QuickBooks 2012 is Coming! Set for release later in September, QuickBooks 2012 contains a significant number of new features, as well as improvements to existing ones. Some additions have me very excited and are very welcome. FIFO inventory, Serial/Lot Tracking, Lead management, free local attached documents, and much much more! This article will list the major changes that I’m aware of, with details to come in future articles.
PLEASE NOTE that much of this is based on information from an early release candidate of QuickBooks 2012 – it is possible that some features may vary from what is described here. Also, this applies strictly to the U.S. editions of QuickBooks in the Windows environment.
Keep your eye on the QuickBooks and Beyond blog over the next few weeks as I release a series of articles that go into more detail on the new and improved features. This article is a summary of what we will see.
An interesting trend I’m seeing here is an increased emphasis on inventory, particularly if you are using QuickBooks Enterprise. Also you will see a number of improvements specifically aimed at accounting professionals.
As far as I can tell at this time, there are no price changes for the 2012 release. ProAdvisors should be getting their copies mid September, the general public in late September, and it will hit the mass market retailers in October (please note that these timeframes are tentative and may change). Update: the Intuit QuickBooks Accountant product price goes up $100 (this is, essentially, “Premier Accountant Edition”, but they changed the name awhile ago. Thanks to Ruth Perryman for pointing that out.
One last caveat – Intuit doesn’t always do a good job at getting the word out on what new features are included in the various editions and versions of QuickBooks. Some features are found in all versions other than Pro, some are only in the Accountant versions, some are only in Enterprise, and other combinations. I try to point that out when I know, but at this early point I might be a bit off on some of the features. My apologies in advance…
Inventory Center: This is a major new feature. We’ve had customer centers, vendor centers, even report centers, but inventory hasn’t been a big focus. Inventory takes a front seat now, with it’s own “center” that provides you with access to many features that have been scattered about. I’ll note that some people aren’t as excited as I am about this, but that may be due to my strong interest in inventory management. This feature is not available in Pro. For details, see my article at http://www.sleeter.com/blog/?p=1350
Document Center: This is a MAJOR CHANGE in philosophy for QuickBooks. Attaching documents to your transactions/lists is available FREE if you are storing your documents locally. There have been many, many calls for this. You still have all the paper clip icons, you still have a document center, you still have integration with scanners – but you don’t have to pay the monthly fee if you store documents locally. In addition you can now drag and drop documents into your file, from your computer system or from Outlook messages. Great!
Global To-Do List: The “To Do” list has been pumped up – now you have new features, and it is accessible from many new locations in the program. They are getting closer to making QuickBooks be a mini CRM product. You can specify actions to take, priorities, and much more.
Lead Center: Another shot at moving towards a mini-CRM functionality. A new “Center” is added to manage Leads – contacts who aren’t yet customers. You can easily convert them TO a customer, but they don’t clutter up the customer list until that time.
Calendar: This is a nifty feature, a calendar that will let you see your To Do’s, invoices and bills coming due or past due. Also what transactions you entered on a given date. I think I’m going to find this very useful
Create Credit Memo from Invoice: They’ve added a way to create a credit memo when you are in the Create Invoices window, which is very helpful. There actually are several “one click transaction” options here in a “Create” menu item.
Contributed Reports: QuickBooks has numerous reports, and you can modify them to fit your needs. Don’t you ever wonder about what kinds of reports OTHER people might be creating that would be helpful to you? This is a feature in the Report Center that lets you share your report templates with everyone else, and be able to download reports that other people have developed.
Batch Timesheets: This allows you to process multiple vendor/employee time sheets in a batch. You can create one time sheet that can be used for multiple entities.
Updated Features and Improvements
Some of these “updates” could be considered “new features” – I’m not always sure how to classify some of them.
There are a lot of minor changes that you will see in the icon bar and various menus. Some things are renamed, some things are moved to a new location, some things have been dropped, and there are new items and new menus. Lots of small changes that I won’t list – but I do find that it is a hassle for people who have to support QuickBooks when Intuit moves things around, particularly when they don’t tell us about the changes!
Express Start is an improvement on the “new company file setup” routine. Instead of going through the “interview” there is a quicker way for you to set up a new company file.
Improved Excel Integration is available – I’m not sure if this is an “update” or a “new feature”. There are a couple of things going on here that you will like if you work with Excel and QuickBooks data. First – if you export an Excel report and then make changes to it such as fonts and added information, you can save this as a template so that if you export that same report later, your modifications will continue to the newly exported report. In addition, you can update the data in your report from Excel itself without having first open the QuickBooks company file. Very nice!
