While I would love to say its an easy answer for me. It is not always an easy one for my customers. Some people still have a fear of the cloud which would prevent them from using QuickBooks online. Some people are running their business from the road, or the most talked about office location… the beach, QuickBooks Online would be the solutions for you. For those fearless desktop users, you can still have your file hosted in the cloud for an additional fee. Just because one software is installed on a local workstation and one is on the cloud does not mean choosing between Desktop or Online is an easy task. There are some industries, functionalities or personality types of business owners that will work best with a specific version of QuickBooks.
So let’s start with automation and the intelligence of the software. For those of you that do not know, both QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online can bring in transactions directly from the bank. Super cool feature on both sides however with QuickBooks Desktop, you have to instruct the data file to go get the transactions and you have to manually create “rules” to train the system to post those transactions to the correct accounts. However, QuickBooks Online will automatically go get the transactions and it uses Artificial Intelligence to suggest how these transactions should be categorized. Plus, QuickBooks Online is implementing and even cooler feature that will allow bank statements to be attached in the banking center as well. Think of the time that you can save, and you would never have to leave your QuickBooks file for banking data; or give you bank access to an employee or bookkeeper ever again.
Now I know this sounds a lot like I’m pushing QuickBooks Online… and I have to say I do love QuickBooks Online and its save me time and my customers money, so it is definitely higher on the list when helping customers make a decision on what software to buy. There is however benefits on the desktop software as well. First, and probably the biggest reason QB Desktop is referred is the reporting. QuickBooks Desktop offers industry Specific Software that allows user of those industries to have reports specific to their industry. Industries include Accountant, Contractor, Manufacturing & Wholesale, Non-Profit, Professional Services. This does not mean that if you have these industries you “should” use QB desktop. It simply means that your file begins with reports that may help you make decisions within your business. The catch on these reports is you must process the activity in your QuickBooks Desktop file in a very specific ways in order for these reports to benefit you. So, while the reports are there, you may need the help of a QB pro to get your file setup properly to use them. QuickBooks Online reports are not something to write home about just yet. They will give you the information you need, but the “industry Specific” Reports will need to be built… which sounds scarier than it is.
For us, the main company type that we see “need” desktop are in the manufacturing and Wholesale area. And when I say need, there really is a caveat to that. The need is only when QB is the only software used for tracking inventory. If you have Inventory Builds, Sales orders, or need a fulfillment center. One of the Desktop versions of QuickBooks may be a better fit for you. However, If you have a third party software that your company uses to track those needs, then I would still recommend QuickBooks Online. But if you want one solution to run your entire business out of, Desktop may be the solution for your business. This also comes with the idea that most employee you have will be in your QuickBooks file. Your sales guys, your warehouse guys and even your purchasers. This can be super beneficial because everybody is in the same place at the same time.
So, this leads right into Users and the access you can allow, or limit for each of them. QuickBooks Desktop can allow for unlimited users, however depending on the version purchased you can have up to 30 simultaneous users. QuickBooks online allows for up to 25 users + 3 accountants. The 3 versions of QB desktop have varying user permission setup. It can be as simple as allowing users to have all or nothing access, however desktop has very detailed user permission. You can limit them down to only being able to enter a specific transaction type, or only see a specific bank register. QB online also varies in permission level setup, however QuickBooks Online does not get down to the nitty gritty detail that desktop has. You can limit employees, by functionality. These functions include banking, sales, expense, and reports. Not as detailed, but most often these should suffice for the needs of your small business.
Overall, I think QuickBooks Online can be an excellent solution for most companies with less than 5 users at the company. However, if you are wanting your QB file to house your built inventory and the many intricate processes that are tied to that part of your business, a desktop solution may be your best option.
If you still have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are always open to sharing our expertise.