QuickBooks Desktop vs. QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online vs Desktop Compared

Have you been using QuickBooks Desktop or thinking about adding a general ledger software program to your course?   Have you heard various stories about the pros and cons of using QuickBooks Desktop vs. QuickBooks Online?  If so, this month’s blog will attempt to demystify the great debate over using QuickBooks Desktop vs. QuickBooks Online in your courses.

Let’s start with discussing what’s happening with QuickBooks Desktop in education.  You may have heard that the educational version of QuickBooks Desktop is being phased out.  It was thought that the last version of QuickBooks Desktop for education would be 2015. Until recently, this information was correct.  While new Enterprise versions of QuickBooks Desktop continued to be available, the last version of QuickBooks Desktop for education was 2015.  As educational software for QuickBooks was no longer updated, academia was faced with training on software that was behind industry.  To resolve this problem, academia began to shift to QuickBooks Online.

QuickBooks Online is available in an educational format and always up-to-date.  Some faculty members liked the transition to the cloud and others did not.  Until a few weeks ago, this month’s blog planned to talk about how to transition from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online.  However, in the last few weeks, Intuit has announced there will be a new educational version of QuickBooks Desktop available for 2018.  This will be good news to some, while others will continue to evaluate the benefits of transitioning to QuickBooks Online.

So, if you are undecided or confused as to what direction to take, let’s look at some of the differences between QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop.  This may help you decide.

        QuickBooks Desktop           QuickBooks Online
Unlimited companies. This allows students to complete similar problems, using different companies. One company limitation.  Students are required to use a continuous type problem, using one company.
Only works with Windows PCs.  QuickBooks Desktop is not Apple Mac compatible.  Additionally, some computers have difficulty installing and running the QuickBooks Desktop software. Internet/Cloud-based.  QuickBooks Online works with all operating systems (PC or Apple Mac), and all types of devices.
Does not require an Internet connection Requires an Internet connection
Currently, requires a site license or student installed CD.  Note, the 2018 version is expected to be free and available for download.  CD’s will no longer be required. Free Educational Access.  A free educational access code is provided with textbooks.  Internet-based access means no software installation is required.  QuickBooks Online can be accessed from any place, at any time.
Fixed Asset Management included Fixed Asset Management not available
Navigation.  The look and feel of the software does not change within a version year. Navigation.  The QuickBooks Online application is updated on a regular basis.  The look and feel of the application may change at any time.
Requires data files and backups Does not require data files or backups
No remote access Remote access
Certification of users available Certification of users available

So how do you decide which QuickBooks option is right for you?  Let’s look at the following questions to help you decide:

  • Are you teaching your course on campus, where students work on QuickBooks Desktop in a computer lab or have access to a computer lab for out-of-class homework?

If your answer is Yes, then QuickBooks Desktop may still be a viable solution for you.  The benefits include the availability for students to practice with similar problems, using multiple companies.  There is also a limited learning curve for instructors between version years.

If your answer is No, then QuickBooks Online may be the best option for you.  The benefits of QuickBooks Online include access to the application 24/7, from any location, using any computer or device.  Data files are no longer required and students do not have to perform routine backup procedures.  Instructors can also be given Accountant access to assist students with their work and/or view the audit trail.  Note, if you haven’t used QuickBooks Online before, there will be a slight learning curve.  QuickBooks Online has a different look and feel from QuickBooks Desktop.

  • Have you surveyed your industry partners and/or your advisory committee about their preferences?

Industry views regarding QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online still differ depending on your location and local area needs.  Since QuickBooks Desktop does not require Internet access, businesses in more rural areas may prefer QuickBooks Desktop over QuickBooks Online.  If you work with industry partners and advisory board members who have converted their businesses and clients to QuickBooks Online, then you may receive a recommendation to train your students in QuickBooks Online.  Let your industry partners help you decide which option is best for your students today, and plan for what direction you should consider in the future.

  • Are you planning on having your students earn QuickBooks Certification?

If so, there are certification options for both QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online.  Visit the Certiport QuickBooks Certified User website at http://www.certiport.com/portal/aspx?tabid=668&roleid=101 for more information.

Whether you are planning to shift from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online, or continue to use QuickBooks Desktop, there are training resources available.  Visit the Intuit website at http://quickbooks.intuit.com/tutorials/all-quickbooks-tutorials/ for various video tutorials on how to use QuickBooks Desktop or how to switch from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online.

© 2017 Teaching and Learning Toolbox

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