Making the switch from QuickBooks Desktop to Online

While QuickBooks Desktop has been a tried and true accounting software for years, QuickBooks Online has gradually surpassed it in functionality and performance. 

In this fast-paced digital world, access to your financial data from anywhere and at any time is essential. QuickBooks Online offers this flexibility, along with numerous features that simplify your operations and drive growth.

Deciding to convert QuickBooks Desktop to Online is overwhelming. That’s why this post summarizes key insights from our webinar covering everything you need to know about the transition.

By revisiting this webinar, you’ll discover:

  • The benefits and potential challenges of moving to QuickBooks Online.
  • How and when to migrate QuickBooks Desktop to Online.
  • What information you lose when you convert QuickBooks Desktop to Online.

Have a look!

Webinar snapshot: Essential points summarized

Why are companies choosing to convert QuickBooks Desktop to Online?

There are several reasons why companies are choosing to migrate QuickBooks Desktop to Online. 

For one, there is more value in cloud accessibility nowadays. QuickBooks Online is cloud-based, which is a huge advantage for businesses with remote employees or multiple locations. 

With QuickBooks Online’s cloud functionality, all your data updates in real time. So everyone in your organization gets the most up-to-date financial information at all times. 

Not to mention, QuickBooks Online automatically backs up your data to the cloud, meaning you don’t have to worry about losing your financial data if your computer gets lost or damaged. 

Plus, cloud-connected services like online banking, payroll services, e-commerce platforms, and more connect seamlessly to cloud-based software like QuickBooks Online. Examples include Shopify, Zapier, and SOS Inventory. 

Another reason companies are moving to QuickBooks Online is that it’s easier to use while still handling essential accounting tasks. As well as a modern and intuitive interface, there are several online resources to help you learn the software. If there’s not a lot of complexity to your accounting needs, QuickBooks Online is simpler and more cost effective.

The final and perhaps most significant reason that companies are moving to QuickBooks Online is that Intuit is encouraging it. By imposing subscription models, raising prices, and reducing discounts, Intuit has been making it less appealing to use the Desktop version. 

But it’s not just pricing. Here are the main ways Intuit prioritizes QuickBooks Online, making it more desirable:

  • Scalability: QuickBooks Online is more scalable than the Desktop version. As your business grows, you can upgrade your subscription to accommodate more users and advanced features. 
  • User permissions and limits: QuickBooks Desktop Pro can have up to three users while Premier can have up to five. So, if you want more employees in your accounting system, Desktop won’t cut it. QuickBooks Online caps out at 25 users — five times more than Desktop. 
  • Updates and support: QuickBooks Online is regularly updated with new features and improvements. With QuickBooks Desktop, you typically have to purchase a new version of the software to get the latest features. Intuit has a sunset policy, meaning that they’ll continue to support a discontinued product for at least three years. 

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Things to consider before you convert QuickBooks Desktop to Online

There’s a lot to consider before you fully migrate QuickBooks Desktop to Online. 

First, you need to do your research. Look up online reviews, consult informational material, and speak with someone knowledgeable — such as a QuickBooks service provider.

Next, start a trial. Kick the tires and see how QuickBooks Online works before making a final decision. Before you fully migrate QuickBooks Desktop to Online, generate some sample reports and have your team try it. 

It’s important to recognize that the people who made QuickBooks Online are entirely different from those who made Desktop. If you’re comfortable with Desktop and it works well for you, you may not want to convert QuickBooks Desktop to Online at all. This is especially the case if you paid a one-time fee for Desktop, as QuickBooks now uses a subscription-based model.

You should also expect a ramp-up period of getting used to this new system. Transitioning between versions might require training that costs your business time and money. 

Plus, some features available in QuickBooks Desktop aren’t available in QuickBooks Online, and vice versa. Similarly, not all data from QuickBooks Desktop converts to Online. Certain detailed reports, audit trails, and custom fields may not transfer. 

Finally, while the cloud is beneficial to QuickBooks users, it’s not without its drawbacks. Since QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based service, you need a reliable internet connection to access your data. 

Plus, while QuickBooks Online uses strong security measures, some businesses may not be comfortable with their financial data being stored in the cloud. If this is a concern, you may want to stick with QuickBooks Desktop.

