So far in my blog posts, I’ve only mentioned QuickBooks Hosted in passing. But this week, after my not-so-illustrious adventures with CashBook Online, I thought I’d give QuickBooks Hosted a run for its money.
And I’m glad to say, I’m quietly impressed.
QuickBooks Hosted isn’t a browser-based cloud solution like LiveAccounts or Xero. However (similar to what MYOB are foreshadowing with their cloud accounting model), QuickBooks Hosted lets me store my company data ‘in the cloud’, meaning that more than one person can work on my accounts at the same time, and that I can access my accounts from wherever I am.
Today I trialled QuickBooks Hosted both from my PC and from my shiny, sleek, new iPad (so beautiful, thanks Steve Jobs). Here’s what I found:
Although a little slow to load my data upon logging on, recording transactions seemed reasonably swift. There’s a slight lag (a fraction of a second) that I don’t get when working with QuickBooks on my desktop, but nothing that bothered me.
I was impressed that both printing to my local printer and sending emails direct from QuickBooks via my Outlook outbox was seamless and required no configuration. (In contrast, if you’re working on a QuickBooks file that lives on a remote server, and you connect using a Remote Desktop Connection, stuff like printing and emailing locally can be a real hassle.)
I liked the fact that I could backup my data onto my own PC so that I can toggle between working offline and online. I can imagine the situation where I might keep my accounts on my PC most of the time, but decide to shift my QuickBooks data into the cloud when I’m travelling. (Although I must admit that I’m getting used to the luxury of being able to access my accounts online from wherever I am, at any time, and I think I’m getting less and less inclined to work offline.)
The pricing is very competitive. QuickBooks Hosted Standard (accessible for PCs only) costs a slim $24.60 per month, and QuickBooks Hosted Premium (accessible via PC, iPad, Macintosh, or Android device) costs $34.60 per month.
In contrast to other cloud products reviewed in other postings on this blog, QuickBooks Hosted has the full range of features you expect from premium accounting software: full payroll, inventory, purchasing, progress invoicing, extensive reporting and so on.
Because I’m familiar with QuickBooks, I didn’t have any learning curve switching to QuickBooks Hosted: the software is exactly the same. (The iPad was maybe a little more fiddly, and I had a blonde moment trying to figure out how the hell to get the keyboard to appear, but it all went pretty well after 20 minutes or so.)
On a slightly less upbeat note, I did spend some time trawling the online community question board and I could see that some people had gotten pretty cranky with QuickBooks Hosted in the past (such as getting logged out when the Internet had a glitch, and then being unable to log back in because QuickBooks Hosted thinks you’re already logged on; being forced to change passwords every month; problems getting access from Macintosh computers, difficulties moving files around, and so on). However, without spending many more hours on this project, it’s hard for me to tell which of these problems have since been fixed, and which haven’t.
The main feature that QuickBooks Hosted doesn’t have, when compared to cloud accounting products such as LiveAccounts or Xero, is bank feeds. Bank feeds are such a huge timesaver for micro or small businesses that not having them is, in my opinion, a real deal breaker for micro to small business. For example, I currently do the books for my holiday house business using Xero, and I wouldn’t switch to QuickBooks Hosted even though it’s $15 a month cheaper. Why? Because I save at least $15 a month in bookkeeping fees because of the efficiencies that bank feeds bring.
However, if I had a business with complex payroll or inventory, and I wanted the other benefits of cloud accounting (access from any machine, including Macs and iPads; secure online data storage; access from any location; easy transfer of data to the accountant’s system, and so on), then I’d probably be swayed towards QuickBooks Hosted.
If anyone reading this blog has personal experiences using QuickBooks Hosted, I’d love if you could add your comments. It would be very interesting.