Intuit Keeps QuickBooks Enterprise Package Slanted for SMBs

By John Pallatto  |  Posted 2005-10-18

Intuit Keeps QuickBooks Enterprise Package Slanted for SMBs

Faster performance and new sales and inventory management features have been built into the latest version of QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions, Intuit Inc. announced Monday.

Version 6.0 of Intuits top-of-the-line financial and business management package, which is due to ship on Nov. 7, runs three to five times faster than earlier versions, according to Bill Lucchini, business line leader for QuickBooks.

While the product is called QuickBooks Enterprise, it is still squarely focused on SMBs (small and midsize businesses).

The new version has been configured to serve up to 15 concurrent users, which will allow the product to appeal to a wider range of midmarket companies, Lucchini said. The previous limit was 10 users.

New sales and inventory management features built into the package include an order fulfillment function that provides a view of all pending orders so managers can make shipping decisions based on estimated revenue, customer value or other indicators.

The package also tracks inventory on hand so users can make "available to promise" sales decisions based on accurate information. This is a feature typically found in more expensive and complex accounting packages, Lucchini said.

This latest version of QuickBooks Enterprise is aimed at midmarket companies that have multiple locations and departments that each have a local manager, he said. These are also organizations that have telecommuters who need to access the applications and where work flow and decision-making are distributed among multiple people.

Click here to read about a patch management tool recently introduced by Intuit.

In these situations QuickBooks may serve as a replacement for other midmarket accounting applications that failed because they were too complex or required specialized programming or support skills that were beyond the organizations resources, he said.

"Most current midmarket solutions are pretty complex, and they have gotten more complex with each release over time," Lucchini said. Intuits design goal has been to add features and improve the performance of the product while retaining the ease of use that allows it to be used by people who just want to work with a simple automated accounting system, he said.

In some cases, midmarket companies are turning to QuickBooks after having implemented or evaluated such accounting packages as Microsoft Corp.s Great Plains or Navision or Accpac from Sage Accpac International Inc., according to Lucchini.

Click here to read about Intuits efforts to upgrade QuickBooks to keep pace with user needs and Microsofts moves.

Advanced Semiconductor Inc., a manufacturer of specialized microwave and radio frequency chip components, switched to QuickBooks Enterprise in March 2004 to replace an old proprietary PC DOS application, said Steve Golob, vice president of Advanced Semiconductor, based in North Hollywood, CA.

The company continued using the DOS application long after it was obsolete because it was hard to find a reliable replacement, Golob said.

"We were frequently searching for an upgrade. But we could never find the right program for the market size that we fit in," he said. "We didnt want to spend $100,000 on a product, thats not the kind of IT budget we have," he said.

Next Page: Keeping watch on QuickBooks.

Keeping Watch on QuickBooks

Advanced Semiconductor actually started considering QuickBooks three or four years ago. But it didnt have all the features and performance that the company needed.

Advanced Semiconductor kept an eye on the product until it reached a level that the company could work with.

The biggest advantage of the new version is its ability to support up to 15 concurrent users, Golob said.

Right now the company has perhaps 12 or 13 users on any given day who need to use the product, and sometimes they had to wait for other users to log off before they could do their work, he said.

"For us these five extra users are key," he said.

Reporting features are another QuickBooks strength. Golob added, "The reporting capabilities are so flexible you can find a way to pull out whatever information that you want and put it in a report."

To read a commentary about Microsofts prolonged efforts to overmatch Intuit in the small business accounting field, click here.

For Bubbles Car Wash, a chain of car wash stations in the Houston, Texas area, QuickBooks allowed the company to replace MAS 90, an enterprise accounting package from Sage Software Inc.

The company acquired MAS 90 after it outgrew the Peachtree accounting package it had used for years, said Bill Lawrence, president of the company, which has a 250-employee payroll and plans to open 15 to 20 new stores this year.

However, after spending three months and more than $25,000 trying to implement MAS 90, the company decided that it was too complex and burdensome for its needs, Lawrence said. The company needed a package that could run reliably in a multi-user environment, one that was easy to use and had an uncomplicated set of data entry and report generation routines, he said.

The company also looked at Microsoft Small Business Accounting System as well Microsofts Great Plains and Navision products, "But all of them had the same degree of complexity," Lawrence said.

Bubble Car Wash was able to get QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions installed and running within seven days, he said, adding that QuickBooks "has taken all of our accounting headaches and made them go away." QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions will cost $3,000 for a five-seat license, $4,500 for a 10-seat license and $6,000 for a 15-seat license. These prices include a 12-month service plan with 24-by-7 technical support.

Editors Note: This story was updated to clarify the intended market for the product.

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