A few weeks ago we upgraded our internal bookkeeping system from Quickbooks 2006 to Quickbooks 2009.
Summary: While Quickbooks 2009 offers a noticable speed increase, don’t upgrade unless you have to, and are prepared to dedicate a server to host your company file.
I was not looking forward to this upgrade, as every Quickbooks upgrade I’ve ever done (starting with version 96, then 99, then 2001, then 2003, then 2006) has gotten slower and slower with each passing release. However, since we run our payroll through Quickbooks, and Intuit (Quickbooks’ publisher) discontinued support for payroll services as of March 31, 2009, we either had to upgrade or find a new payroll processor, or do it by hand. I decided that upgrading was the path of least resistance.
In addition to bookkeeping, we use Quickbooks as our company’s timer application. Since most of the work we do is billed by the hour, it is important that our staff have be able to track their time down to the minute. Quickbooks has included a timer application for as long as I’ve used the software, and, for as long as I’ve used the software, the timer application has been terrible. It was cumbersome, difficult to set up for remote users, difficult to sync their time with the main company file, and very unstable and prone to crashing all the time. Because of this, we opted for the additional expense of several Quickbooks licenses to allow users access to the program just to track software. Already, this was not a great solution, but it was the best we could come up with and, as these things go, we stuck with it.
Different from 2006, Quickbooks 2009 now requires that you have a dedicated server to host your company files. Right away, I was not happy with this. I do not like having to dedicate a machine to this purpose because it means you will
- install the server on one of your users’ desktops, which will invariably crash or be shut down at some inopportune time, causing other users to lose data, or
- incur additional costs associated with the server to run it on
- install it on an existing server, which is possibly already overloaded and shouldn’t have any more services running on it.
Regardless of where you install it, you have another piece of software running on your network which must be monitored for updates and security fixes. If it isn’t obvious by now that I wasn’t happy with this requirement, it should be.
As it happens, I did have a spare server on my network that was not doing much, so I chose that machine to host the Quickbooks database. Installation was easy, including the installation of Adobe Flash Player 9, which is required to to the install, (and which is known to have serious security vulnerabilities).
I copied the database file to the new server, and followed the steps to add the file to its configuration so that it would host the company file for the rest of my network. As I expected, the first time I ran it, Quickbooks told me it was time to upgrade the file to 2009 format. I tried this step 4 times, each time it would fail, either to back up the file before conversion, or afterward, saying “the company file is in use.” Eventually, I decided to move the company file to my local machine and try the upgrade there, which worked. So what Quickbooks meant to say was “you can’t upgrade a company file over the network,” but instead it said “the company file is in use.” Not very helpful, and wasteful of my time.
On two occasions my system has been brought to a complete standstill as the database manager (which I don’t think I’m even using on my computer, as it’s not hosting the database) has run amok, spawning dozens of copies of itself and chewing up all available memory and CPU time, forcing me to reboot the computer to get control of the machine back. This is completely unacceptable, and I will log a support case with Intuit on this. Hopefully they will tell me something more than “reboot your computer.”
What’s New and Good?
I also observed that Quickbooks added a chat feature, so now I can chat with anyone who’s in Quickbooks. Of all the things I wanted from my accounting and bookkeeping package, “chat” was never one of them that came to mind. Yes, I can see myself using it to ask users to log out when I need to do maintenance or something, but is chat really where Intuit should be focusing its efforts? I’d prefer they focused on improving the product’s speed and stability. Apparently they have made some progress in the speed department. Stability however, still needs some work.
New since 2006 is the “Company Snapshot” report. This one-page report shows a graph of the year-to-date income and expense trend, account balances, accounts receivable, vendor payables, reminders, and forms to print. This is a handy feature which I can see myself using, instead of opening many reports in succession when I want to see these bits of information.
I saved the best for last. Quickbooks 2009 is noticeably faster than previous versions. Also, there were several spots where the older version would pause when entering a new transaction, eating several characters I’d type. For example, when receiving a payment, I would start to type the check number (e.g. “12345”) but Quickbooks would hang after the 1, losing a few characters, and I’d end up entering “145” instead. This annoyance seems to have been cured. At least we get something out of this upgrade. I’m still not sure it was worth the cost, however.