Every 6 months I end up wasting at least a day looking for the perfect accounting software or service.
I’m actually quite happy with Xero but their pricing is structured that because I need the multi-currency feature I am billed a nasty $70 a month. This has made me a very twitchy customer. I use Xero, I rather like it, but give me any excuse and I’ll be glad to migrate to a more affordable service.
This month I’ve had my eye on Quickbooks again. I missed that they now have a 2014 version for Mac which STILL has no multi-currency feature but QB online kind-of does.
Before continuing I want to clarify that my needs are possibly very different from other peoples. First I am a Mac user, I NEED multi-currency as I have accounts spread between the UK, USA and Thailand. I also run an e-commerce business taking orders online so I need a smooth integration between my website, PayPal and my accounting system.
Today I began my 30-day trial of Quickbooks Online and here’s what I learned.
- Looks great
- Surprisingly fun to use
- Costs only $23 a month compared to Xeros $70!
- Very fast
- Loads of reports
- Very intuitive
- The US version does NOT support multi-currency but there’s a work-around. You have to subscribe for a plan with any other country (I chose Thailand) and then set $ as the default currency before enabling multi-currency. This seemed to work perfectly until I then tried to add a bank feed – to see that the only ones available were for Thai banks. Sure I use a single Thai bank for my business (and that one doesn’t support feeds anyway) but my QB Online account won’t let me use feeds from any other account. For me this means having to login to about 10 different UK & US banking websites, download my statements in the appropriate format then manually import them into Quickbooks.
- Leading from my point above, although Quickbooks Online does offer bank feeds, it only supports them from one country. In contrast Xero offers feeds from all supported banks worldwide.
- Quickbooks Online barely functions with PayPal data. PayPal has an ‘export to Quickbooks’ feature but it exports to an .iif file (or something similarly unrecognizable) and Quickbooks certainly doesn’t support it any more. I looked at a few tutorials online and the process seemed so convuluted that I gave up even testing it out. IT seems like a 15 minute ordeal every time you need to update PayPal accounts – and I have 3 of them!
- There’s no simple way to import invoices. I found a 3rd party service offering to do this but this cost $20 a month. This means that every order I get on my website I’ll need to manually enter into QB (or have a bookkeeper do it). This increases the chance of error and would likely means a 1-2 ay delay before a customer orders and when I can invoice him. In contrast I have a 1-time $79 extension in Woocommerce which automatically creates Xero invoices for me.
- Lack of 3rd party extensions and services. Actually There are lots of programmers and companies who offer some degree of Quickbooks integration but when you look closer they require monthly fees, aren’t compatible with Quickbooks Online or, if they are then then aren’t compatible with the global version.
- Costs Vs Savings. With QB I’d save $47 a month in fees. I would however need to pay an hourly rate for a bookkeeper to 1) login to all my online banks and download the data. 2) import that data into QB 3) manually create invoices from Woocommerce orders – none of these tasks would be needed were I to use Xero. I have over 10 accounts (banks, credit cards etc.) so assuming 20 minutes for the download and importing, assuming a bookkeeper charges $7 an hour then I’m adding about $20 to my bookkeeping costs – and that’s ignoring the time for the invoicing too.
- Frequency of updating my accounts. With Xero, due to the regular bank feeds, if a customer pays me, I can mark it as paid within a few days of it appearing in my account. Should a customer choose to check their invoice they’ll see it’s been paid quite fast so I rarely issue receipts. Due to the burden of importing all my accounts manually (especially PayPal which I use daily) I seriously doubt I’ll be doing this with QB, especially as I’ll be paying an hourly rate for a bookkeepter to do those updates (I estimate $20 per update as I detailed before). Most likely I’ll only update my accounts every month which is pretty tardy.
- An unresolved (And unresolveable) bug within my 1st hour. After importing 6 months of data from my Citibank account I was suddenly unable to import any files to any accounts. The error message displayed as “Martin started an Online Banking update that is currently in progress.” The issue didn’t resolve itself after 1 hour, nor 4 (After this time I gave up with QB Online anyhow). I noted that other people had posted the same issue in the Intuit bug reports forum and it had gone unanswered for over 30 days.
- Unable to signup! If you select a non-US country you’re taken to a signup page. If you then select that your business is in the US you get this ambiguous message “Unknown error was encountered while creating company: An error occurred when retrieving the list of product prices from the billing system.” Not a nice 1st impression.
- Only 1 Business. I will be using a single business for 99% of my transactions but I have a second company that I use for miscellaneous sales and services (e.g. a consulting gig). Quickbooks Online only allows for a single invoice template whereas Xero allows me to create as many as I want (one for each business, trading name, brand).
As you’ll conclude, Quickbooks Online certainly isn’t a good choice for my needs. If anything it’s made me appreciate Xero more and despite paying the extra monthly costs I think I’ll save that amount back in bookkeeper fees.
For others who have different needs though Quickbooks Online is probably a practical and cost-effective choice.
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