Scheduled for a fall release and not yet priced, QuickBooks 2006 will focus on simplifying key business tasks. The new version is the result of a development plan that spanned multiple years and included working closely with small business owners and accountants. "It's hard to overstate the magnitude of QuickBooks 2006," Dan Levin, vice president of product management at Intuit, said.
The new version touts improvement in three main areas, according to Levin: Single-page views of vendors, customers and employees; inventory-control features; and new tools for accountants.
By providing single-page views for customer, vendor and employee QuickBooks 2006 organizes and groups related data into one place, which is designed to reduce the time it takes to find data. You could, for example, verify a customer's contact info, check its most recent orders, review notes about previous conversations and more. In essence, the software offers basic CRM functions. However, Levin is quick to point out that small business customers don't use terms such as "CRM."
The new version also offers what Intuit calls a One-Click Home Page, which is a clickable map that includes business activities such as invoicing, timesheets and bill payment.
Levin said that Intuit has also reduced the set-up time by 80 percent, making it easier and faster for new customers to get started. "Our interview process for new users was slightly time-consuming," he said. Now the interview asks only the basic questions and the user provides additional information later as he or she uses specific features.
Intuit added new capabilities for three kinds of businesses: mid-sized, product-based and accountants.
QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions 2006 is built on an SQL database and is designed to let customers increase the number of concurrent users by 50 percent and at the same time increase performance two and-a-half-times. The previous version supported 10 simultaneous users, while the new, more-scalable QuickBooks supports up 15.
"Inventory has not been a strength of QuickBooks, " Levin said. However, now product-based companies such as manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers will find new inventory capabilities that are designed to automate tasks. The Available-to-Promise feature, for example, reports the exact amount of inventory on hand, where it is committed, when it is needed, and when more will arrive.
QuickBooks 2006 new "always-on" audit trail is designed to help accountants quickly detect client errors and track changes. A new Toggle feature will let accountants instantly switch their view from QuickBooks: Accountant Edition to other QuickBooks versions, so with just a click they can see the screen their clients see.
The changes in QuickBooks comes a good time for the company as it prepares for the certain attack from Microsoft when Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting ships in September.
However, if Intuit is worried, Levin isn't letting on. "It [Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting] is a great copy of QuickBooks 99. Microsoft is skating to where the puck was."
Lauren Simonds is managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com.
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