There are always going to be people who prefer to do it the old way.
Reading print books instead of digital versions. Taking the train instead of flying. Using installed software instead of cloud-based.
For Intuit, that means it maintains its QuickBooks Desktop product even as it pushes users online. QuickBooks still has a solid installed following—CFO Neil Williams says QuickBooks Desktop is “a resilient and important part of [the] business.”
In early September, Intuit announced the details of its newest desktop offering, QuickBooks Desktop 2018.
The company has made some much needed improvements to its product, while leaving most of the basics intact. If you’ve been using Desktop for years, nothing is going to leap off the screen at you, but you should be happy with the investment Intuit has made and the direction the product is taking.
Today, we’ll look at the major changes, talk about how the community has received Desktop 2018, and look to the future for potential refinements in the next iteration of QuickBooks Desktop.
Changes in QuickBooks Desktop 2018
A lot of the changes made in Desktop 2018 revolve around workflow.
New features in QuickBooks Desktop 2018:
We will explore the major new features in more depth below.
A note before we move on—this is for Windows users in the U.S. only. Charlie Russell, the most authoritative Intuit watcher around, predicts “QuickBooks for Mac 2016 is the last major release” and that, based on Inuit’s historical actions, “QuickBooks for Mac will be discontinued in 2019.”
That said, let’s dive into the biggest of what’s new and different.
Before my current job, I wouldn’t have said this was a major update. Now, I can’t imagine working with just one monitor, like some sort of early 90s loser.
The QuickBooks Desktop version allows you to use up to three monitors. Previously, there were complicated workarounds for this, but they really just extended your workspace into your other monitor, which limited the effectiveness of the setup.
Search in chart of accounts
Most small businesses can get by with two dozen or so accounts in their chart of accounts. That means you shouldn’t ever really need to search for anything. Some businesses, however, have many more accounts.
The chart of accounts search in QuickBooks Desktop 2018
Companies that manufacture things have more accounts, as do those that have lots of assets that need depreciation. If you find yourself lost in your accounts, this new search feature is for you.
In some reports, you can now toggle between cash and accrual based reporting. This can show you the difference between the two so businesses that report on one but file taxes on the other can see both views easily. It’s a relatively specific problem, but for companies affected, this is a huge win.
Past due stamp
QuickBooks Desktop can now automatically add in a “Past Due” stamp to your invoices, giving customers a nudge toward making their payments. This seems like an incredibly small thing, but studies have shown that little notifications like this can increase payments dramatically.
While Online and Desktop have a lot of overlap, there are still some fundamental differences. Better inventory tools is one of the major QuickBooks Desktop selling points.
Stacy Kildal at Fundera summarized it by saying, “If I were to generalize where I think QuickBooks Desktop still holds a major advantage, I’d say managing large amounts of inventory and job costing.”
QuickBooks Desktop’s new inventory reports
In QuickBooks Desktop 2018, users get three customizable, inventory reports—Valuation, Stock Status, and Assembly Shortage (for Enterprise users only). Previous versions of QuickBooks had some reports, but they lacked customization options.
This, combined with some changes to inventory and order processing at the Enterprise level, points toward Intuit recognizing the importance of inventory in its tools and hopefully forecasts more inventory-specific support down the line.
What’s in store for QuickBooks Desktop in the future?
Russell says, “All in all I am happy with this release. We aren’t seeing a lot of big changes in Pro and Premier, so there isn’t as much to compel those users to upgrade, but you may see something that catches your interest.”
If that’s in line with the general reaction, Intuit will need to keep innovating to keep customers upgrading. Unlike QuickBooks Online, users of Desktop can buy the software once and keep on keeping on until the end of time. If Intuit wants to slow or reverse sliding sales, it needs to find more ways to keep users interested.
I imagine that will happen. The new inventory report customization features are a good step toward a stronger inventory system that could draw in new users or cause those on the fence to step it up for Desktop 2019.
I wouldn’t be surprised if QuickBooks Enterprise basically dragged Desktop into the future. On a recent earnings call, Intuit CEO Brad Smith said, “[We] still have a very healthy and growing QuickBooks Enterprise franchise that’s growing both customers and market share, and it’s growing revenue, and that’s what’s basically keeping the total desktop revenue ecosystem slightly positive.”
Intuit sees some future value in its installed Enterprise software, which may mean features trickle down to small and midsize business users.
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