QuickBooks Pro 2011 from Intuit Inc . May 2011 . Vol. 17 No. 5

Cyber News and Reviews is a monthly column published for parents, teachers & business owners featuring kids educational software reviews, business software reviews (small business & home business), games and entertainment articles, a free resource since 1995.

March 2011 --TurboTax 2010 Home & Business from Intuit Inc.
February 2011 --VIPRE® Antivirus Premium from Sunbelt Software
January 2011 --Adobe® Contribute CS5, Adobe® Soundbooth CS5 & After Effects CS5
December 2010 --Adobe® Premiere Pro CS5 and CS Live Services
November 2010 --Adobe® Illustrator CS5 and Adobe Flash Professional CS5

QuickBooks Pro 2011 from Intuit Inc.

By Howard Berenbon

It’s been two years since I had the chance to review QuickBooks Pro from Intuit, and as expected, changes and improvements are numerous and welcomed. Right from the start, the new improvements were quite appreciated. Transferring your company database from an earlier version is fast. My 30 megabyte company file transferred in under 9 minutes.  Also, when you open any of your invoice files, you will immediately notice a new screen to the right with customer history and recent sales. This is valuable information to have on hand.  The third and long awaited improvement is in their database search feature.  In QuickBooks 2009, it was faster to page down through your client list then search on a name.  And the advanced search work, but it was cumbersome and also slow.  Now the search function is easier to use, and fast, as it should be.  As a test, I searched on a customer’s last name, Rogers, and in seconds it had all the Rogers listed with first name and address. The Collections Center is new too, which allows you to track payments do, and generate and send collection e-mails to multiple clients.  Also, when you launch QuickBooks, a great resource screen opens: the QuickBooks Learning Center with lots of help topics and some tutorials explaining the new features. QuickBooks Pro 2011 looks and feels like the earlier versions, but with some new menu options like Search, Company Snapshot and App Center. You will also notice the Help Center is there for you to the far right with access to the Live (online) Community for questions and a Help pane for local searches (within the QuickBooks program).

Overall, QuickBooks has been one of the best and low cost, business accounting, inventory, payroll and invoice generating software packages around, perfect and affordable for the small business owner (first reviewed here in our June 2001 column). Affordability is not just the key to QuickBook’s success, but also its versatility and performance.  It does everything you need to operate your small business and for less than $200—that’s it!  Okay, the price is right, and with this downturn economy, small business owners need to conserve, and just can’t afford the $10,000 plus for an accounting package tailored to their business, especially when QuickBooks Pro will do everything. If you’re a seasoned QuickBooks user, you’ll jump right in and enjoy the new features.  If you’re new to QuickBooks, there’s a learning curve you’ll need to overcome, and if you don’t have the time, you can hire a consultant to set up QuickBooks for your industry.  If you have some time, you should try setting it up on your own. They have an excellent Help system that will guide you through and including documents and tutorials accessed through The Learning Center.  You’ll also find lots of other QuickBooks resources online, for free and fees. It may take a week to master the important features so your business runs smoothly, but you can do it.

A Quick Overview

QuickBooks was developed for small business use, but has evolved into a full-featured, easy to use accounting program, with all the features needed to run your business.  You can you prepare purchase orders and estimates, enter and pay bills, create customizable invoices, track inventory, create sales receipts and customer statements, track jobs, manage your payroll, create reports and graphs, track expenses and manage accounts payable and accounts receivable.  Estimates and invoices can be e-mailed over the Internet and you can save and e-mail in PDF format. You can also write checks your business checking accounts, track your business credit card usage, share your company files over a network in multi-user mode and track your sales and business taxes.  The custom forms section has more templates, and is easier to use then the earlier versions.  Templates are selected online from the Intuit site with your choice of backgrounds for various industries. First you select the background, then go on to pick the colors, fonts and company information to display, and finally pick the grid style for your form. Once you get the look you like, just click to save your new design.

What’s New for 2011

See all your key customer information at a glance with the Customer Snapshot.

Customer Snapshot gives you a consolidated view so quickly access your customer's purchase history, average days to pay, and outstanding balance and make timely decisions on customer requests. You can also identify your top customers by revenue and payment consistency, and prioritize them accordingly.

Invoice multiple customers at once with Batch Invoicing.  Automatically create a full set of invoices for customers with the same service. Create the invoice once and select the customers you want to send it to.

Quickly locate any account, report, or invoice with QuickBooks Search.  With QuickBooks Search, all you need to do is enter the keyword, and it will pull up all the related reports, invoices, contacts and transaction details.

Stay on top of your receivables with the Collections Center.
Quickly identify overdue and almost due invoices, and email all collection notices from your Outlook, Yahoo, Gmail or Hotmail account in a few steps.

Complete transactions faster with convenient access to your customer or vendor's balance and transaction history.  See at a glance important details such as your customer's payment history, estimates, and past orders with vendors right at your fingertips on the same screen, so that you can complete the transaction at one time instead of switching back and forth between screens.

Send invoices and estimates right from your business Yahoo, Gmail or Hotmail account. The new Webmail integration allows you to easily email right from QuickBooks without going through the steps of setting up Outlook.

Keep track of your vendors' remittance address with a convenient new field.

Mark the paid invoices have with the Paid Date stamp. Quickly go through your stack of invoices without having to take time to look for individual payment dates.

Also new and included is 1 free hour phone session with an Intuit QuickBooks expert after registering the product.

As in QuickBooks 2009, the main menu looks like a flow chart with text and icons in a screen called Home and divided into five areas from top to bottom and left to right: Vendors, Company, Customers, Banking and Employees.  To the very far right you’ll Account Balances, Do More with QuickBooks, Backup Status (very important) and Reminders & Alerts. Under Vendors you can enter bills, pay bills and manage sales tax.  In the Customers section you can enter estimates, create invoices, receive payments, create sales receipts and issue credits and refunds. Under Company, you can view and modify your Chart of Accounts, view and modify your lists of items and services and access your online services at Intuit.com.  Under Banking, you can record deposits, reconcile, access your check register, write and print checks and record your credit card charges.  And under Employees you can enter time a contractor or employee spent on a job, learn about Intuit’s payroll options and employee management services offered.  If you transferred your company file from an earlier version, you can just continue uninterrupted.   If you’re new to QuickBooks, you‘ll want to create invoices and sales receipts, enter your products and services, setup accounts receivables and payables and more.

QuickBooks Pro 2011 Features

QuickBooks Pro 2011 is an excellent full-featured accounting system that’s easy to use once you get over the learning curve (because of all the features).  It’s a must have accounting system, at the right price, for any business. The single user version retails for $229.95, but you can find it at Amazon.com for $131.49 with free shipping.  The program will run on any multimedia PC in Windows 7, Vista and XP with a 2 GHz processor or faster, at least 1 GB RAM (single user), 2 GB recommended, 2.5 GB disk space, 4x CD-ROM for CD installation and a 1024 x 768 screen resolution with 16-bit color or higher.  For more information, or to order, visit Amazon.com.

Software Companies Mentioned

Intuit Inc.
2632 Marine Way
Mountain View, CA 94043
URL http://quickbooks.intuit.com