It is hard to imagine big shifts in accounting software. After all, not much has changed in how you count money coming in or going out.
But Intuit has done just that in its latest release: QuickBooks 2010.  It has all the standard things you’ve come to expect from an accounting package — plus new marketing and reporting tools.
They have improved an area that I’ve always found lacking:  Reports.  The popular company snapshot feature has been upgraded to an easy-to-use web 2.0 style drag and drop format. Change the snapshot view to how it suits you. Users can choose from several reports as the main snapshot display – from yearly expenses and income comparisons, detailed expense and income breakdown, and a top customer list, for example. Another nice addition to the snapshot: You now can print them on one page to get an immediate view of the bottom line.
In the Report Center, there are more than 100 available. Users can now navigate between common reports in three different views and find them quickly by tabbing between memorized reports, favorite reports, and recently viewed reports. You also can tag reports with common keywords to make them easier to find.
This release has some other good standard accounting and bookkeeping updates, of course, such as:
Bank From your Office
You can save time handling checks with the new QuickBooks:
1:  You now can scan and deposit checks digitally. No more running to the bank to deposit a check. With Intuit’s new check scanning service, users can simply scan or key enter their checks into QuickBooks for immediate deposit into your bank account. This deposit is now tied to the proper QuickBooks transaction entry. However, this service isn’t free. It has a monthly service fee as well as a small fee for each transaction. If you scanned the check, then QuickBooks recognizes it when it comes time to reconcile your monthly statement and ties it to the entry.
2:  You can sign checks with your digital signature from within QuickBooks. No more manual signing.

Document Management
Are you a binder clip collector?  Always looking for that one document related to a client project? I have stacks of folders with client information, all neatly bound with small and large binder clips.
The document management area can put an end to this allowing you to electronically store documents alongside QuickBooks transactions to stay organized and save time finding what’s needed. You can scan documents directly into QuickBooks, or attach electronic files already on your PC.
What does this mean in real life?
You can store receipts so you have them all in one place for anytime access by your accountant. If you travel a lot in your business, but need access to key documents related to a customer, you can put them online (in the Internet cloud) for easy and secure sharing. The service comes includes 100 megabytes of storage space free and a low monthly fee if you need more storage. Simple documents don’t take up much space.
I found one particular feature quite cool. You can scan dozens of documents at one time: Simply insert blank pages in between and QuickBooks creates individual files.  Nifty.
Easier Install
If you’re new to QuickBooks, you would imagine that it is easy to install. If you’ve done it before, you’ll really appreciate this: They reduced the software installation process from 15 steps down to only 6. A small point, perhaps, but one that demonstrates they are trying to make their software easier to use, right from the install or upgrade.
Also, they have made it very easy to copy and paste a spreadsheet directly into the application.
The Quickbooks Marketing Center
The new Marketing Center helps QuickBooks users sell more through compelling email campaigns with professional quality designs and pre-filled messages, providing recommendations for target campaigns and automatically filling in contact information. QuickBooks users can start right away with a free 30 day trial.
Here’s the value to the online integration between financial info and the email marketing application, for example: Do you know how much customers are spending with you before you send an email offer?  If not, now your customer transaction info is at your fingertips as you build an email campaign. I’ve put a red box around the example data.
Note: The Marketing Center is still in beta and at press time does not yet work with the Firefox browser.
QuickBooks-2010-Email-Customer
The QuickBooks App Center
The new App Center gives users access to web-based business applications directly from within QuickBooks. If you’ve played with Salesforce.com at all, you’ll recognize the approach: Allow developers and applications to hook into yours and you become infinitely more valuable to the business owner.
According to the conference call, “Many applications work directly with information inside of QuickBooks, eliminating the need for double data entry. The applications found on the App Center are created by either Intuit or members of the Intuit Developer Network – a group of trusted independent developers.”
QuickBooks_App-Center-small
QuickBooks has woven new online applications together with the desktop version. These new applications and services are not available in the simple Online edition (that sells for $9.95 a month — almost $120 annually). If you compare the lower cost Online edition to the $179.95 upgrade price or the $199.95 new purchase price for the Pro desktop edition of QuickBooks 2010, you may find you get more from the desktop application with better integration with useful marketing tools.This comparison chart explains which features come with each QuickBooks version.
For some of the additional bells and whistles noted here, you will pay additional monthly fees. But if you consider that you might save money and time by managing your customer data and marketing efforts in one place, it could be worth a more serious look.

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