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The QuickBooks Family Lineup: What’s the Difference?

What started as one DOS-based accounting program in the early 1990s has grown into an entire family of desktop and online solutions.

Choosing the right accounting software for your small business can be challenging if you’re planning to research absolutely every application that’s available. You probably know how important this decision is, and how difficult it is to change solutions once you’ve settled on one and entered a lot of data.

There used to be a saying that went something like, No one ever got fired for buying IBM. These days, you could express a similar sentiment about QuickBooks – assuming that one of its versions meets the needs of your company. QuickBooks is the market leader in the small business accounting market, with many millions of users around the world.

If you don’t know much about it, you might take a QuickBooks training class to see what it’s all about – what it looks like, how easy it is to use and how its many features match the tasks that you want automated.

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Checks and other forms look like their real-life counterparts in all versions of QuickBooks.

Here, though, is a brief breakdown of the major differences. All versions of QuickBooks provide tools that help you:

  • Track income and expenses (pay bills, send invoices, track time, etc.)
  • Accept debit and credit cards
  • Download bank and credit card transactions
  • Create and modify dozens of reports
  • Import existing data
  • Work in a network setting, and
  • Manage inventory.

And here are some examples of how each version goes beyond those basics:

QuickBooks Pro includes a search tool and the ability to see invoice and billing information, as well as other required tasks, in a calendar view. Invoices can be dispatched in batches. Its Collection Center helps you stay on top of past-due receivables. Up to three employees can access and work with data simultaneously, and the software offers 100+ reports. QuickBooks Pro supports multiple currencies, and it provides a birds-eye view of key financial information in its Company Snapshot. Your sales team can track and follow up on prospects using the Lead Center. And Intuit Check Solution for QuickBooks (an add-on) lets you scan and deposit checks without leaving your office.

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The Company Snapshot helps managers stay on top of the numbers. Features like this are easy to use, but QuickBooks tutorials might be in order to learn how to use QuickBooks most effectively.

QuickBooks Premier does all of that. In addition, it allows up to five simultaneous users and can create 150+ reports. Its Inventory Center serves as a consolidated clearinghouse for all of your item-based information. Using the tools provided, you can create a business plan and use an industry-specific version if that business falls into one of those supported. You can track your Balance Sheet by class and forecast sales and expenses.

QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions is the top-of-the-line version. It adds numerous powerful features, like consolidated reports from multiple company files. Up to 30 employees can work on the software at the same time in a network setting. There are frameworks for up 150+ industry-specific reports, and you can go beyond that to build custom reports using a connection to ODBC-compliant applications. The most dramatic changes occur in QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions’ inventory-management capabilities.  Its additional features include bar code scanning, bin location tracking, serial number or lot tracking, FIFO costing and multiple location support.

Intuit also publishes a web-based version, QuickBooks Online, as well as QuickBooks for Mac.

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