Intuit's New QuickBooks Online Accountant Brings the Cloud – and Its Benefits – to Accountants
By David H. Ringstrom, CPA
QuickBooks Online, a cloud-based accounting solution for small businesses, has experienced 40 percent growth over the past year; it now has 280,000 users. More and more small business owners are reaping the benefits of anytime, anywhere access to their accounting records. Further, cloud-based solutions, such as QuickBooks Online, eliminate the need to install periodic software patches and updates because new features are added automatically.
While QuickBooks Online makes things easier for day-to-day users, it can make the accountants' tasks harder because commands get buried within the software. In response to this, Intuit has introduced a new product: QuickBooks Online Accountant (QBOA). This add-on to QuickBooks Online is aimed squarely at helping accountants serve their clients more efficiently.
A simple sign in to QBOA gives the accountant access to all of his or her clients' accounting records (see Figure 1). This dashboard allows accountants to maintain contact information for all of their online clients in one place.
Figure 1: A single sign in grants access to multiple clients.
A new "Accountant" tab (see Figure 2) appears within a client's books and enables access to several time-saving features. "This provides one place for all of an accountant's tools and reports as well as a snapshot reconciliation of all accounts," said Samir Khosla, director of product management for Intuit Accounting Professionals Division. "Plus, updates appear automatically, so the product always has the latest features." (Keep in mind that only the accountant has access to the Accountant tab; it will not appear to end users when they sign in to QuickBooks Online.)
Figure 2: The Accountant tab adds features and aggregates frequently used tools.
The Accountant tab assembles the most frequently used accountant tools on a single screen – the "Accountant Center." Features include:
- The ability to reclassify transactions in batch, which allows the accountant to change the general ledger account and/or class for multiple transactions all at one time.
- A simple way to find deleted or voided transactions.
- The ability to write off multiple invoices in batch.
- A reconciliation snapshot that makes it easy to monitor bank and credit card accounts. QBOA also lists problems that can affect reconciliations, such as changed transactions and auto adjustments (see Figure 3). Khosla said, "This is one of my favorite features, as the accountant is notified if a client takes a shortcut during reconciliation."
Figure 3: Reconciliation issues are brought to the accountant's attention.
QBOA also offers some reporting enhancements:
- Accountants can mark journal entries as "Adjusting Journal Entries" and then generate an adjusted trial balance report, also known as a working trial balance.
- Comparison reports allow one-click access to this year/last year profit and loss and balance sheet reports. While such reports can be created in QuickBooks Online, they must be built by hand.
Accountants are invited to try QBOA free of charge during Intuit's pilot phase. To access QBOA, go to http://accountant.intuit.com/qboa. According to Khosla, "the focus has been on time-savings, and eventually [QBOA] will be a subscription-based product." Pricing will be announced after the pilot phase.
Intuit also is offering practitioners up to 6 free CPE credits through a virtual conference on cloud-based accounting and tax solutions. The conference will be presented November 15-16, 2011, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. central standard time.
David Ringstrom, CPA, heads up Accounting Advisors, Inc., an Atlanta-based software and database consulting firm. You can contact David at email@example.com.
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