Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Cloud Review: QuickBooks for Desktop vs. QuickBooks Online vs. Xero vs. Method CRM

Everyone keeps talking about the cloud these days, and for the most part, most of my data is in the cloud. I have been hearing a lot about QuickBooks Online (QBO) and Xero, so I thought I would test them out to see how they compare to QuickBooks for Windows (desktop version, which I'll abbreviate as QBs), which I have been using for almost a decade now. I have used QBO and Xero for several months and there are some similarities and some differences. I was going to put together an extensive spreadsheet to compare the features of both, but this has already been done. What is really interesting to me is their comparison to what I have been using for years, QBs; however, that is like comparing apples to oranges. And going through the hundreds of differences really isn't going to tell you which one is the best, so I'll just give my opinion.

It was very easy to setup QBO by exporting from QBs and importing into QBO. Intuit is probably probably wanting to get rid of QBs in favor of QBO, so I suspect they are going to try to make this process as simple as possible to get people to convert. Overall, QBO has come a long way in improving; however, it still doesn't have all the features of QBs (not that it ever will). I won't go into detail, as I really like this product, but would I give up my QBs to change to it? Probably not, at least not yet. There are only a few programs that I must have on my computer and those are Outlook, QuickBooks, and Quicken. I've looked at Outlook.com and even Office 2013, but I hate their interfaces. There is so much that Outlook 2010 can do that I will hold onto it until something better comes along. And the same goes true for Quicken and QBs. They can do so much and their mobile "apps" are so limited, that I can't part with them.


Xero is very cool, with a very simple way of doing things. For a business that really only needs to code transactions, Xero works very well. They are from New Zealand so a lot of the verbiage is in the Queen's English. This doesn't bother me, but I could see how this would prevent someone from using it. But the data is stored in US data centers, so no worries there. I had a harder time with the trickier transactions that I am used to doing in QBs and there are some simple features that are still missing, such as being able to calculate (as in a calculator) within a data field. While not huge, this is a feature that I use all the time in Quicken and QBs. But of course, this shouldn't be a reason for anyone else not to use it.


And then there is Method CRM. I have been telling my clients about it for years and have nicknamed it, "QuickBooks on steroids." It brings your existing data from QuickBooks (and QBO) into the cloud. And the best thing is that you can fully customize how the program works! This includes custom screens with only the buttons, functionality, and accessibility that only you want your users to see. Even better, you can add other types of data that may have nothing to do with accounting but are more related to how you run your business. Of course, for someone techie like me, this is a plus, but may be be more challenging for others. But the costs of hiring someone like me for the customization is so much cheaper than customizing and training on a full-fledged mid-market solution such as Oracle or SAP. And Method CRM is the most cost-effective way to do accounting in the cloud and act like a mid to high-end market business. So if I am traveling with my Chromebook (all web-based), I may not have my Outlook and QuickBooks (unless I remote into my office computer), but I can still check my e-mail via webmail and still enter QuickBooks data via Method CRM. I am fully aware that eventually in the future there will be no more desktop computers and programs to manage, but until then, I will hang on to my desktop.