QBO vs Desktop: Which is Best for Your Accounting Needs?

| 2 min read

QBO vs Desktop: Which is Best for Your Accounting Needs?

Did you know that QuickBooks Online isn't just the online version of QuickBooks Desktop? This is a common misconception and couldn't be further from the truth.

Each option has several advantages, and this guide will explain the differences. Remember that both products are acceptable alternatives for small-to-medium-sized businesses, are double-entry accounting software, and offer automatic upload from bank and credit card accounts.

They are owned and operated by Intuit, a huge global conglomerate with $12.7 billion in revenue in 2022.

Intuit also owns Mint, Credit Karma, Mailchimp, and TurboTax, serving over 100 million customers.

QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online, or QBO, was set in motion in 2001. Launched prior to the cloud-based era, QBO quickly gained popularity and is now the most widely used online accounting software available.

With a streamlined user interface, this web-based technology is an excellent option for business owners who want to work from any device, anywhere, with internet service.

QBO has four plans to choose from, with no contract required.

Plans are Simple Start, Essentials, Plus, and Advanced. All of these include a full accounting platform but also offer mileage.

Significant benefits include the following:

  1. The Simple Start program only allows one sales channel connection and one user.
  2. The Essentials version includes connecting to three sales channels, three users, bill management, and time entry.
  3. The Plus plan connects to all channels, allows for five users, bill management, and time entry. It also offers inventory and projects profitability.
  4. Lastly, the Advanced version of QBO includes all of the same things as the Plus plan but increases the number of users to more than five, and contains Excel business analytics, employee expenses, batching for invoices and expenses, customized access, integrates with premium apps, features a dedicated account team, workflow automation, on-demand training, and data restoration.

Additional Benefits

  • The cloud-based operation makes QBO sharable with anyone.
  • Pricing is reasonable, with an affordable monthly fee. Interested buyers can obtain a 30-day free trial of QBO.
  • The mobile app is available for on-the-go and anytime, anywhere access. You can also take a picture of a receipt and attach it to the invoice.
  • QBO has excellent reporting capabilities.
  • No need for uploading software.
  • Support is provided through the application.
  • Easy to use with some accounting experience required.

QuickBooks Desktop

QB Desktop is a flow chart interface and is a good option for companies that need a more involved inventory process.

Each category of accounting shows centers where you can access the various transactions. For example, there is a vendor, inventory, and customer center; within each are the different ways to manage that operation.

Key elements are:

  • QB Desktop offers two levels of pricing with progressively more features. These are Premier Plus and Enterprise. Each is an annual subscription, and the cost varies by the number of users.
  • Although not a web-based technology, QB Desktop allows sharing the current file with your accountant (they also need a license) and importing the changes made. The Enterprise version has a cloud-based add-on and a Salesforce CRM connector add-on.
  • A more complicated interface and processing equates to the need for more accounting knowledge when using QB Desktop.
  • The Desktop version is more suitable for centralized organizations with in-house accounting.
  • Built-in payroll

Which QuickBooks Option is Best for Me?

If you are in charge of accounting or want to stay up with what is happening in the books, but are often out of the office, QBO is probably your best bet.

Additionally, if you prefer a monthly billing that you control, QBO offers this over the Desktop program. Desktop is more of a traditional software and is better for a niche trade like non-profits or construction, particularly those with more inventory needs.

Both are great choices, so consider your budget, and what major advantages appeal to you the most. Backed by years of accounting software experience, the Intuit company knows about technology.

This means you get a quality product with QBO or QB Desktop.


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