Intuit QuickBooks Pro 2008 review

£209
Price when reviewed

Two years is a long wait since QuickBooks 2006 (web ID: 86271), but Intuit has used the gap constructively, producing an update that both looks better and is more intuitive. A revamped homepage shows the familiar cashflow flowchart, but the other information it contains is presented more logically, giving important information – for example, account balances – proper prominence. Those critical account balances, for example, are always visible, and the toolbar has been rationalised, leaving fewer icons, which in turn makes it far easier to understand.

Intuit has also rearranged the old-fashioned purchase and sales ledgers into something more useful. New Customer, Supplier and Employee Centres each hold information about debtors, creditors and employees. The Customer Centre not only houses a customer list, with related information about the selected customer and an overview of recent transactions, but it also lets you create new customers and jobs or enter transactions, from estimates to sales.

There are some enhancements to functions and workflow, too. VAT reporting has been streamlined, and now if you track VAT on a cash basis you can use the File VAT feature in the same way as you can for accrual-based VAT accounting. A re-organisation of the layout of the Payroll module, which requires an extra subscription on top of the QuickBooks Pro price, makes it easier to understand.

But there are also some more serious feature additions. Now when you create an invoice for a customer with outstanding billable items – whether time or expenses – an Add Time/Costs button becomes active on the invoice, handily flagging up that there are further items to bill the customer for. When you click the button, a list of outstanding items appears, from which you can choose which items to add to the invoice.

Undoubtedly, the most practical improvement in QuickBooks Pro 2008 is the Accountant’s Copy feature. This allows you to take a snapshot of your data at a chosen date – it will usually coincide with the last day of your financial year – and send this to your accountant by email. They can then make corrections or adjustments and return this to you. You then review the changes and decide whether to accept them or not. It’s a great idea in principle, and very easy to do in practice. There are checks in place: when we attempted to re-open a file after creating an accountant’s copy, we were prevented from working on transactions before the chosen date. This restriction remains in place until you either import or cancel the accountant’s changes.

Balancing the new functions are a couple of absent features. The first of these is negligible: the resource area, which provided links to basic business advice, has disappeared – few will miss it. Instead, Intuit offers links to Google Marketing tools, such as Google Maps and Google AdWords.

The second omission is less benign, as there’s no way to deal with multiple currencies. This will come as a surprise to owners of multi-user capable QuickBooks 2006. The upshot is that company files with transactions that use multiple currencies can’t be upgraded. The only options are to start a new single currency file, or continue to use QuickBooks 2006 – Intuit says the 2006 version will continue to be supported until this feature is added back, presumably in next year’s upgrade.

It’s enough for existing users to investigate migrating to the Plus version of rival MYOB Accounting (web ID: 107308), which offers this feature. The absence of multiple currencies certainly removes one of the main reasons, alongside the multi-user feature, for choosing QuickBooks Pro over the standard version of the program, which has also disappeared.

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