Why We Still Recommend Quickbooks

December 2022

Volume 14, Issue 11

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Whether you are a brand new or seasoned practice owner or manager, having an accounting system you can trust is a must! You must have a user-friendly system to organize business transactions for management decisions, tax preparation, and practice valuation. The accounting system must also make it easy to share the information with third parties (i.e., your accountant). There are many accounting systems available, and the one used by most businesses of all shapes and sizes is QuickBooks by Intuit. Here’s why we recommend it to our clients.

For many veterinary practice managers, QuickBooks (QB) checks off these essential boxes:

       Easy to learn

       Able to customize the AAHA/VMG chart of accounts

       Pre-set common management reports

       Easy to create customized reports

       Easy to export reports to Excel format

       Easy to compare to internal and industry benchmarks

Ease of use is so important for a practice manager who needs to gain accounting experience. After all, most practice owners and managers have a background in animal anatomy and physiology, not business accounting and bookkeeping. In addition, because every veterinary practice is different, customization is critical for managing practices serving unique patients, offering specialty services, or operating outside a standard "cookie cutter" business model.

QuickBooks comes in both desktop and online versions. Your choice depends on accessibility (one person or multiple people), reporting features, and IT needs (i.e., server, backup, internet access, software updates, and software support). QB is an excellent product for organizing accounting transactions, yet each version has strengths and weaknesses. For example, the desktop version has more built-in reporting features and is easier to maneuver than the online version. However, for ease of access by multiple users and data storage without the need to back up to a server, the online version is the option of choice.

Keep in mind many accounting systems are directing the bulk of new development toward online and mobile versions, and QB is no different. QB Online (QBO) developers are constantly releasing new functionality to QBO, making the need to install new versions unnecessary. Your QBO file is hosted, backed up, and secured by Intuit’s servers. Additionally, QBO provides accessibility to data across multiple platforms, PC or Mac, browser, or tablet.

In the past, QB customers could choose between an annual renewal plan or single-purchase software with a valid three-year license. However, the latter was discontinued in 2021, so new customers purchasing desktop software can only opt for annual subscriptions. By 2024, when the 2021 desktop licenses expire, all desktop software will be available through annual subscriptions only. Depending on how many simultaneous users you need, the best plans are QBO Essentials or QBO Plus. One primary difference between these two is the limit of users. QBO Essentials has three users, and QBO Plus can have up to five users. QBO Plus also includes a budgeting tool and unlimited reports-only users, which is handy when outside parties (your management consultant) need to access your books.

As with any program, there are some things that QB does not do. For example, the basic QB package does not include payroll, time tracking, project management, invoicing, or billing. However, you can purchase additional features or install third-party solutions that integrate with QB, depending on what features you need to manage the business. Although QB has inventory and client invoicing features, it’s much better to use your PIMS for these critical functions. Both your PIMS and QB must allow you to track business metrics (i.e., Key Performance Indicators or KPIs) to make strategic business decisions. The caveat for either system (PIMS and QB) remains the same, "Garbage in results in garbage out." That’s why it’s important to properly set up your QB file and take the time to enter accurate data to produce reports and financial statements for managing your practice. Consistency is critical when setting up a new chart or cleaning up your old set of books.

Finally, never underestimate the power of data security. Whether you use the desktop version or QBO, your data is only as secure as you make it. Close the program when you aren’t using it. Set maximum inactive times for the software to automatically sign off. Use a unique password, and don’t share it. If others need access to a file, provide them with a unique username and password.

Just as veterinarians need the right tools to provide medical services to their patients, practice owners and managers need the right tools to make business decisions. The QuickBooks accounting software tool can be used by veterinary practice managers of any size business and at any level of accounting/bookkeeping experience, and when paired with a good business consultant and accountant, it can help them make strategic decisions about their practice.

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