QuickBooks users around the country are facing a dilemma like never before – they’re being forced to consider exchanging their beloved QuickBooks desktop editions with a subscription-based online application that seems like an entirely different product. It not only seems like a different product, it is. And this is where the debate begins.
For years businesses both large and small found Intuit’s QuickBooks software to be their solution for business bookkeeping and accounting. Over the years the product line grew to support larger businesses, with the Enterprise edition scaling to 30 users and boasting a load of operational process support features. Accounting professionals, too, grew to favor the QuickBooks products because there were features just for these “mechanics” who learned to make the software do what was necessary to support the business, even if the software wasn’t intentionally designed to be used in that manner. After all, it is this “unintentional” activity which often results in really cool new features being introduced in the product – features that the designers didn’t think up but that users did and the news eventually got back to the developers.
When Intuit introduced QuickBooks Online, however, the tried-and-true solution known as “QuickBooks” became something very different at first glance, creating the need to educate the market about the continuing existence of desktop QuickBooks products as well as the newer online QuickBooks product. Differentiation of the two is not really the “desktop” versus “online” moniker – Commercial Hosts for QuickBooks, who essentially turn the desktop products into online application service, pretty much eliminate the whole “any time, anywhere” debate, as hosted QuickBooks desktop editions are just as anytime/anywhere as the online edition is. The benefit of Internet access and running on any device is now removed from the equation, so what’s left to compare other than functionality, benefits and features… and a proven track record?
We could, in the past, have a conversation about the features, benefits and functionality in QuickBooks and know that the flow-through of product use knowledge, stored data and integration with other business solutions would be fairly seamless and consistent. QuickBooks Online has demonstrated none of this, fracturing the seamlessness and consistency users could previously expect as they move through the product line – as businesses will do as they grow larger and have more demands from their software solutions.
So now there’s a debate – which solution is best? The answer really isn’t necessarily about which is best, but which addresses the business need now and, if the business intends to be around for a while, in the future. Sometimes the argument is more about getting you where you need to be rather than simply supporting where you are now. I know I’m not yet ready to place any hard bets on whether or not the QBO model will truly deliver the goods for growing businesses long-term.