Improved Help and Search adds a search box to the task bar which lets you search for help as well as searching for information in your file. The help window has changed and hopefully will show you more relevant information more quickly. Also note that the Intuit Community feature is not enabled by default when you create a new company file, unlike before. In fact, the option to Show Live Community isn’t even found in Preferences any more. The search feature has also been improved, which I’ll go into later.
Condense Data is the new name for Clean Up Company Data and there are multiple changes. You can now select how Inventory information is condensed, and more transaction situations are covered. The Accountant products and Enterprise will have additional features that I describe later. For more details, see my article at http://www.sleeter.com/blog/?p=1570
Features for Accountants
If you purchase QuickBooks Accountant 2012 or QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions for Accountants then you get a bunch of new features. This, along with the new ProAdvisor program and web site, indicate that Intuit is working on providing new features to help accounting professionals. According to Jacint Tumacder, Intuit’s Product Manager for QuickBooks Accountant, there are three goals here. Help Accountants be more efficient, grow practices, and get more value.
Accountant Center: OK, Accountants, now you get a center of your very own! It’s about time! This is a new “home page” for accounting professionals that pulls all of the different features that you need all into one compact window. This provides you with easy access to the Client Data Review, QuickBooks Statement Writer, bank reconciliations, memorized reports, and much more. You can customize it to add the features you are interested in. Tools like Reclassify Transactions are right there, instead of being buried.
QuickBooks Statement Writer replaces Intuit Statement Writer. It is the same product (with some small improvements) – but now it is not sold separately, it is included in the Accountant products (and renamed). And they raised the price on QuickBooks Accountant 2012 to cover this.
Period Copy may be a huge boon to some people, although I am still investigating the details to see if I like the results it gives. This gives you the ability to create a company file that drops transactions outside of a date range. That is, you can create a file that has only transactions for one particular year. Thinking of IRS audits? This may help! For more details see my article at http://www.sleeter.com/blog/?p=1570
Create From Existing File allows you to create a new company file from an existing one, that has many of the list and preference settings.
Improvements to Accountants Copy completes the full integration of the Client Data Review and the ability to apply vendor and customer credits. These didn’t go back to the client before, now they do. My thanks to Laura Madeira for pointing this one out.
File Manager Improvements include the ability to create (and restore) a backup copy of the Client List and Password Vault. This can be used to transfer information to other workstations as well. There is a new information tab
Features in Enterprise
BIG BIG CHANGES HERE if you are an Enterprise user, particularly if you have subscribed to the Advanced Inventory option (which is available for an additional fee). In the past, Advanced Inventory primarily provided Enterprise users with the ability to manage multiple locations for inventory.
Enhanced Inventory Receiving: This is huge. This is worrisome. I’m going to be talking about this one in great detail. The big worries here is that if you decide to take advantage of this feature it can change prior period financials and the option is not reversible, you can’t change your mind later. What is it? This allows you to separate the receipt transaction and the bill for an item. It might not sound like much, but it solves some big problems for some businesses. I’m just worried that people will jump in without understanding the impact. For more details see my article at http://www.sleeter.com/blog/?p=1303
Automatic Price Markup is going to be very popular – lots of people have been asking for this. You can choose if you want to have QuickBooks change sales prices automatically when the cost of the item changes. Also you have more control over how the “cost” field is updated. You can set a global preference, and you can set overrides for individual items. Big improvement here! For more details see my article at http://www.sleeter.com/blog/?p=1330
Images in the Item List: People have asked for this, Intuit is starting to listen. You can add an image of your product in the item record, through the Inventory Center. Nice – but so far as I’ve found at this point you can’t add that image to an invoice or other document (maybe I haven’t looked in the right places?). See more about this at http://www.sleeter.com/blog/?p=1350
Increased capacity for Price Level Lists: In Enterprise they have changed the limit of Price Level Lists up from 100 to 750, which will help some people. But I think that people with huge number of price level lists may be getting themselves into trouble…
Find & Select in Sales Forms: This is a nice improvement that you might not notice. Before 2012 you had this in Inventory Adjustments, where you could click the add multiple items button and get a window that let you easily find and select several items. In 2012 you now have the find & select option (same thing, just renamed) in the item dropdown in your sales forms, so you can find items more easily, and add multiple items quickly. A very nice improvement.
