QuickBooks 2018 for the Windows desktop is here! This release contains several new features as well as improvements to existing ones. I’ll list the major changes that I’m aware of in this article. There are a number of small enhancements that may make your life easier, plus a significant new order fulfillment feature for QuickBooks Enterprise inventory users that has me excited.
Note that QuickBooks Accountant should be available now (or very soon) to members of the ProAdvisor program. The general release for everyone else will probably be available by the end of September.
I’m going to split this up into four articles that will publish this week:
- QuickBooks 2018 Has Arrived! This article, with an overview of all the new features and changes, and details on features that apply to QuickBooks Pro, Premier, and Enterprise
- QuickBooks 2018 Additional Details: I’ll go into details on QuickBooks security improvements as well as updates to QuickBooks Payments, QuickBooks Payroll, and QuickBooks Accountant.
- QuickBooks Enterprise Order Fulfillment with Barcode Scanning: This is an exciting, major new feature for Enterprise inventory users!
- QuickBooks Enterprise Order Fulfillment – Part 2: There is so much to talk about here, it will take me two articles!
Here’s a quick summary of the new and improved features. Note that I’m working with the US versions in this article. It is not clear to me when these features will be available in the Canadian or UK versions of QuickBooks.
Please note that these screen shots were taken from a pre-release version, so there may be some minor differences from what you see in your copy.
The following new/updated features are available in all Windows versions of QuickBooks 2018 (Pro, Premier, Accountant, and Enterprise) in the US, Canada and UK:
- Multiple monitor support: Intuit has added some features that make it easier to work with multiple monitors (up to three). It is a nice feature, although some people might be a bit disappointed with how this was implemented.
- Search in the Chart of Accounts: Odd, I didn’t realize that we couldn’t already search for an account in the Chart of Accounts. If you work with a lot of accounts then this will be helpful.
- Cash/Accrual toggle on reports: A nice enhancement that makes it a bit easier to switch the basis of your financial reports. If you flip between Cash and Accrual often, this will be helpful.
- Past Due Stamp: If you resend copies of past-due invoices to your customers, this feature makes it clear that they are past due. This is a reasonably flexible feature.
- New keyboard shortcuts for copying and pasting lines in transactions.
- Inventory report enhancements: It has always bothered me that many of the QuickBooks inventory reports could not be modified to add columns or change filters. Finally, Intuit is addressing this shortcoming for some of the inventory reports.
QuickBooks Enterprise has a new inventory-centric feature that I’m very excited about. This year, after several years of lowered expectations, the Enterprise development team has embarked on the first step of what I hope will be a series of major new inventory features.
- Enhanced Order Fulfillment with mobile barcode scanning: This is a major feature that I’m going to address in depth in an upcoming article. It will only be available in the US. Intuit is revamping the workflow for “picking” inventory items to fulfill open sales orders. A key part of this is the ability to work with remote devices, including a barcode scanner, in the picking process. You won’t have to be tethered directly to a desktop or laptop computer running QuickBooks when you scan items! Very exciting.
QuickBooks Accountant and QuickBooks Enterprise Accountant have this feature, which isn’t found in the non-Accountant versions:
- Merge vendors: There is a new workflow that will let you merge vendors in your vendor list. It works nicely, but there are limitations as to when you can use this.
Security has been a big focus for the QuickBooks development team for the past couple of years, and that continues this year. If you remember last year’s security/password hullaballoo, don’t worry. I’ve not come across any security change that is going to make your life miserable. The following security enhancements will be a part of all editions of QuickBooks 2018 (US, Canada and UK):
- Secure web mail: Intuit has updated how QuickBooks works with web mail accounts, using a more secure integration method that resolves many concerns I had about the older approach.
- Internet Explorer support: Starting with this release you must have Internet Explorer 11 to be able to use many functions in QuickBooks. Older versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported. This is (mostly) a security update.
- Internal component updates: Continuing with the process they started a few years ago, Intuit is updating several of the internal components to improve security. In this release, they are changing from SHA1 to SHA2 for storing user credentials, upgrading to Sybase version 17, and upgrading to .Net Framework 4.6.2. No noticeable impact that you will notice, just bringing the products up to date with modern security protocols.
- Additional PII encryption: There were a few PII (personally identifiable information) fields in the database that should have been internally encrypted that weren’t. This update catches those.
- Changes for QuickBooks Add-ons: If you have an add-on that works with QuickBooks in “unattended” mode (that is, it accesses QuickBooks in the background), there may be an additional preference setting that you will need to change in order for your app to continue accessing QuickBooks. Details on this are a bit vague right now.
QuickBooks Payroll has an improved function. As I avoid “payroll” religiously (any form of it, not just Intuit products), I wasn’t able to test this. Intuit is adding a payroll reminder badge that will highlight when you have an upcoming deadline for payroll liabilities.
QuickBooks Payments will add the option of providing Level 3 data to your customers who use commercial credit cards. This can shorten the time it takes certain kinds of customers to release funds to you.
I’ll go into the details of all of these changes in this and the next few articles.
Should You Install This Release?
I’ve been working with the beta-test version for a few months now, and for the most part this seems to be pretty clean. However, a few comments:
- As a general rule of thumb, I always recommend that you wait until at least January before you use the new product to run your business. This is based on past experience. Right now Intuit is releasing the R1 update, and this has only gone through the beta testing process. I’ve seen a few minor glitches in the regular program that are hard to duplicate. Sometimes additional problems are discovered when a larger number of users start running it. I suggest you don’t want to take a chance of experiencing major upheavals until you’ve gotten through your year-end process. By January we should have a good idea of how stable the product is.
- If you are an accounting professional or ProAdvisor, go ahead and install it now. I’m running it on a system that has older versions of QuickBooks installed and I’m not seeing anything that interferes with the older versions. You want to study the new features, and in another month you may be getting new clients that have purchased the product, so you want to be ready.
- For Enterprise users, I would be cautious about implementing the new Enhanced Order Fulfillment. Play with it first in a test company. Several reasons for this:
- It will take time to acquire the new scanning hardware, which really makes the feature worth using.
- It will take time for you to change your workflow and use the new feature. There are a lot of details to understand.
- This feature is still evolving, and I believe that there will be a lot of changes over the next few months. Wait until things have settled down.
All in all I am happy with this release. We aren’t seeing a lot of big changes in Pro and Premier, so there isn’t as much to compel those users to upgrade, but you may see something that catches your interest. Intuit is continuing with their policy of incremental user-requested features in Pro and Premier, and improving the overall security of the programs. As I expected, the only major new feature is found in QuickBooks Enterprise, and I am very excited about the direction that Intuit is taking with inventory management there.
So, let’s take a look at the details of this release.