Growing With QuickBooks

By Wayne Kawamoto | Posted December 26, 2006

Hot on the heels of QuickBooks Premier Edition 2007 comes QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions 7.0. This is Intuit's top-of-the-line and most powerful package but, in terms of new features, Enterprise is pretty much on par with the rest of the 2007 QuickBooks line.

Beyond multiple-user support that now accommodates up to 20 employees (the previous limit was 15), Enterprise does a great job of managing lots of products, customers, vendors and employees. As such, it's a viable growth path for rapidly expanding businesses that rely on QuickBooks and, more importantly, want to hold off on making that considerable leap to pricey and complicated mid-market accounting solutions.

As before, Enterprise is much like QuickBooks on steroids. A few new features, the unit conversions, Web-based time tracking and increased employee access, may encourage existing Enterprise customers to make the upgrade.

Top of the Line
While QuickBooks Premier maxes out its support at five people, Enterprise is available in five-, ten-, 15- and 20-user packs. At the top of the QuickBooks heap, Enterprise Solutions accommodates the most information and now manages 100,000 plus customers, vendors, employees and products. When your business deals with large volumes of data, in the QuickBooks world, Enterprise is clearly the way to go.

QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions 7.0 screen shot
New unit-conversion features are a boon to firms that need to repackage goods before selling.
(Click for larger image)
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As before, Enterprise allows ODBC -compliant applications such as Microsoft Access and Excel to retrieve and work with QuickBooks data. This feature offers lots of possibilities for building custom reports and queries, as well as linking data to other business applications. The program works with Windows Terminal Services so authorized personnel can access the program from other locations. This feature, which relies on secure password-protected access, is a boon to companies with multiple locations.

To support multiple-users, Enterprise offers comprehensive control over permissions, which effectively gives employees access to only the information and activities that they need to do their jobs. Administrators can easily customize individual access to areas as view-only, create, modify, delete, print or any combination thereof, and they can allow or restrict access to individual reports, bank accounts, lists and activities. The interface for setting access is particularly intuitive and easy to use. A glance is all it takes to determine who has access to which areas.

The program offers 13 predefined roles, each with a complete set of permissions, which makes it easy to set-up new users. Administrators can copy and edit templates and assign a single role to several people or multiple roles to a single person. Predefined roles include: accountant, accounts payable, accounts receivable, banking, inventory, payroll manager, payroll processor, sales, time tracking, view only and more.

As a high-end product, Enterprise has an always-on audit trail that constantly records transactions as they are entered, edited or deleted, and it and helps to detect errors and protect against employee fraud. Unlike the other QuickBooks programs, Enterprise Solutions is not available in a download version.

Keeping Up With QuickBooks Premier
Enterprise inherits all of the new features that were recently introduced in QuickBooks Premier 2007. It's a case of features flowing the opposite way, from the fleet to the flagship.

A flexible new conversion feature allows companies to buy an item in one unit of measure, stock it in another and sell it in yet a third. The program also prints converted units on invoices, purchase orders, sales orders, pick lists and packing slips. In our global economy, it's a worthwhile new feature that may encourage some companies to upgrade.

The new QuickBooks Time Tracker, an add-on service, offers an efficient way to track and record billable time. Employees and contractors can enter their hours from almost anywhere through a Web-based timesheet, which brings the information into QuickBooks. It's a powerful convenience for any business that has to track employee and contractor hours, and it's yet another reason to possibly upgrade.

It's now easier to design and customize forms and preview them using the new forms tools. Here, the program offers some 100 templates and lets you quickly add logos, apply custom fields and set fonts and colors.

QuickBooks has improved the Shipping Manager so it does a better job of processing FedEx and UPS shipments and creating shipping documents. The program now supports thermal printers and can ship multiple packages through a single shipment order. In the improved Payroll Center, you can schedule group pay and send reminders for tax payment due dates.

Marketing, not Accounting
The new Google-based marketing tools can create additional Web-based sales channels. Enterprise comes with a $50 credit to try out the Google AdWords service, which potentially brings up your ad when customers search on Google for related products and services. Using the service, a business can set relevant search terms and create advertising messages and pay only when interested prospects "click through" to their sites. Businesses get to decide how much to pay for leads and search results can be limited to neighborhoods, cities or states.

QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions 7.0 screen shot
Once you get past installing the software on a server or multi-host PC, QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions 2007 offers a streamlined and logical approach to setting up charts of accounts and program configuration.
(Click for larger image)
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Another new feature helps businesses list with Google Maps so nearby customers who are searching for related products and services may find them. Finally, a QuickBooks listing service makes merchandise searchable via Google and Froogle. All of the Google-related services can expand markets and increase sales. However, these are marketing services that are mostly available to anyone —you don't need QuickBooks to get them.

Premier-Like
Besides handling more data, Enterprise comes with the best of the QuickBooks features found in the rest of the line. Enterprise automatically organizes data in customer, vendor and employee centers so it's easy to locate relevant information.

The powerful sales order fulfillment worksheet offers lots of flexibility to set priorities and to fill orders on limited stock. And you can customize prices for various customer groups or jobs (corporate, regular, high-volume, etc.) with 100 different price levels.

Enterprise features the same intuitive interface as other QuickBooks programs, so there's minimal training for employees if you choose to upgrade. You'll find the same flowchart and menu-based system that's found in other QuickBooks.

Installing server or multi-user host options is naturally more involved than installing a stand-alone version of QuickBooks, but setting up the program with charts of accounts and configuring billing, customers and inventory is surprisingly straight-forward. Intuit has done a great job of simplifying the complex process and helping to make sense of it.

Accounting for Everything
If your business relies on QuickBooks Premier and needs to support more employees, transactions, customers or products, QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions 7.0 offers a viable growth path and a relatively easy upgrade.

If your business already relies on Enterprise, you may want to upgrade to gain the ability to convert measurements or track time via the Web. And there's also that new 20-user license that increases the program's capacity.

Pricing
•QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions 7.0 (five-user license) $3,000. •QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions 7.0 (ten-user license) $4,500. •QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions 7.0 (15-user license) $6,000. •QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions 7.0 (20-user license) $7,500.

Enterprise comes with a 60-day free trial of the service.

Wayne Kawamoto has written over 800 articles, columns and reviews about computers, new technologies, the Internet and small businesses. Wayne has also published three books about upgrading PCs, building office networks and effectively using and troubleshooting notebook computers. You can contact him through his Web site at www.waynewrite.com.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

Wayne Kawamoto has written over 800 articles, columns and reviews about computers, new technologies, the Internet and small businesses. Wayne has also published three books about upgrading PCs, building office networks and effectively using and troubleshooting notebook computers. You can contact him through his Web site at www.waynewrite.com.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!


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