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QuickBooks 2014 Has Arrived! Here is What To Expect

QuickBooks 2014 is here! This release contains a number of new features as well as improvements to existing ones. This article will list the major changes that I’m aware of, with details to come in articles that I’ll be posting over the next few weeks.

PLEASE NOTE that much of this is based on information from an early release candidate of QuickBooks 2014 – it is possible that some features may end up changing slightly in the “official” release. In addition, this information applies to the U.S. versions of QuickBooks for Windows (and some for QB Mac). The UK and Canadian versions may include some or all of these features, and the delivery dates can differ from the U.S. versions.

Keep your eyes on the QuickBooks and Beyond blog over the next few weeks as I publish a series of articles that go into the details of these new and improved features. This article is a summary.

All Versions of QuickBooks 2014 for Windows

These changes will be found throughout all of the US desktop versions: Pro, Premier and Enterprise:

User Interface Changes

I’ll bet that subheading raised some people’s heart rate! No, we don’t have a big user interface overhaul like we did with QuickBooks 2013. There are a number of changes here, though (I squeezed the window for this screen shot to make it very narrow).

QuickBooks 2014 User Interface

Last year “Color” was a huge issue. This year, the primary “color” change is that the left navigation bar is a deep blue, rather than the harsher gray from last year.

Other changes (in summary):

  • There is a new icon cluster in the upper right corner (may be called the “Global Access Bar”?), with icons for:
    • Reminders and To-Do’s.
    • Maintenance alerts.
    • Client Collaborator, a new feature that I’ll describe later.
  • You can customize the View Balances tab in the left navigation bar – a feature that many people have asked for.
  • The ability to copy and paste detail lines in transaction forms (useful!)
  • Contextual reports: In many transaction windows the Reports tab has been filled out with icons for reports that apply to that transaction.
  • Search Auto Suggestions: The Search window has been improved so that it suggests good matches for the term you are entering.
  • Company Information is now My Company: We’ve always had a Company Information window under the Company menu – the name has changed to My Company and the window has undergone an overhaul. It should be easier to find what you need, and see what apps you have.
  • No more “My Apps” in the left navigation bar. At first I thought that this was an indication of their pulling back from App Center integration, but no, it isn’t that. Now it is the “Your Apps” section in the new My Company window.

I’ll go into this in a bit more detail in a later article.

Email Improvements

This has been an area where I’ve felt that Intuit hasn’t kept up with the times. Support and integration with email is just not very good. This year there are a number of changes in this area. Is it enough?

  • The Customer Center now has a tab for Sent Email, where you can see a history (of sorts) of the emails that you have sent to a client from within QuickBooks.
  • You now have the ability to send a customer payment receipt via email.
  • The entire send email feature has been overhauled so that you have more control over the message that you send out from QuickBooks, at least for users of Web Mail.

Job Costing

There are a number of changes here to fine tune the Job Costing feature in QuickBooks – an area that many people use.

In all versions you will see:

  • Sales Reps on Jobs: You can specify a sales rep for a job, not just for the customer.
  • Job Status Filter: You can filter many reports by job status.

In addition, in Enterprise, there are a couple of differences:

  • You can customize bill, check and credit card transactions to add the Sales Rep as a column.
  • There are two additional job costing reports: Job WIP Summary and Committed Cost by Jobs.

Bank Feeds

This is one area where cloud accounting products have advanced beyond QuickBooks desktop versions. Bank Feeds is the new Online Banking feature in QuickBooks 2014. Intuit is putting a lot of effort into improving this feature – I’m still digging through all the details, there are a lot!

Compared to the prior release the visual aspects of the online banking feature has been changed significantly, providing more room to work in (fine if you don’t have a small monitor) and using color to highlight different transactions and features.

QuickBooks 2014 Bank Feeds

The key to decreasing the amount of time you spend with reconciling your bank feed with your company file is how well you set up and manage the “rules”. This is an area where there are a lot of improvements.

Bank Feed Rules

I’ll have more to say on this in an upcoming article.

Miscellaneous Changes

There are a lot of changes scattered about that will be found in all of the versions – I’ll just summarize them here.

  • Income Tracker: This is a great dashboard-like tool that lets you look at open invoices, overdue invoices, unbilled estimates and more. There is a very configurable spreadsheet format list. This replaces the Collection Center.