Benefits of moving to QuickBooks Online

You’ll see immediate benefits when you migrate QuickBooks Desktop to Online, including:

  • 24/7, remote access to all your accounting information via the cloud.
  • Real-time updates and automatic backups.
  • A wide range of integrations with other online services.
  • Regular updates with new features and improvements. 
  • Improved collaboration, as multiple users can access the system simultaneously.
  • Reduced IT costs around factors like server maintenance.

However, while QuickBooks Online has many benefits, it comes with its limitations. 

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Limitations of QuickBooks Online

Before you convert QuickBooks Desktop to Online, you should be aware of the drawbacks of QuickBooks Online in relation to Desktop. These include:

  • Limited customization around custom reports, invoice design, and user permissions.
  • Inventory management features are not as robust.
  • Doesn’t support the same level of job costing.
  • Fewer built-in reports, especially industry-specific ones.
  • You need a strong Internet connection to access your data without disruptions.
  • Can be slow sometimes, particularly if you have a lot of data or users.
  • Over time, a subscription model ends up being more expensive than a large one-time fee.

It’s important to carefully consider these limitations before deciding to make the switch. Once you’ve done your research and are confident in your decision, you’re ready to learn how to migrate QuickBooks Desktop to Online.

How to convert to QuickBooks Online

Step 1: Back up your data file

Before you migrate QuickBooks Desktop to Online, it’s crucial to back up your Desktop data file. This ensures that you have a copy of your financial data in case anything goes wrong during the conversion. 

Navigate to the “File” menu, select “Back Up Company”, and follow the prompts to save a backup file.

Step 2: Check targets

Next, verify the targets in your QuickBooks Desktop data. This means checking for any errors or issues that could prevent a successful conversion. 

Use the “Verify Data” tool in the “File” menu under “Utilities” to check your data for any potential problems. Also, make sure your target does not exceed 350,000, as that’s the limit QuickBooks Online imposes.

Step 3: Save your tax liability report

Before migrating, save a copy of your tax liability report. This will let you confirm that your tax data has been correctly transferred. 

Go to the “Reports” menu, select “Employees & Payroll”, and then “Payroll Tax Liability” to save this report.

Step 4: Create a QuickBooks Online account

Now it’s time to set up your QuickBooks Online account. Go to the QuickBooks Online homepage and choose the plan that best suits your business needs. 

You can save 30% for the first 12 months on your selected plan through Method’s exclusive deal. Follow the prompts to set up your account.

Step 5: Execute the migration

With your QuickBooks Online account set up, you’re ready to migrate your data. 

In QuickBooks Desktop, go to the “Company” menu and select “Export Company File to QuickBooks Online”. Follow the prompts to sign in to your QuickBooks Online account and start the migration. 

Once it’s complete, you’ll receive an email confirmation. Be sure to review your data in QuickBooks Online to ensure everything has been transferred correctly.

What doesn’t import when you migrate to QuickBooks Online

Unfortunately, when you convert QuickBooks Desktop to Online, there are a few elements that won’t transfer over:

  • Cash basis: The way QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online record paid transactions is different. So, reports may not match using a cash basis. 
  • Inventory: Reports might not match because QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop calculate inventory differently. 
  • Multi-currency: Transactions with 3 different types of currencies don’t convert to QuickBooks Online.
  • Bank and credit card information: For security reasons, confidential financial data doesn’t transfer when you migrate QuickBooks Desktop to Online, so you’ll have to enter it manually.

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Recap: When to migrate QuickBooks Desktop to Online

Overall, the decision to migrate QuickBooks Desktop to Online is a significant one that depends on your business’s specific needs and circumstances. 

The flexibility, accessibility, and real-time data updates offered by QuickBooks Online make it an attractive option for many businesses. However, it’s important to consider the potential limitations, such as the need for a reliable Internet connection and differences in features.

Before making the switch, you need to:

  • Thoroughly review your business processes.
  • Consult with your financial advisor or accountant. 
  • Consider the costs, benefits, and potential challenges involved. 

Remember, the goal is to choose the solution that best supports your business’s financial management needs both now and in the future.

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