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QuickBooks 2005: The Missing Manual by Bonnie Biafore

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Choosing the Right QuickBooks Product

This book focuses on QuickBooks Pro, because its balance of features and price make it the most popular QuickBooks edition. But another edition might suit your needs better. Throughout this book, you'll find notes about features that QuickBooks Basic doesn't offer as well as features you can get only in one of the Premier or Enterprise editions. Here's an overview of what each edition does:

  • QuickBooks Basic is for the one-user shop. Only one person can work on a company file at a time. This most basic of QuickBooks editions provides typical bookkeeping tasks: invoicing customers, memorizing and sending recurring invoices, tracking payments and sales tax, paying bills, printing checks, tracking inventory and expenses, creating purchase orders, downloading transactions, reconciling accounts, and running reports.

  • QuickBooks Pro is the lowest-level edition that allows more than one user at a time in a company file. You can purchase licenses in single or five-user packs. QuickBooks Pro adds features such as job costing; creating estimates; saving and emailing reports and forms from the program; creating budgets automatically; projecting cash flow; tracking mileage; customizing forms; customizing prices with price levels; printing shipping labels for FedEx and UPS; and integrating with Word, Excel, and hundreds of other programs.

  • QuickBooks Premier is another multiuser edition. Its big claim to fame is handling inventory that is built out of other items, components, and assemblies. In addition, a Premier edition can generate purchase orders from sales orders or estimates, and can apply price levels to individual items. You can also track employee information and access data remotely. Premier editions come in flavors targeted to several specific industries (see below).

  • Enterprise Solutions is for larger operations. It's faster, bigger, and more robust. Up to 10 people can access a company file at the same time, and this simultaneous access is faster than in other editions. The database can handle twice as many names in its lists—customers, vendors, employees, and others. You can have multiple company files, work in several locations, and produce combined reports for those companies and locations. With more people in your company file, this edition offers features such as an enhanced audit trail, more options for assigning or limiting user permissions, and the ability to delegate administrative functions to other users.

The QuickBooks Premier choices

If you work in one of the industries covered by a Premier edition, you can get the features unique to your industry—for a price that's a few hundred dollars more than QuickBooks Pro.

  • The Accountant Edition is designed to help professional accountants deliver services to their clients. In addition to being compatible with all other editions of QuickBooks, it lets you design financial statements and other documents, process payroll for clients, reconcile client bank accounts, and prepare client tax returns.

  • The Construction Edition includes special features near and dear to construction contractors' hearts: job cost reports, different billing rates by employee, managing change orders, and other contractor-specific reports.

  • The Manufacturing Edition is targeted to companies that manufacture products. It includes a Chart of Accounts, menu, and Navigator customized for manufacturing and wholesale operations. You can manage inventory assembled from components and track customer return materials authorizations (RMAs) and damaged goods.

  • If you run a nonprofit organization, you know that several things work differently in the nonprofit world. The Nonprofit Edition includes features such as a Chart of Accounts customized for a nonprofit, forms and letters targeted to donors and pledges, help about using QuickBooks for a nonprofit, and the ability to generate the Statement of Functional Expenses 990 form.


QuickBooks Pro does work for nonprofit organizations, but the limitations you must live with can be annoying. As long as funding comes primarily from unrestricted sources, things work reasonably well. Your biggest annoyance is using the term "customer" when you mean donors, members, and other contributors; or the term "job" for grants you receive. Throughout this book, you'll find notes and tips about tracking your nonprofit's finances with QuickBooks Pro.

But if you receive restricted funds or track funds by program, QuickBooks Pro forces you to manually post them to equity accounts and allocate funds to accounts in your Chart of Accounts. That is, QuickBooks doesn't automatically perform these staples of nonprofit accounting. Likewise, the program doesn't generate all the reports that you might have to produce to satisfy your grant providers or the government, though you can export reports (page 476) and then modify them as necessary in a spreadsheet program.

  • The Professional Services Edition (not to be confused with QuickBooks Pro) is designed for the company that delivers services to its clients. Features unique to this edition include project costing reports, templates for proposals and invoices, billing rates that you can customize by client, billing rate by employee, and professional service-specific reports and help.

  • The Retail Edition customizes much of QuickBooks to work for retail operations. It includes specialized Chart of Accounts, menus, reports, forms, and help.

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