QuickBooks 2014 Income Tracker

  • Bill Payment Stub: Now the stub will show if the bill is paid entirely with credits.
  • Bounced Checks: We had it, we lost it, and now it is back again better than ever! The ability to easily process bounced checks.
  • Fit report to x pages HIGH: When you print a report you now have the option to fit it to a number of pages vertically, where before we just had the ability to fit it horizontally.
  • Performance Improvements: I’m going to have to say that I can’t verify this from my own tests. I haven’t been working with a really large company file, and I test on a “virtual machine”, so speed comparisons are tough to make. Intuit claims that with this release QuickBooks opens faster, windows open faster, and you can toggle between editions faster. We’ll have to see…
  • Add/Edit Multiple Lists: This feature has a Find function – this year they have fine tuned this by adding a check-box for Search within results which should be helpful if you have long lists to work with.
  • In the Billable Time & Costs window in Premier, you now have the ability to sort the records by clicking on a column heading. This was added to Enterprise V13 in the R8 release, but apparently it wasn’t added to Premier until the 2014 release.
  • Installation/Product Registration: There are some changes here to the installation process that relates to “registration” that you might not notice. Has to do with logging in to your “user ID” or Intuit online account and finding your product keys. I’m still a bit confused as to what this is doing in all cases, and why, but it isn’t that big of a deal.

QuickBooks Accountant

Intuit continues to add features to QuickBooks Accountant, continuing to make this version a more powerful tool for the accounting professional.

Three changes of note:

  • Reclassify Source Account: There is an enhancement to Reclassify Transactions Tool of the Client Data Review that allows you to batch change transactions “written from” the wrong account.
  • Batch Enter Transactions: This feature has been expanded to allow the entry of Bills & Bill Credits as well as Invoices & Credit Memos, which are very welcome additions.
  • Send Journal Entries to QuickBooks Mac 2014: This extends the Send General Journal Entries feature to allow QuickBooks Accountant to send GJE’s to QuickBooks Mac.

What about QuickBooks Professional Bookkeeper, which was introduced in June of 2012? Gone!

QuickBooks Accountant Plus

This is a new term this year, but for a concept that has been around for a bit, with some added features.

QuickBooks Accountant Plus is a program where you can purchase QuickBooks Accountant on a subscription basis. You pay a monthly (or annual) fee and you get a number of services. This has been available since September 2012. If you don’t want to pay the full cost of the  QuickBooks ProAdvisor Program, you can subscribe to QuickBooks Accountant Plus.

This year Intuit is expanding QuickBooks Accountant Plus to include:

  • Automatic update to the latest version of QuickBooks after it is released, as long as you continue to pay your monthly fee.
  • A subscription to the Accountants Copy File Transfer service.
  • Access to the new Client Collaborator feature that I’ll describe in a moment.

Client Collaborator

This is a new feature that is available only in the 2014 releases of QuickBooks. In summary, it is a way for accountants to communicate through a QuickBooks service with their clients about issues in their file. For this to work:

  • The accountant must be using a current copy of QuickBooks Accountant Plus. This is available, as I mentioned just above, either as a separate subscription OR as a part of the QuickBooks ProAdvisor Program.
  • The client must be using the 2014 version of QuickBooks.

It looks like a VERY interesting feature. You can create “conversations” that are tied to specific transactions in the QuickBooks file, exchanging information between the accounting professional and the client. I’ll have details in an upcoming article.

QuickBooks Enterprise

Intuit continues to add higher level features in Intuit QuickBooks Enterprise V14, adding to the level of sophistication of the product and making it more useful to inventory related businesses. I’m glad to see that many of these features are NOT being added to the extra-cost Advanced Inventory add-on product.

As before, I’ll be going into MUCH more detail in an upcoming article.

