New Year, New Software - Updating to QuickBooks 2016

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Once again, in its revenue-driving practices, Intuit is rolling out the new QuickBooks 2016 accounting software. Revenue-driving, because they will now only support the latest three releases — QuickBooks 2016, QuickBooks 2015, and QuickBooks 2014.

In May of each year, support goes away for lower releases. So you've got until the end of April 2016 to take care of upgrading.

If you are considering a purchase of QuickBooks for the first time, knowing Intuit's support policy on releases is good to know. You won't be buying something that you can use past three years without risking security and bug issues. However, they do make upgrading extremely painless, which I admire.

Nevertheless, the company does make good accounting software, and I'd like to share my experience with different versions of the 2016 QuickBooks products. You can read my comparison of them below.

Which Version of QuickBooks Is Best For My Company?

Intuit rolls out a new release each year, and all releases have ongoing support for three years. That includes security updates, bug fixes, and tiny enhancements.

So what it really comes down to is features. What features does your company need?

Keep in mind here that many of us are prone to "shiny object syndrome" where you think extra features are a good idea "just in case." Please don't do that with accounting software unless you are SURE you are upgrading company operations to include non-basic inventory, sales orders and backorders, custom pricing by customer, or advanced industry reporting. Those are the only real benefits to the Premier edition.

I use Premier because I do my clients' accounting, and because my own company needs custom pricing and sales orders for projects. Most small businesses with just regular accounting and payroll can usually get by with Pro or Pro with Enhanced Payroll, saving you money.

I'm comparing three editions here. Enterprise edition is so different and evaluation much more extensive, so I'll leave that for another day. If you need Enterprise, you usually know you do upfront.

  1. QuickBooks Pro 2016
  2. QuickBooks Pro 2016 with Enhanced Payroll
  3. QuickBooks Premier 2016

What Do I Get With QuickBooks Pro 2016?

QuickBooks Pro 2016 by Intuitbuy-from-Amazon

QuickBooks Pro is a great workhorse for accounting for small businesses. You'll have all of the wonderful features common to quality accounting packages like:

  • Accounts Receivable with invoicing, payment receipts, and estimates
  • Accounts Payable with purchase orders, vendor records, and checking
  • Sales tax tracking, collection, and payment
  • Online banking integration for balancing your checking account
  • Excellent customizable reporting

Most businesses don't do much more than that, and some are even simple enough that you barely need accounting software at all instead of Excel or paper records.

There are 3 reasons I strongly recommend accounting software in the first place:

  1. Fewer mistakes, because QuickBooks does your math — and right every time.
  2. Much faster reporting — built-in reports with extensive filtering ability means you get information faster — and so does your accountant. That saves money.
  3. Watching your back — in addition to math errors, data entry often includes date entry errors and mis-classifications. QuickBooks can be set to warn you about unusual dates on transactions and it can auto-fill accounts during entry to minimize mistakes. And quick reports are another way to easily spot entry mistakes. Excel can't do that and Quicken can't do that.

If you are new to QuickBooks Payroll, you should read on to learn more about adding Enhanced Payroll to your purchase.

Why Should I Buy QuickBooks Pro 2016 with Enhanced Payroll?

QuickBooks Pro 2016 with Enhanced Payroll by Intuitbuy-from-Amazon

Basically, the program in the box is the same in all features.

However, if you've never done payroll in your existing QuickBooks version before, and you plan to start, this purchase is a great deal for first-time payroll users.

Unfortunately, the purchase only works with this lower price for new payroll account users. If you already do payroll, you're stuck paying the annual renewal fee for the payroll subscription and updates. No way to prevent that. And after the first year with this purchase, you're stuck on that renewal plan, too.

Since that payroll key is $300+ annually for most companies, at least the deal the first time around is a time-saver and money-saver.

And Intuit has sneaky ways to keep you on the payroll subscription. For example, if your subscription runs out, you no longer even have access to your payroll module. And they up the cost of that subscription constantly.

There is one way you might save money on payroll. Intuit has a program called the ProAdvisor program. I am a member of it. As accounting professionals, we offer consulting, advice, payroll, and other help to companies. We use an Accountant's key to do payroll for you, and generally the cost from a ProAdvisor to have them do your small payroll is a bit cheaper than a separate payroll subscription.

Yes, some ProAdvisors do use this as a revenue stream and charge more for doing your payroll that the key might cost you, but you can find a cheaper ProAdvisor doing payroll, or you at least are saved the hassle of doing your own payroll.

Other than that, let's take a look at Premier.

Why Would I Choose Premier 2016

QuickBooks Premier 2016 by Intuitbuy-from-Amazon

For QuickBooks Premier, once again, this comes down to the feature set.

In addition to all of the features that come with the Pro edition, you have some other goodies that can make your life easier. If you're like me and a bit obsessive about lots of great reports to look at regularly, you might like the extra reports available.

The big additional features are:

  • Advanced Inventory, Assembled Items, and Inventory Average Costing — Pro can do basic simple quantity counting, but anything resembling REAL inventory tracking is going to be much easier in Premier.
  • Sales Orders and Back Order Tracking — If you are a retailer or wholesaler, this might be a big part of your business.
  • Wider Range of Reports — Enough said already. You can customize reports in Pro to get something like this, but you have to do it manually and know how to customize them expertly.
    • Contractors — you get job costs and A/P by job
    • Manufacturers and Wholesalers — Tracking sales volume by customer or profitability by individual products
    • Retailers — reports on purchase volumes by vendors and similar reports
    • Non-Profits — the donor reporting, grant reports, and budgets vs actual for individual programs
    • Professional Service Providers — billed vs proposals for projects and unbilled expenses (both big things for a service business)
  • Custom Pricing for Customers — For service businesses, retailers, and wholesalers, this is a BIG Deal. Invoicing will go much faster without having to adjust pricing all the time and look up everyone's custom pricing. One change in a customer record, and it goes smoothly.
  • Additional multiple user capability — you can buy an add-on 3 user license (up from 1 to 3 users) in Pro, but in Premier you can upgrade from 1 user to 5 users. If you need more than 3 people to be able to log in and work simultaneously, this is helpful.

So there are some high-powered extra features in Premier. But I've worked in accounting for 25 years now, and I constantly run into companies who were persuaded to buy Premier without much thought to it. And I'll bet nearly 70% of them hardly ever use the extra power.

If you do, you'll like Premier over Pro, even if for just one or two features. But don't waste your money if you don't need it.

So Let's Take A Comparison Look Side by Side

Here's a quick side-by-side of most of the main features of both Pro and Premier.

QuickBooks Pro 2016 vs QuickBooks Premier 2016

You can also see some additional comparisons here.

Buy QuickBooks 2016 at Amazon

QuickBooks Pro 2016 by Intuitbuy-from-Amazon
QuickBooks Pro


QuickBooks Pro 2016 by Intuitbuy-from-Amazon
QuickBooks Pro with Enhanced P/R


QuickBooks Premier 2016 by Intuitbuy-from-Amazon
QuickBooks Premier

Which QuickBooks version do you use? Does QuickBooks meet your needs? Any problems or kudos you'd like to share?