Twelve Reasons You May Hate QuickBooks Online

You’re looking to make the jump to cloud accounting and are considering QuickBooks Online (QBO).  You just went through the pandemic and realize the future is not going to be like the past.

Connectivity is improving, you need to hire staff and realize many great employees want to work remotely.

You also see the cloud is used for everything.

You need to get out of that desktop software, retire the server and let someone else deal with the hardware management.

QuickBooks Online might be a great option.

But it may not.

Here are 12 reasons you might just hate the software.

1.     QuickBooks Desktop (QBD) and QuickBooks Online (QBO) are not the same product.

Due to the overwhelming US market share of QuickBooks Desktop (QBD), many users are migrating from QBD to QBO.  QBO and QBD share the same logo and are both owned by Intuit but the software is completely different.

Just because you like QuickBooks Desktop, that does not mean you will like QuickBooks Online.

The navigation has changed.  QBO is more of a “cattle chute” guiding the user into only one or two ways of accomplishing a task whereas QBD seemed like there were many options from icons, to lists and to do the same option.

Unlike QBD, QBO was built in the cloud and is functionally completely differently from the old program.  It relies significantly on the bank feeds, cleared transactions being automatically imported directly into the software as they clear the bank.  This can create duplicate transactions, complicate bank reconciliations and will drastically change the way the memorized transactions function.

What crushes users is the expectation they know how to use the software because the logo is the same.  The logo is the same, but the software is not.

2.     You really, really love QuickBooks Desktop.

This is cheating a bit as it is closely related to #1, but it is a point no one mentions.  The gravitation toward what is known is such a powerful human tendency that this cannot be overstated.

As anecdotal evidence, the people who hate QBO most are accountants who have been working on QBD for decades.  QBD isn’t perfect but they are the experts in a known software.  If you search out the loudest critics of QBO you will likely see they have expertise in QBD.  QBO is a threat to their role as an expert.  (It is also forcing them to learn a new software as mentioned in #1.)

Knowing you have a secret software crush is a subtle thing and you may not really know until it’s taken away. QBD has been around for decades and it has not changed substantially in years.  Losing decades of knowledge is painful.

When you have something that works, especially in something as critical to the business as the financial records, making a change from what works into something you don’t know how to drive really causes people to realize that they love the comfort of their known QBD software.

3.     You don’t like waiting on or still have trouble accessing reliable internet.

You know cloud-based software is on the internet.  QBO is subject to the speed and availability of the internet connection.  When transactions are slower because of the blue spinning wheel, it causes minor frustration for staff.  While the ability to access your accounting file anywhere is a selling point of QBO, if your staff can’t reliably access the internet from their rural home, this problem is not solved with the change.

4.     You want to manage your entire business in QBO without utilizing any connected apps.

As mentioned earlier, QBO not the same software as QBD. QBD is the Blackberry of accounting software; everything is contained within the application.  For comparison sake, QBO is the iPhone of the industry. QBO owns the platform on which the apps are built and designed for the platform.

The APIs are shared with the developers, and they can integrate into the software. As a result of this, there are over 600 applications that integrate into QBO.  This functionality is completely different than using QBD.

Implicit to creating this platform, Intuit is signaling that QBO is not intended to solve all the problems of every business.  Just like apps for smartphones, each company can create an app to integrate into the platform.  The burden to create and support the app is now on the vendor and the risk is spread out on the ecosystem.  The solutions move as fast as the vendors can create and support them and the integration issue is not solely Intuit’s responsibility.

5.     QBO doesn’t offer the features you need.

This is so close to #4, it should almost be included there.  This is its own number because this is such a common rejection of the software.

As mentioned QBO is not built to handle everything.  Construction accounting, job costing, and inventory management are several common limitations.

The apps were designed for this purpose. 

Some of the most common apps are payroll, receipt management, document management, customer resource management, accounts payable, accounts receivable, inventory, fixed assets, and many industry-specific apps.

Your research into using QBO needs to include the essential applications required to support your business.  The price you pay to each varies and will need to be factored into the equation.  To successfully use QBO, you will want to use additional apps.

6.     The integration of the apps is buggy and evolving.

When you allow companies to integrate into your platform the results will be varied.  With over 600 apps, some work well and some don’t.  Some are available for long periods of time and some are purchased and integrated into anther company.  APIs break, are updated and impact the sync of information.  Some apps were purchased and integrated only to fail.  This is a dynamic and rapidly changing ecosystem that may not provide the long-term stability you need for your company.

7.     Tracking and recording sales tax is harder and buggier.

QBO has a separate sales tax center mapped to specific accounts in their chart of accounts.  The software attempts to apply a code based on the jurisdiction in the location and is attempting to be more intuitive within QBO.