  • Maximum Stocking Levels: You now can specify a maximum quantity on hand in addition to the reorder point (also referred to as a minimum quantity on hand) in the item list. With Advanced Inventory this can be set by site.
  • Improvements for Assemblies: Intuit is ramping up the features for manufacturers with this release, with a number of VERY interesting changes:
    • The ability to build nested assemblies.
    • A where-used query.
    • Assembly Cost and Price Rollups if your component costs change.
  • New Job Cost Reports: Enterprise adds two job cost reports – Job WIP Summary and Committed Cost by Jobs.
  • More Customization Options for Checks, Bills and Credit Card Charges: This is neat – you can add columns to the detail sections of these transaction forms. You can add the sales rep and ”custom fields”. The values you enter in the transaction can be shown in certain reports.
  • Simpler Item Editing: There are now some fields that you can edit for an item in the Inventory Center without clicking the edit button.
  • Markup or Margin: Now we have both, when editing inventory parts and assemblies

Advanced Pricing

We’ve had price levels for quite some time now – a way for you to specify a different price for an item than the “base” price listed in the item record. Now Intuit is adding price rules, a feature that you can choose in place of price levels. You can use one or the other, but not both.

This is going to be an added-cost subscription feature only available to Enterprise users called Advanced Pricing, similar to what Intuit has done with Advanced Inventory. I believe that the cost to use this feature will be $399 a year. That is unfortunate – but I guess the good news is that they didn’t roll this into the higher priced Advanced Inventory feature for those who just want this. What’s worse, ProAdvisors won’t get this for free unless they are Enterprise Certified. Wow – that is a change in policy! First time I’ve seen an Enterprise Certification needed to get access to a feature like this.

To summarize:

  • Quantity Breaks: You can specify a special price for an item based on the quantity that you sell. This has been a feature that MANY businesses have asked for.
  • Complex Price Rules: You can create complex price rules that have:
    • Conditions – set multiple criteria that need to be met before a special price is applied.
    • Date Ranges – you can set a beginning and/or ending date for a special price.
    • Price Overrides – set custom prices for specific items that are exceptions to a rule
    • Exclusive Rule – price rules can be set to be exclusive, so that they cannot be combined with other rules.

There are a LOT of changes here – and given some of the issues we’ve had with pricing structure changes in the database in the past, I would be cautious about using this in the early releases. Not that I know of problems, I’m just really cautious with wide-ranging changes like this.

ProAdvisor Program

There will be (or have been already) some changes in the ProAdvisor program. Just to summarize:

  • ProAdvisor Mobile Alerts: There will be an iPhone app (others coming later, probably) available in the September/October timeframe where you can receive “ProAdvisor Alerts”.
  • Find a ProAdvisor Site Improvements: These were made earlier this year. The infamous “Find-A-ProAdvisor” search algorithm was changed, the website was made easier for people to use.
  • ProAdvisor Member Website Improvements: The ProAdvisor member website has been improved, and more improvements are on their way. So far, I’ve found the changes to be beneficial (easier to find things) and I look forward to additional changes.
  • Products/Services Included in ProAdvisor Membership: This isn’t a part of the Fall rollout, but I’ll mention this here since I haven’t talked about it earlier.
    • Intuit has dropped QuickBooks for Windows Mobile Companion and Intuit Data Protect from the list of products provided to us as a part of our membership. The stated reason is that “Less than 5% of the more than 70,000 US-based ProAdvisors were signed up or used these services”. Now, I’ll admit that I don’t use them myself, and they don’t have high ratings in the Intuit App Center. These are products that work specifically with QuickBooks Windows only. My gut feeling (and this is pure speculation on my part) is that these infrequently used Desktop-related services may be discontinued at some point in the future.
    • Intuit is not providing a license to the Enterprise Price Rules feature unless you are Enterprise certified.
    • Intuit has added the new Client Collaborator feature as a (I believe) free service to ProAdvisors.

Payroll

The Payroll Center has been rearranged, and I like a lot of what they have done. Instead of just the three major blocks of info stacked vertically in one window you now have a separate tab for each area, and this allows them to put a LOT more information in there. More links to reports and functions, more information to show you the status of your payroll process. I have a separate article on this coming up soon.

QuickBooks Plus

QuickBooks Plus is essentially a way to rent QuickBooks Pro or Premier. You pay a low monthly or annual fee, you get a license to use QuickBooks on your computer. You also get some other items bundled in – telephone support, Intuit Data Protect, and QuickBooks Mobile for Windows.

An interesting advantage is that you get to upgrade to the new product each year for no additional charge, as long as you maintain your subscription. Once QB 2014 is released, your Plus account will download it silently in the background. Once it is fully downloaded you will be notified that your copy is ready to be upgraded. You can defer this, but only for awhile (eventually you have to upgrade).

