By Jayne A. Hitchcock
Having used an older version, Quickbooks 99, I felt it was time to break down and upgrade to the newest version, QuickBooks Premier Edition 2003. I didn't want to switch to a different accounting program altogether, even though it may have cost me less, because I liked the easy to understand style of Quickbooks 99, the helpful tips, and layman's language. My tax accountant loves the reports, too. I am not a mathematical genius by any means, so any help I can get in that arena helps a great deal. Quickbooks 99 was perfect for me, mainly because my husband and I are self-employed and have a lot of expenses. We needed a small business accounting program that I could understand and use without tearing my hair out.
QuickBooks Premier Edition 2003 installs as easily as just about any software program these days, with no need to restart your computer. Registration can be done online or via telephone; if you don't register right away, you get friendly reminders. You can use QuickBooks 20 times before registration; after that, you have to register or you're out of luck.
The main startup screen has a similar setup to QuickBooks 99 via frames (like a web page); a toolbar menu at the top with pulldown selections and a Ashorthand@ version just below it with the following selections (this is the toolbar I tend to use the most):
The main window is called the Company Navigator and offers several choices with graphics/text:
- Invoice (create an invoice)
- Cust (job list)
- Item (list)
- Mem Tx (memorized transactions)
- Vend (vendor list)
- Check (write checks)
- Bill (enter bills)
- Reg (use the register)
- Accnt (chart of accounts)
- Rmnd (reminders)
- Set up budgets
- Business planning
- Expert analysis
- Chart of accounts
- Remote access
There are other Navigators to choose from in a pull-down menu:
- Create/share database
- Update QuickBooks
Customers, Vendors, Employees, Banking, Services. Like the Company Navigator, they have preset choices and selections, which I wish could be customized more by the user.
I found a way to stop this window from appearing when I started QuickBooks each time - in the Preferences section.
I'd imported my old QuickBooks files, which went smoothly. I began entering bills and invoices to catch up with everything for tax time (yes, I am a procrastinator). But I forgot to uncheck the box next to "To be printed" on the bills and invoices and there was no way that I could find, either in the Preferences or via Help to uncheck all of the boxes at once instead of doing what I had to do - open each bill/invoice (over 100 of them), uncheck the box, then confirm by clicking on "yes" when closing the bill/invoice QuickBooks also didn't automatically update the bills or invoices when I changed this option, so I had a hard time keeping track of which bills or invoices I'd already unchecked the box on. This wasted a lot of my time, but I learned my lesson and will make sure the "To be printed" box is unchecked from now on.
One other thing that drives me crazy (which happened in the older version as well) is that when you're done with one window (such as looking at an Item or Vendor list), unless you close out that window by clicking on the X in the upper righthand corner, the window stays open. So, you could be doing several things in the course of a session and have too many windows open. The good news is that there is an "Open Windows" box on the lefthand menu. Any windows open are listed there, but unless you look at that frequently, you tend to forget it's even there. I just wish there was an option so that when you open a new window, the other closes automatically.
Now that I've gotten my gripes out of the way, I do like the new look and ease of QuickBooks 2003 Premier. Being able to go to the QuickBooks web site in the program, instead of opening a separate web browser is very nice. QuickBooks can also be set up so that each time you open the program or go online, it automatically checks for any updates, then installs them without bothering you. As in other versions, you can easily setup an online banking account to pay bills or do your banking online, as well as doing credit checks of customers online (some of these do charge extra fees for their services, so check them out before signing up). It seems that this version of QuickBooks is more "connected" than other versions, offering a variety of online options and services. Plus, there are a lot of new functions that weren't available in previous versions, including:
QuickBooks Premier Edition 2003
- Create a forecast of income and expenses based on your QuickBooks data, then adjust the forecast numbers by applying a percentage increase or decrease across a line item. Later, you can generate a report that compares your forecast to your actual results.
- Create a business plan to use when trying to secure a small business loan or bank line of credit or to plan for the future. With a simple Ainterview,@ QuickBooks uses your answers and historical data to create a projected balance sheet, profit and loss statement and statement of cash flows in the format recommended the U.S. Small Business Administration.
- The Expert Analysis Tool shows where you stand and how to do better by charting your company's financial performance and compares various time periods, revealing important trends in profits, sales, borrowing, liquidity, assets and employees.
- Track sales orders from customers without affecting accounts receivable, as well as tracking back orders when your customer orders something and you're out of stock.
- Track inventory by components by specifying which of your current inventory you need to produce finished goods. QuickBooks automatically adjusts your inventory items and finished goods, then tracks them separately.
- Over 100 professional invoices, estimates and other forms templates are available on the CD and the QuickBooks web site - great for design dummies like me.
You can customize these forms to your liking, including adding and removing fields; including multiple instances of the same field; adding text boxes or inserting as many as 32 images into a form.
- Automatically create a monthly budget based on your actual QuickBooks data, then view and edit the figures in a new spreadsheet format, so that you can manually adjust or apply a percentage increase or decrease across a line item.
- Integrates data with more than 100 business applications, such as Microsoft Excel7, Word7, Outlook 7 and ACT7.2 A full list is available at the QuickBooks web site.
There are advanced options for backing up your data so that you can schedule in house backups of your QuickBooks data to take place automatically, either when you exit the program or you select the time. You can backup to floppies, a hard drive, or CD RW (if you're running Windows XP).
- Ship packages via FedEx without leaving QuickBooks. Fill out and print FedEx airbills using your QuickBooks customer data. Look up shipment tracking numbers in QuickBooks, plus get discounted rates available only to QuickBooks customers.
- Easier to use help whenever and wherever you need it. Just click on a menu from nearly anywhere in the program, type a question in the text box, and QuickBooks finds the answer. I tried this a few times and it does actually work fairly well.
Other versions of QuickBooks begin at $199.95 for QuickBooks Basic (upgrade $99.95).
(If you are interested in a personal accounting program, try Quicken (www.quicken.com) for $69.95)
Recommended - At least an IBM Compatible 350 MHz Pentium II with 96 MB of RAM
- IBM Compatible 200 MHz Pentium computer with 64 MB of RAM
- Windows 98/Me/NT 4.0 (SP6a)/2000/XP
- 250 MB of disk space for QuickBooks installation
- Internet Explorer 6.0 required (6.0 provided on CD. Requires an additional 70 MB)
- At least 256 color SVGA video
- 800x600 resolution with small fonts
- Works with any printer supported by Windows 98/Me/NT 4.0/2000/XP
- 2x CD ROM
- All online features/services require Internet access with at least a 28.8 Kbps connection speed
Multi user (2 5 simultaneous users) optimized for Windows 98/Me/NT4.0/2000/XP (peer to peer network), Windows NT 4.0/2000/XP server or Novell NetWare network.
- Word and Excel integration requires MS Word and Excel 97, 2000, or 2002
- Outlook synchronization requires Outlook 97, 98, 2000 or 2002
- ACT synchronization requires Symantec Act 3.08, 4.02 or Interact 2000
- Remote Access users require at least a 56Kbps Internet connection speed
J.A. Hitchcock is a regular
contributor to Compute Me. Visit her web site at
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