Should I Select QuickBooks Accountant Edition?

| November 17, 2009 | 38 Comments

When you purchase a copy of QuickBooks Premier or Enterprise you are often faced with a confusing question – which edition should I choose? Depending on where you purchase it, you may see the Contractor, Nonprofit, Retail, Manufacturing & Wholesale, Professional Services or Accountant edition.  For some users it is simple – if you are a Non Profit organization for example, pick the Nonprofit edition. But what if I am a manufacturer who also sells in a retail environment? What to choose? Sometimes the answer may be surprising – you might want to try the Accountant Edition.

What Is Different In The Editions?

I’ve always been annoyed about the way Intuit handles the editionsof QuickBooks. On one hand, it makes sense to present some information in a different way to some kinds of businesses. Instead of customers in a non profit organization, call them donors, for example. Presenting specialized reports such as a Donors/Grants report in just the non profit edition.  However, Intuit goes beyond this with their editions, by limiting certain features.

For example, let’s look at the Unit of Measure feature. If you select the Manufacturing and Wholesale edition, you can define multiple units of measure for an item. This allows you to buy, sell or use a product in single quantities, dozens, cases and so forth. Very useful. However, if you select the Retail edition, this feature is disabled! (See this Unit of Measure note for a listing of this feature by edition). That just doesn’t make sense to me, and it is a silly limitation when we know that the feature is built in – it is just hidden from you with this edition.

Multi-Install “Industry” Edition

While you still see QuickBooks sold by specific edition in retail outlets (Amazon, OfficeMax and so forth), on the Intuit web site you may see the QuickBooks Premier Industry Edition. Another edition? What is “Industry” as opposed to something like “Manufacturing and Wholesale”? More confusion (perhaps I’m easily confused).

In this case, what you would be getting is the “multi-install” version of the program. When you install it, you will be asked to pick the edition. This sounds better – you don’t have to make your decision as to the edition when you buy the program, just when you install the program. Also, if you change your mind and decide that you want to use a different edition after you install, you can still change to a different edition by  selecting manage my license in the help menu (with current versions).

QuickBooks Accountant Edition

You have another option, though. If you purchase (or install) the Accountant Edition, you have access to just about all of the features of all of the editions. For many users I find that this is the best choice.

For the most part, none of the features are disabled in the Accountant Edition. You have access to the multiple unit of measure feature, the full price level list feature, and more.  All of the specialty reports are available in the Reports menu, as you see here:

QBAE001

Sometimes there are features that are hidden, though, even in the Accountant Edition. A situation that I often run into is that a manufacturer may want access to the job costing center, which is found in the contractor edition. It doesn’t show in the accountant edition either. There are ways to get around this, though.

First, you can toggle to a different edition. In the File menu select Toggle to another edition and you are allowed to temporarily change to another edition, and then have access to all of the features there.

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This is faster than permanently changing your edition via the manage my licensefeature, but it does take a bit of time to complete. Also note that once in awhile QuickBooks will not allow you to “toggle” – for reasons that I’ve not been able to pin down.

There are some tricks to make this smoother, though. Using the job costing center as an example:

  1. Toggle to the Contractor Edition.
  2. Open the Job Costing Center.
  3. Select View in the main menu, then Add “Job Costing Center” to the Icon Bar…
  4. Toggle to the Accountant Edition.

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You will now have access to the Job Costing Center through the icon bar in your Accountant Edition.

Should You Pick The Accountant Edition?

I use the Accountant Edition all of the time, but then it is a very important edition if you are a ProAdvisor or a developer of QuickBooks Compatible software like I am. For most businesses I don’t know of a reason to not use it – unless perhaps you are a non profit organization.

Note that there are features in the Accountant Edition that you might find helpful. For example, the Client Data Review. This is intended to be used by an accountant to review your accounts and correct problems. There are a number of useful features here, such as troubleshoot inventory, that any inventory based business may find useful.

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Do you use the Accountant Edition in your business? Leave a comment telling me why you like it, or don’t like it, for your particular business!

 

Category: General Tips

About the Author (Author Profile)

Charlie Russell is the founder of CCRSoftware. He’s been involved with the small business software industry since the mid 70’s, focusing on inventory and accounting software for small businesses. Charlie is a Certified Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor. Look for Charlie’s articles in the Accountex Report blog, as well as his California Wildflower Hikes blog.

