QuickBooks 2013 is here! QuickBooks 2013 contains a number of new features, as well as improvements to existing ones. 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 2013 – 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. The UK and Canadian versions may include some of these features.
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 the new features that I’m aware of at this time – I’ll go into each feature IN DEPTH in upcoming articles.
This article was updated on 9/24/2012
Changes in the User Interface
These are going to be the changes that everyone will notice right away, and that will generate the most discussion (and complaints?). There are major changes in the visual design of the program, and how you navigate. I like many elements of this change but there are some details that I’m not entirely happy with.
- The new visual design overhaul changes the fonts, spacing and colors in just about every portion of the program. This is a more “modern” appearance, and there has been a lot of work done to try to standardize the look and feel throughout QuickBooks. This addresses a concern that I’ve had for the past few years, where I felt that there were at least three different “visual styles” used in different places of the program as Intuit added new features.
- A major new addition is the left icon bar for navigation. Instead of a top icon bar that we are used to, major navigation features have been moved to the left side of the screen. If you have a lower resolution monitor you may find that this takes up a lot of space. I also found that it was a bit disconcerting to switch to this from older versions of QuickBooks, at least at first. Note, though, that you have the option of moving this back to the top.
- Ribbons on transaction windows – Thirteen transaction windows will have a new “ribbon” interface at the top. If you are using Microsoft Word 2010 (for example), you are familiar with the “ribbon” interface. This helps gather together many features that relate to these transaction windows into one easy to use place.
Here’s a quick look, showing many of the new elements (click on the screen shot for a larger view). I will have several articles on these changes coming up soon.
See my detailed articles on this at:
QuickBooks has a number of Centers, like the Customer Center, and several of these have been improved in a number of ways. I like many of the changes here.
- Tabs have been added so that you can quickly access transactions, contacts, to-do’s and notes easily (rather than buttons at various spots).
- Notes have been changed so that you can have multiple notes per record, instead of just one.
- The edit window for the records in these Centers have been updated with a number of visual improvements, as well as the ability to choose (to a degree) which fields show. You have 24 “contact” related field labels, you can choose which 8 to show.
See my detailed description of this at: http://www.sleeter.com/blog/2012/09/quickbooks-2013-center-improvements/
There are a number of changes that will be found specifically in the QuickBooks Accountant and Enterprise Accountant products:
- Send general journal entries to your clients via email. This is NOT the “accountant’s copy” feature, it is a simple way to send a single GJE transaction to your client via email. This may be useful. See my detailed article on this at http://www.sleeter.com/blog/2012/09/quickbooks-2013-accountant-send-general-journal-entries/
- Batch Enter transactions allows you to quickly enter (or import from Excel) large numbers of checks, credit card charges or deposits. Some good features here. See my detailed article on this at: http://www.sleeter.com/blog/2012/09/quickbooks-2013-batch-enter-transaction/
- Starter Copy – Some changes to make this feature easier to find.
- Note that the Toggle feature in QuickBooks Accountant now has the option to toggle to the Bookkeeper edition, which we didn’t have in QuickBooks 2012. That is a helpful addition.
- QuickBooks Statement Writer should now be compatible with 64 bit versions of Microsoft Excel. I haven’t tried this myself at this point. In any case, in my opinion, you shouldn’t be using the 64 bit version of Microsoft Excel anyways.
- Another new feature in QuickBooks Statement Writer is a new “ribbon” interface when you open your document in Excel, much easier to use than before.
Client Data Review gets a few changes as well:
- Change Name Type is a feature that lets you easily convert entries in the other names list to be customers, vendors or employees.
- Write off invoices now generates a credit memo instead of discounting the invoice – a nice (and important) change.
Continuing the theme of the last year or so, there are a number of improvements that are available only in QuickBooks Enterprise. Intuit is making the distinction between the Pro/Premier line and the Enterprise line larger.
- Auto PO’s: With the click of a button in the Inventory Stock Status by Item report, create all the PO’s necessary! Well, almost (but it’s getting closer). See the details at http://www.sleeter.com/blog/2012/09/quickbooks-2013-inventory/
- Default classes: A time saving feature where class assignments can be set up to fill in automatically. See the details at http://www.sleeter.com/blog/2012/09/quickbooks-2013-default-classes-2/
- Larger List Limits: Many lists in QuickBooks have limits. This release of QuickBooks Enterprise is expanding a number of these limits.
- Chart of Accounts: Expands from 10,000 to 100,000.
- Classes: Expands from 10,000 to 100,000.
- Customer Types: Expands from 10,000 to 100,000.
- Vendor Types: Expands from 10,000 to 100,000.
