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Intuit QuickBooks Online Accountant

November 15, 2011 | By | 15 Replies More

One of the big knocks against QuickBooks Online has been the lack of support for Accountants. In the Windows desktop versions of QuickBooks we have QuickBooks Accountant for both the Pro/Premier level and Enterprise level of the products, we have the accountant’s copy feature that let’s us make adjustments and corrections, we have the client data review  feature, and we have the Accountant Center in the 2012 product that provides us with easy access to various tools. QuickBooks Online hasn’t provided us with any of those features. Until now! Intuit is releasing Intuit QuickBooks Online Accountant. Let’s take a quick look at what this includes.

imageQuickBooks Online is very different than the desktop versions of QuickBooks, and it might not work for all companies. However, if you want online access to your accounting program, if you have people logging in to your company file from various locations, this is a product worth looking at. Intuit has been placing an increased emphasis in developing this product over the past few years.

However, one of the big drawbacks has been the lack of support for Accountants. In years past the Intuit ProAdvisor program provided us with an “accountant login” that let us access a client’s file directly, but that is no longer a feature of the ProAdvisor program. I was wondering why Intuit dropped this feature – that made working with QuickBooks Online customers much more difficult.

The answer is Intuit QuickBooks Online Accountant. This is a new product that Intuit is introducing. You can sign up for the “pilot project” at http://accountant.intuit.com/qboa(Note, this is no longer a pilot project, QBOA is available as a part of the ProAdvisor program for no additional charge).

The two big advantages of this new product are that you can manage your online client’s data in one place, and that Intuit has added an Accountant Center that provides many new tools that can be used to write off invoices, create financial sheet comparisons, create adjusting journal entries and more.

Let’s take a quick look at what this product provides. Please note that I’ve only been using it for a very short time – this is NOT a full analysis of the program. Note also that since this is a pilot project the final release may look different than what I’m showing here. They are still modifying the product based on feedback.

Customer Invitation

Your customer can “invite” you to connect as an accountant. They will log in to their QBO account and go to the Manage Users section, and click the Invite Accountant button. This starts a “mini interview” process that will send an email to you (the accountant).

QuickBooks Online Accountant invitation

When you receive the email you can click on a link to connect this with your QBOA account.

QuickBooks Online Accountant email

One very important feature here – your client does not have to give you their login information or passwords. By going through this process the client has preapproved your access, and you access the file through your own login. Transactions you add will show as being created by YOU, rather than your using a client’s login. This is very good!

QuickBooks Online Accountant Clients

When you log in to your QuickBooks Online Accountant (QBOA) account you will see a list of the clients that you are working with on the left side of the screen. If you click on one of the clients the contact information shows on the right. It is very convenient to have all of your client information in one place.

QuickBooks Online Accountant client screen

If you click on the link for the client file a new browser window will open with the client’s QBO file – but with the additional of an accountant tab. Note that you do NOT have to remember passwords – all that is handled behind the scenes.

QuickBooks Online Accountant Center

Widgets in the Accountant Center

There are a number of “widgets” or sections in this window that provide very useful information. You can drag them to the position that you like. Let’s take a quick look at what is available.

Accountant Tips

This has some basic information on how to work with QBOA. I’m not sure if these change as time goes on. Essentially some quick tips or help information.

Accountant Tips

What’s New

This seems to be similar to the Accountant Updates that we have in the Accountant Center in QuickBooks Desktop. I hope that they have information about planned service outages, changes in the product and such. This could be useful IF they manage it properly.

What's New

Accountant Preferences

This is where you will be able to set preferences that apply to all of your client files. At this time there is only one preference – I suspect that as time goes on we’ll see more here. I like the concept – they have this available when you are logged in to the client file, so that I don’t have to go back to the QBOA home screen.

Accountant Preferences

Messages and Tasks

This could be a nifty feature, but I’ve not played with it in detail. You have a place where you can create “tasks” that you want to perform, as well as sending messages to users.

Messages and Tasks

I’m concerned that they may use this for “advertising”, as you can see from the top message shown here. Why not keep that in “What’s New”? So I’ll reserve judgment on this to see how it is used.

You can add to do’s, or you can add messages for yourself or for your client.

Adding a message

Online Banking

I didn’t have this feature enabled, so I can only speculate that you are going to have information available that will allow you to manage the online banking features.