One of the features you get with Plus is that during the course of the year there will be new features that may be released (usually late Spring but it can vary). People who purchase QuickBooks won’t get these features until the next year. What makes this confusing is that ProAdvisors get these Plus features in their ProAdvisor copy of QuickBooks Accountant. That is good, because ProAdvisors need to see all of the features a client might have. That is bad, because the ProAdvisor sees something that MANY of their clients do NOT have, which is confusing.

In any case, here are some features that are being rolled out in the QuickBooks Plus this Fall:

  • When you are told that the new version is ready and you opt to install it, the program will automatically take care of entering your product and licensing information to simplify the upgrade process.
  • There is a new option to support multiple users. In the past you could only have a single user installation (although Intuit did some testing of multiple users earlier this year). You will now have the option of licensing up to three users in Pro Plus and up to five users in Premier Plus.
  • Intuit is always trying out different “bundles” to provide Plus users with different optional features, in an effort to provide users with cost savings. This year there will be a Payroll Bundle (which was tested for a period of time earlier this year).

When Is QuickBooks 2014 Available?

From what I understand, you should be able to see this on:

  • ProAdvisors with currently active accounts should be able to download their version on or near September 9th through the download software section of your ProAdvisor web account.
  • Online Sales for everyone else through the Intuit website should start starting approximately September 23rd.
  • You should start seeing copies of QuickBooks 2014 in retail stores at some point in October.

Product Price Changes

Pricing is always hard to compare, since there are all kinds of discounts, sales and so forth. All I can to is look at the standard, non-discount non-sale price as a point of comparison.

For QuickBooks Accountant, prices seem to have gone down. I’m not going to list them here because there is almost always some discount you can get somewhere.

As for other QuickBooks versions, I believe that prices are going to be stable.

How About QuickBooks for Mac?

I don’t work with the Mac version myself, so I haven’t been able to test these. You should see the following in QuickBooks for Mac 2014:

  • “Guide Me” Enhancements: “Guide Me” answers your questions right in QuickBooks.
  • Setup checklist:
    • For a new QB Mac user there is a “setup checklist” with a recommended set of key activities to get you started.
    • If you are switching from a QB Windows version to QB Mac the setup checklist will take you through the process of converting your file so that it will work the same on QB Mac.
  • Launch Page: Gives you a quick overview of your company’s financials.
  • Income Tracker: This will be very similar to what I described above for the QB Windows product.
  • Centers Enhancements: Columns in the Customer and Vendor Centers can now be customized by right-clicking (Control+click) on a header in the transaction list. Select or deselect columns, reorder columns by drag/drop.
  • Sales Reps: A sales rep list has been added so you can assign sales reps to customers, add them to transactions, and see a report.
  • Sales Tax Enhancements: They’ve finally added an easy way to adjust sales tax paid to account for rounding and so forth.
  • Find within Reports: A search field has been added to reports, so you can search within reports to find key words and phrases.
  • Left Navigation Bar: This is going to be similar to the left navigation bar added to QuickBooks Windows 2013 and QuickBooks Online “Harmony”. Part of the “Harmony” update for all products to make them have similar navigation features.
  • Import Journal Entries from QuickBooks Accountant 2014 (described above).

My Conclusion

As we see each year, there are improvements and new features scattered about. A lot of these changes are things that I’ve seen people asking for.

I like the direction they are going with a number of the improvements, but at this moment I’m recommending that you don’t use the R1 release for your critical business processes. This should come as no surprise to people who’ve been reading my articles each year, it is the same EVERY year. R1 is almost by definition buggy. Look at QuickBooks 2014, but wait for a couple of revisions before you jump into using this for your “production” company file, if you can. My general rule of thumb is to try to wait until the upcoming January, after you have finished your year-end processing, before making the jump (unless you really need some of these features). Even if you DO really need them, wait until at least the next one or two revisions.

This is particularly important when considering Advanced Pricing. I’m worried that the first release of this is going to have a number of “gotcha’s” hidden – particularly since we haven’t been able to test this in it’s final release. I would definitely wait a bit before implementing this, even though it sounds very useful.

Stay tuned! Over the next few weeks I’ll be publishing detailed, in-depth articles on all of these features, and more that I didn’t squeeze into this article. Let me know which features you are the most interested in, so that I can publish those articles first!

 

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