QuickBooks 2015 for the desktop is here! This release contains a number of new features as well as improvements to existing ones. I’ll list the major changes that I’m aware of in this article. Keep your eyes on the QuickBooks and Beyond blog over the next few weeks as I publish a series of articles that go into the details of these new and improved features.
This article was updated on 9/19/2014
It is interesting to note that a number of the features added this year are things that users have been requesting for years – but many of these are only being added to QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions.
So, take a deep breath, let’s jump right in…
All Versions of QuickBooks 2015 for Windows
Some of the changes apply to QuickBooks Pro, Premier, Accountant and Enterprise Solutions. Note that I’m only talking about the Windows versions of QuickBooks for the desktop, QuickBooks for Mac will be mentioned separately, later on.
There is a possibility that some of the features I list here will only be found in Enterprise Solutions, my apologies. Intuit doesn’t always make it easy for me to know if any particular feature is found only a limited range of their products. I think I have things segregated properly.
There are a number of changes here, small tweaks and larger improvements, mostly in the realm of fine-tuning the product. But some of them are pretty useful…
- Income Tracker has been improved to add Time & Expenses transactions to the money bar. In addition, you have the option of excluding estimates, sales orders and time & expenses from the unbilled section of the money bar. This is a nice improvement on this feature.
- Insights is a new dashboard that is added to the Home Page. This is a more up to date, cleaner and interactive feature than the older Company Snapshot, although it doesn’t include all of the charts that the older dashboard had. It isn’t as sophisticated as what you can get from a business analytics add-on such as BizTools Analytics or webKPI, but it does help and it is free! This is, again, a nice improvement.
- Pinned Notes: Now you can “pin” a note for a customer or vendor so that it always shows in the Center for that list, as well as being the default note included in reports. I like this improvement.
- Flags on Billable Time & Costs: This is a nice update. When you are adding billable time and costs to an invoice you can see how many records there are available in the various tabs, making it less likely that you’ll overlook something. This is a very helpful improvement.
- Send Portable Company File: This is a feature that lets you send a portable company file to someone (supposedly, exchanging this between the accounting professional and the client) in a simpler fashion than the way we used to. It streamlines the process, but I’m not overly excited about this one.
- Reminders Window revamp: The Reminders window has undergone a visual update to make it easier to understand and work with. Nice improvement.
- Lots of Little Changes: I’ll just list these smaller changes now, with more details to come later. Many of these are based on user requests.
- Multi User Admin: The Admin user now has the ability to end another user’s QuickBooks session even if they have unsaved data. Sounds terrible, but there are times when you need to do it.
- Estimates are automatically closed when you fully invoice them (at last!).
- Improved filters in the Inventory Center.
- Customer PO # can be added to the Customer Center transaction tab.
- Improved selection of items to move from a Sales Order to an Invoice.
- Warning when inactivating items that have a quantity on hand.
- Branding Changes: Last year I talked about the new QuickBooks Logo that was starting to show up in different places. This year we are finally seeing the new logo show up in the desktop product.
- Registration Improvements: There are some minor improvements in the registration process, such as the ability to paste your license key into the window instead of laboriously typing it all in.
We spend a lot of time looking at QuickBooks reports on the screen as well is printed or exported, so this is a great area for Intuit to work on improving. There are a number of updates here, some based on user requests, some that I really, really like.
- Report Appearance Revamp: Intuit wants to make reports easier to see while on the screen (this doesn’t affect printed reports). You’ll see background shading to highlight some lines, more vertical and horizontal lines, a bit more spacing between lines, and so forth. It is an OK update, but it isn’t a huge change, and some people will be annoyed that there is a little bit less information showing vertically…
- Comments on Reports: I’m glad that this isn’t restricted to QuickBooks Accountant, as lots of people will find it useful. You can take a “snapshot” of any report, and then add annotations (comments) to any line. I like this feature very much, although I wish that they had gone a little bit further with it.
- Send Multiple Reports: Now you can click an email button and send a group of reports all as attachments to one email message. You still have separate reports, you still don’t have control over the attachment names. I’m not thrilled by this because they didn’t do all that they could have done to make this better. Besides, I firmly believe that you should not use email to send these kinds of things. I really dislike email attachments for sending sensitive materials.
- Report filter names are sorted alphabetically, and are searchable. That says it all, a small change but welcome.
- Filter Inactive/Active Names on Name-Based Reports: Reports where a customer or vendor name is the primary key, like a Customer Balance Detail report, now have a filter where you can select all active or inactive names.
- Adding Other 1 and Other 2 to Reports: These fields have often been neglected, and were less useful than custom fields. Now you can add them to transaction detail reports, as well as filter records by their value.
- Preferred Delivery Method can be added to some reports.
- Preferred Vendor can be added as a column in some reports.
- Manufacturer’s Part Number on Sales Transactions: People have asked for this for years, Intuit has finally heard you! Now you can add the Manufacturer’s Part Number as a column in invoices, sales receipts and sales orders. But not credit memos.
