For the past 20 years, Intuit has maintained its focus on small businesses. There are plenty of software makers that say they're customer centric, but few put as much time and effort into putting the customer first.
Intuit Chairman of the Executive Committee Scott Cook credits small businesses with driving the innovations behind the 2004 QuickBooks lineup.
"We've built our success on a customer-in, not technology-out approach," Cook said. "If we do it right, that's where our innovations come from, thousands of conversations with small business owners, accountants and financial professionals. We have listened and learned in order to build new solutions."
Innovations and advancements abound within Intuit's QuickBooks 2004 lineup. New business management and accounting solutions are included in the latest editions of QuickBooks Basic, Pro, Enterprise and Online solutions. Also new are industry-specific upgrades of QuickBooks for retail, professional services, manufacturing and wholesale operations. There are also upgrades for QuickBooks Point of Sale Solutions for Retailers and QuickBooks for Accountants.
These products, along with the release of QuickBooks Pro Edition 6.0 for Mac, offer a range of accounting and business management systems for organizations with 250 employees or fewer.
Dan Levin, Intuit senior vice president for the QuickBooks group, said the 2004 lineup of accounting and business management software is not about adding features for features' sake.
"With our new 2004 lineup of all our products and services we are focused on putting our customers' needs first, adding only those new features that translate into real benefits," Levin said. "The demand for one-size-fits all software is a thing of the past."
Customers Large and Small
QuickBooks financial software for 2004 comes in Premier, Pro and Basic editions. New features are designed to save time, help better manage cash flow, and reduce data errors. The new Cash Flow Projector function allows small businesses to predict cash flow weeks in advance through an "available to spend" report. Also new is the way QuickBooks allows users to change prices and offer discounts selecting from as many as 100 different pricing levels. And QuickBooks Premier 2004 provides three new ways to manage loans, assets, and track vehicle mileage.
Reduced data re-entry is one of the key new features built in to the QuickBooks 2004 programs. For example, the Manufacturing and Wholesale Edition produces packing slips and shipping labels directly from invoices without reentering the information. Also new is the ability to e-mail reports right from QuickBooks, reducing postage costs, as well as other costs associated with envelopes and labels. And speaking of printing, stuffing and mailing invoices, bills and such, Intuit's QuickBooks Billing Solutions will take care of all your billing for $14.95 a month, plus 99-centers per piece.
QuickBooks isn't just for small businesses anymore. As successful business endeavors grow, many entrepreneurs struggle to take their QuickBooks with them. This has forced Intuit to come up with an enterprise solution that allows QuickBooks users to migrate their data to more robust platforms as their business grows.
Jason Gordon, owner of Lone Star Donuts, manages five Krispy Kreme franchises in Texas. As his one little shop became seven, with the addition of two Krystal Hamburger outfits, Gordon was using QuickBooks to generate more than 80,000 invoices a year. He knew he needed a new business management system, but found the price tag associated with enterprise-class solutions hard to swallow. After taking a look at what the market offered, he opted for QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions for its added data capacity, advanced reporting functions, and the ability to support 10 simultaneous users.
"I was definitely relieved that we would not have to transfer out data to another system," Gordon said. "There's really nothing that can be done with a $75,000 solution that we can't do with QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions. So we spent $3,500 on the QuickBooks system and bought three new delivery trucks with the $75,000 we saved."
On the smaller end of the business scale, QuickBooks offers an online edition. Up to three users can source the books through a secure Web browser for just $19.95 a month, after a one-time setup fee is paid. QuickBooks Online does not get an "annual" upgrade because program tweaks are made once a week. Major upgrades are released on a quarterly basis.
When Barbara Fleury, co-owner of Orchard Parks Apartments in Springfield, Ill., made the move to Michigan, she feared she would have to get out of the property management business. With QuickBooks Online, Fleury found a system that would allow her to manage her business from anywhere, anytime.
"Because of QuickBooks Online I get to live where I want to live and still keep track of my business," Fleury said.
QuickBooks Online doesn't offer small businesses the inventory or point-of-sale support that desktop editions offer. For Fleury, the lack of an inventory management system and the ability to process sales transactions didn't matter. All that matters is that Intuit works with her so she can get the most out of QuickBooks Online.
"I've learned not to leave my PC when I post a question to QuickBooks Online support staff. I've dealt with online support from other companies and you can wait a day or two before anybody responds," Fleury said. "Not so with Intuit and with QuickBooks Online support. They're really there for me."
Taking Care of Business
For small manufacturers and wholesalers, Intuit offers QuickBooks Manufacturing and Wholesale 2004. This particular "flavor" of QuickBooks resolves complicated billing and inventory issues small manufacturers and wholesalers need to deal with everyday. Starting with job quotes and order management, QuickBooks 2004 for Manufacturers and Wholesalers streamlines inventory tracking, offers flexible pricing structures, and improved reporting features. More than 10 customized reports reveal critical details that manufacturers and wholesalers need to know, such as profitability, order management, and sales volume.
For retailers, there are a variety of 2004 QuickBooks Retail Editions Each editions can help small businesses simplify sales and inventory tracking procedures. But it's QuickBooks Point of Sale Solutions that has small retailers giddy with delight or maybe it's just a sugar-high from all the candy.
Based in Palo Alto, Calif., KiKi's Candy Bar transports customers back to a simpler time when their biggest problem was choosing between bubble gum, licorice, or a chocolate bar. Christy Weinstein, who prefers Tart-N-Tiny's to technology, uses QuickBooks Point of Sale system to run the upscale candy store. With 16 employees, many of them high-school students, Weinstein needed a point-of-sale system that didn't require a lot of training to use.
"QuickBooks Point of Sale system is easy to use and didn't require a lot of training," Weinstein said. "The reporting features allow me to see what I have in stock, as well as what items are selling the fastest, so I can adjust my inventory accordingly."
QuickBooks Point of Sale Version 3.0 works with other QuickBooks Retail programs. QuickBooks Point of Sale handles key front-office business processes, including ringing up sales, payment processing, inventory control, and to a certain extent, the overall customer-business relationship. Weinstein said the integration between QuickBooks and the Point of Sale system saves her hours of data entry every day, giving her more time to grow her business.
The three levels of QuickBooks Point of Sales Solutions come with software, a bar code scanner, credit card reader, cash drawer, and receipt printer. Additional a la cart hardware and support options are available. QuickBooks Point of Sales software and solutions are available at select stores, including Office Depot, CompUSA, Fry's, Sam's Club, Staples and Office Max.