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BEST SMALL BUSINESS ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE: A LEADING SMALL BUSINESS ACCOUNTANT EXAMINES QUICKBOOKS

by Dawn Fotopulos on May 19, 2011

The best small business accounting software for you really depends a lot on what kind of business you’re running. QuickBooks has long been the accounting software king, but it may be hard to decide whether to use QuickBooks Online or the desktop version. To help you settle this, we’re sharing an accountant’s inside view on the best small business accounting software.

Andrew Schwartz, CPA, certainly knows a thing or two about accounting (to say the least). A product of one of the best business schools in the world, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, he specializes in small business accounting. He has helped his many clients choose the best small business accounting software for them. Here’s his take on QuickBooks: Online vs. “Offline:”

“If you are looking to collaborate with multiple people on the accounting and bookkeeping functions for a business, the online version of QuickBooks is a great way to go. All you need is Internet access to be able to work on this web-based application. Plus, as part of the process of setting up new users, you can limit the information that each user can access and/or manipulate.

When my wife and I took over as co-Treasurers of our kids’ elementary school PTO, we moved the bookkeeping to the online version of QuickBooks, since multiple people needed to have access to this data.

When it comes to pure performance, however, the non-online version is superior.

Based on my experience as a CPA working closely with more than 100 small business clients who use QuickBooks, the desktop version has much more utility. One huge advantage is that you can open multiple windows within the desktop version, but can only have one window open with the online version. It’s also quicker and easier to move around the program on the desktop version. I find the reporting options to be more user friendly on this version as well.

Bottom line: I generally don’t recommend the online version to businesses that will only have one person handle all of their bookkeeping functions. Instead, my CPA firm takes advantage of an option available in the Accountant’s version of QuickBooks that lets me or my staff access our clients’ QuickBooks files remotely via WebEx.”

Thanks, Andrew, for this helpful review! We’re sure it is valuable to many small business owners deciding which version of QuickBooks to use.

Christopher B. Spellman for BestSmallBizHelp.com contributed to this report.

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