QuickBooks Point of Sale 2013 has been greatly improved over the prior version, QuickBooks POS Version 10. That prior version had a number of significant problems on initial release, causing there to be a great number of maintenance releases and discussions in the user community. Let’s talk about the changes in the functionality of the program as well as reviewing the new features that are included in QuickBooks POS 2013. We will also discuss what, in our opinion, still needs to be improved.
First of all, let’s start with the name. Prior editions use version numbers i.e. Version 1, 2, 3, etc. In this version, the name has been changed to QuickBooks Point of Sale (POS) 2013. I believe this was done to align POS with other Intuit products like the desktop version of QuickBooks. I suspect it was also done to set an expectation that the next product will match the standard release cycle. What is interesting is there are a number of places where the product is still referred to as V11. So whether you see V11 or POS 2013, it is the same product.
In QuickBooks POS 2013, there was a great deal of effort devoted to cleaning up the user interface. POS V10 didn’t appear to be a finished product, with a number of differences in the look and feel between screens. The Navigator was only one of three home screens and the dashboard home screen was not as useful as the original dashboard, which was still included. POS V10 introduced the concept of buttons on the new screen layout, but it didn’t make it easy to change them. QuickBooks POS 2013 adds a customize button.
In POS V10, the Navigator looked unfinished. While following the QuickBooks convention of organizing tasks into logical groups, it wasn’t clear what section was what. QuickBooks POS 2013 clarifies the grouping and introduces icons to represent the activities Point of Sale, Purchasing, Employees and Operations. Additionally, certain of the icons will display a number indicating the number of open documents in that category.
Another new feature introduced in POS V10 was called Messages. It was designed to replace the customer needing to put sticky notes around the monitor to inform staff of important information. The problem was that it took up a lot of screen real estate for the value-add it provided. QuickBooks POS 2013 allows you to hide the message screen.
The general navigation flow in POS V10 was confusing; it was hard to know where you were in the program. In addition, the layout switched from screen to screen with the “I want to” menu moving depending on which screen you were in. The “I want to” menu was introduced several versions ago and it is the place for all of the activities available for the task at hand: Therefore having it move depending on your screen was a problem. In QuickBooks POS 2013, the layout is consistent and there is a clear path indicating where you are in the operations of the program.
Lastly, in POS V10 certain screens caused the top menu bar to disappear; this has been corrected in QuickBooks POS 2013.
The very first release of POS V10 had no way of creating a practice data set, a feature that we had in prior versions. Practice data was essential when training new staff members. Maintenance releases allowed POS V10 to create a practice data set – now QuickBooks POS 2013 not only allows you to create a practice data set, it also brings back the ability to open a practice data set called Al’s Sport Hut, a feature of all prior versions.
In POS V10 there are extensive help menus, as was true with earlier versions. QuickBooks POS 2013 introduces a “Welcome to QuickBooks Point of Sale” pop-up. This pop-up contains several links to YouTube Videos as well as an overview of new features, plus links to support options, etc.
In POS V10 the program stopped following the Microsoft Windows convention of allowing a number of open windows. As a stopgap, POS V10 introduced a concept called “Switch to” where only certain activities were available to be selected. It was very limited and not very useful. In my practice, only a few clients were even aware of it, much less used it. Additionally, it was almost impossible to tell where you were at in the program. In QuickBooks POS 2013 there is a new feature called “In Progress”. As you switch between sales receipts, vouchers, and other documents, the active document is put into the in progress status and the new document is brought up. To switch back to the first document, you click on the In Progress drop down and select the appropriate document.
I personally would prefer a Windows menu option like most other Microsoft Windows programs, but apparently with the new interface this would be almost impossible to do. The “In Progress” feature is a good substitution.
Quick Pick Improvements
In POS V10, a new feature was introduced called “Quick Picks”. Quick Pick allows for the creation of a nested menu of commonly used items, or items that are not easily tagged. Setting up “Quick Pick” lists was found underPreferences, making it hard to find and set up. In QuickBooks POS 2013 you can create or edit a group from the “Quick Pick” list as well as add items to them.
In addition, the “Quick Pick” lists didn’t support styles. This means that while you could select multiple items to put on the list you couldn’t tell the difference between your selections, since only the item name was listed. In QuickBooks POS 2013 you can choose between a simple view that doesn’t support styles or a detailed view that allows you to see detailed item descriptions. An additional feature allows you to change colors on the “Quick Pick” items.
Lastly, you can now pin the Quick Pick List. Once you have selected the pin option, the “Quick Pick” list stays available for multiple selections. This will allow you to have a menu that stays available rather than having to select the “Quick Pick List” each time. The only problem is that in the current configuration, pinning the Quick Pick list covers the ability to complete the sale, as the Save and Save and Print buttons are covered until you hide the “Quick Pick” list. This is a shame, because if this were fixed you could set up a nested menu allowing the selection of items. This would make QuickBooks POS a viable option for a fast serve food establishment. There are a number of other reasons why you shouldn’t use QuickBooks POS 2013 for food service, but fixing this would open up some opportunities.
This is a brand new feature in QuickBooks POS 2013. Intuit has had a mobile payment option called Intuit GoPayment for a while now. Intuit has linked Intuit GoPayment with QuickBooks POS 2013. Once you have set up the link, you can specify which items in QuickBooks POS 2013 that are to be synched with the mobile device. Up to 50 devices can be linked. There are, however, a couple of problems with this synching process at this time:
- Only credit card payments are able to be processed through the mobile device, so no cash sales remotely.
- Items are set up as buttons on the mobile device in alphabetical order, and there is no barcode scanning functionality.
- Multi-store inventory is not supported. Sales are tagged as mobile sales, but are recorded against the HQ inventory.
This new functionality has a great deal of potential and I look forward to seeing the future of this feature.
What Still Needs to be Improved
The interface is still a blend of the old interface and new. My concern is that as they change to the new interface, there will be process challenges. For example, currently the receiving voucher process is more cumbersome than in the old version. As Intuit converts more of the screens (for example, Purchase Orders) they need to ensure that there is the same or better functionality as currently exists. Additionally, older interface screens pop out of the program, causing some end user confusion.
When the report window is active, you don’t have the ability to do any program functions. This can be a usability issue – if the end user is running a report and needs to take a sale they must close out of the report window to make the program active again.
As we have discussed, the ability to complete a sale with the Quick Pick list pinned would be a useful fix.
In addition, the ability to add more levels to the “Quick Pick” list beyond the two that currently exist would be a useful upgrade. This will allow QuickBooks POS to expand into new markets.
Lastly, the software requires much greater computing resources than older versions, and therefore needs to be installed on the latest hardware. You need at least a dual core processor with a minimum of 2 GB of RAM – 3 GB of RAM would be better. Even with the latest hardware, QuickBooks POS 2013 runs faster than POS V10, but it is still slower than POS V9 and earlier versions. Because of this, caution has to be taken with Multi-store clients with large item lists. Preliminary testing for your upgrade customers is a must and new customers should be thoroughly vetted to ensure that this is a good fit. I’ll leave the needs analysis of new customers for another article.
In conclusion, QuickBooks POS 2013 is a welcome upgrade over POS V10. Intuit really paid attention to the POS V10 problems, addressing a large number of them in this new version.