Intuit Accountants News Central

QuickBooks® Online vs. Desktop? Is One Better Than the Other?

Article Post Date
September 4th 2012 by

One is not better than other; they are more like Chocolate and Peanut Butter. Great on their own, but together, they’re special.

Before I get started on this article, I want to set a few things straight. While my first love was QuickBooks® Desktop, I started using QuickBooks 98 at the age of 23, everyone now knows me now as the QuickBooks Online Chick – and with good reason. I truly adore it, I think it’s pretty sexy, it’s always on, anywhere I need it and it’s got new stuff every month.

Just coming off the Sleeter Small Business Technology Road Show, one question I was repeatedly asked was, “Is Intuit® going to phase out the desktop editions?” Each time I was able to say, “Absolutely not. While Intuit is focused on the cloud and mobile, they’ll continue to support the desktop, find ways to unlock the data and make it available for customers away from the office as long as customers choose to use that platform.”

Jill Ward, Intuit’s senior vice president and general manager of the Accounting Professionals Division, recently said Intuit will never force customers to move to a new platform. She used the chocolate and peanut butter analogy … and I think it’s perfect.

Traditionally, I think QuickBooks consultants and QuickBooks ProAdvisors® have always instinctively looked first to the desktop (DT) editions when trying to determine what to recommend to a client, and have actually avoided QuickBooks Online (QBO) altogether. This is the attitude I’ve been on a mission to change for a number of years. Since I’ve been using QBO in my own practice since 2005, I generally look at QBO first, then go to DT if QBO is not a good fit.

We’re going to focus on features in this article. For a comprehensive feature comparison across QuickBooks products, check out the one we did for Radio Free QuickBooks – just click on the product comparison link.

QBO over Desktop

What many people don’t know about are the features that QBO does better than DT.

Desktop Over QBO

While QBO has all these advantages, there are still a few things DT has that QBO does not … yet. I just had the privilege of spending the day with the QBO team in Mountain View and learned that the team is aware of each of these and working toward adding these features to QBO:

With QuickBooks Enterprise and Advanced Inventory:

Keep this in mind: Just because QBO doesn’t inherently have the features your client might need, it doesn’t necessarily mean the client can’t use it. Stay tuned for future articles dealing with enriching the QBO experience and exploring the QBO Ecosystem with add-ons from the Intuit App Center.

You’ll also want to determine what edition you’ll want your client to use, asking questions such as these: Who needs to access the data? From where do they need to access it? What is the budget? These are all important questions to take into consideration when determining whether you recommend QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions 10 user with Advanced Inventory in a hosted environment or recommend QuickBooks Online Plus with SOSInventory.

Like Jill Ward’s challenge to attendees at Scaling New Heights, to get just one client on QuickBooks Online, my challenge to my fellow ProAdvisors is similar. For your next “new to QuickBooks” client – start with QuickBooks Online + Appcenter and then look to Desktop.

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  1. I don’t understand why Intuit will maintain two versions of QBooks – DT and OL. Why can’t the best of both be incorporated into one? I find many advantages of one over the other and cannot blindly recommend OL over DT depending on my clients needs and abilities. I use a fully-integrated SaaS (not Intuit) for my practice and would get identical software whether online or downloaded to my desktop or on CD. The biggest difference is price, updates, and storage.
    Although I love the easy shared access of QBOL for my clients, I find it more cumbersome to use, especially the payroll module. I have no real control over managing list and they continue to grow. Reports are shortened and have to be produced ion bursts then combined somehow at my PC. etc
    I would love to have one super QBOL with all the advantages of DT and have to work less to recommend it to all my clients.

    Comment by yogisnort — August 27, 2012 @ 4:15 am

  2. Thank you for the comment and questions Yogisnort. Intuit supports both a desktop and online version because we have customers who want both. We believe in giving our customers choice and allowing them to select an option that works best for their specific situation. As you point out in your comment each product offers advantages to a specific set of customers.
    We have, and will continue to heavily invest in our cloud and SaaS offerings. We add new functionality to QuickBooks Online each month (and have been doing so for quite some time). We are also constantly adding new applications to our Intuit Partner Platform so those who have chosen to work with the desktop version have access to applications that utilize the cloud to extend the power of the desktop.
    We are excited about the future and will continue work to provide our customers with the best possible product for their needs.

    Comment by Amy Ball — August 27, 2012 @ 4:00 pm

  3. Nice article. It gives me a lot to think about. QBO seems to have made some great improvements over the years and I can see myself recommending it to more clients now.

    I have one client in particular I think would benefit a lot from having his books online, but I’m hesitant since you mentioned QBO isn’t capable of handling partially received purchase orders yet. Any idea if Intuit has plans on adding that feature any time soon? Have other users found efficient ways to work around this in the meantime?

    Comment by aaronv — October 19, 2012 @ 4:52 pm

  4. Aaron,
    The QBO team knows this is something people want, but I’m not sure if it’s on the road map. A few work arounds:

    1. Edit the original PO to show what was received and create another with the same number, or number them 1234.1 & 1234.2

    2. Use the add-on inventory software from called SOS Inventory. This is a fantastic app that gives advanced inventory functionality to QBO.

    Glad you liked the article! Thanks for the kind feedback 🙂

    Comment by Stacy Kildal — October 20, 2012 @ 9:18 am

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