Intuit QuickBooks Pro 2005 review

£204
Price when reviewed

With Intuit’s decision to withdraw Quicken from the market, many faithful users are being pointed in the direction of the new QuickBooks range. This spans all the way from the £79 entry-level QuickBooks SimpleStart right up to the £450 top-of-the-range QuickBooks Accountant.

SimpleStart offers basic accounting functions: creating estimates, invoices and sales receipts, printing cheques, settling invoices, recording expenses and tracking customer transactions. To this, QuickBooks Regular adds payroll capabilities, stock control, support for recurring transactions and the ability to download bank and credit card information. The Pro version adds multi-user support, budget and cashflow projection tools, customised forms and price levels, as well as job costing, time tracking, and integration with Microsoft Word and Excel. That’s a sizeable heap of accounting features for just over £200.

QuickBooks Pro 2005’s new feature list is long, but like MYOB Accounting Plus (see p88) it also consists of a lot of minor tweaks. Most of the improvements focus on ease of use. The help system has been revamped, and the new Follow Me Help provides step-by-step guidance for a range of accounting tasks. The Report Navigator has also been overhauled to make it even easier to use. The software now groups its numerous reports more logically, making it simpler to find the one you want. The 2005 version also make it easier to apply customer payments to the correct invoice, whether you’re paid by cheque or you download credit-card charge details from an online account at a financial institution.

You’re able to customise your invoices and statements, and the ability to directly email forms such as invoices, purchase orders and sales orders can be a tremendous time-saver. The inventory tools are more flexible than in previous versions too. You can buy, sell and stock items in different units of measure, and it’s also possible to combine inventory items to create discrete, finished products.

Even more significant is the support for a variety of time- and money-saving online transactions. Like MYOB, QuickBooks Pro makes great play of the government’s £825 cashback bribe if you submit your P14/P35 Employers Annual Returns online. Also new to this release is the ability to pay staff directly via BACS, a value-added service provided in conjunction with Bottomline. This costs £30 per month, which covers 30 transactions, with subsequent transactions costing from 25p each. Not having to make up pay packets or write out cheques is a real convenience for ultra-busy SME businesses.

As well as being able to download bank statements, QuickBooks Pro has other online capabilities. It continues to offer a credit-card merchant service in conjunction with WorldPay, which costs £100 to set up and £100 per annum thereafter. Each credit-card transaction costs 3.9 per cent plus 6p, which isn’t bad. All in all, QuickBooks Pro’s embrace of online commerce is notably better than any other accounting package, certainly at this price point.

Installation is a trifle lengthy, and once done there’s an automatic update feature – minor updates are already available for the latest version. QuickBooks requires online activation, which is no big deal, but, surprisingly, it also asks if it can send non-personally identifiable information back to Intuit – something not everyone may be comfortable with.

As ever, a wizard walks you through the potential minefield of setting up a chart of accounts for a new company. Like MYOB Accounting Plus, there are a host of predefined charts for various types of companies – you just pick the type closest to your company and proceed.

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