We love our iPhones and we love QuickBooks. With Intuit’s launch of QuickBooks Connect, we now can have both at the same time. QuickBooks Connect is an Intuit Workplace Application designed to be an on-the-go, anytime anywhere connection to the desktop version of QuickBooks. QuickBooks Connect is a cloud-based application and as such has a monthly subscription fee. However, the iPhone app is free and is downloaded from iTunes.
Signing up for this service is done through the Intuit Workplace App Center. Intuit has created a standardized Intuit Account, using the same User ID and Password for all of their services… so logging in is easy and fast. Intuit Sync Manager is then launched from within the desktop version of QuickBooks where you specify which company data file you would like to synchronize with QuickBooks Connect. See screenshot below:
You can schedule the synchronization to occur at whatever frequency is appropriate. It runs in the background and uses little system resources.
Seeing your iPhone populate with your QuickBooks data is a WOW experience. Customer names, addresses, phone numbers, email, terms and open Invoices come in as well as Sales Receipt history. The item list populates as well.
It is even possible to upload custom templates for use on your iPhone; see screenshot below:
Some customer data integrates with iPhone functionality. With a tap you can phone or email—although on my iPhone 3G, placing the call kicks you out of the QuickBooks Connect app and requires logging back in. I haven’t been able to test it, but that may not happen with the iPhone 4’s ability to toggle between multiple open apps. A welcome enhancement would be if the customer address integrated with Google maps and the GPS functionality.
Being able to access live real time QuickBooks data on the iPhone is an enormous step towards anywhere, anytime ability to conduct business remotely. This is applicable for anyone who sells their products at trade shows, art festivals, farmers markets or the like. It is useful for those that provide services on the field, electricians, plumbers, etc. and even consultants! It’s edging on the field service management applications. It provides greater flexibility or mobility than a laptop as you can connect either by using Wi-Fi or cellular service depending on what is available.
I also see it being helpful to an offsite business owner that needs to know what’s going on back at the office or headquarters. This app is going to be fantastic. It is not quite there yet, but is still in development and continually being improved. There is a ‘Send Feedback’ button inside the app which launches an email to QBConnect@intuit.com with the To: and Subject: fields already filled out.
In the meantime, a few problems to watch out for are: When I first started to play with this app, my iPhone was not running the newest OS. The app states it supports OS 3.0, but I didn’t find that to be true. It will instantaneously crash when trying to create or edit a Sales Receipt or Invoice in any OS other than 4.1. All of the problems with crashing were resolved by upgrading to the newest iPhone OS.
The thing I am most disappointed with is that it does not integrate with Intuit Payment Solutions, allowing you to process credit card payments from inside the app itself. As nice as it is to create sales transactions which sync with your desktop version, when you’re selling products in the field, you need to get paid right then and there! This app will become a truly useful device for conducting business on the go when that functionality is added. For now the workaround is creating the sale transaction in QuickBooks Connect and processing the payment in GoPayment.
The monthly subscription fee seems to be a turn off according to iTunes user reviews. Once there is more robust functionality, especially the ability to process payments, customers will likely be willing to pay the $9.95 monthly subscription fee.
Finally and ironically, QuickBooks Connect on the iPhone does not synchronize with QuickBooks for Mac.
With all that said, there is already a lot to like about QuickBooks Connect for the iPhone and as Intuit is continually developing products, it will only get better. QuickBooks Connect is also available on the web with some additional functionality not yet available on the iPhone app, but that’s a topic for another article…