Comments (38)

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  1. Great article! It makes sense intuitively, but I never thought about using the Accountant version instead of Manufacturing & Wholesale.

    I use Enterprise (so we select the version upon installation, similar to the Industry edition you mentioned)… I can’t remember if the Accountant Edition was one of the options when installing.

    • Charlie says:

      It is hard for me to test, as I almost always have a copy of the Accountant Edition, even for Enterprise.

      Looking back at a copy of Enterprise 9 that I have installed here (on Windows 7 64 bit) I see that it is the multi-edition edition, not the accountant edition – and “accountant” isn’t one of the options available. I believe that you have to actually purchase the Accountant Edition.

  2. Great article. I always recommend that my Premier clients purchase and/or install the Accountant Edition, but I am still unclear on whether there is really only one multi-industry product that is sold as the various editions or whether Intuit actually burns installation CDs that contain just one stand-alone industry edition. Do you know?

    BTW, I love the idea of putting the Job Costing Center on the toolbar. The only other thing that I know of that is not accessible from the Accountant’s edition are Workers Comp and GL expiration date fields in the vendor record that are available in the Contractor Edition.

    • Charlie says:

      Thanks, Susan. I don’t buy products through the retail outlets, so I don’t know what they burn for those versions. You will see boxes for specific editions (you can see that if you look in Amazon, for example). Currently, if you download the product from Intuit directly, you usually get the “industry” version, which is the multi-install.

      I’ll be honest, the Job Costing Center trick was shown to me by another ProAdvisor several years ago. Always learning from others! And as far as the worker’s comp (etc.) you always have the option of toggling, so it is always accessible (although it may take a few moments to get there).

  3. Laura Dion says:

    Great overview, Charlie!!

    I have recommended the Accountant’s version for those very reasons.

    However, some think that you are making it too easy for your client to do your job – with the added features of the Accountant version.

    It is my goal to help my clients become independent, so that is not an issue for me.

    Thanks for passing the Job Costing Center idea on. . . a good tip, for sure.

  4. shannon Mason says:

    Good Points! I have avoided the Accountant’s version because I am not an accounting firm. I was helping a holistic vet set up some costing of remedies she mixed and had difficulty with the unit of measures because she had a retail version. It was very annoying not to be able to select parts of a program you know are there but not available to you because someone else decided you wouldn’t need it in your business.

    Also, does QB 2010 Accountant’s copy allow for a transaction to do A/P and A/R in the same transaction? I work for a real estate firm and sometimes part their commission payment is used to pay the A/R account. Presently I have to put the funds for the A/R into a suspense account and then do a journal entry to move it to their A/R. Not only is this extra work and can cause errors, but the transaction doesn’t show on their statement. I am sure the Real Estate industry isn’t the only one that has this type of situation. Many other packages for the industry allow this type of transaction, I wonder why Intuit doesn’t.

    • Charlie says:

      Laura, I’m not an accountant so I’m not worried about losing that kind of business myself. Empowering the client/user is the way to go – rather have them correct the problems before the accountant has to go in and clean things up. It is better to be in a position of teaching and advising, rather than just going back and correcting errors. In any case, that is why I like to work with companies like yours, you have the right approach!

      Shannon, you still can’t mix an A/P and an A/R account in one transaction. In general you want to try to avoid doing journal entries (at least as far as I’m concerned) because they don’t show in many reports. So I usually try to find some sort of transactional entry to move things around. I can’t comment on your particular example as I don’t know what, in detail, you are trying to do.

  5. Steve says:

    I am a first time QB user and quickly discovered this when the trial download they give is the accountant edition. I thought, “What the hey, I am just going to buy that and get it all!”. No brainer there! Perfect for those little side companies I have to run the simpler editions.

  6. Desiree says:

    (see my earlier post on inventory/costing where I asked which QB might be best for an apparel mfg who imports, mfgs, wholesales & retails). Based on this article, maybe the accountant version is the best way to go and if I am understanding correctly, I can use the jobs costing component of the contractor’s version to cost out my sample costs separately from COGS. Is this correct?

