QuickBooks Online vs. QuickBooks Desktop – Which is Better in 2021?

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When it comes to choosing the best accounting software, it’s easy to be confused about the differences between QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop. The decision-making process is made even more difficult since both applications offer excellent accounting features, suitable for small- and medium-sized organizations.

While QuickBooks Desktop is a favorite among small businesses, QuickBooks Online is a browser-based version of its desktop counterpart. QuickBooks Online comes with exclusive multi-user plans, a range of efficient reporting functions, and an intuitive user interface.

A Brief Comparison of Key Features

While both versions share many similarities, here is a breakdown of what makes each one distinct:

QuickBooks Online

Top Benefits

  • Well-known for its excellent reporting function
  • Plans are available for up to 25 users
  • Seamless, intuitive design and interface
  • Good choice for Accounting, Expenses, and Banking

Ease of Use:

  • Mobile app
  • Intuitive UI
  • Tools for importing files

Support:

  • Phone support
  • In-product help
  • Product training

Pricing:

  • Simple Start Plan: $25
  • Essentials Plan: $40
  • Plus Plan: $70
  • Advanced Plan: $150

Pros

  • Cloud-based
  • User-friendly interface
  • Affordable monthly pricing
  • Built-in lending
  • 650+ integrations
  • Strong features
  • Customizable as per your needs
  • Easy on-the-go accessibility and login flexibility regardless of location or OS
  • Manage business Accounting, Bookkeeping, and Payroll yourself.

Cons

  • Customer support could be better
  • No sales orders
  • Has fewer features than QuickBooks Desktop
  • More expensive than similar SMB software
  • Additional features are not shown on the main navigation screen
  • During peak hours, the program response times might be slow

QuickBooks Desktop

Top Benefits

  • Multiple plans provide flexibility and easy scalability
  • Priced reasonably
  • Intuitive system navigation
  • Great for Invoicing, and Bills and Accounts Payable
  • Tracks expenses and manages payroll efficiently

Ease of Use:

  • Flowchart-style menu option
  • Customizable UI
  • Shortcuts for frequently used tools and features

Support:

  • Video tutorials
  • Chat
  • On-demand webinars

Pricing:

  • Pro Plan: $399.99
  • Premier Plan: $649.99
  • Enterprise Plan: $1,213

Pros

  • Customizable features
  • Easy to set up and user-friendly
  • Allows users to manage all of their payroll, accounting, banking, and other operations in one central place
  • Job costing and reporting features are excellent
  • Traditional accounting
  • Robust features
  • 200+ integrations
  • Generally, a more secure option

Cons

  • Might be a bit expensive for some
  • Doesn’t allow remote access
  • Might seem glitchy, especially after upgrading to a newer version
  • Customer service could be better
  • Phone support access could be better
  • Interface could have been streamlined
  • Limited integration with third-party applications
  • Windows-only (no support for Mac)
  • Fewer automation options available than QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online vs. QuickBooks Desktop: Overview

QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online is built with several smart features that are specifically beneficial for SMEs in 2021. QBO is best for business owners who are looking for mobile, agile, flexible, and scalable accounting software. It is also suitable for service-based and B2B companies.

The best thing about QuickBooks Online is that during the setup process, you can select your preferred functions and features that you most often use. Even if you skip choosing a feature, you can always go back later and add it.

The most popular features of QuickBooks Online are –

  • Schedule and send transactions automatically
  • Review actions using audit log and track the changes over time
  • Add bank rule option automatically
  • Unlimited time tracking
  • Attach images, documents, signatures, etc. to transactions via mobile and desktop
  • Track by location and/or by class using multiple location labels
  • Nightly bank transfer; automatic sync with undo option
  • Allows relabeling of customers using 7 additional label options
  • Journal entries using multiple AR/AP lines
  • Delayed credits and delayed charges to schedule future payments
  • Efficient reports management and creating presentation-ready reports packages
  • Multiple budgets for each fiscal year

QuickBooks Desktop

QuickBooks Desktop is most suitable for business owners who require smarter and more advanced functionalities for managing their inventory, job costing, and reporting. Other organizations that can benefit by using QuickBooks Desktop include larger product-based businesses.

QuickBooks Desktop has more robust features than those found in QuickBooks Online. Even though it’s not web-based, one can host the desktop version to gain more convenient access whenever required.

One of the best features of QuickBooks Desktop is its use of centers, such as the Vendor Center and Customer Center, which offer a pivot for all your business activities. Some of the top features of QuickBooks desktop include –

  • Data Entry
  • Billing rate levels
  • Creating batch invoices
  • Pay vendors online via ACH mode
  • Job Costing
  • Payroll job costing
  • Mileage tracking
  • Actual vs. estimated job costing reports
  • Labor burden costing
  • Reporting
  • Industry-specific reporting
  • Multiple vendor shipping addresses
  • Forecasting, Business Planner, and Balance Sheet by class
  • Advanced customization of report header and footer
  • Accounting
  • Condense file
  • Backup and restore
  • Period copy
  • Fix sales tax
  • Client data review tools
  • QuickBooks statement writer
  • Undeposited funds clean-up
  • 1099 feature
  • Inventory
  • Sales orders
  • Average cost inventory valuation
  • Partial receiving against purchase orders
  • Set and manage inventory reorder points
  • Create manufacturing features or assembles

You can also integrate the desktop version of the software with QuickBooks Payments, enabling you to accept online payments from your customers.

QuickBooks Online vs. QuickBooks Desktop: Which is Better?

From the above comparison, it is clear that both the versions are beneficial in one way or the other. Whether a particular version is suitable for your business depends on your requirements, preferences, and of course, business size and model.

Let’s discuss which software version wins in which factor or parameter.

  • Ease of Use: QuickBooks Online is the winner in this one as it provides easy and seamless system navigation while using the dashboard. The user dashboard of the software’s desktop counterpart may not be as simple as QBO.
  • Support: Here, both win since the support system for both the platforms is more or less similar. However, you will experience long wait times while accessing phone support. But you won’t have to deal with this issue if you upgrade to QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise or QuickBooks Online Advanced versions, since both offer good 24/7 support.
  • Pricing: QuickBooks Desktop is more affordably priced than QuickBooks Online.
  • Integration with Third-Party Software: QuickBooks Online is better here because it provides more integrations. In fact, the integration process is much smoother in QBO, and you won’t need to import data or sync applications.
  • Reporting Options: QuickBooks Desktop is a clear winner here for providing more advanced reporting options, including forecasting features and industry-specific reports. These features are not found in the online platform.

Before opting for either one, you need to understand the differences between the two. However, both of them are designed to offer a robust accounting experience for small- and medium-sized businesses.

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