- Memorized Transactions: Expands from 29,000 to 50,000.
- To Do’s: Expands from 10,000 to 100,000.
- Customer Messages: Expands from 10,000 to 100,000.
- Items in a Group or Sales Tax Group item: Expands from 20 to 50. Note that this limit is expanded in Pro and Premier as well.
- Sites: Expands from 200 to 1,000,000.
Available in Advanced Inventory
The Advanced Inventory feature is only available if you purchase an annual support contract AND pay an additional fee each year. These features are not found in Enterprise without the additional fee. In the past this is where we have found multiple locations, FIFO costing, serial numbers and lot tracking. Here’s a list of what has been added this year, with details coming up in future articles:
- Barcode scanning: The ability to print barcodes and to enter data using a barcode scanner. A very good start, which I hope they well expand upon. I just wish this wasn’t limited to Advanced Inventory subscribers. See my detailed article on this at: http://www.sleeter.com/blog/2012/09/quickbooks-2013-barcode/
- Bin location tracking: An extension of the multiple location feature that we’ve had for a few years. In the past, you could have up to 200 “sites” for your inventory. This year another level has been added, the ability to define locations or bins within each site. This will be very helpful to people who are relying on this feature. The limit on the number of sites has been improved from 200 to 1,000,000 (this includes the location/bins, which are essentially “sub sites”). See my detailed article at: http://www.sleeter.com/blog/2012/09/quickbooks-2013-bin-locations-2/
- FIFO Cost Lot History by Item Report: From the beginning when Intuit introduced FIFO costing for QuickBooks Enterprise I have been griping about the reports. One report in particular that I would like to see is a report that shows the remaining “cost lots” and the quantities available in each. They are getting closer… See details at http://www.sleeter.com/blog/2012/09/quickbooks-2013-fifo/
Improving the Upgrade Experience
Do you know the difference between an upgrade and an update? The simplest answer is “money”, but I’m being a bit silly. If you move from one year of product to the next, such as moving from “QuickBooks Pro 2012” to “QuickBooks Pro 2013”, that is an upgrade. If you move from one product to another, such as from QuickBooks Pro to QuickBooks Premier, that is an upgrade. If you have a product and get a revision that fixes bugs or adds a feature, such as moving from QuickBooks Pro 2012 R1 to QuickBooks Pro 2012 R3, that is an update. In general, updates are free, but upgrades will cost you something.
So, we’re talking about upgrades, and Intuit wants to improve the experience.
First time use guidance for upgraders: If you are upgrading an existing QuickBooks file you’ll see some “overlays” that highlight the changes in the program. The goal is to orientate upgraders quickly so any disruption is minimalized. Surprising at first, but it does help point out the changes.
I’ll explain these in more detail later on, but here’s some preferences that have been added, just to tease you:
- Mark All Time as Billable.
- Mark All Expenses as Billable.
- Item Description on Reports.
I Wonder About…
Even though I’ve been looking at QuickBooks 2013 for awhile, there are still questions that I haven’t gotten an answer to. There probably should be a longer list of questions, but here is what comes to mind at this point:
- What about add-on programs using the SDK and other interfaces? There are a number of changes in the database here (multiple notes, new fields, some things rearranged), so how will this affect add-on programs? Intuit typically is slow in getting out new features to their programming interfaces (sometimes years, sometimes never), and I don’t know where that stands with the 2013 product. Some people rely on SDK based programs (and to Intuit App Center programs to a lesser degree) to get information in and out of QuickBooks. How will these changes affect these other programs? How long will it be before the programming interfaces are updated to let add-on developers get to this data? I believe that at least SOME of this new information will be available to add-on developers fairly soon, but will ALL info be included?
- What about bug fixes? New features are nice, the user interface change is interesting, but what about fixing the known bugs in QuickBooks? I know that some have been addressed, but will Intuit tell us about these fixes? I’d like to know. I keep asking, and asking, and… Well, depending on your definition of bug, I’m starting to find SOME fixes, but I’m sure that there are more than what I’ve found.
When Is It Available
My understanding is that:
- ProAdvisors with currently active accounts can download their version starting today, through the download software section of your ProAdvisor web account (if you don’t see it now, wait until later in the day, it might not be available first thing).
- Online Sales for everyone else will be able to purchase QuickBooks 2013 through the Intuit website starting approximately September 24th.
- You should start seeing copies of QuickBooks in retail stores at some point in October.
Product Price Changes?
Pricing is always a volatile subject, and for some QuickBooks products there are always ways to get a discounted price somewhere.
ProAdvisors – check your ProAdvisor account to see what the latest price is for you.
