saving the report first. The entire Desktop experience centered around personal efficiency, which explains my zealous loyalty to the software.
My Desktop life started in 2013 when the QBO platform was in its infancy; hence, the firm I worked for, Loupe Consulting, did not need to provide QBO services. However, during my tenure, we noticed that a few clients wanted to migrate to QBO because they wanted instant access to financial data on their phones. My boss (and current mentor), Denise Chew, designed a brilliant system where both us, the financial managers, and our clients could access the Desktop file through a shared virtual desktop that lived on an off-site managed server. However, one server seat went for $50 per month, and clients would only access their books on a laptop or desktop computer. Pretty much, it was an innovative solution for 2005, but a relic solution for 2015. Despite the new trend, we stuck with Desktop because the features listed in the previous paragraph were not available in QBO.
Throughout the years, I noticed more business owners using QBO because they wanted instant access to their books. Also, bank feeds (the data transfer between a bank and QBO) were smoother on the Online platform. Plus, there were more banks available to connect with compared to Desktop. However, the manufacturing capabilities were not present (they still are not) in QBO. Instead, you have to subscribe to a 3rd party app to manage assemblies properly and work-in-progress items. That convinced David Zamarin (the founder & CEO of DetraPel) to go with Desktop.
Throughout my DetraPel life, I noticed many apps we used to manage our operations that did not integrate well with Desktop (Wix, Paypal, Stripe, Veem, Plastiq, Paychex, Gusto). I was forced to whip up a sophisticated MS Excel solution to make the data ready to import into Desktop (side note: getting MS Excel ready for a Desktop import requires turning an ".XLS" file into an ".IIF" format, which the entire accounting industry unanimously approves as a nightmare). Additionally, our other executives wanted access to financial data without visiting my desk. We came up with a remote server solution, but that had issues with multiple users access the file simultaneously. These pain points were placed into my mental vault while forming my practice.
My first client is a property manager/landlord/renovator who rarely has 30 minutes available to sit at a desk to manage his business; he needed a mobile-friendly solution to manage his finances. I begrudgingly decided to learn QBO, and it was perhaps one of the best decisions I have ever made for the following reasons:
1. Bank Feeds. As I mentioned previously, the number of banks that directly integrate with QBO far exceeds Desktop. A direct example is Middlesex Savings, a local bank in my area with an online connection to the QBO but does not connect to QuickBooks Desktop. This hang-up forces Middlesex Savings users to manually input financial transactions or manually download and upload an import file, which has caused previous problems for me. With the direct feed, a task that takes twenty minutes reduces to three minutes.
2. Multiple users in the file. Thanks to QBO, my clients and I can access the same file without being in the same network. Multi-users are possible with Desktop, but all users must be on the same shared network.
3. Quick changes between clients. Every week, I have a client who calls me with a financial question while I'm working on another client's file. When I worked for Denise, to switch files, I would have to log out of the current Desktop file, go to the file directory on our virtual desktop, access our client's section, then open their Desktop file. The process took ~2 minutes. In QBO, I can click a dropdown on the top of the page, and I'm instantly transferred into another client's file. This process takes ~10 seconds.
4. Apps, lots and lots of apps. During my Desktop days, I preferred that EVERYTHING lived in Desktop, as I believe there should be one central database for all financial information. My attitude stemmed from Desktop's clunky WebConnector that does not sync well with other apps, which forced me to manually input data from the few external data sources I used. During the last four months, my eyes have been entirely open to the numerous apps that have a clean integration with QBO, thanks to Intuit's incredible API platform, allowing developers to share innovation with financial professionals. For instance, I use SaasAnt to import MS Excel data into QBO without converting the data into an ".IIF" format. I also use Melio elio to schedule bill payments for free (provided you use a bank account instead of a credit card). Another user utilizes Zapier to import Google Sheets data. My Property Manager client uses ReceiptBank to manage receipts and bills. And another client uses ProperBooks to manage his property management business. Many apps can provide an easy flow to your accounting software, which will exponentially boost your productivity. To find out more apps that can help your business, visit TheAppyHour.com, where they have bi-weekly demos of apps that integrate with QBO.
5. Mac/iOS users. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm an ardent PC/Andriod user. I'm one of the few millennials who has never owned an Apple device of any kind (unless you count their stock). My beliefs stem from MS Excel and QuickBooks Desktop. Even the most loyal Apple users will admit that the MS Excel experience is better in a Windows environment than a Mac environment. The same holds for QuickBooks Desktop. I know this because Denise had one client who used the Mac Verison of Desktop, and every quarter, we used our client's MacBook to enter their financial transactions. The experience was challenging, as many features on the PC version were absent on the Mac version, making the process inefficient. With QBO, it does not matter if one user prefers a PC and another uses a Mac; it works the same for both users. The same can be said about the Android and iOS mobile applications.
In summary, I love the connectivity that QBO offers. It makes communication with my clients a breeze; it reduces manual entries for everyone, allowing better access thanks to the mobile app.