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Is It Time to Leave QuickBooks behind?

Dec 14, 2023

Due to its immense popularity, most finance professionals have worked with QuickBooks in one way or another. QuickBooks is often the go-to choice to support the accounting function for start-ups and small businesses. While it can handle the accounting basics, evolving organizations quickly realize that the basics aren’t enough. Limitations inherent in using QuickBooks can quickly turn into manual tasks, workarounds, and spreadsheet agony just to perform financial reporting and analysis of metrics that matter.  

With a close eye on budgets and growing to-do lists, remaining on QuickBooks can seem like a simple choice. But this choice can put an organization at risk of performing below its potential. Let’s examine why the simple choice is not quite so simple for organizations seeking scalability. 

 QuickBooks does not grow with you 

QuickBooks usually satisfies the accounting needs of an organization early in its life cycle. However, as businesses grow and mature, operations become too complex for QuickBooks to handle. Business leaders want specific information, metrics, and approaches to business functions, and they also want to minimize any restrictions that inhibit their ability to scale.  

QuickBooks was not designed to provide the long-term financial management capabilities that growing organizations need. System support for multiple entities, automation of critical processes, strong internal controls, and preservation of large data sets are non-negotiable when you’re scaling a business. 

Reporting in QuickBooks is inadequate 

While system end-users may favor the simplistic reporting features of QuickBooks for their ease of use, the multifaceted information needed by organizational leadership often requires additional and manual work. Recurring information requests may create a disjointed chart of accounts and a clunky class structure that is a nightmare to maintain and even scarier to report from.  

With the addition of multiple QuickBooks company files, the process of performing manual consolidations ensues. QuickBooks reporting limitations typically translate to exporting, manipulating, and formatting data in another well-known tool: Excel. The sophisticated, evolving demands of growing organizations require more and better financial and operational performance visibility, and resorting to Excel can lead to errors and loss of clarity. 

 Manual data entry in QuickBooks is common 

In organizations using QuickBooks, especially the Desktop version, it is often operated in a silo. It’s common to rely on many manual data entry points between other systems to support cross-functional teams. Manual data entry might be okay when data volumes are small, but it is a drain as the business grows. Team members must research, re-enter, and verify data already captured elsewhere at the cost of productivity, data entry errors, and revenue leakage. This also makes it nearly impossible to gain visibility across the organization. 

 Manual processes seem to be a fact of life with QuickBooks. Organizations with advanced accounting requirements, such as allocations, revenue recognition, and job costing, regularly find the need to develop manual workarounds because QuickBooks does not provide built-in capabilities for these complex processes. Unfortunately, these workarounds only increase the probability of duplication of efforts and make it difficult to gain an integrated, real-time financial view of a business’s end-to-end operations. Lack of cross-team information sharing, inadequate data controls, and integration can all delay strategic decision-making and obstruct growth-oriented business management.  

Move beyond “simple” in favor of scalable 

The decision to move from QuickBooks to a solution that is scalable for organizations focused on growth is simpler than ever. Cloud-based financial management solutions offer the tools to help your team work strategically through the financial data needed to plan and make important financial decisions, and the insights necessary to fuel growth. Many organizations have already made the decision to replace QuickBooks with best-in-class, cloud-based financial systems like Sage Intacct. By moving on, these teams have experienced better visibility, enhanced flexibility, more effective process management, and significant long-term cost savings needed to sustain their maturing business. 


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Karen Penhallegon

Karen Penhallegon is an Associate Director in the firm’s Consulting Services Group and has over 12 years of public accounting experience. 

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