Review: Intuit's QuickBooks Accounting Premier 2009 - Page 2

By Theresa Carey
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The Communal Approach

In previous versions of QuickBooks, the opening screen was a visual menu (called SuperNav in Intuit parlance), showing the workflow for typical accounting tasks, such as generating an invoice or paying bills.  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, instead.  To execute an item on your to-do list, just click on it and you’re taken to the appropriate part of the program to get it done.  We found this more useful than a visual task menu. 

QuickBooks screen shot
Live Community area, seen here on the main menu, provides help from other QuickBooks customers.
(Click for larger image)

With connectivity being a key in the 2009 version, Intuit has enhanced the Live Community feature, which is displayed on the right-hand side of each screen (unless it’s turned off).  The firm has had great success with this feature in other products, such as TurboTax and Quicken, in terms of getting questions answered quickly and reducing the number of calls to technical support. 

At every step of the way, Live Community displays the most relevant information available.  For instance, when looking at an invoice, Live Community shows questions and answers about invoicing and accounts receivable.  If you’re looking at a bill, you’ll see ways to deal with bill payment and accounts payable. If you post a question of your own, other QuickBooks customers, professional advisers and Intuit's internal customer support staff can answer it.

QuickBooks screen shot
The Coach feature walks you through the workflow for managing various accounting tasks.
(Click for larger image)

When you ask a question in the “Ask My Question” box, the Live Community first searches through the database to see if the answer already exists.  If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can post your question to the community.  You’re notified within QuickBooks when someone replies.  The professional advisers try to answer enough questions to earn a ranking on the Leaderboard, which displays the top ten answerers.

Global Change

Intuit took a daring step and added international currency support to the 2009 version.  According to the company's research, approximately 27 percent of small businesses already conduct international trade.  In previous versions, exchange rate calculations were made outside QuickBooks, usually using Excel, and then the results were manually transferred back into the program.

Now you can select pretty much any currency and download exchange rates for the top 50 currencies directly into QuickBooks.  It’s also possible to create invoices in any currency. 

The software works with the U.S. tax model, and the U.K. version handles VAT. If you had a taxi ride in Japan and wanted to charge your Canadian customer for it, you could do that.  It’s a slick feature for a product sold at this price point.

You can even receive payments in international currencies via Intuit International Payments. You’ll need to enter your customer’s banking information to generate a transfer in another currency; you can also make international payments using this utility.  Intuit International Payments will ding you for a fee per transaction. 

QuickBooks screen shot
Each available report is described in the Report Center.
(Click for larger image)

Home(Stead) on the Web

After acquiring Homestead, a Web site design firm, last year, QuickBooks 2009 lets you set up your own three-page Web site for free for a year.  Click on Intuit.com Services to use this utility. Although it doesn’t let you sell products for free, it’s a way to get your company’s name and contact information out on the Web in a few minutes.  After the first year, the three-page website will cost $4.99 per month, which is a good deal. 

Several areas of the program, such as inventory management, received little attention for this upgrade.  The enhancements made to online banking are worth the upgrade, and if you’re doing any business internationally, the new features will make your life easier. 

The suggested retail price of the single-license Premier edition actually dropped $50 this year, to $399.95.  A two-person edition costs $749.95, and the three-top will set you back $1,099.95.

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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This article was originally published on October 30, 2008
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