Online banking

Reconciliation

This is a feature that was added to the Desktop version of QuickBooks, and it is proving to be very popular. I’m very glad that they’ve brought this feature to QBOA. This lists the accounts that can be reconciled, their status, and their current balance.

QBOA Reconciliation

Accountant Tools

Here is where we start to see significant improvements. The features that marked with a green star are new features only found in QBOA.

QBOA Accountant Tools

Looking at the Accountant Tools

Some of the screen shots I show here are taken from materials provided to me by Intuit, as my test data didn’t always give me something worth showing here.

Reclassify Transactions in Batch

This is a handy feature that will help reclassify transactions with an incorrect account or class all in one step.

QuickBooks Online Accountant Reclassify Transactions

Adjusting Journal Entries

What would an accountant do without adjusting journal entries? QBOA adds this check box to the journal entry screen.

QuickBooks Online Accountant Adjusting Journal Entry

 

Balance Sheet and Profit & Loss Comparison

These two very useful reports are added when you use QBOA.

QuickBooks Online Accountant Comparison Reports

Adjusted Trial Balance

QuickBooks Online Accountant Adjusted Trial Balance

Reconcile

This feature allows you to reconcile accounts, but it goes beyond what the client can perform. See the two columns marked with green stars – these are available only through QBOA. You can see the changes you make, and any auto adjustments.

QuickBooks Online Accountant Reconcile

Voided / Deleted Transactions

The Voided/Deleted Transactions report lists transactions that are voided or deleted (well, duhhhhh). This can be a very useful report – and you can search it by keywords.

QuickBooks Online Accountant voided/deleted transactions

Write Off Invoices

You can select and write-off a group of invoices to the account you specify in one step.

QuickBooks Online Accountant Write Off Invoices

This IS a Pilot Project

I’m not entirely clear what the difference is between a “beta test” and a “pilot project”, other than my not being covered by a Non Disclosure Agreement in a pilot project. It was a “closed” pilot for awhile – available only by invitation. Now it is an “open” pilot that everyone can try.

I have run into a number of rough edges while playing around with this. So far the only issues have been in the signup process and availability. I ran into some funny issues in the process of creating my QBOA account (not many) as well as accessing my “client” accounts.

In Intuit’s defense (to a degree), my “accounts” with Intuit tend to be, shall we say, “messed up”, so this might not be a typical experience.  Also, this IS a “pilot project” so rough edges aren’t surprising.

  • The QBOA signup process goes through the Intuit App Center, and you have to associate it with a “business profile”. Unfortunately, over the years, I’ve created many “test” business profiles. You can’t delete them (nor can the Intuit support team, unfortunately). I’ve tried to get them straightened out, but sometimes it is a chore. And, I’ll note that I’m not a typical Accountant or ProAdvisor in how I use the Intuit App Center. Hopefully YOU won’t run into these issues.
  • I wanted to set up my ProAdvisor copy of QuickBooks Online so that I could test how that would work as a “client”. That isn’t a normal situation, and I may have run into some problems with the way I set this up. Unfortunately, I hadn’t used my ProAdvisor QBO account for some time, so it had “expired” even though my ProAdvisor account is current. Trying to reactivate that was troublesome. This doesn’t work though, as QBOA recognizes that the QBO account is the same account, and it won’t let me see Accountant features. Rats!
  • I had a different QBO account that is not associated with my ProAdvisor account, which I used to test the “invitation” process. This didn’t work smoothly, however it is also possibly that I ran into some issues based on a service outage. I was able to get this to work eventually.

So far, all of the rough edges related to setting up my QBOA account and getting the client accounts associated. These are all things that should be worked out once we get past the “pilot project” phase. As far as the features within QBOA, I’ve not run into any problems, but I’ll admit that I’ve only looked at this for a short time.

QuickBooks Online is Offline

My timing is always bad it seems. Just as I started testing this I ran into a big QuickBooks Online service outage. That makes it hard to test! This is why so many of my screen shots have been taken from promotional material rather than from my actual test data. I went through all of the features and played with the various options (and everything worked GREAT), but when I cam back in to take screen shots I was getting an odd error message that didn’t make sense.

QBOA had a hard time understanding when QBO itself wasn’t available. The error messages I received didn’t always make sense. At first I thought that the issue was in QBOA itself.

