QuickBooks Desktop versus QuickBooks Online: how to choose the right solution for your agency

Read time: 5 minutes

Financial management sounds simple in theory: generate a higher revenue than the costs you incur. But, as many businesses and finance teams know, managing your finances can be difficult and time consuming. Project deadlines will move, project scope will change, and costly mistakes can be made, making it tough to ensure financial activity matches business expectations.

To better streamline your business accounting and project management workflows, businesses are integrating their agency management software with an accounting solution such as QuickBooks. QuickBooks is an accounting application that accepts business payments, pays bills and manages payroll functions. It can be on-premise or cloud-based.

With the rise of QuickBooks’s cloud-based solution, many agencies are confused about the difference between QuickBooks Desktop (QBD) and QuickBooks Online (QBO). The most obvious difference at first glance is the pricing structure, with QBO priced as a monthly subscription and QBD attracting an upfront fee. However, each option is unique and with its own benefits, so it’s important to consider what features will be best suited for your business.

Here’s a quick look at the benefits of each option:

Benefits of QuickBooks Online

1. Access

QBO is a cloud-based system, allowing users to access the system whenever and wherever, using any device that has internet access. The cloud-based system also means that multiple users (up to 25) can access the system to so your team sees the most updated data. In comparison, the desktop version can only be accessed from the computer it is installed on, regardless of internet connection.

While giving access to multiple users does increase the risk of issues such as employee fraud, this can be prevented via QBO’s activity log. This lets you monitor when a user logs in or out, edits a customer, vendor, item or account, and downloads data including transaction statements, among others.

2. Automation

A huge benefit of QBO is its range of automation features that aren’t available in the desktop version. QBO can automate receipts, invoices, email reporting, and bank statement downloads. While the desktop version has some ability to memorize transactions, these still have to be sent to the client manually. QBO also backs up your data automatically and securely via Intuit’s servers, meaning you don’t have to stress about maintaining expensive hardware, data backup, or security breaches.

3. Ease of use

QBO is quick to learn and easy to use. It also has a technical support feature available 24/7 at no additional charge.

When QBO first became available in 2013, it had some limitations including basic reporting. These issues have since been fixed with QBO providing immediate access to the latest version of the software at no additional cost.

book a demo

Benefits of QuickBooks Desktop

1. Inventory module

Unlike QBO’s basic inventory module, QBD has a sophisticated inventory management system to simplify complex inventory tasks. QBD lets you clearly see how much inventory you have on hand, track inventory with pinpoint precision, scan barcodes using mobile devices, and choose from three different accounting methods including first-in, first-out (FIFO), average cost, and landed cost.

2. Customization

QBD provides a great level of freedom in customizing forms and can prepare time-consuming documents such as 1099s, and budget and track mileage and expenses; features that aren’t currently available in the online version.

3. Features

QBD offers industry-specific features for businesses including general business, contracting, manufacturing and wholesale, professional services, retail, and nonprofit. Additionally, if you manage the finances of multiple entities, a significant economic benefit of using QBD is that one license can be used as the accounting application for as many companies as needed.

Before choosing which version of QuickBooks is right for your business, you should compare the features of each version through the lens of your specific business requirements. Function Point is a Gold Level Partner with Quickbooks and provides integration with both Quickbooks Online and Desktop. With Function Point’s QuickBooks integration, agencies get clear visibility, allowing you to prepare invoices, manage expenses, and track payments seamlessly, even when business operations change. To find out more, book a free Function Point demonstration.