Thinking of Moving from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online? 7 Things You Must Know
Looking for advice on moving your business from the desktop version of QuickBooks (meaning Pro/Premier/Enterprise) to QBO?
Get this topic into the flow of your planning much sooner than you might think.
Working this conversation into your plans will allow your business to make the move on your terms and timetable. You’ll avoid being forced into it by outside circumstances.
Even those of you who are saying “I’m never making the move from desktop to online” will want to re-evaluate your thoughts, as I outline below…
REASONS BEHIND YOUR POTENTIAL MOVE TO QBO
Let’s look as some very real scenarios that could prompt a move from QuickBooks desktop to QuickBooks Online:
- Your business evaluates their options and concludes that moving their accounting system to the cloud is the best way to go. Your business understands that Intuit is putting a significant chunk of their annual software development funds into QBO – that is definitely the direction Intuit is headed. I can’t say the same for the desktop version based on the dearth of “new features” being released over the last couple of years.
- Your business realizes that the ecosystem of add-ons for QBO is expanding at a rapid pace (which is a great thing!) as third-party developers become weary of hassling with desktop connectivity headaches and focus only on QBO
- Intuit decides to stop supporting the desktop version. Don’t think it can happen? Talk to the folks in the UK. They are experiencing the fallout of just such a decision.
MORE REASONS BEHIND YOUR POTENTIAL MOVE TO QBO…
- Your existing QuickBooks data file experiences unrecoverable data corruption (and with no warning of course!). Sure, you could start a new QuickBooks desktop data file from scratch, but why? Based on what I’ve been seeing over the last several years, the underlying QuickBooks desktop database is getting old, creaky and unreliable. Sadly, I don’t see that changing anytime soon with Intuit doing an overhaul of the database
- Intuit continues to raise the prices of QuickBooks desktop and it becomes a poor financial decision to keep using it. Here’s a living example – the 5 user Premier is $1750/year (now that all future editions from 2022 forward are on an annual subscription basis). A 5 user QBO Plus is $960/year. A nearly $800 difference each and every year?! How long can your budget ignore that?
- Your accounting firm tells you they are only going to support clients using QBO in the future. I’m seeing more and more of this as the weeks go by.
SEVEN THINGS YOU MUST KNOW ABOUT MOVING FROM DESKTOP TO QBO
1 – THERE IS A DIRECT CONVERSION PATH FROM QUICKBOOKS PRO/PREMIER TO QBO
If you are using either QuickBooks Pro or Premier, in most cases you have a direct migration path to QBO (more on this in #2 below). This is good news – it means your entire QuickBooks company data file can migrate from one platform to another. That includes all your lists (i.e. customers, vendors, etc.) and all your historical transactions too. Whew!
2 – EXCEPTION: YOUR QUICKBOOKS FILE MAY SIMPLY BE TOO BIG TO MOVE!
If you are using Pro/Premier, it’s essential to check the number of targets in your existing company file. It’s easy to do – just tap the F2 key when QB is open, and you’ll see this metric. If this figure is more than 350,000, so sorry. Intuit has defined this type of file as “too large” to directly migrate into QBO. More information in #4 below.
3 – THERE IS LIKELY A ROCKY CONVERSION PATH FROM QUICKBOOKS ENTERPRISE TO QBO
If you are using the Enterprise version of QuickBooks, your path into QBO is likely much more complicated. Most of the Enterprise data files I have worked with over the years are far larger than the maximum size (350,000 targets) that is allowable when moving a desktop file to QBO.
If your file size is greater than that, your only choice is to create a new data file (more on that in #4). If it is less than that, you can then attempt a conversion as you would with Pro/Premier.
4 – STARTING A NEW FILE – JUST MOVING LISTS OR LISTS + HISTORY?
If your file is either too big, your only option in moving to QBO is to start a brand new company file.
Since this new file is literally a blank sheet of paper, you’ll then have to decide what you’re going to add to it. Are you just going to import your lists (i.e. customer, vendor, inventory) and start with opening balances of your ledger accounts? Or are you going to try and import lists AND try to bring in financial history for one or more years?
If your answer is lists + history, your project immediately gets more complicated and costly. Let’s review a quick example to see why….
Many businesses want to bring their “sales history” over from the old file into the new. That would mean the import of invoice transactions for each customer, right? But wait…if you don’t apply the payments to those invoices, they will then show as open and overdue invoices on your A/R reports. We don’t want that, so we have to apply payments. But wait…if you apply payments and don’t deposit them properly, QuickBooks will be left with a mess of unwanted deposits that will mess up things for a long time to come.
See where this is going? Trying to bring in history is complicated. It can be done, but be prepared to pay for the process.
5 – USER PERMISSIONS/SECURITY ARE VERY DIFFERENT BETWEEN DESKTOP AND QBO
Depending on the specific needs of your business, you’ll want to explore the differences in permission sets/security between QuickBooks desktop and QBO. This is exceptionally true if you’re using the Enterprise edition. These permission sets are currently built very differently, so you’ll want to understand the nuances between them.
6 – YOUR CURRENT ADD-ON SOFTWARE MAY NOT WORK WITH QBO
If you are currently using an “add-on” or “plug-in” (of any type) with QuickBooks desktop, it may not work properly with QBO and then you’re out of luck. It’s essential that you check with your software vendor to see what the migration path looks like for their platform between desktop and QBO.
7 – MEMORIZED REPORTS AND TRANSACTIONS DO NOT TRANSFER FROM DESKTOP TO QBO
Sad, but true. Memorized reports/transactions do not migrate from desktop to QBO. If your business is big on either or both of these features, be aware you will have some extra work to recreate them in QBO. And you’ll want to double check that QBO has the ability to create the specific memorized report(s) that you’re currently using in desktop.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE…
The above list will help you understand some of the nuances involved as you prepare for a move to QBO.
Here’s the entire list from Intuit of what to expect when moving from QuickBooks desktop to QBO.
A SPECIAL NOTE FOR INVENTORY-BASED BUSINESSES
I totally understand that some inventory-based businesses may find the current editions of QBO lacking when compared to the inventory features and functionality in desktop (especially Enterprise). Here’s the good news – many third-party inventory add-ons for QBO will match or even exceed what you are used to in desktop.
A WELL-PLANNED TRANSITION WILL SAVE YOU COUNTLESS HEADACHES AND TONS OF HEARTBURN!
Hopefully you’re understanding that there are a truckload of nuances that each business needs to evaluate as the consider a move to QBO.
In my opinion, every business using QuickBooks desktop needs a thoughtful and well-planned conversation and migration plan on their to-do list. Plan it and make the move on your timetable!
I’m consulting with more and more businesses that see the writing on the wall and are being proactive in planning their transition to QBO.
- Want to set up a consultation to review the specifics of this for your business? Contact me today!
- Interested in getting 30% off your QBO subscription for a full 12 months?