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Accounting For Small Businesses - Quickbooks Online

 Appreciate any thoughts and comments on QB On-line for small businesses. How does it compare to the desktop version?


Mark Stokes
Title: CFO
Company: Private
(CFO, Private) |

It should have been great. I suppose it might be for the right company. But I think that company would have to be very "mom and pop-ish" with low transaction volumes and not a lot of power needed.

I have seen some folks on Proformative rightly point out that it's not the be all and end all of accounting platforms, but as a many time Controller and CFO I and my companies have gotten a lot of mileage out of it and it's dirt cheap and easy to use. The online version has two issues that killed it for me: too slow, and the user can't multi-task (there are a few features missing too, but depending on what you want to do, they may not matter).

The speed really killed me. It's not just the refresh speed (which, as a long-time user is frustrating in itself), but whatever calculations are being done on their end seem to take a long time as well. I have run QB in server installations at small companies before with 5 or so accounting users and it can be VERY slow. This reminded me of that, and it's highly annoying.

Second, you can only open one window at a time. I like to keep a number of windows open and use the window changer on the left side (of the desktop platform) open for going back and forth.

Finally, at $35/user/month (that's for the full-featured version) it can get expensive quickly, whereas you can use a single year's version of QB Pro for years on end. Hope that helps.

Jane Levin
Title: Corporate Controller
Company: Private
(Corporate Controller, Private) |

I did a trial of Quickbooks online late last year when my company was looking for a new accounting system (we were on Peachtree). We are a small manufacturing company. We don't manage our BOMs on our accounting system and I wanted to get everyone in my accounting group on the same platform w/o having to manage server infrastructure so I was hoping this would work.

What we found was that it did not have sufficient asset or inventory tracking for us and as was mentioned in the post above, it was frustratingly slow. It had a few other things we didn't love as well. We ended up going with a different system. I think the online version of Quickbooks is just not ready for companies with much complexity in their accounting, and they really need to add more servers on their back end (although maybe they have since we tried it).

Bryan Frey
Title: VP Finance/Corp Controller
(VP Finance/Corp Controller, ) |

I took a closer look at accountingsoftwareadvisor and it looks like they stopped updating the site in 2002! I'd love for it to be up to date b/c that's a great potential resource, but it looks like it simply hasn't been kept up. Let me know if I'm missing something there.

Iain Crabb
Title: VP, Finance
(VP, Finance, ) |

I have to second the warning about Quickbooks online. I did a trial of it and actually liked it for invoicing, AP, and cash management. Then I discovered a major flaw which is that it doesn't support inventory at all. So unless you want to book journal entries for every inventory transaction you are stuck with the desktop version. In my opinion they really should have highlighted what the product doesn't do upfront. Hopefully they will put some development effort into a more robust online version that mirrors what is in the desktop version.


Wray Rives
Company: Rives CPA PLLC

The free version is very scaled down, the paid version adds some flexibility, but for the price I would go with a hosted version of the standard Quickbooks. You get the same cloud functionality with access to the full blown quickbooks software.
For me as a service provider it is very convenient, since there is no file swapping or remote log in.

Leslie Murdock
Title: Partner (
Company: Murdock Martell
(Partner (, Murdock Martell) |

This is a slimmed down version of Quickbooks so if you are a QB user you need to have slimmed down expectations. If your needs are simple and you have users in multiple locations it may be worth a look.

Vladimir Ivanov
Title: Director FP&A
Company: LG Electronics
(Director FP&A, LG Electronics) |


I have followed the discussion and was surprised by lofty expectations of the small-business package. Personally, I was surprised by enormous flexibility of tools and reporting capabilities of Quickbooks. The only personal peeve was that QB slows don when you have a large database to open.

Otherwise, I found it exclellent in:
- keeping the audit trail;
- defining user access at different levels;
- being very flexible in reporting and data extraction;
- highly relevant to reporting needs of small businesses in a variety of indutries (don't expect this package to do MRP functions).

I have worked with Sage and QB definitively beats it in terms of ease of reporting and data analysis. The question you have to ask yourself is how complex your business structure and operations are before you move to full-blown ERP. If it's a single-site location, I see no apparent advantage in spending at least $20K on new ERP.

Keep doing a good work.


Phil Murray
Title: VP of Finance & Administration
Company: Kimbia, Inc.
(VP of Finance & Administration, Kimbia, Inc.) |

I have no relationship/business ties with this company - nor do I have any experience with their software, but I did hear of them recently and checked out their features list and pricing on their website. It appears to be a simple, inexpensive SaaS solution if you want SaaS, don't like/want QuickBooks online, and Intacct is a bigger step than you want or need. I'd be curious to hear from anyone who has tried it.

Tom Treinen
Title: CFO
Company: Southern California Gastroenterology Ass..
(CFO, Southern California Gastroenterology Associates) |

I am investigating the use of Quickbooks online and am looking for any updated feedback, the postings I found are from 2010. The comments then were concerned with speed and multi-tasking. Does anyone have recent experience with this package?

Michael Garibaldi
Title: Owner
Company: MTG & Ass., Ltd.
(Owner, MTG & Ass., Ltd.) |

No significant changes to QBonline. Still no real multitasking. Great for low volume service clients.

Jim Torpey
Title: VP of Sales & Biz Dev.
Company: InsynQ
(VP of Sales & Biz Dev., InsynQ) |

Although QuickBooks online gets better with each release, it is still considered to be limited when compared to the desktop versions. Even with functionality improvements that put it in par with QuickBooks Pro, you still have to deal with the user interface differences which make it weird for users that are familiar with regular QuickBooks. You also have to think about whether or not your accounting needs may change in the future, since moving back and forth from QB Online and desktop versions of QuickBooks can be difficult and time consuming.

In my business, I tell people that QuickBooks Online is great if you are small, have limited accounting needs, don't need support for the product, and don't plan on growing. If that doesn't sound like what you need, go with a version of the standard desktop software. If you need the ability to access it online, just move it to the cloud with a hosting provider.

John Harmon
Title: Owner
Company: John Harmon CPA
(Owner, John Harmon CPA) |

You may consider using a desktop QB on a remote desktop connection (RDT). Then, you would have the more popular user interface and still maintain the data securely with online backups.
QuickBooks does have a quirk in backup version control and you or your RDT provider will have to schedule backups within the QB program. Typical online backups that work fine for other files don't work similarly with the QB database.
I do not have anything else to add and agree with the points made in other comments above.


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