Regardless of the reasons, it is not easy to use.  All sales tax payments need to be recorded in a separate area, not like the other checks or bill payments.  If there is a mistake here it can take hours to resolve.  Apps tracking sales tax have serious challenges integrating into this sales tax feature and need to look for workarounds which change the process for the user.  Sometimes the sales tax reports are buggy and don’t accurately match the other reports.

Make sure you dedicate time to setting up and supporting this process with all the applicable jurisdictions, payments and reports.

8.     The pricing is opaque and constantly changing.

The pricing of the software as a service is delivered monthly and highly variable upon the features.  There are changes depending on the number of users and functionality of the software, whether it is purchased wholesale or directly, whether it qualifies for a discount, how long you’ve been with the company and what version you are on.

Intuit pushes through pricing changes frequently and some complain they can’t keep up.  Getting a quote on exactly how long you’re locked in on the pricing is a challenge even for their partners.  Specials come and go but pricing changes are constant.

9.     The reporting function is not pre-defined or robust.

If you are accustomed to QBDs robust reporting options, QBO will leave you wanting.  QBO provides the main reports but has designed their reporting section to be built and shared among users.  You can select from a community-shared template or build a report template from scratch to share.

Unlike the QBD version, the customization of the reporting leaves a little to be desired.  The column sizing and ability to jump between reports in separate windows, and quickly move back to a prior report without it changing are all frustrations of users.

The report you loved and used regularly in QBD may not be the exact same report in QBO.  There is inevitably a workaround for the report but this is another case of reason #1.

10. QBO is made by Intuit.

This point may be excused as success hating by those who have a bone to pick with a successful company.  If you are currently with QBD then this likely won’t impact your analysis.

Intuit has a rocky history with many accountants.  While charging an annual subscription to tens of thousands of accountants for membership of its ProAdvisor network, it also develops programs to directly compete with those same accountants it is allegedly supporting!  TurboTax Live and QuickBooks Live are programs developed and staffed by Intuit to provide the same services accountants offer.  They are also hiring from the same talent pool and can favorably compete on benefits given their size.

In addition, Intuit has a history of gobbling up apps to reduce the competition only to sunset them or bungle the integrations with their software. They are constantly attempting to upsell and cross sell the user. They release products before they are ready and have a reputation for their lack of support.

11. The customer support you receive from Intuit will likely be underwhelming.

Maybe it’s a curse of success, or maybe they’ve priced the product too low to staff property, but the quality of support is not high.  A lack of support for integrations, unknowledgeable staff and unresponsive calls have led many to question if they have the support they need from the company to use their software.

12. It forces you to change established processes and roles.

Finally, people simply dislike change imposed on them.  The other reasons on this list include a sprinkling of this one, but this deserves its own number.

Adopting this new software is change management and that is a much larger topic than accounting software.  Regardless of the validity of all the other reasons here, the amount and intensity of change in a core aspect of your business will produce pain and loss.  While a business case and ROI exist to converting, there is a distinctly human element to the change you will need to navigate.

Making a change like this impacts the value and self-worth of the users in your company.  They have built years or decades of tacit knowledge in a product that will disappear with this change.

This leads to an existential crisis for those responsible for accounting.  Their value in the organization can feel like it has been diminished as they are forced to start back at the beginning, learning new software.

The companies that do the best with the migration are those who understand software migrations are really a cultural change for the company.  Those who are eager to learn and show a willingness to improve systems and processes shine.

People who are unwilling to change or alter their process feel out of control about a conversion being forced on them and will likely dislike the software from the beginning.

Online accounting software represents change.  Asking or requiring people to accept change is difficult and that is what many hate about QBO.  It is unfair to the software, but if you listen hard enough to the criticism of the software, you’ll catch this theme.

Successful implementation of QBO requires grit.

There are common themes regarding companies and teams who have successfully converted to QBO.  Differences exist but much is regarding the grit and determination of the team involved.

Successful teams approach the software as a new frontier to be learned and mastered.  The biggest success factor is the willingness to experience pain in the transition.  The willingness to learn where and how to navigate the new software and overall determination to get the job done.  This is the difference that leads some companies to succeed and some to retreat to their old software.

Proper expectations regarding a conversion will serve you well.

This blog serves to educate about the most common themes of why people hate QBO.

While you may think we hate QBO, on the contrary, we use QBO exclusively for accounting software with our clients and love the freedom and autonomy it provides.  It is the software we can best serve and support our clients for their success.

In addition, most clients love QBO and see exceptional improvement in their bookkeeping and processes.  That is the reason it is one of the dominant cloud-based small business accounting software in the United States with a robust ecosystem of apps to manage their businesses.

Did I miss a reason?  I’d like to hear from you.