Physical Inventory Worksheet filter by site: If you have been using Advanced Inventory, this is a nice improvement.
More multi-user activities: More functions that you can perform in multi-user mode instead of switching to single user – set a closing date, make deposits, change list sort orders
Features in Advanced Inventory Only:
- FIFO Inventory: Wow, this was surprising. Now you can elect to cost your inventory by FIFO instead of Average Cost. Lots of people have been clamoring for this. I have some concerns relating to auditing this, but on the surface it looks good and easy (and you can reverse the decision). There are a number of cautions about this, as I go into in this article: http://www.sleeter.com/blog/?p=1372
- Serial or Lot Number Tracking : Note I say “or” – you can choose one or the other. I view this as the first step for the features. There are things that I would like to see added here, but for a starting point this looks pretty good. I do have some cautions about workflow and how you can control this, as I’ll go into in another article. You can enter your serial numbers, and use them in adjustments and sales/purchase documents. Alternately, you can specify lots of your item, and sell from specific lots. See my articles on Serial Number Tracking and Lot Tracking .
There isn’t a real need for Intuit to roll out online and mobile applications for QuickBooks in conjunction with the release of QuickBooks 2012, so we aren’t seeing a lot of new things at this time. There is one big one, though.
Salesforce now has a web/mobile integration product that works with QuickBooks. If you are a fan of the Salesforce CRM product, this could be exciting. There will be two versions (Group and Professional), and it will work with Quickbooks Pro, Premier, Enterprise and Online. More on this next week.
You May Have Already Seen This?
There are some features that will be new to some people but not to others. Why? Because of the QuickBooks Plus Subscription program that I’ve written about before. Here are some features that were released earlier in the 2011 program as a part of the Plus subscription, that you might not have seen before. Plus subscribers and members of the ProAdvisor program have already seen these. Note, though, that in some cases there have been some additional improvements from what the Plus/ProAdvisor users have seen before.
Batch Invoice for Time and Expenses improves the work flow if you are invoicing multiple customers for billable time and expenses. I talked about this feature in this article on the 2011 R6 update.
Memorized Transactions were changed slightly in the 2011 R6 Plus update, mostly a wording change. That is showing up in all 2012 versions to, along with a new “how often” option of every two months. In addition, the “one click” menu (“Create” in windows like Create Invoices has an option to memorize the transaction.
Transactions on the History Pane was also added in the 2011 R6 Plus update. So now everyone gets it. The History Pane has two tabs now, instead of one. More information is available there (again, see the 2011 R6 article for screen shots).
No Company File Open Window: If you had the 2011 R7 Plus update you saw that additional information was added to the No Company Open window, such as the file size and last date modified. One thing added then that I overlooked – the ability to edit the company list directly from this window. I like this improvement, now everybody gets it.
QuickBooks for Mac
Here is a brief list of the changes in the Mac version. Please note that I have not had my hands on this release myself.
- Redesigned Forms: Customer History panel has been added.
- Add Online Transactions in Batches instead of one at a time.
- Improved Search.
- Progress Invoicing.
- Item descriptions can now be seen on forms.
- Bank Reconcilation converts with your export to the Windows version of QuickBooks.
- Miscellaneous: There are a number of navigation, color, keyboard shortcuts, organizational changes to improve the user interface, based on user requests.
Should I Upgrade?
That is the question that I’m always asked each year. Should I upgrade to this new release? My typical answer to this every year is that you go ahead and purchase the upgrade, but that you should probably wait awhile before actually moving your business over to the 2012 program unless you strongly need the new features. Why? Every year we find that there are bugs in the first release, and you don’t want to be the person who gets caught by one. Wait a month or two – see if people are running into errors – there will probably be some updates that will resolve the problems fairly soon.
Also, I have concerns about some of the features, where they either might not be the right fit for some kinds of businesses or that the impact of using these new features might not be fully understood by people choosing to use them. Particularly in some of the new inventory features. I will have articles on these features later this month, where I’ll outline my concerns and cautions.
Having said all of that, I’ll note that I’ve been running the program for awhile now without any issues in QuickBooks itself. It seems pretty stable, but I don’t use all features as heavily as some businesses.
So, hold on to your hats (or your keyboards?), here comes a long list of articles that goes into the important new and improved features in more depth, over the next several weeks. Let me know which features are the most important to you so that I can push those articles up higher in the list!
I would like to thank Laura Madeira (ACS) and Kim Amsbaugh (Intuit) for all of their help in preparing this material.