QuickBooks Desktop vs QuickBooks Online

I am just back from QuickBooks Connect 2016 and by the looks of it you’d think QuickBooks Online (QB) is the only version of QuickBooks now a days.

What’s happened to QuickBooks Desktop? Is it still around? Why isn’t Intuit saying much about these popular solutions?

See what I am saying by checking out this link visiting the home page of Intuit here and everything there references QuickBooks online.

Scroll to the bottom of that page and there’s the real story. QuickBooks desktop still dominates their offerings. Why? Although QBO is an affordable solution for basic invoicing and check writing, it still has a way to go to compare to the more complete solution of a QuickBooks Desktop versions of QuickBooks Pro, Premier, and Enterprise.

Here’s what Small Business and lots of ProAdvisors are saying…

First. My definition of most organizations who use QBO is that they are micro businesses. Usually 1-4 users of the accounting system and may have some add-on product like Bill.comConcur or SmartVault.

However more of our prospective customers and ProAdvisors feel that the desktop products, like Pro or Premier, are “too much” for themselves or their clients.
I’d like to share with you the feedback from my time on the floor of the event.

They fell into 3 primary “buckets.”

  1. QBO is perfect for my business and my clients/Or we had no experience with desktop.
  2. QBO is good enough and have moved from a QuickBooks desktop version.
  3. QBO wasn’t what we expected or was oversold, we had to go back to Desktop.

First. Businesses that have had no experience with the desktop and went directly to QBO.

If you have nothing to compare it to and are functioning well, you’re good to go and no one can change your mind. Why? It’s an awesome starter QuickBooks solution and for the price you can’t beat it. So these are the benefits that you get when you’re using QuickBooks Online;

  • 24/7 Access to their system and support (I’d prefer sleeping).
  • No upgrading or updating needed.
  • A growing ecosphere of online, 3rd party applications (here)

But for most customers and ProAdvisors they have concluded that QBO is not robust enough for their needs and they begin looking at QuickBooks desktop as an alternative, XERO or other systems.

Two. Businesses that had some experience with QuickBooks desktop and adopted QBO.

About a fourth of those I spoke with were happy with the change becuase it simplified their need to remote access quickbooks. They were largely pleased and their requirements appeared to be met. Their feed back centered around the comments that followed;

  • QuickBooks Desktop vs QuickBooks Online conversion was easy.
  • QBO just meets their needs as it compared to the functionality found in the desktop versions.
  • Commented that performance wasn’t nearly as good as they thought it should be.

Three. About 1/3 of those I spoke with said that QBO caused significant problems and or was unable to support their operations.

Was this a surprise? Not really. Intuit is leveraging the term “cloud” for marketing just like everyone else and they are aggressively going this way. But in that push to bring people into the quickbooks cloud they have forgotten to ask most of those customers, “Why and what are you going to use this for?” So where’s the “fail?”

  • Misaligned expectations. Either intuit sales did not do a good job explaining or end-user’s expectation was equal to or greater than the desktop versions.
  • Price. QBO is just less expensive than QuickBooks desktop versions with hosting. Or is it?
  • 3rd Party integrations are not as robust and add-on costs can equal to or exceed that of desktop hosted and possibly be just as expensive as moving to a new solution altogether like Sage 100 or Acumatica.

So? The Future of QuickBooks Desktop?

For sure Intuit is investing heavily in QBO and will not stop. Just like Desktop, they will allow for development of a robust 3rd party ecosphere too. But, as with POS Desktop vs Revel POS, Intuit’s direction is clear.

Intuit keeps saying that Desktop is a “thing” and honestly, it is. They continue to put resources into the product and grow the functionality of the product in a healthy way. But, for how long?

For sure it makes sense that Intuit moves over to 100% cloud solutions but that could be a a few years off to move their desktop solutions.  Like every strategic company, Intuit will look at the licensing revenue to spend and decide keep or sell QuickBooks Desktop (i.e. QuickBase… Same great name, different owner).

ProAdvisors are the target. Why? They’re accountants and bookkeepers and feet on the ground. They are in the face of the client Intuit wants and most Advisors have moved on from “having to” directly support desktops, computers or servers when things don’t go so well.

Until then, we’re here. Taking more complex or larger clients safely back to into a QuickBooks Desktop Cloud environment and hosting QuickBooks with any 3rd party application needed. The client’s needs are still met by;

  • 24/7 access to your QuickBooks is important
  • Multi-user and Multi-Company environments.
  • Complex or multiply applications integrated with QuickBooks
  • All this starting at $65/month/User

See you in the clouds.