Intuit's Quickbooks Pro a useful business tool
First published in Business
Issue #621, September 18, 2001. The high-tech office column
by ALAN ZISMAN
Growing up, I was surrounded by accountants. My
and father-in-law were all numbers men. Perhaps inevitably, my eyes
over whenever anything that even hints of balancing the books comes up.
As a result, I was psychologically unfit to take a
look at Intuit's
Quickbooks Pro 2001 software (www.intuit.com/canada). Luckily, John
Hamm, co-owner of Commercial Drive art supplies and stationery
store Eastside Datagraphics, offered to put the $330
product through its
John had worked with earlier versions of the product,
as well as the
competitive MYOB, both aimed at the accounting needs of sole
and small businesses. He found this newest Quickbooks easy to install,
customize and use on a day-to-day basis. The setup program asks a
of questions about your business needs and customizes itself to match.
As a result, you're not overwhelmed with options that you don't need.
you choose, you can later manually turn modules on or off as required.
The setup wizard can even guide you through the steps
of creating databases
of employees, vendors, customers and products. Once again, these
can be customized later if desired. It's one of the only programs in
class that include credit card support for online purchases, along with
the ability to e-mail or fax invoices. It also supports online banking;
the program can take users right into their online accounts.
John liked the more than 100 standard reports that are
too, are user-customizable. Hamm appreciated the ability to export a
contents and format to an Excel spreadsheet with a single click and
able to drill down from report categories all the way to the individual
source entries. Charts can also be drilled down, first to progressively
more detailed charts and eventually to individual entries.
A list of open windows helps keep track of everything
that's going on.
And a "How Do I?" item in each window's title bar offers a list of help
topics related to that window. John found the navigator pane in the
screen less useful, however. Each item connects to one of the core
by opening a window with a picture illustrating the next steps. He
that in this case, a picture wasn't worth 1,000 words, and that he
them more confusing than helpful. Once past the pictures, you can use
navigators to create accounts, to manage customers, vendors or
or for payroll and invoicing.
Other than that, Hamm found that the program offered a
lot of attention
to the little details that made his job easier. It was easy to split a
transaction between two (or more) categories, something that some
programs just can't do at all. Similarly, it is easy to create
payment terms or tax rates if none of the standard entries meet your
Self-employed professionals will appreciate the ease
with which they
can keep track of billable time and costs.
Backing up is quick and easy. You can save your backup
Quickbooks backup service, making your data available at other
or in case of fire or theft. You can even use the program to create a
Despite its roots, the program has been Canadianized,
and using PST, GST and the rest of our local terminology.
There's also a $170 standard version, primarily aimed
who have outgrown Intuit's Quicken personal finance program. It
much of the Pro version, but lacks features such as multi-user
customizable estimates, automated job costing and integration with
Excel, Outlook and ACT. And finally, there's an online version,
for the Web, $22 per month, with a free 30-day trial (www.quickbooks.com).