Accounting Software Review: QuickBooks Premier 2010

By Theresa Carey | Posted November 11, 2009

When fall rolls around, it’s time to pack up the summer clothes and pull those sweaters out of mothballs.  It’s also time for the annual update to QuickBooks, the leading small-business accounting software by Intuit.  And while you air out your cold-weather garb, you can decide whether to invest in an update to your accounting program to QuickBooks 2010.

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Get acquainted with the new features in QuickBooks 2010 when you first start the program.
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Last year, one of QuickBooks’ major themes involved bringing the small business online and taking it international.  In the 2010 version, an always-on connection to the Internet is not just recommended: it’s essential.  Not only are all program updates delivered electronically, but a huge majority of the available help is online, too.

We tested QuickBooks Premier 2010 on a Windows PC running XP Pro over a cable Internet connection.  Intuit has streamlined the setup process for new customers considerably, reducing the initial Q&A from 15 screens to six. 

During installation we had to enter a 15-digit license number and a six-digit product ID number, found on the envelope of the CD, to verify that we were installing a legal copy of the program.  At this point, you also choose whether you’re installing a single-user or multi-user version (up to five). 

When you first launch the program, it looks for critical updates online right away, which is one reason why having a live Internet connection is so important. 

Importing Data and Document Management

Companies that up until now have managed their finances with Excel spreadsheets can copy quite a bit of setup data (vendor and customer lists, inventory descriptions and others) right into the QuickBooks database.  This was a smart move by Intuit; most companies that install QuickBooks for the first time have been using spreadsheets for their finances.  (Microsoft Word and Excel integration requires Word and Excel 2002, 2003 or 2007.) 

The Document Management service, one of the new features in the 2010 edition, lets you scan documents directly into the program and attach them to the relevant record – an invoice, a purchase order, a customer record or a vendor record. You could, for example, scan in your cell phone bill and attach it to your payment.

The documents are available via Intuit’s online servers, so you don’t have to haul a pile of paperwork with you on the road.  Document Management also serves as a backup to any paper files you keep — up to 100MB.

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You can view any file in a list format, and make updates to multiple records simultaneously. Previously, you had to edit each record one by one.
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Intuit, of course, also wants to attract Peachtree, Microsoft Small Business Accounting or Office Accounting customers and convert them to QuickBooks.  To that end, the company offers a free conversion tool on the QuickBooks Web site.

With its 2009 update, Intuit hooked QuickBooks into the Internet and considerably improved its online banking capability. The only significant banking-related addition in 2010 version is an optional, fee-based check scanning service, which can eliminate trips to the bank.

Custom Forms

QuickBooks 2010 makes it much easier to edit invoices, purchase orders and other documents that you might create from an accounting program.  There are more professional designs built in that you can use for your business, or if you want something unique, you can ask the Intuit Creative Solutions designers to give you options, based on a budget that you specify. 

When you first start up the program, you can choose your opening screen.  The standard view displays the workflow for typical accounting tasks, such as generating an invoice or paying bills.  Or you can opt to create a Company Snapshot, which gives you a simple overview of where you stand financially, as well as providing you with a to-do list of action items.  The 2010 version lets you choose the reports you want to view on your Snapshot, which includes ways to review your income and expenses at a glance. 

Add-On Applications

Intuit now relies on its own add-on products, as well as third-party developers, to customize the program to a company’s specific needs.  The new App Center gives you access to scalable, Web-based business applications directly from within QuickBooks. Many applications work directly with information inside of QuickBooks, eliminating the need for double-data entry.

The applications found on the App Center are created by either Intuit or third-party developers who are members of the Intuit Developer Network.  Applications include route planning and optimization, human resources procedure management, inventory management and expense management. 

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Intuit new App Center — built into QuickBooks — lets you find add-ons programs to further customize the accounting software,
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A large majority of service-based small business can use QuickBooks premier out of the box, but you might end up investing in add-ons if you have specific needs.  For example Setster, an interesting add-on app for service businesses, lets your customers book appointments online. For most businesses, though, the QuickBooks solutions will be less expensive to install than a higher-end industry-specific solution. 

Bottom Line

Should you buy in to QuickBooks 2010? That depends on where you fall in the world of small business accounting.

If you’re completely new to QuickBooks, the 2010 edition employs quite a few creature comforts you won’t find in those Excel spreadsheets, including a new report manager that makes locating and running the reports you need much easier.

Should you upgrade to the new 2010 version?  I didn’t see any huge leaps from last year’s edition to this year’s beyond the document management, But if you’re using QuickBooks 2008 or earlier, then it’s worth the upgrade price to access the new features.

Pricing and Availability 

The suggested retail price of the single-user Premier edition remains the same as last year at $399.95.  A two-person edition sells for $749.95; the three-person version goes for $1,099.95. 

Upgrades cost $349.95 (single), $674.95 (two people) or $999.95 (three people).  Additional seats — up to five — cost $359.95 each.  If your company requires more than five users simultaneously, you’ll have to look at QuickBooks Enterprise Edition or QuickBooks Online Plus. 

You can purchase QuickBooks 2010 directly from the QuickBooks Web site. QuickBooks Accounting 2010 is also available at Amazon.com, Best Buy, CDW, Circuit City, Costco, Fry’s Electronics, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Sam’s Club, Staples, Target and Wal-Mart, among others.

Theresa W. Carey specializes in financial technology and has written about subjects ranging from online brokers to enterprise accounting systems for Barron's, the Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine and many others. When not checking out programs and Web sites that manage money, she plays and coaches volleyball. Her Web site is InvestorBrain.com

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