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When Quickbooks Is No Longer The Answer

Nov 13, 2007
I have consulted with hundreds of companies, derived from many industries, over the past 10 or 15 years. I have seen it all - everything from mom-and-pop "stores" to multi-state, multi-national companies. What has continued to amaze me is how many not only started out on QuickBooks, but have continued to thrive on it, even though their companies have clearly outgrown the product.

In a way, this is no surprise, and it is certainly a testament to the flexibility and ease of use of QuickBooks. Most owners start a business knowing a trade, not accounting. They want to focus on running their business, and need an accounting program that is easy to understand. QuickBooks implies simplicity and is by far the easiest program to start up. Once the quick installation is done, you can literally start writing checks to your vendors, and generating invoices and receiving checks from your customers.

Intuit, the publisher of QuickBooks, has attempted to address the issues of the small business that is growing bigger by offering industry-specific solutions that will integrate with the software, such as the job shop product E2, as well as products that address vertical markets, such as point-of-sale and professional time billing. They have tried to eliminate limitations on database size and number of users with the addition of QuickBooks Enterprise. Thus, many growing companies are able to stay with the software long after they may have initially projected.

However, the time inevitably comes when many companies must face the fact that they have outgrown QuickBooks. There are several things that might trigger this, one being the manipulation of data. Financial and sales professionals need to view the data in a way that makes sense to them. Larger, more robust products, such as MAS 90 and MAS 500, offer flexibility that QuickBooks does not, allowing the data to be viewed in almost any way imaginable. Another scenario triggering a change is the company that has grown and created another company, or companies, as a byproduct, creating a need for consolidated financial statement reporting. Another challenge for Quick Books is cost accounting; other ERP systems can overcome this challenge by using serialized, lot, FIFO, LIFO or other costing methods.

Although I have seen QuickBooks manage the accounting records of multi-million dollar companies, more often than not, larger companies eventually convert from their initial QuickBooks accounting product. They move on to another product designed for larger companies that satisfies their demand for flexibility, customizability, and sophisticated queries.

Today's more advanced ERP software systems for small and mid-sized businesses often have migration paths. There are automated programs and utilities to transfer the data from QuickBooks into your newer system. Knowledgeable companies also have trainers that can help ease the transition into a more sophisticated system.

So if you're at the point where you've grown beyond the capabilities, either in functionality, auditing requirements or multi user flexibility and power, take heart, there are plenty of software answers out there from a variety of software publishers.

If you need help with selecting an ERP system or migrating from your current implemenation, email me at solutions@ACIconsulting.com or visit us at www.ACIconsulting.com and I'll put our team to work on it.
About the Author
Douglas Luchansky is the President of ACI Consulting, a reseller for ERP related software and services such as Sage MAS 90 ERP.
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