QuickBooks 2016 (4 of 4) – What to Expect

Article 4 of 4

QuickBooks Statement Writer and Microsoft Office

Out of the box, prior versions of QuickBooks had difficulty in getting QuickBooks Statement Writer to run with Microsoft Office 2013. In the QuickBooks Statement Writer setup windows you would see a statement that says that it requires Microsoft Office 2007 or 2010, with no mention of Office 2013. In my article on making QuickBooks Statement Writer work with Office 2013 I provided details on how to patch your Windows system so that it can work with Office 2013 (provided by one of my favorite Intuit support technicians).

In QuickBooks 2016 the installer program should now handle these patches for you, so “out of the box” you should find that QuickBooks Statement Writer will work with Office 2013. They’ve also updated the messaging in the QuickBooks Statement Writer setup window to include Office 2013.

At the time I’m writing this, no word on compatibility with the new Microsoft Office 2016 though. Not surprising, since Microsoft hasn’t officially released that version of Office yet.

Column Sorting on Payment Window

In QuickBooks Enterprise you can now click on any column header in the Customer Payment window to sort by the values in that column.

Here’s my initial window – invoices default to sorting by date. This was the only way we could see the detail lines in prior versions of QuickBooks.

Customer Payment sorted by date

Simply click a column heading and the invoices sort by that column. I’ve clicked on the Job column, for example, which puts all of the outstanding invoices for the same job together. Yes, I know, my invoices in this example are really, really old…

QuickBooks 2016 Sorting Customer Payments

It’s not a big change, but it is something that will help some businesses. A nice update, but only found in QuickBooks Enterprise.

Is That All There Is for QuickBooks Enterprise?

There is only one updated feature in this release that is limited to QuickBooks Enterprise. As I discussed last year, Intuit’s change to providing subscription pricing for QuickBooks Enterprise means that they can release new features during the course of the year, rather than holding on to everything and releasing them in one big block in the new annual release.

Then why still have an annual release for QuickBooks Enterprise? Well, that is because they still have features in Pro and Premier that are released annually, and Enterprise is being updated so that it can include those as well.

How About Bug Fixes?

I know that there are bug fixes in this release. I just can’t get any sort of list from Intuit, however. They never want to announce this kind of thing in their annual release. Darn it.

QuickBooks for Mac 2016

I don’t work with Mac computers so I haven’t tested this. From the information provided to me, QuickBooks for Mac 2016 will include:

  • Performance improvements – it should launch and run faster.
  • You can resize the columns of forms such as invoices, payments and sales receipts (etc.).
  • You can print directly onto envelopes, rather than just onto labels.
  • You can fill in and edit timesheets more easily.

QuickBooks for Mac 2016 will support one-way conversion from QuickBooks for Windows 2013 – 2015. It will support two-way conversion with QuickBooks for Windows 2016.

Changes to the ProAdvisor Program

There are a few changes to the QuickBooks ProAdvisor program that are being announced at the same time as the release of QuickBooks 2016. I’m always nervous when they say they are going to make changes again, but this time the changes don’t seem to be very bad, at least from my standpoint.

The changes are:

  • Adding a new, reduced price level that includes QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Accountant, but does not include QuickBooks Enterprise, QuickBooks Point of Sale or QuickBooks for Mac. This makes sense to me, as there are many accounting professionals who never work with those three products. Reducing the price will be beneficial to people who work in that situation.
  • Renaming the levels to differentiate them, now that there are three levels. ProAdvisor for the online-only option (which is still free), ProAdvisor Deluxe for the new reduced-price level, and ProAdvisor Premium for the level that includes all of the software. As far as I know these will just be internal designations – that is, it doesn’t involve any changes to certification logos (thank goodness!), and I don’t think that it will be something listed on the Find a ProAdvisor pages.
  • Discontinuing the monthly payment option. People who sign up for the ProAdvisor program (Deluxe and Premium levels) starting today will not have the option of making monthly payments instead of one annual payment. If you are currently enrolled in the monthly payment plan then you can continue on that plan as long as you have your membership set to “auto-renew” and your credit card information is up to date. If you aren’t on auto-renew, if your credit card is denied, or your membership lapses for any reason, you will no longer be able to use the monthly payment option. You have 90 days to make sure that everything in your account is up to date.

Here is Intuit’s chart comparing the different program levels.

New ProAdvisor Level

If you are currently enrolled in what is now called the Premium program you cannot downgrade to the Deluxe program until it is time to renew your membership. The only exception is if you have recently joined the program, you have a 60 day “guarantee period”, during which you can change your mind and move down a level.

I see this as a fairly benign change, beneficial to those ProAdvisors who just focus on QuickBooks Pro and Premier. It doesn’t affect me at all, since I need QuickBooks Enterprise (I wouldn’t mind a bit of a discount to drop QB Mac and QBPOS, though). The name change shouldn’t be anything that the public will see, I hope. If it is, then it will be annoying!

What Do I Think of All This?

One way of looking at it is that releasing fewer features on an annual basis makes my job easier, there was a lot less for me to have to dig through in this annual release.

When I look over the changes that were implemented in the program, I like what they’ve done. These are all useful changes, and the implementation is very good (with a few minor exceptions that I’ve noted).

It is obvious that Intuit is changing how they handle QuickBooks desktop product improvements.

  • The pace of development of new features for the desktop product is slowing down. They continue to put more resources into QuickBooks Online and various services that are web/mobile-based.
  • As Intuit stated last fall, the emphasis in upgrades will be on incremental improvements rather than big new features. Other than the new Bill Tracker feature, everything here is an improvement on an existing feature, many of which were requested by users.
  • We are seeing less of an emphasis on having a large number of changes released in the fall, all in one big push. This reflects Intuit’s policy of trying to move to subscription-based pricing. QuickBooks Enterprise is only available via subscription now. QuickBooks Pro and Premier have been available via annual subscription in the “Plus” program for several years now. Even QuickBooks Accountant is available in a subscription format. Intuit believes that with subscription pricing they can offer new features during the course of the year, rather than waiting for the annual release.

Is this a good change?

Well, on the positive side, by not having a really large number of coding changes across the products all in one big clump it makes it easier for Intuit to do a good job on pre-release testing. My rule of thumb in years past has been to recommend that you wait until you see at least the R4 update, possibly even the R6 update, before you commit to changing to a new year of QuickBooks. That usually means waiting until late winter or early spring of the following year. It often takes that long for them to shake out the bugs. With a smaller number of changes I’m hopeful that they will improve on this. I still don’t recommend that you run your business on the R1 release if you can avoid it – and most businesses probably won’t be able to purchase this until the R3 release comes out. I don’t know what their plans are this year, but usually there is no R2 release (long story behind that) and the R3 release is usually available about a month after R1. I can say that in testing this R1 release I’ve not seen very many problems, which is encouraging.

On the negative side, when you are running a business you don’t have a lot of time to keep on updating your software and retraining people if procedures change multiple times a year. If we have incremental releases of features during the year, then the product is continually changing, and that can be disruptive. I’m already seeing this with QuickBooks Online, which has a new release every month (sometimes more!). I think that is too rapid of a pace. Not only do we have to worry about new features cropping up all the time, we have to worry about all those opportunities for new bugs to be introduced into our business procedures.

And, for accounting professionals and ProAdvisors, as long as we have some customers on non-subscription versions (Pro and Premier) in addition to some on subscriptions (Enterprise, Pro Plus, Premier Plus), it gets confusing when trying to provide support, as some customers will have some features and other customers won’t. That makes it complicated.

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