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For many small business owners, QuickBooks is a popular choice for accounting software, but it’s just one choice they need to make. Which version should you get?
Although many QuickBooks users find themselves gravitating to the online version of the product, some still prefer (or can only use) the desktop version of QuickBooks. QuickBooks Pro and QuickBooks Premier are both excellent products. QuickBooks Desktop, in general, is one of Intuit’s all-time best products.
So, if you are evaluating which is right for you, use this ultimate comparison of QuickBooks Pro vs. Premier.
QuickBooks Pro is a simple, deceptively robust, and powerful solution that solves the following everyday small-business accounting needs:
Many accounting professionals can lift QuickBooks Pro beyond its fundamental boundaries with plenty of workarounds, and even a mid-market company could use it for 80% of its daily needs. This is true even though we’ve all heard often-repeated tales of large businesses that should be on some Oracle product rather than QuickBooks Pro.
QuickBooks Pro is bookkeeping legend, with some old timey folklore built in. Your mama’s mama used it. Your dad still has 2003 Pro installed on an old Windows 98 machine down in the basement of the house you grew up in … and it still works. It was Intuit’s accounting answer to AOL’s “You’ve Got Mail” for email.
Every business that invested in an accounting solution at one point installed QuickBooks Pro. It is bread and butter, the T-bone next to the mashed potatoes, the Chevy ’57 of bookkeeping software.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean it is the right product for you.
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So what makes a QuickBooks Premier not Pro? Meaning, what features does Premier have that Pro does not, and why is this important?
Now, I need to qualify something: I am about to list the key accounting maneuvers that Premier has over Pro. But you need to know that Premier has several different versions itself, and they do not all have the same feature set.
For a detailed breakdown, please see the QBO Show’s QuickBooks Matrix. Woody Adams (long-time Intuit employee and friend) tries to keep it up to date. Having very little short-term memory left, he commits to 98% accuracy most days (he told me to write that!). However, I do not plan to go into depth regarding what Premier Contractor has versus Non-Profit, etc. (I will one day, though, I promise.)
So, to generalize it as best I can, the main features of QuickBooks Premier that are not in Pro:
That’s a lot of features—and a lot of shop talk. I understand it can be overwhelming,
A better way to think about it might be the most popular reasons someone would choose QuickBooks Premier over QuickBooks Pro. Here’s what I usually see:
1. Back orders: Let’s say you need to know what products were invoiced and what is left over to still ship to the customer. Pro has no such visibility.
2. Sales orders: A non-posting sales transaction to hold the order until you invoice against it. Premier also has the sales order fulfillment worksheet and easier sales order workflow management, too!
3. Current availability tracking: Not in all flavors of Premier … but super critical to know what you can promise to a customer against not just the stock you have on hand but the stock already committed to another customer. In QuickBooks Pro, you will be blind.
4. Estimate to purchase order: For contractors, this is quite possibly the main reason to upgrade to Premier—and significant feature when considering QuickBooks Pro vs. Enterprise as well. Imagine an estimate with 30 lines of materials you need to purchase for the job. How cool would it be to just create a purchase order from that estimate?
5. Previous reconciliation reporting: One of the main reasons accountants want their clients to use Premier.
6. Reverse journal entry
7. Price level by item: Leveraged for a great many purposes, nice to not be limited solely to a fixed percent price increase or decrease, but one of your own desire and across the items you want the level to impact. For manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, retail, this can often be critical. Fixed percent is nice but not flexible enough.
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Now that you know the fast facts about these products, I want to leave you with some general advice to keep in mind as you decide between QuickBooks Pro vs. Premier:
1. Do NOT buy the Retail version of Premier. There really is no point to it at all. You should invest in a true point-of-sale product.
2. For QuickBooks Premier, the popularity of the versions are as follows: QuickBooks Accountant, Contractor, Manufacturer & Wholesale, and then Non-Profit. If you’re in one of those categories, they’re worth exploring.
3. Every desktop edition of QuickBooks has the Loan Manager that’ll help you track your payments on small business loans, which is lacking from QuickBooks Online and is a great feature.
4. Both Pro and Premier offer the ability to perform certain accounting functions including creating income statements.
Lastly, you could consider the Accountant Edition of Premier even if you are not an accountant. Here are a few tools you’ll find in that version that you won’t in the non-accountant version. My favorites are in bold:
Moral of the story is: If you need a desktop version of QuickBooks but don’t need to go as big as Enterprise, I would highly recommend Premier over Pro. When it comes to QuickBooks Pro vs. Premier, Premier has more functionality that would benefit most small business owners.
If you’d rather not learn these tools, you can hire a QuickBooks ProAdvisor to help you with your business’s accounting.