When I tried to log in to my “client” QBO account, I found that the real problem wasn’t in QBOA (other than the QBOA error message not being clear). QuickBooks Online was Offline!

QuickBooks Online is Offline

So, some of my issues in signing up might have been due to the problems that Intuit had with service outages. I would like to note that there was a notice in the Accountant Updates section of my Accountant Center in QuickBooks desktop. That notification saved me a lot of searching around, I’m glad that they used that function to disseminate information.

Notification of Service Outage

As I said, this IS a pilot project, and some rough edges are to be expected.

I DO have Concerns…

I’ve only been able to work with this for a short time, so I can’t really give a detailed evaluation of the specific features. However…

  1. Hey, it is a pilot project. I think that I’d be a bit cautious about rushing into this with my clients at this time. I hope that Intuit can work out some of the signup glitches that I ran into so that a ProAdvisor would be able to use their own account as a test vehicle. I recommend that you get used to the product, see how it works, before you bring clients in. My concern here is that this is a new product, let’s move slowly. Play with it, let’s see if any big issues come up during the “pilot project” phase. If you can’t get it to work with your ProAdvisor QBO account you can always create a free “30 day trial” account with a separate email address.
  2. Perhaps my biggest concern is that at this time we don’t know how much it is going to cost us. Will it be free as a part of the ProAdvisor program (without Intuit raising our ProAdvisor fee again)? I would like to see that. Will there be a monthly charge to use the program? I wouldn’t be surprised to see that – Accounting Professionals are a profit center for Intuit (directly, not just because we bring in more client business to them). If there is a charge, what will that charge be? That may be my biggest hang-up at this time. How can I get all my clients signed up for this feature, get them hooked, without knowing what the cost to ME will be? I have to build that fee into my billing to them. Heck, Intuit may charge me so much that it isn’t worthwhile, but I would hate to dump clients that I signed up for this.

My personal view of this is that this is a product that could be really great for Accounting Professionals, but that I’m not ready to sign up my clients. I want to play with this more. I want to know what the charges will be. I want to see if there are any hidden gotchas.

If Intuit keeps the fee low (free for ProAdvisors please?) and the product is solid, this could really open up the QuickBooks Online market for accounting professionals. I like the direction that they are going with this.

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Category: Cloud Accounting, For Consultants/Accountants, Product Reviews, QuickBooks Online, Working with QuickBooks

About the Author ()

Charlie Russell is the founder of CCRSoftware. He's been involved with the small business software industry since the mid 70's, and remembers releasing his first commercial accounting software product when you had a one-floppy disk drive system, loading the program from one floppy and then replacing that with the other floppy to hold the data. He has a special interest in inventory and manufacturing software for small businesses. Charlie is a Certified Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor with additional certifications for QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Enterprise. He also is a Xero Certified Partner. Visit his CCRSoftware web site for information about his QuickBooks add-on products. Charlie can be reached at [email protected] He is also the author of the California Wildflower Hikes blog Connect with Charlie at Google

Comments (15)

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  1. Marcia says:

    I don’t recall having as much trouble as you signing up for the Pilot, but I don’t like the interface. I too had multiple accounts – from previous Customer Manager tries – and my clients show two times in the list. One as a CRM type entry and the second as a QBO user. What’s up with that? Also the login is decidedly slower and cumbersome with the QBOA. And as more of a bookkeeper than a traditional accountant, access to the tools through this login isn’t worth it. I too would like to know the cost before I get used to the accountant tools. Some tools, like the reconciliation window, have migrated to the regular QB Online experience.

  2. Thanks, Marcia.

    I’m sorry that they are going through the Workplace App Center to manage this, as that is something that I think needs a lot of work. There are many issues there that don’t relate directly to the QuickBooks Online experience.

    As far as speed, that is something that may be due to the problems that QBO is having this week. Or it may be something that is going to improve as they work through this (I hope). After all, it is a “pilot project”…

  3. Andrea Lee Carter says:

    I have a current subscription to QBO Plus which was part of my Certified ProAdvisor free software; my subscription doesn’t expire until next August. Do you know offhand if the QBO Accountant’s Edition is considered a “separate” product from the QBO Plus? I guess what I want to know is if I participate in the pilot can I have both editions on my computer without any conflicts?

    Frankly, with the way Intuit’s servers going down so much, I get a little skittish about recommending this product to my clients.

