Friday, July 22, 2011

QuickBooks Online - getting started

Part of our ICT strategy - (
Information Communications and Technology Strategy) - is to have our IT systems in ‘the cloud’.  Our main enterprise solution has been in ‘the cloud' since we began in 2004.

TLA Software has hosted our enterprise system in a server farm in the US and in that time I cannot recall a single time our server went down.

With this experience I was excited when I discovered QuickBooks had an online offering. As I researched it I became less enthusiastic about it as it was not what I considered a true ‘cloud’ solution.

What Reckon had done was simply deploy QuickBooks via a terminal server solution.  For non-geeks, the best way I can explain it is that a terminal server allows your desktop to connect remotely to it via a web browser.  It ends up that you are viewing the server via your browser such as Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox.


I though I would start with the good things about QuickBooks Online.

1. It is relatively inexpensive.  
Each user is just $295.  For a little more you can have it for a Mac or via a tablet.

2. It offers the benefits of being portable.  
For Teamwork Oz, it allows us to work from home.

3. No more upgrades are required.  
The annual task of upgrading each PC with the latest version and updating the tax tables becomes a thing of the past.

4.  You do not have to invest in any server hardware or it personnel to manage the system.


This is the reason I wrote this blog.  I wanted to let other people know the problems you may face getting started on QuickBooks Online especially if you are an existing QuickBooks user.

1. The instructions when you get started are poor.   
When I first signed up I did not receive my username and passwords.  I paid and selected three users.  I entered their details and I should have received an email from QuickBooks which included my system generated usernames and passwords.  A call to QuickBooks support rectified this and they sent me an email with these details. More thorough instructions would have eliminated this issue.

2. No link was provided between the QuickBooks website and the QuickBooks Online program. 
I logged on to QuickBooks website and followed on screen instructions.  I should have ended up with a link to QuickBooks on my screen.  But I didn't have it.  Another call to support and discovered they preferred I use Internet Explorer.  Teamwork Oz’s preferred browser is Firefox.  So I didn't accept this especially when the documentation I read said that Firefox is supported.  The guy in support suggested that I could download the Internet Explorer tab for Firefox and so I did this.

Success!  I finally was able to log in to QuickBooks Online.

3. Uploading the program was a real drag.
The next hurdle was just around the corner. How do I get my existing QuickBooks file onto the server? Once again… NO instructions. So I called QuickBooks Support again.   They suggested I copy and paste from my PC to the window to the server.  We left it to upload overnight…. no success.  Seems our 200mb file was too big using this method so they directed me to a QuickBooks file upload webpage….  same problem.

By now, my frustration was beginning to get the better of me.

So I suggested to them that I would upload it to my Google docs account and shared it with one of the support team leaders.  It took about 1 hour to upload it.  On the Monday I finally was able to access it, when I had actually purchased it on the Tuesday before.

4. Only User 1 could access the system. 
User 1 began using QuickBooks.  All seemed to be going well.  Then User 2 tried to login but had no file to access when they got onto the server.  Another day passed before User 2 and 3 could access the file.

5. Could it really be that they left us with 2 separate copies of our QuickBooks file? 
On the Tuesday user one began working on invoicing.  On Wednesday user 2 began preparing payroll for 78 staff.  At 5pm user 1 logged into quickbooks to approve payroll and upload the pay file... nothing there.  It seems that when QuickBooks corrected the error of no access for user 2 and 3 they moved the file to the correct location but then left the original file that user 1 had started using.  This meant that for 2 days we were using 2 different files.

Well we missed the deadline with NAB and our staff were paid late for the first time in 6 years.  This was a very disappointing outcome to say the least.

6.  ‘It was all my fault’ 
The following day after we had explained to our staff that their pays would be late I contacted QuickBooks to discuss what happened. Their response was, "I have been doing this long enough to know that this is your fault. You didn’t follow the instructions properly and you will have to manually correct the file"

This got me mad.  After I explained to him what I think happened he put me on hold for some time. When he returned all he said was that he was going to pass me over to one of the team leaders.

They agreed that they had made a mistake.

Surely that is the end of it.

8.  Auto generated emails come from QuickBooks Online. 
When we send payslips our staff receive an email from QuickBooks Online rather than

It's not a big deal but it should be something that is highlighted

9.  When customising reports any columns that you add will drop out of the report when trying to print or export the data.

In conclusion, I believe it is worth persisting with QuickBooks but I think they were too quick to launch their 'online' offering.  Their online help is both lacking and often inaccurate.  If you rely on the online help to do things you will waste a lot of your time.  
My suggestion is to ring support and be guided through any issues you have.