You are probably familiar with QuickBooks Accountant, and QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions Accountant, but have you heard about QuickBooks Professional Bookkeeper 2012? This is a new edition of QuickBooks that Intuit is releasing today. Let’s take a look at what it is, and why Intuit has created this.
QuickBooks Professional Bookkeeper is a product specifically aimed at bookkeepers who have been working with QuickBooks Pro and small business clients. Intuit believes that there are many people that start off working with just one or two clients, possibly as a part time job, who then grow into being a full time bookkeeper. They are primarily doing data entry work, rather than trying to find and fix errors that the client has created. They generally don’t think of themselves as an “accountant”.
Editor’s Note – This program has been discontinued by Intuit in September 2013
What Is Different?
QuickBooks Professional Bookkeeper is positioned half way between QuickBooks Pro and QuickBooks Accountant. Jacint Tumacder, a Product Manager in Intuit’s Accountant Professionals Division, likens this to “Premier General Business Edition with a few added features”. So, think “Premier”, which lets you work with Pro and Premier files (but not Enterprise), plus these features that you would find in QuickBooks Accountant:
- Bookkeeper Center: Similar to the Accountant Center, without the QuickBooks Statement Writer or reports from the Client Data Review.
- File Manager: – This allows you to manage multiple client files, including passwords.
- Multiple Instances: You can have two company files open at one time (with some restrictions). According to Jacint Tumacder, this was the #1 feature in the beta test feedback.
- Startup Copy: This allows you to create a new company file quickly, based on an existing or “template” file.
Those are the big features that are added in this edition that you won’t find in QuickBooks Pro. Note that all of these are found in QuickBooks Accountant, but that is a more expensive product.
Intuit also lists several features that are available in this edition as time savers, but many of these are also available in QuickBooks Pro 2012 or QuickBooks Premier 2012.
- Calendar view
- Batch Timesheets and Batch Invoicing for Time & Expenses
- One Click Transactions
- Inventory Center
Here is a chart that summarizes the product, and where it fits in the scheme of things:
I want to clarify one point, the line Launch, work and save files in QuickBooks Pro and all Premier Editions refers to the “toggle” feature in QuickBooks Accountant that lets you toggle to different flavors of QuickBooks. You will be able to work with any QuickBooks Pro and QuickBooks Premier company file with QuickBooks Bookkeeper – you just won’t be able to see the edition-specific features. Again, this product is very similar to the general business edition of QuickBooks Premier.
QuickBooks Professional Bookkeeper 2012 has an MSRP of $399.95 for a single user version, the same price point as QuickBooks Premier.
- QuickBooks Pro: $229.95
- QuickBooks Premier: $399.95
- QuickBooks Bookkeeper $399.95
- QuickBooks Accountant $499.95
- QuickBooks ProAdvisor Program $599.00 (there is a $50 discount through the end of July)
There will be a three user license for QuickBooks Bookkeeper as well.
Does It Make Sense?
My first impression was “ho, hum”, not a big deal. The price differential is small, why not just get the more capable QuickBooks Accountant? Or better yet, join the ProAdvisor program and get access to better training and support, and QuickBooks Enterprise?
QuickBooks Bookkeeper doesn’t include the Client Data Review, Accountant’s Copy transfer or QuickBooks Statement Writer, tools that are commonly used to support clients.
Intuit believes that there are a few valid points for this product, though:
- From a marketing standpoint, many bookkeepers don’t associate with the word “accountant”. Perhaps Intuit is removing a barrier that prevents some people from buying QuickBooks Accountant.
- While the price difference from the more capable products is small, for a very small business that may be starting out the difference can be significant. Particularly when you start looking at the “street price” for products.
- Bookkeepers, in the eyes of Intuit, are generally people who are more concerned with the data entry portion of working with QuickBooks. There is less focus on the analysis and error correction tasks that are assisted by tools like QuickBooks Statement Writer and Client Data Review.
- If you have a large accounting firm you will possibly be buying large numbers of product to provide to all of your employees. Everyone working with QuickBooks must have their own license. However, you don’t need to get QuickBooks Accountant for every person. You may find that QuickBooks Bookkeeper Edition is sufficient for many of the people working on client data. If you are buying large numbers of product, having the “Bookkeeper” option at a lower price could end up being a significant savings.
I’m not entirely convinced that this product makes sense and will sell well. Time will tell. As a ProAdvisor (without a large staff of bookkeepers) this product doesn’t provide me with anything.
Then again, this product isn’t designed for someone like me. It doesn’t hurt, I guess. If you accept Intuit’s research (and they do a LOT of research on these kinds of issues) then this could be a product that will help smaller bookkeepers work with multiple client files more efficiently, and could serve as a stepping stone to moving up to QuickBooks Accountant or even the ProAdvisor program.
A few days before the product release I was making a presentation (on another subject) to the Marin Bookkeepers Referral and Education Network and I asked the audience how many of them were working with QuickBooks Pro, rather than QuickBooks Accountant, and I was surprised by the number of hands that were raised. Perhaps Intuit is onto something here?
However, I wonder how long this will be useful – the industry is heading towards zero data entry for this kind of work. To me, that is the future for the bulk entry of bookkeeping data.
Here is some additional information (6/22/2012) that I received from Woody Adams. Woody is an Intuit employee in the Accountant Professionals Division, who is also one of the hosts of Radio Free QuickBooks who also maintains a website on QuickBooks Training Videos. This is a more comprehensive chart showing the differences between QuickBooks Accountant (QBA) and QuickBooks Professional Bookkeeper (QBPB).