Accounting in the cloud is closer than you might think. In fact, it’s here, in some cases. QuickBooks Online, of course, is entirely cloud-based, but it does not yet offer all of the features found in Intuit’s top-of-the-line products, Premier and Enterprise.
In the meantime, Intuit itself, as well as third-party developers, have built online apps that fill in some of the gaps. These add-on solutions exist on websites, but they can collect data and synchronize it with desktop QuickBooks. So can that iPhone or Android that’s sitting on your desk right now.
Many Mobile Applications
To find these apps, go to the Intuit App Center and click on All Apps. There are dozens of them, arranged by category (Billing and Invoicing, Customer Management, Inventory Management, Apps by Intuit, etc.).
Your first stop should be at Intuit’s QuickBooks Connect (this is the name of the online application that you’d use on a remote PC or laptop; the name of the smartphone app is QuickBooks Mobile). This app gives you easy access to your customer and sales data when you’re away from your office.
Figure 1: QuickBooks Mobile, shown here on the Android operating system, gives you sales tools when you’re away from desktop QuickBooks.
Remote Sales Tools
Whether you’re working in web-based QuickBooks Connect or on a smartphone, your data and transaction options are similar. QuickBooks Connect has a few more features, like an Item List and Customer Center, but both let you:
- Access multiple company files
- View, add, and edit customers, estimates, invoices, and sales receipts, using QuickBooks’ custom templates
- E-mail these forms to customers
QuickBooks Mobile and QuickBooks Connect use the Intuit Sync Manager – located on the desktop where QuickBooks is installed — to keep data current everywhere. That computer must be running for syncs to work.
Figure 2: You can create and e-mail invoices from QuickBooks Mobile.
Prices start at $9.95/month for one user; a 30-day free trial is available.
Manage Travel Expenses
Concur Breeze grabs the data you need (customers, employees, jobs, etc.) from QuickBooks to record expenses on the road. You can enter charges directly into a form or snap a picture with your phone – it’ll be attached to your expense report. These charges are then sent to a report template that thoroughly documents the charge, letting you specify variables like the trip purpose, travel policy type, project and client. The status of your approval and payment are also included here.
You can send travel itineraries from your free TripIt Pro account and credit card charges directly to an existing expense report to accelerate the process. And once an expense report is approved, money can be moved automatically from the designated company bank account to an employee’s account. $8 per month per user; free 30-day trial.
Figure 3: Concur Breeze provides mobile expense management.
If your company has employees or contractors who work remotely and submit hours for approval, consider eBillity Time Tracker for Intuit QuickBooks. After it pulls in customers, service items, and employees from QuickBooks, you can invite workers to track their time on their smartphones by either entering it manually or using the timer, and then sync it with the online application.
Mobile workers can use the application in offline mode; entries are uploaded when they reconnect. Prices start at $10/month for Admin and one user.
Figure 4: eBillity Time Tracker for Intuit QuickBooks is a great companion app for remote workers.
The Cloud = Convenience And Accessibility
Synchronization – especially across three or more devices – is a simple concept whose implementation can be not-so-simple.
Integrated, web-based applications accessed by whatever computing device happens to be nearby are the essence of cloud-based accounting. Intuit and its companion mobile apps offer the convenience and accessibility that the Internet is making possible.