What I Think About These General Changes…
For the general changes, we see a trend towards making incremental changes for the most part, and working to take care of things that people have been asking about for some time. This is good, but you don’t see as much of a compelling reason to move up to QuickBooks 2015 unless there is something here that fixes an issue that has bugged you. This is in line with what Intuit CEO Brad Smith said recently, that Intuit will focus on resolving problems and fine tuning the desktop product without adding major new features. I’m not saying that I’m disappointed in the list of changes here – there are a lot of good fixes. There just isn’t a big “wow” moment here.
The one big exception to this, from my point of view, is Comments on Reports. I think that this is a big improvement that many people, particularly accounting professionals, are going to like.
There are several new features that accountants are going to love that aren’t restricted to the QuickBooks Accountant product. Oddly, there aren’t any changes specifically in the QuickBooks Accountant product that isn’t found in other versions, really. I think that Comments on Reports is going to be a popular feature for accounting professionals. Send Multiple Reports and Send Portable Company File are available to everyone but I think that accounting professionals are going to use those the most. Intuit also will be touting the new Insights dashboard as being a feature for accountants, but I think it has wider value (and it is available to everyone).
There is one other feature that you will find, that is very helpful, if you are a current member of the QuickBooks ProAdvisor Program, or subscribed to the QuickBooks Accountant Plus program: the Accountant Toolbox.
Why didn’t they do this before? Until now, if you use the accountant user feature when at a client’s office to log in to their QuickBooks file you get access to some but not all of the features of the Client Data Review. Well, that is changed, now you can get all of those features when you log in as the accountant user, but only if you are a member of either the ProAdvisor or QuickBooks Accountant Plus programs. I’ll go into a lot more detail on this one very soon.
QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions
Intuit continues to put the majority of the new features into QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions. Here’s a brief rundown on the new features, with a lot more detail coming in future articles.
- Disallow Negative Quantities: That’s a big one, and people will wonder why they didn’t do this sooner. A preference setting that will prevent you from using more inventory part or inventory assembly items than you have on hand. This will be both a blessing and a curse for QuickBooks users, but fortunately it is something you can turn on or off easily. It’s a simple change, with big implications (and, no, they didn’t implement some sort of holding account to deal with negative inventory balances).
- Negative Item Listing is a new report that lists all items with a negative quantity on hand, which is useful.
- Shortage Report for Manufacturing: If you want to build an assembly you must have the parts on hand. If you don’t, the new shortage report will show you exactly what you have on hand, how many the build needs, and give you a list of the shortages. You can also get this report to cover all “pending builds” that you have waiting for parts.
- Inventory Stock Status report upgrades: A new “full assemblies” checkbox that will make the report look at all levels of a multiple-level assembly. Also a filter to hide lines that have a “zero reorder quantity”.
- An improvement in Advanced Inventory if you are using both Multiple Locations and Lot Tracking that suppresses an annoying error message when you are doing an inventory transfer.
- Restoring a backup will do a better job of restoring inventory images to the right place. Yay!
Transactions and Form Customization
- Total Columns on Forms: Another feature that people have been requesting for years. You can set your subtotal item to show a subtotal of the quantity, price, cost or any custom field, rather than just the amount. A very good feature.
- Sorting Columns on Forms: Yet again a feature that people have been requesting for years. In sales forms, purchase orders, weekly timesheets, build assemblies, checks, credit card charges, bills and item receipts, you can simply click on a column heading and the detail lines will sort by that column. Simply implemented, works well, very useful.
- Footer on Last Page on Forms: Still another feature that people have been asking about for years. If you have a sales or purchasing form that flows over to more than one page, why should you have the “total” box show in the footer of every page? It doesn’t look professional. Now QuickBooks Enterprise has an option to Only show Total on the last page. Actually, more than just the “total”, pretty much all of the footer of the form. A useful option.
- Search on Transactions: A new tab in transactions that lets you do a “search” within the transaction to find a specific value. I’m not too excited by this, but if you work with really long transactions and you need to edit them often, perhaps you’ll find this useful?
- Showing Cost on Sales Transactions: Another often-requested feature that will make people happy – you can show “cost” on sales transactions.
- Row Shading on forms: You can specify that forms should print with alternating rows of shading, which is a nice feature.
- There is a preference setting to hide opening balances in the display for names and items.
- There is a preference setting to not allow sales to overdue customers.
What I Think About Enterprise Changes…
While Intuit is holding back on the “wow factor” for QuickBooks Pro and Premier (and trying to get everyone to move to QuickBooks Online), they are clearly putting a lot of energy into developing QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions (look for my article on this after the QuickBooks 2015 dust settles). Many of the best new features are being released in QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions.
Many of the improvements are in response to customer requests, but that doesn’t mean that they are just small fixes with little impact. The cumulative impact of the forms changes is huge, addressing a number of things that people have wanted for years. It will be interesting, also, to see what people thing about the Disallow Negative Quantities feature – people have asked for this over an over, but I wonder how many people will turn that feature on and later decide that it causes more headaches than it solves? I just wish Intuit had come up with something that would actually resolve the problems that negative inventory causes (such as file corruption, errors in reports balancing) instead of just saying “OK, now you can turn that preference on and hide the problem”.