For retail pricing, I believe that we’ll see the following:
- QuickBooks Pro: $249.95 for a single license (a $20.00 increase).
- QuickBooks Premier: $399.95 for a single license (no change).
- QuickBooks Professional Bookkeeper (no change).
- QuickBooks Accountant: $499.95 (no change).
- QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions: $3000.00 for a 5 user license (no change).
- QuickBooks for Mac: $249.95 (a $20.00 increase).
Updated 9/24/2012: The Advanced Inventory option price will increase also. There are two factors – the annual fee for the option, and the annual fee for the Full Service Plan that you are required to purchase for Advanced Inventory. The annual price for Advanced Inventory will increase by $100 to $799 for existing users. It will increase by $300 to $999 for new customers. In addition, the Full Service Plan increases by $100 for a 5 user plan, $150 for a 10 user plan, and $400 for a 30 user plan.
These are the prices that I expect to see if you go to the Intuit sales websites. However, I generally recommend that you shop around.
- Often you’ll see “loss leader” pricing for Pro, and sometimes Premier, from the mass-market retailers, perhaps a few months later than the release date.
- If you are upgrading an existing installation, Intuit will often have an “upgrade discount” on their website, although sometimes the links are not obvious.
- Many ProAdvisors will offer a discount if you purchase direct from them.
- You can get a 20% discount on QuickBooks Pro and Premier by ordering through The Sleeter Group.
I also recommend that you do not purchase QuickBooks through eBay unless you know the seller very well. Sometimes you’ll see a great price there but then you find that it is an “opened” or already registered product that you won’t be able to register on your system. Be careful!
For those of you who have purchased a 2012 version of QuickBooks directly from Intuit in the last 60 days you should be able to call the Intuit sales staff to get a free upgrade to the 2013 version.
How About QuickBooks for Mac?
I don’t work with the Mac version myself, so here is the list of what you should see added to QuickBooks for Mac 2013 that I pulled from the Intuit press release:
- Data Import: Populate contacts and products or services bought or sold by importing contacts automatically from the Address Book, or by copying and pasting contact or item information from spreadsheets. Data Import speeds up and simplifies the process of getting key information into QuickBooks.
- Improved New User Experience: Learn how to use QuickBooks fast. Helpful tutorials and tips, including video how-to’s, offer in-product guidance when the user needs it.
- Attached Documents: Small business owners will have the information they need right at their fingertips with the new Document Attachments feature, which attaches contracts, proposals, receipts and more to related records for easy reference.
- Batch Invoicing: Streamlines the process of invoicing multiple customers for the same service by creating a template and invoicing all customers simultaneously.
- Intuit PaymentNetwork: Enables small businesses to get paid faster. It provides a way for a small business’s customers to instantly pay their invoices electronically. Payments easily sync with QuickBooks.
- Improved Reconciliation: Helps minimize errors and easily identify discrepancies through optimized filters and searches when reconciling QuickBooks data with bank statements. Users can view previous reconciliation reports for snapshots of their businesses over time.
As we see each year, there are improvements and new features scattered about. A lot of these changes are things that I’ve seen people asking for. Some of them are going to be a bit controversial for upgraders because, dang it, we just got used to working one way and now they are changing things. Then, of course, there will be the long list of features that people have been asking for but that still aren’t here.
In a very general sense, I have a few overall comments at this point (I’ll be going into a lot more detail in upcoming articles on specific features):
- I like a lot of what they are trying to do with the user interface change, but I’m not entirely happy with a number of the details. This is where there will be a lot of complaining from upgraders. I do have hopes that some of these issues will be resolved in an early update release.
- There are some very nice new features, but I am sure that people will say “why did you pick THESE features instead of others we’ve been asking for”? That happens every year – what is important to me might not be important to you. I really like, for example, the new barcode feature. But if you don’t want barcodes, and you aren’t using Enterprise with Advanced Inventory, this isn’t an important feature to you.
- I don’t know what bugs they fixed, so I can’t say if there has been a real emphasis on solving those kinds of problems. The jury is still out on this.
I like the direction they are going with a number of the improvements, but at this moment I’m recommending that you don’t use the R1 release for your critical business processes. There are a lot of issues to work out. This should come as no surprise to people who’ve been reading my articles each year, it is the same EVERY year. R1 is almost by definition buggy. Look at QuickBooks 2013, but wait for a couple of revisions before you jump in to this, if you can.
Stay tuned! Over the next few weeks I’ll be publishing detailed, in-depth articles on all of these features, and more that I didn’t squeeze into this article. Let me know which features you are the most interested in, so that I can publish those articles first!