    • Charlie says:

      Desiree, the job costing feature would possibly be useful IF you are making one-of-a-kind items, or items per user order. If you are making the same items repeatedly then it might not be as useful. Hard to say without knowing a lot more about your business…

  7. penny says:

    i am not so familiar with managing inventory in quickbooks (my main bookkeeping work has been with a non-profit and a restaurant) and i’m just starting to work with a client who has a catering business and an artisan roasted nut business. we want to keep track if the various types and sizes of nut inventories, plus factor in the costs of packaging and labeling product. my client purchased the 2011 premier edition, on the advice of someone who then decided he didn’t have time to help him with his bookkeeping. so now i want to make sure that we’ve got the proper version. i can’t really figure out if “premier” alone is sufficient for our needs. i suspect that “manufacturing” is sort of overkill for our purposes, and from reading your super informative post here it sounds like i should get the “accountant” version of premier. would you agree?

  8. Charlie says:

    Penny, I don’t have enough info to give you a really good answer. I’d guess that the Manufacturing and Wholesale Edition would work fine – or the Accountants Edition. Either one. Just not the Retail or generic editions, as they hide things you might want.

  9. mark says:

    I have been investigating upgrading from Pro to accountants. It seems to be the only version that has integrated depreciation for fixed assets. What has been your experience using depreciation? Is it truely automatic and does it link to the asset? I have called Intuit but it appears that their sales people do not understand their own product and appear to be confused when I ask about fixed asset tracking.

  10. penny says:

    charlie thanks for your quick answer!
    mark i’ve had exactly that same fear, that there’s no point in calling QB. good luck!

  11. Charlie says:

    Penny: You are welcome.

    Mark: I am not an accountant, so I don’t use the Fixed Asset Manager to manage depreciation for clients. However, citing the Consultant’s Reference Guide from The Sleeter Group (http://www.sleeter.com/products/crg ) “using the Fixed Asset Manager, you can automate the calculation for depreciation and automatically create entries in QuicKBooks to record the depreciation”.

  12. Derek says:

    Given this article is from 2009, would you still suggest the Accountant edition? Right now on quickbooks site it is cheaper than the premier. Any reason not to go with the accountant edition?
    FYI this is for a technology consulting company I have started
    Thanks! and great article.

  13. Charlie says:

    I rarely find a reason to NOT use the Accountants Edition, unless you are a non-profit and you want the non-profit stuff to show up without “toggling”, or things like that. I cannot think of a good reason to not use that edition.

  14. mike says:

    Great article. I was considering the accountant edition for my non-accounting business. However, it does appear that there are some restrictions, according to the Accountant Edition 2012 web page (fine print at bottom)

    “The following features are unavailable in both instances: unlocking or purchasing additional features/seats, TurboTax integration, Intuit Data Services setup, applications that use the Intuit Software Development Kit (SDK) to communicate with QuickBooks”

    I am mainly concerned with the SDK restriction because I use 3rd party software that interfaces directly with Quickbooks. Have you seen this limitation in your experience?

    • Charlie says:

      Mike, since you pulled that out of context, I am not sure exactly what they were referring to, but I believe that this is the section talking about the “multiple instance” feature. Where you can have TWO company files open at a time. See my article on this at http://qbblog.ccrsoftware.info/2010/09/quickbooks-2011-quick-startup-and-multiple-instances/

      If you have TWO company files open at the same time, you have these limitations. An SDK program has no way of knowing WHICH company file to work with.

      If you have ONE company file open at a time (on a particular workstation), no problem. I’ll note that I am a developer of SDK based software myself (www.ccrsoftware.com) and that I run the Accountant Edition all the time, including during development and testing of SDK products.

  15. Milissa C says:

    you said you would not if it were a non-profit organization…buy the accountant version…any reason why???

    • Charlie says:

      In a general case – perhaps in some instances I might. The “non-profit” version of QuickBooks changes a lot of the terminology that you see on the screen. You don’t see that in the Accountant versions – unless you “toggle” into the non-profit version, which is a bit cumbersome to do on a daily basis. Most non-profits that I’ve dealt with don’t need the features found in the Accountant versions, although I will readily admit that I don’t work with very many of those at all.

      There is no harm, it is just a matter of convenience.

