Update: In 2017, we released BQE Core, the next-generation platform for business intelligence, time and expenses, billing, accounting, project management, and reporting. Core's capabilites are years ahead compared to what QuickBooks--or any other system--offers. Take a tour of Core today or sign up for a free 15-day trial.
The question, "what is QuickBooks missing?" gives rise to a lot more questions. What are you looking for? What problems do you need to solve? It also requires an understanding of what QuickBooks is and what it isn’t. Over the years I have helped many people who were frustrated because QuickBooks didn’t do something they wanted it to. But should it do that thing?
QuickBooks is accounting software. At the core, it is a general ledger package with nice forms that make it easy for the non-accountant to post financial transactions. QuickBooks has evolved to take on areas over the years that encroach upon other functions like CRM, Inventory management, time and expense billing, and project management to name a few.
QuickBooks has a customer area – it has to. In order to be able to properly keep track of my customer based transactions (income) I need a customer center. Should QuickBooks be a CRM? Some people seem to think so. Intuit has a program where they actually go and look over people’s shoulders while they work in QuickBooks. They do this so they can better understand the behavior of the end users of their product. This helps them make many improvements. As a result of this program, Intuit noticed people were entering prospects in as customers because there was nowhere else to put them. They introduced the “Lead Center” so you could distinguish prospects from actual customers. You can also easily convert a “lead” to a customer. This is starting to look a bit like a CRM. It has some of the capabilities, but nothing like the actual CRM programs that are out there. Does this mean QuickBooks is “missing” a CRM? I don’t think so but if you ask the person who really wants a CRM function built into their accounting software, they might feel differently. Intuit knows they can’t be all things to all people. SalesPad CRM is a fully integrated and robust CRM application that integrates nicely with QuickBooks. If you want a full blown CRM and you want that data working with your QuickBooks data, this may be your answer.
Inventory management is an area that is truly central to the accounting function. This is something I would expect to see in my core general ledger package. Depending which version of QuickBooks you have, this area can be more or less sophisticated. If you need a robust inventory management system inside of QuickBooks, then you are going to get QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions with Advanced Inventory. This lets you do just about anything you need to. If your needs to go beyond that there are outside applications that do still more in terms of inventory management. Some of these inventory management applications integrate nicely with QuickBooks, but they aren’t cheap.
QuickBooks has a customer database as mentioned above. Since it is common enough to be hired by a customer to work on multiple projects that need to be tracked (and in some cases invoiced) separately, they have the added functionality of being able to create jobs (or sub-customers as they’re called in QuickBooks Online). If you watch my videos comparing QuickBooks to BillQuick for project management, you will see that QuickBooks only takes the project management aspect so far. Does this mean that QuickBooks is “missing” project management? Ask the architect who is frustrated with QuickBook’s limitations in this area and they will tell you that QuickBooks is most definitely missing this critical feature. The other side of that argument is that if Intuit wants to focus on its core competency, which is a general ledger package, then they have to draw the line. We have to realize that at a certain point our needs go deeply sideways into an area that ties into the core accounting function, but it's not the core. Intuit does draw the line on this. They let companies like BQE Software with BillQuick step in and fill the gaps. Look at these posts and you will get an idea of how much further BillQuick goes into the project management aspect of the accounting function:
Start with QuickBooks:
One video on QuickBooks covers it. Then let’s look at what BillQuick has to offer:
Any questions? If what you need is really detailed project management with tracking of budgets and time and expenses with forecasts and resource allocations then QuickBooks won’t do it. You need something more and you should be prepared to pay a little something more for that kind of power.
Time and Expense Management and Billing
QuickBooks can handle time and expenses. There is a timesheet area in both QuickBooks and QuickBooks Online. You can enter time and that time can be used to pay a vendor or an employee. You can also use that time to bill back to a customer with or without a markup. You can even track actual vs budgeted expenses on a project. You have to use an estimate in QuickBooks to set up your “budget.” In this form you can show (effectively) your budgeted expenses line by line alongside the amount you will charge your customers for these items. Then all you have to do is make sure all expenses are booked through the “Items” tab instead of the “Expenses” tab. This way QuickBooks can track the actual against the estimate. There are some great reports you can run when you do it this way. I do this with all of my construction clients.
What is QuickBooks missing in this area? Let’s say you need to combine line items on the billing because you don’t want to show all of that detail? QuickBooks begins to fall short here. You can create groups to take multiple items and show them as one item on the invoice, but this gets messy, especially if you want to track the actual vs the estimated. In some cases I have had my people book two invoices. One for the client to see, and the other for internal use only. This was the only way to get it to work.
BillQuick has 100's of invoice templates, many of which will let you summarize the billing information based on a detailed budget. BillQuick also provides a workflow that you don’t have in QuickBooks. For one thing, if you are using QuickBooks then people have to submit their time to you. They have entered their time once, and now someone on your end has to do it again. That leaves room for error and also takes up someone’s valuable time. This information should only be entered once. With BillQuick, your vendors and employees can have access to only enter time and expenses. You don’t have to worry about them getting access to sensitive information. Now the data is entered only once. Then you can have someone review and approve that time and those expenses. Once that happens, the time can be used to pay them as well as bill your clients. You can also bill multiple projects on the same invoice ( in case your client prefers that).
Is QuickBooks “missing” these features? Maybe not. If Intuit’s mission with QuickBooks is to stay focused on creating and developing a general ledger package, then it might be fair to say that QuickBooks as a product should only delve so far into these side areas. Then they leave it to the software developers like us here at BQE Software to focus on what WE do really well, like time and expense billing and project management.
Don't forget that QuickBooks Online integrates seamlessly with BQE Core, the award-winning project accounting platform built for professional services firms. Core offers business intelligence, project management, time and expense tracking, billing, accounting, and reporting together in one intuitive package. You can integrate Core with QuickBooks, or handle your accounting within Core so it's right alongside all of your other essential business processes.