QuickBooks 2011 Now Available

Intuit's financial software adds features to save business owners and accountants time, including customer "snapshots," batch invoicing, new payment tools and mobile access.

QuickBooks 2011 Company Snapshot
(click image for larger view)
QuickBooks 2011 Company Snapshot
Intuit's QuickBooks 2011 financial software is now available. The 2011 versions are for QuickBooks Pro and QuickBooks Premiere, Intuit's financial software intended for use by small businesses.

According to Intuit, the company sees users for QuickBooks Pro and Premier editions as small businesses with up to 100 employees, with the majority having 20 or fewer. Intuit claims to have 94% retail market share in small business accounting software.

QuickBooks competes with other small business accounting programs like Sage's PeachTree and SimplyAccounting, as well as online offerings like WorkingPoint and InDinero, and for larger SMBs, Intacct and NetSuite, according to Laurie McCabe, Partner, The SMB Group. At the lower end, said McCabe, "Some companies still do their accounting with spreadsheets, but in mature markets like the U.S., companies are likely to use Quicken, or Intuit's Mint.com offering, or consumer-oriented products like QuickBooks Online."

According to Alex Hood, group product manager, QuickBooks for Windows, Intuit, new features and other improvements QuickBooks 2011 reduce the amount of time a user needs to get started with QuickBooks and to perform common tasks, provides new views of company and customer information and adds remote access from mobile devices.

Thanks to these new features, says Hood, "Using QuickBooks is likely to reduce the time and cost of bookkeeping, expedite CPA/accountant time, and help improve invoicing and collection, along with providing better and easier insight into company financials."

"This is a nice upgrade," said SMB Group's McCabe. "Intuit has QuickBooks much easier for customers to use, as opposed to adding specific new accounting features. Many accounting tasks are much easier and require less steps, which is huge for small businesses. For example, being able to import contacts directly from your email, which used to be a time-consuming keyboarding chore, and being able to search invoices based on price rather than having to page through them all."

New features and other improvements in QuickBooks 11 include:

-- Customer Snapshot offers a consolidated view of an individual customer’s purchase history, average days to pay, and outstanding balance. "This summary overview for a customer is similar to the overview we provide of your own business, like how long has someone been a customer, the status of the account balance, and a graph of work done over the past years," says Hood. "This helps small businesses make timely decisions on customer requests."

QuickBooks 2011 Search
(click image for larger view)
QuickBooks 2011 Search
-- QuickBooks Search lets users quickly locate any customer, account, report or invoice details within their QuickBooks repository with a simple keyword search. "Search is now much faster and more powerful," says Hood. "For example, you can now find related customer records, invoices and other information."

-- Customer and Vendor History provides at-a-glance views of important customer and vendor details, such as history, estimates and past orders, on a single screen.

-- Balance Sheet by Class provides a way for QuickBooks Premier users to separately track multiple funds, departments or locations in a single, easy-to-access report. "This is useful for businesses that need to report business by category, like retainers, or restricted versus non-restricted funds, or by apartment building," says Hood. "One non-profit administrator reported this specific feature will save their firm four to five hours per month."

-- Batch Invoicing lets small businesses owners who often bill many customers for the same service streamline the process by creating one template invoice to send to all related customers. "Batch invoicing makes it possible to create a batch of invoices for a group of customers in a few keystrokes," says Hood. According to Intuit, one storage unit manager, who previously needed to perform hundreds of mouse clicks to create invoices for overdue invoicing, reports, "I used the batch invoice feature and in just two minutes I had every invoice completed and applied!"

-- Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail Integration allows businesses to easily send invoices, estimates, and other emails from their preferred webmail service directly from QuickBooks.

-- Collections Center, in the Customer Center, helps users to quickly identify overdue and almost-due invoices, and then directly email collection notices from their Outlook, Yahoo, Gmail or Hotmail accounts. "One beta user said this saves them three to five hours per month in follow-up," says Hood.

-- New payment tools. "QuickBooks Merchant Services is a credit-card processing capability fully integrated into QuickBooks, and will also offer this as a mobile solution, GoPayment," says Hood. "Once a card is swiped, the payment is done, without having to touch the keyboard." Also, the new Intuit Payment Network (sold separately) provides a way for a small business’s customers to instantly pay their invoices, using clickable links -- this makes it easier for customers to pay and for companies to capture and record payments."

QuickBooks 2011 Customer Invoice
(click image for larger view)
QuickBooks 2011 Customer Invoice
Unlike tax-oriented financial software, versions of QuickBooks are not tax or calendar year dependent; however, notes Hood, "Many customers start their new year by upgrading to the new version, for the new features."

Other new features include:

-- Faster boot-up. "If you have a lot of transactions, your QuickBooks files used to be large, for heavy QuickBooks users, startup could take minutes," says Hood. "Now, start-up for QuickBooks is fast regardless of file size."

-- Enabling QuickBooks to "add the people you so business with," says Hood. "We can take information from webmail clients like Gmail, and sort and tag them as 'customer,' 'vendor,' or other types."

-- QuickBooks Connect, a new add-on service that lets small businesses access key QuickBooks data remotely via the Internet or a mobile device. This includes accessing essential QuickBooks customer and transaction data, creating and managing invoices, checking payment status, and pulling other customer information.

For businesses looking to adopt QuickBooks, Intuit has simplified the startup process with the new "Quick Start Center," making it easier and faster for new small businesses users to get up and running in QuickBooks 2011. The new Quick Start Center "guides users through installation, and lets them import business contacts directly from their Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail webmail accounts," according to Intuit. "The Center also recommends first steps to populate a new user’s account with key information to start quickly."

In terms of data migration from previous versions, according to Intuit, "When you install QuickBooks 2011, the new software will find the older version of QuickBooks on your computer and import your company file and preferences for you."

Intuit QuickBooks Financial Software Pro and Premier Editions (including industry-specific versions) are available directly from Intuit; QuickBooks Pro and Premier will be available on Oct. 10 at retailers including Amazon.com, Best Buy, CDW, Circuit City, Costco, Fry’s Electronics, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Sam’s Club, Staples, Target and Wal-Mart.

Suggested retail prices for 2011 editions are $229.95 (upgrade, $199.95) for QuickBooks Pro Edition, and $399.95 (upgrade, $359.95) for QuickBooks Premier Edition (including industry-specific editions for accountants, contractors, manufacturers and wholesalers, nonprofits, professional service firms and retailers).

QuickBooks 2011 Pro and Premiere are for use on Windows XP, Vista and 7, with optional SaaS add-on services (like QuickBooks Connect). Other QuickBooks products from Intuit include the QuickBooks Online SaaS solutions QuickBooks 2011 for Mac, QuickBooks Accountant 2011 and QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions 11.0.

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