      • RICHARD ROLAND says:

        But if you are doing books for a non-profit, why wouldn’t you just buy the Accountant edition, toggle to non-profit, and leave it there, until you find that you need some particular feature not in the non-profit edition? The question is, is there (apart from price) an actual downside to installing the Accountant edition to use only for a non-profit?

        Is the problem that the selected edition does not persist between runs of the program?

  16. Milissa C says:

    so one more question…do you think there are more reports in the accountant version that might be needed for the nonprofit? or is everything that is ever needed in the nonprofit version?

    • Charlie says:

      It should contain all that you need – most non-profits should be working with an accounting professional on a regular basis, who can help

  17. R. Michaelsen says:

    I work for a small municipality & would like to get quick books, but I’m having difficulty finding information on what each edition has. We are still on a voucher system & have two different operations. Would the premier 2013 or the accountants edition be best?

    • Charlie says:

      I’ve not worked with municipalities, so I’m not sure what specific requirements you have. With the Accountant edition you have all the features of all the editions, so it is a safe bet

  18. Erik says:

    I am in the process of closing a small biz i have run for the past 6 years, while simultaneously starting a new business that will launch early in 2014. The biz i am closing is/was a manufacturing biz. The one i am starting is a small-menu restaurant and catering biz. We have been using the QB Premier Manufacturing and Wholesale Edition 2011 to keep my old company’s books. We also use the same program to keep the books for my wife’s sole proprietorship/consulting biz, as well as our personal life accounting (cc’s, family expenses, mortgage, etc) “company”. My question is whether i can be satisfied with the functionality of the QB M/W edition we have, to keep the books for my new restaurant biz, by adding a new company to the existing QB edition? Or should i be considering a change? Does anyone have specific thoughts or advice on this point? I should mention that we are planning to use a couple of POS programs to drive register sales and assist with CRM, credit card processing and loyalty plan development. The leading candidate we are looking at is “shop-keep” http://www.shopkeep.com/ for register and inventory processing. We are still trying to determine the best choice(s) for credit card processing and other POS software. I want to be sure that daily, weekly, monthly processes of transposing info to/from QB are not overly cumbersome to handle between my edition of QB and shop-keep. Any and all comments or feedback are graciously welcome!

    • Charlie says:

      I can’t comment about the POS issues (not my area of expertise). In general, you shouldn’t have any issues with using Premier M/W for what you are doing. It is one of the least restricted editions as far as what features are hidden.

  19. HoHum says:

    Yes, it’s 2014 and this article is written in 2009. But I’m noticing comments as recent as December 2013.

    I am a QB 2010 user. I have used the Accountant Edition primarily and have toggled to the Non-Profit Edition when dealing with my non-profit.

    Intuit has discontinued support for QB 2010 and so I purchased QB 2014 Premier with the understanding that I could select the Accountant Edition and toggle to the other versions when needed. I presumed wrong!

    Obviously, Intuit has changed something. I guess I’m looking for confirmation and any suggestions on how to proceed?

    Should I keep 2014 and deal with it? Is there a previous version that allows me to toggle from the Accountant Edition that is still supported? What are my options?

    • Charlie says:

      QuickBooks Accountant is a separate version from QuickBooks Premier, technically. You have to specifically purchase QuickBooks Accountant. Within that version you can “toggle” into the other versions. You purchased one of the regular editions, like retail or some other (or the “multi-edition” version). They don’t even call it “Premier Accountant Edition” anymore, just “QuickBooks Accountant”. You have to buy that. You may be able to return the copy you have, but that depends on where you bought it and how long ago.

      • HoHum says:

        Thanks for the kind reply.

        I don’t think I’ll buy QuickBooks Accountant. It seems vastly more expensive and some of the things I want to do seems to require a monthly fee.

        It was nice having access to every report and feature with my QB 2010 Premier. Oh well…

        When did they make this change, do you know?

        • Charlie says:

          It was quite awhile ago.

          There really aren’t any things in Accountant that require a fee that wouldn’t also require a fee in any other version, that I can think of

  20. jay says:

    Hi Charlie,

    I own a wholesale and distribution company. Is there any reason not to use quickbooks enterprise accountant edition 2016? The most vital features are related to inventory, sales, PO, invoice and AR. Thanks in advance

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