We get this question a lot. There are lots of versions of QuickBooks and many small forms of governments (townships, villages, libraries, park districts, fire protection districts, etc.) are looking for something affordable to help them do their job.
Desktop or Online?
QuickBooks Desktop (Pro or Premier) and QuickBooks Online (Plus) versions will both work great, but there are some things to think about when deciding.
Using QuickBooks Desktop for your government
QuickBooks Desktop is usually the more affordable option, however, there are some drawbacks. It has to be installed on a computer and is typically only accessible from that computer. There are ways to share your QuickBooks file between computers (such as the computer at your government’s office and your home computer), but that will be an additional cost.
For the DIYer using QuickBooks Desktop, we recommend setting up a separate company file for each fund. If you don’t know what you’re doing, trying to set up ONE company file for all funds is an almost surefire way to make a giant mess. Trust us. We’ve cleaned up a LOT of those messes. However, this method does result in more labor-intensive data entry processes.
For those wanting to cut down on the amount of time they spend on bookkeeping, we have developed systems to utilize a single QuickBooks Desktop company file to track all the funds. We can set up your file to make sure all funds are kept properly segregated and provide extensive training on your new system. Contact us today if you want to learn more about this service.
Using QuickBooks Online for your government
QuickBooks Online is a bit more expensive than the Desktop version, but for good reason. QuickBooks Online is cloud-based, which means you can access it from any computer or mobile device with an internet connection. You just go to qbo.intuit.com and log in. No installation is necessary.
QuickBooks Online can connect to hundreds of other apps which allows for greater automation and expands the capabilities of the software.
In our opinion, the automatic reports in QuickBooks Online are far superior to those in QuickBooks Desktop. We can set up automatic recurring reports to send automatically to anyone we need (office/dept managers, accountants, elected officials, etc). This works great for keeping everyone in the loop and reduces the amount of time we spend running reports prior to a board meeting.
Because of how the app ecosystem works, we recommend using only ONE company file in QuickBooks Online. We set up a “location” (NOT A CLASS) in QuickBooks Online for each fund. However, this isn’t as foolproof as using QuickBooks Desktop. There are a few tips, tricks, and best practices to ensure your funds don’t get mixed up.
If you’re considering implementing QuickBooks for your government unit, contact us. We can help get you started on the right path.
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