    Andrea

  4. Andrea, “skittish” isn’t exactly the word that I would use, but we can go with that. I would hate to be the one that recommends QBO this week…

    At this time if you sign up for the QBOA pilot that is a separate “product” from your ProAdvisor copy of QBO. I have both – one of the accounts listed in my screen shot of the “client” section was my ProAdvisor QBO account. However, I did have some issues with trying to access my QBO account through QBOA, since they share credentials. But that isn’t that big of an issue (although I hope that they work this out). And some of my problems could have been related to the service outage.

    But, keep in mind that you don’t have EITHER of these “on your computer” – you are only accessing them through your web browser. No conflicts there.

  5. William Murphy says:

    An extremly informative article, but I did find it interesting that you should write this today, just as it was one of the ‘featured topics’ at another Intuit ‘all day’ Web Conference (that was focused on ‘on-line offerings’.

    Stacy Kildal (of RadioFreeQB fame) presented in a 1-hour limited time frame (complete with technical difficulties in which QuickBooks On-line was ‘down’) the feature set associated with this new ‘pilot’ program offering. It is too bad that things didn’t go as planned because there was, at one time almost 800 people attending her session.

    Charlie, you have provided a wealth of written details for further enhance the ‘learning curve’ for this product which seems to undergoing changes almost as fast as they can be updated based upon either pilot participant feedback or some ‘pre-defined gameplan’ that only Intuit is aware of.

    In perhaps a ‘related item of business’ one thing I picked up on at the web-conference today was a booth for something called the QuickBooks Online Advisor Program, but despite going back to that ‘booth’ several times nobody from Intuit seemed to be available to answer questions or provide details as to what this program is. It seems odd that Intuit should be starting a new ‘Advisor Program’ for Online offerings only, rather than expanding the current “ProAdvisor Program” by offering ‘on-line related certifications’ (and expanded training related thereto), if that is in fact what they are doing. One can only guess since there doesn’t appear to be any details as of yet ‘for public release’, just an ‘empty booth’ at a ‘virtual conference.’

    Murph

    • Murph, I had intended to have this article come out Monday, before the “virtual conference”, but I couldn’t get it done because of the technical difficulties. In fact, I had intended to have this article out LAST week, as I had been given a presentation on it by Intuit while at The Sleeter Group Accounting Solutions Conference, but I had major difficulties in getting Internet access at the hotel so I was delayed.

      I haven’t heard about the QuickBooks Online Advisor Program, so I’m asking around about that.

    • OK, some more info. The “booth” at the virtual conference is for the “Intuit Online Accountant Advisor Network”. Mary Longacre is answering questions in the booth now. This is a Facebook group, not a “program” like the ProAdvisor program. Intuit is going to use it to get feedback about QBOA, and to push out info.

      http://www.facebook.com/groups/IOAAN/

  6. Mindy says:

    I’d be much more willing to spend the time learning and using this, IF I knew I wouldn’t be hit with an additional fee. I mean, QBO already gets additional fees from the customer who wants Classes or Inventory.

    I’d have a lot more clients on QBO if I could work these features behind the scenes!

  7. Hi Charlie – Appreciate the very informative QBOA article.

    Question – I’m meeting with a new QBO client next week, would you say QBOA is ready for prime-time use … where I’d connect to my new QBO Plus client using QBOA and start leveraging QBOA features?

    Thanks! Robert

    • Robert, that is tough for me to say. It is still a “pilot” project. They could change things. They ARE changing things. And as I said, we don’t know what the fee will be so you don’t know what to charge your clients for this service.

      And, please note that I have only had an hour or so to play with this so far, because of the service outages over the past few days (which is when I had the time to look at this).

      On the other hand, this has been in the hands of SOME people for awhile now, so it isn’t like it is the R1 release of a product. It has been in a “closed” or private pilot status for at least a few months.

      If you want to jump in with this, I would recommend that you talk to the client and explain to them that it is something new, that you might have to charge more later on.

  8. Penny Lane says:

    Thanks Charlie – I got the email and signed up immediately, but could NOT figure out how to connect to my client’s current files. This is perfect!

  9. Anything in the works on financial reporting along classes. Which by the way does not quite work on the desk top either.

    • Intuit doesn’t talk about “futures” very often, and if I have inside info on something in advance I’m usually covered by a non-disclosure-agreement. However, I don’t have any info relating to anything to do with “classes” here…

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