QuickBooks Pro 2014 QuickBooks Pro 2014
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QuickBooks Pro 2014 [Download] QuickBooks Pro 2014 [Download]
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Quickbooks has been a crowd-pleaser since it was introduced in the early nineties, and has accrued fame for its ease of use and steady improvement over the years. QuickBooks Accounting Pro Edition is no exception. This latest version, which is appropriate for sole proprietors and small businesses alike, has made even more enhancements.

Improvements include the ability to run reports even while other people on the network are working in QuickBooks, and a new Company Snapshot feature that gives you an overview of key financial data. This version of the software also supports over 100 foreign currencies. The help system is improved, too. In addition to a number of included video tutorials and the QuickBooks Coach, which gives brief descriptions of various procedures, there's a Live Community window that displays context-sensitive comments from the QuickBooks community.

As with the competing products, QuickBooks starts out by asking myriad basic questions about your operation, such as whether you charge sales tax. As you answer, the program tells you what's recommended for your business and tailors itself to your needs. In adapting itself to users, QuickBooks goes a little further than its competitors do. On the other hand, Peachtree has a more structured follow-up after this preliminary fact-finding. With all its questions answered, QuickBooks creates your company file and gives you a choice of viewing the tutorials or starting to work. If you're brand new to QuickBooks, I recommend taking the former route.

During the interview, the setup routine makes many program configuration settings for you, but not all of them. So after the interview but before you start using the application, check its Preferences section (select Preferences from the Edit menu), where you can specify, for example, how sick days and vacation time accrue, your default shipping method, whether to use price levels, and if you'll allow external applications to access your company file.

You enter data about customers, vendors, and employees in tabbed forms that have predefined fields where you can input contact information, account numbers, credit limits, and the like. But QuickBooks' forms don't allow the depth of detail you can record with the competing products. For example, Peachtree attaches contact management and history to customer records.

Icons across the application's main screen let you directly access the key areas of the program—the Customer, Vendor, Employee, Banking, and Report Centers. Below the icons, buttons in a flowchart show the order in which you process the various accounting tasks needed to run a business. For example, Estimates leads to Create Invoices to Receive Payments. Selecting one of these buttons takes you to the screen for that particular procedure.

QuickBooks has quite a robust set of time-billing and payroll features. You can set a timer and track time, and easily bill for that time in invoices. The Time Tracker lets employees enter their hours online, then lets you edit the information online and download it into QuickBooks. If you choose the option for Microsoft Outlook integration, which costs extra per user, employees and contractors can even create entries from within Outlook for time spent in meetings, on e-mails, and in appointments. This can be a real time-saver, but it's not cheap.

In payroll, QuickBooks beats the competition because it offers numerous good choices. Two do-it-yourself options let you keep payroll in your control and save money. Basic Payroll, the least expensive DIY plan, costs $99 per year for up to three employees or $199 annually for unlimited employees. It provides updating of Federal and state tax tables and lets you run payroll, print paychecks (or do direct deposit), and create reports. Enhanced Payroll adds tracking of workers' compensation and lets you pay payroll taxes using E-File and E-Pay. This extra service are outsourced and will cost some money on an annual basis.

If you want to wash your hands of the whole thing, you've got two choices. With QuickBooks Assisted Payroll, which starts at $59 per month for up to 15 employees, you enter your workers' hours and QuickBooks takes care of the whole shebang for you, including taxes. If you'd rather do payroll online, Intuit offers that option; three months free, and $29.95 per month after that. No other service offers such a variety of options.

QuickBooks' Inventory tracking isn't as exceptional. Peachtree Complete is more flexibility here. What QuickBooks does, it does well—you can define assemblies as well as items, and you can fill in fields for parameters such as cost, sales price, preferred vendor, and part number. Each item record tracks the reorder point, number on hand, and total value. But you don't get sophisticated features such as item location, or item attributes. And you won't find inventory reports for bills of materials or inventory profitability.

Overall, though, QuickBooks has a healthy stable of reports. It divides them into modular areas, and they do a more than respectable job of tying everything together. All four of the products I looked at do a good job of providing reports appropriate for their content. Reports, therefore, are a wash.

Where Intuit does show more creativity than its competitors is in its ability to grow QuickBooks. This year, that means that QuickBooks does more online. For example, its marketing tools include Intuit WebListings (which submits your business listing to major local search sites), Web Advertising, and E-Mail Marketing. Intuit has a voluminous library of third-party applications you can use for varying fees. You might never need, them, but, if you do, they're there. Best of all, they're all tailored to work with QuickBooks, so there's no need to learn and set up a whole new service or application.

QuickBooks is a perennial favorite, and I don't hesitate to recommend it for the lion's share of small businesses. It combines exceptional usability with the features that most small businesses would need. If your inventory requirements are heavy, check Peachtree, but QuickBooks may well be able to accommodate them.

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Intuit QuickBooks Pro 2014 Product Features Organize your business finances all in one place and save time on everyday tasks Easily create invoices and manage expenses Get reliable records for tax timeStep-by-step set up, easy to learn and use Step-by-step tutorials (view larger). New to QuickBooks? Easy to Set Up, Learn, and Use No accounting knowledge necessary Quickly import your ...

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