Questions to ask yourself before switching to QuickBooks Online from QuickBooks Desktop

 In Best Practices

While it’s no secret that Intuit has shifted its focus away from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online in the past couple years and encouraged customers to transition, for me this was the first time where I’d seen or heard Intuit themselves explicitly state that Online is better than Desktop. Understandably, situations like this certainly do not inspire confidence if you are a QuickBooks Desktop user. So, is QBO really better? Is it worth switching? Intuit seems to think so. To help you investigate on your own, we have compiled a short list of questions to ask yourself before making the leap to QuickBooks Online.

Quickbooks Enterprise to Quickbooks Online.jpg

What is motivating me to switch?

If your answer is simply “it seems like a lot of companies are” or “cloud computing is the future!”, then I’d advise you continue to take a long, hard look at your motivation. Yes, the cloud-based aspects of QuickBooks Online can solve a lot of the on-premise problems the QuickBooks Desktop customer runs into. But it is important to identify your pain points with Desktop before considering whether QBO is the solution.

Don’t fix what isn’t broken. After all, if you aren’t running into any problems with QuickBooks Desktop, it is probably not worth putting in the time and resources necessary to make a switch. With that being said, below are some common pain points associated with QuickBooks Desktop.

Corruption and performance issues

Large amounts of data can and will cause problems in QuickBooks Desktop. Many customers have even come to successfully anticipate when corruption and performance issues will occur – usually monthly – and schedule important work to avoid those times. It goes without saying (but I am going to say it anyway) that this is less than ideal.

Expensive server or hosting fees

Yes, hosting services can enable access to QuickBooks Desktop through the Internet, but those all have significant costs and limitations. In fact, Intuit raised both the cost of licenses for Desktop and the hosting fees, in order to further incentivize people to move to QuickBooks Online. It is also difficult to access QuickBooks Desktop on a mobile device, as Intuit dropped their own mobile integrated product some time ago.

Lifespan of QuickBooks Desktop

With the shift in attention off of QuickBooks Desktop, it is easy to wonder if Intuit will pull the plug on the product. While that doesn’t appear to be the case (see below), some in the QuickBooks community will always question it.

Costly and irregular product and feature updates

Desktop is only updated once per year, and access to those product and feature upgrades can cost you upwards of $300 yearly.

Connection to 300+ cloud-based apps

The ISV community around QuickBooks has largely followed Intuit in moving its focus away from Desktop and into developing cloud-based apps and integrations for QuickBooks Online. In summary, add-on products for QuickBooks Desktop, especially those that are regularly developed and supported, have become few and far between, while QBO marketplace is exponentially growing, with tons of great apps.

Will Intuit continue to develop and support QuickBooks Desktop?

While this is certainly a fair question to ask, by all accounts from people in the QuickBooks Community and Intuit themselves, yes, Desktop will continue to be developed and supported for the foreseeable future. Here is a quote from Intuit CEO Brad Smith from 2016. Read into it what you will.

“I think ultimately you’re going to see a portion of [our] customers still on Desktop in 2017, 2018, and I would go all the way out to 2020 and [even] further. We want to make sure [QuickBooks Desktop customers]…continue to buy from us….we hope to have more active customers on Desktop, while we continue to add new users in QBO.”

Is my data secure in the cloud?

Yes. Obviously, data breaches do happen. But it is a fallacy to think that cloud applications are any more susceptible to an attack than an on-premise system. Personally, I would rather the burden of my data’s security fall on a large company with all their resources than trying to maintain that myself.

Will QuickBooks Online handle my financial needs?

Yes, when it comes to handling your bookkeeping, QuickBooks Online is an extremely powerful accounting system with a very similar feature set to the various levels of QuickBooks Desktop, including Enterprise. QuickBooks Online even offers some minor accounting functionality that its counterpart does not, such as a company scorecard and invoice automation.

Will QuickBooks Online handle my inventory, order entry, and purchasing needs?

There is good new and bad news. Let’s start with the bad news. No, QuickBooks Online will not handle the majority of the inventory, order entry, and purchasing aspects of your operations. QuickBooks Online was designed with service companies in mind and, in reality, if you’re a wholesale distribution or retail company like a lot of our customers here at SalesPad, then QBO is going to be lacking in most of the operational ERP features you require.

The good news is that the app market for QuickBooks Online is extensive. The phrase “there’s an app for that” comes to mind. Adding even one of these apps, such as SalesPad Cloud, can fill out the functionality you’d miss in QuickBooks Desktop. Additionally, the app store has integrations for advanced employee time tracking, payroll, expenses, CRM, and marketing automation.

Will I save money by switching?

The answer is most likely yes. While you’ll need to supplement some of QBO’s functionality with third-party apps (at an additional cost not detailed below) in order to replace Desktop’s full feature set, a lot of the hidden costs of Desktop are built into the pricing for QuickBooks Online, such as cloud access (hosting), product updates, automatic backups, phone support, and more. Download our price analysis for five users on QuickBooks Online vs. QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise, based on pricing as of June, 2017.

Am I not considering something important?

Maybe, that is why it’s important to get in touch with your ProAdvisor and thoroughly talk through how such a move could impact your unique business, both positively and negatively. If your company was technology-minded enough to implement QuickBooks Desktop on your own, it might still helpful to bring in a consultant to help you through the transition.

I’m ready to make the switch. Where do I start?

The QuickBooks Import Resource Center is a tremendous resource for transferring your data from Desktop to Online, as well as for getting acquainted with the ins and outs of QuickBooks Online. Again, while the documentation, how-to videos, and FAQs are helpful, I would highly recommend going through the process with a trusted ProAdvisor. It is also important to bring in any third-party apps you plan to integrate your QBO account to as early in the transition process as possible, if not before starting the move altogether.

Where does SalesPad Cloud fit into all this?

Great question. Again, as mentioned in the article, QuickBooks Online has very similar accounting capabilities as that of its counterpart QuickBooks Desktop, but lacks most of the order processing, inventory management, and purchasing functionality required to run an inventory-centric, wholesale distribution company.


Enter SalesPad Cloud. Integrating QBO with SalesPad Cloud provides all the features (and then some) you’ve come to expect in all the levels of QuickBooks Desktop, including Enterprise, but in a true cloud environment.

Check out our weekly webinar to learn how SalesPad Cloud can take your business to the cloud, and get an overview of some of the dynamic features and functionalities through a quick demonstration.


Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment

Start typing and press Enter to search