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Using QuickBooks Desktop? New CIO Tech Dossier Says It’s Holding You Back.

If you’re using QuickBooks Desktop, you have a problem, and chances are you’re aware of it if you plan to stay competitive in the digital age. According to a new tech dossier on QuickBooks from CIO, “businesses outgrowing the capacity of QuickBooks should factor cloud migration into their plans for transitioning to more powerful software.” Many of you are ready to make a change, according to CIO’s recent research on the attitudes of senior financial executives at small and medium businesses toward their existing finance and accounting software and their desired areas of improvement.

“Cloud platforms are now firmly established as the foundation of digital transformation strategies,” CIO reports. “In addition to their availability and scalability advantages, cloud platforms support vast ecosystems of value-added software, enabling customers to preserve and extend their investments by customizing functionality and building on core platforms quickly and without risk.

“Cloud applications are available anytime, anywhere – an important consideration in remote work environments. They also enable organizations to integrate with financial and operational systems from suppliers and customers to streamline workflows. They allow easy access to powerful artificial intelligence libraries for the business process automation.”

QuickBooks Challenges

The tech dossier includes a survey of 207 financial decision-makers at businesses with an average of 358 employees and found that QuickBooks users have the greatest difficulty keeping up with financial technology updates (cited by 38% of respondents) and ensuring data integrity/quality (35%).

The top challenges executives reported with their current QuickBooks installation were:

  • Suboptimal speed and efficiency (cited by 43%)
  • Limited data integrity checks (43%)
  • Limited customizability (39%)

Nearly half of SMBs who use QuickBooks said they would like to see better reporting capabilities, followed closely by the 45% who want more accurate data and 44% who see the need to improve efficiency and/or reduce costs.

While QuickBooks is valued for its ease of use, many financial professionals report it falls short of meeting the more sophisticated needs of growing companies. As the tech dossier reports, one financial vice president said “we found that at our current size, we couldn't close in QuickBooks. That became impossible once we introduced foreign currency and multiple subsidiaries.”

Among the other QuickBooks close frustrations are:

  • Lost productivity due to time-consuming manual processes
  • Staying current with compliance and security requirements
  • Aggregating data from multiple systems and sources

“QuickBooks feels more like an off-the-shelf product that doesn't scale with time,” said one financial executive. Another, a director of finance at an advertising agency, said “you end up having to do things outside of QuickBooks and then bring it back into QuickBooks. It's hard to generate very custom reports and forms, for example.”

The findings of the CIO study are consistent with those of a recent survey of QuickBooks users conducted by CFO Dive. That survey of 164 finance executives found three-out-of-four say going back-and-forth between current software products and spreadsheets is a source of frustration to their financial teams. Finance executives use these spreadsheets to get the information and reporting they need in their daily work, which points out a major shortcoming in QuickBooks reporting.

“Not everyone is resistant to change,” the dossier reports. “Nearly 40% of respondents (and 47% of VP-and-above titles) said they are at least somewhat likely to consider alternatives to their existing financial and accounting solutions, with the top driving factors being improved data quality, better efficiency, and speed. All were cited by roughly 40% of financial professionals. A substantial 35% also said they want to improve the end-user experience.

Cloud-native advantages

As the tech dossier states, “because financial professionals are not by definition IT experts, many of you may be unaware of how software has evolved in recent years. For decades applications were monolithic, meaning that all functionality and program logic were bundled together into a single package of code. This gave developers a high level of control but also created significant trade-offs. Monolithic applications take a long time to build and test. Because interdependencies are so complex, flaws in the code can trigger unexpected errors. Tracking down and fixing bugs is laborious.

“Monolithic software is difficult to update and troubleshoot because the entire application must essentially be put on the operating table. That’s why software makers have historically updated their products no more than once or twice a year. Even relatively small bug fixes can require a full reinstallation and test cycle

“Modern, cloud-native software takes advantage of cloud constructs to reimagine the way software is built. Microservices are loosely coupled software components that each perform a specific task. Developers can chain services together to build sophisticated applications much more quickly than they could in a monolithic environment. Each microservice is tested and optimized for performance.

“There are many advantages to this approach. Microservices-based applications can be quickly enhanced by adding new services. Instead of updating the software every few months, vendors can add new functionality seamlessly without requiring applications to be reinstalled. Enhancements are available immediately to all users without disruption. The result is that software evolves much more rapidly, and developers can add new features as soon as they are ready rather than waiting for the annual upgrade cycle.

“Cloud-native software also enables integration through application program interfaces (APIs), which are software functions and data selectively exposed so third parties can connect to them and build upon the core application. The rapid adoption of APIs enables third-party cloud marketplaces to flourish with hundreds or even thousands of specialty software developers adding value that customers can adopt selectively.

“An analogy is your home entertainment system. Years ago, electronics makers sold consoles that integrated a TV, phonograph, and speakers. Consumers who wanted a bigger screen would have to buy an entirely new system. Today home entertainment components connect through a set of standard interfaces, enabling consumers to choose exactly which options they want with the confidence of knowing that they can expand and change the configuration of the entertainment system without abandoning investments they’ve already made.

“APIs can also be used for best-of-breed software integration. For example, Sage Intacct has an ecosystem of more than 200 value-added partners who add value to its financial applications.”

This tech dossier, along with the survey results from CFO Dive, makes a compelling case not only to graduate from QuickBooks Desktop but from all versions of QuickBooks. Even though QuickBooks offers an online version, it’s a lightweight in terms of its functionality as compared with the desktop version. Long closes, limited reporting capabilities, a dependance on manual processes and lack of a consolidated chart of accounts are QuickBooks issues that can stifle a company’s growth and competitiveness. As well, QuickBooks makes it harder for companies to attract and retain top-notch talent on the finance team as leaders want the best tools at their finger to make strategic data-driven decisions.

Finance leaders can do better.

You can read the entire CIO tech dossier here and download the CFO Dive report here.

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