QuickBooks Plus Subscriptions

| December 28, 2010 | 15 Comments

With all of the hoopla surrounding the release of QuickBooks 2011 many people have overlooked one of the significant marketing changes – QuickBooks Desktop subscriptions through the QuickBooks Plus program. Let’s take a look at what this is, and how it will affect both users and ProAdvisors.

Until this year if you wanted to use QuickBooks Pro or Premier on your desktop computer you would purchase the product outright. Premier is available from Intuit for $399.95, Pro is available for $229.95 (discounts available in many places, and fees for more than one user, so there are many variations here).

With the release of QuickBooks 2011 there is a new option, the QuickBooks Plus program. Essentially this is a monthly subscription plan for the desktop versions of Pro and Premier (U.S. Windows versions only), providing you with the standard desktop program along with a number of features that you normally would purchase separately. In addition, you get incremental updates that other desktop users don’t get. As I’ll describe later, this can significantly affect ProAdvisors.

Features and Pricing for Plus

There are two variations of the Plus program:

This is not the online product or a hosted solution. It is essentially the same product that you would get if you purchased the regular desktop product. However, along with the QuickBooks desktop program, your subscription includes the following apps and services:

  • QuickBooks Connect to provide you with both online and mobile access to your desktop database (through a “synced” copy of the data)
  • Intuit Data Protect to back up your entire computer (with a limit of 100 GB)
  • QuickBooks Attached Documents to allow you to attach documents to your lists and transactions
  • Intuit Technical Support 24/7 if you need help with your QuickBooks products and services.

Let’s take a look at the pricing here. If you were going to purchase these services: The QuickBooks Connect Bundle includes QuickBooks Connect, Intuit Data Protect and QuickBooks Attached Documents for a monthly fee of $24.95 a month. The Intuit QuickBooks Care Protection Plan provides 24/7 support for $24.95 a month. If you purchase QuickBooks Pro Plus you are getting all of that and a copy of QuickBooks Pro for just $29.95 a month – this makes a compelling argument for purchasing the Plus product in some situations, if you wanted to get all of those features for a limited number of users.

If you decide to stop paying the monthly fee you still have the option of purchasing the desktop product to keep access to your data, and you can buy the various bundles and addon services individually.

I’ll admit at this point that there are some details of the pricing, and what you get, that I’m still trying to work out. There isn’t a lot of talk on the current web site about multi-user access – but from what I understand you have the same abilities (and limitations) that you have in the desktop version. So, you can have three Pro users, five Premier users – but you have to pay the monthly fee for each user. It seems to me that this becomes less beneficial as you add users.

Product Upgrades and Updates

Another factor to take into account here is that Plus subscribers will get product updates and upgrades.

An Upgrade is moving from one “year” of QuickBooks to another. If you are using QuickBooks Pro Plus 2011, and the 2012 product is released, you will be upgraded at no additional charge to the 2012 product as a part of your subscription. This sounds like a major advantage, but you have to be careful. To continue getting all of the advantages of the Plus program you will be required to do the upgrade – you can’t stick with your older version forever. My understanding is that you won’t be forced to upgrade immediately, so you will be able to wait until the new release has settled down. But it is something to keep in mind.

An Update is when you get a new release within the same product year. If you purchased QuickBooks 2011 you started off with R1, and then could update at no charge to R3, then R4, and so forth. Normally you have the option to get “automatic” updates, but in some cases you might not want to install an update right away. The Plus Program impacts updates in several ways.

If you look at a Plus subscriber’s Update QuickBooks option you will see that you no longer have the ability to disable automatic updates– although you can still control when the updates are installed. I’m not sure how this will affect upgrades at this time. My thanks to Karl Magnuson for pointing this out.

QuickBooks Automatic Update

The Plus Program adds another dimension to the Plus program. Approximately four times a year the Plus subscribers will get updated features that won’t be available to other desktop users right away. If you have Plus 2011 there are features that you will get that non-subscribers won’t get until the 2012 upgrade.

The 2011 R4 update has a simple example of this. There are two features released in R4 that you won’t see in a normal Desktop version of Pro and Premier – the Average Days To Pay Summary report and a receive payment button in the invoice screen.

QuickBooks Average Days to Pay Summary

QuickBooks Receive Payment Button

These are the first Plus updates for the 2011 product, and the features are small. This was intentional, so that they could test this update process. Sometime next spring (I’m guessing around March) there should be another set of Plus features rolled out and we should see more significant changes. The intent is to have four updates like this a year.

With this first release there was no notification of the new features when you installed the update, in future releases I expect to see a “What’s New” popup window.

How About QuickBooks Enterprise?

I’ve only been talking about Pro and Premier – isn’t there an “Enterprise Plus” program? Well, yes, but it isn’t called that. If you purchase a new copy of Enterprise 11 you get a full year of the Full Service Plan. This provides you with support, QuickBooks Connect, Intuit Commissions, Attached Documents, Time and Billing and Data Protect. I’m assuming that it includes the incremental feature updates as well (haven’t confirmed that yet, but it should). The major difference here is that at the end of the first year, you can let the service plan expire (thereby losing the online services), but you still have access to your desktop product.

How Does This Affect ProAdvisors?

When I first heard about this concept last summer (when they were running a pilot project) a number of potential problems immediately popped into my mind, relating to ProAdvisors and support. Many of my concerns have been addressed with the full release of this product, but ProAdvisors still need to be aware of the support implications.

If you are a ProAdvisor, by the time you get to this point in the article you may be saying “wait – I don’t have a subscription to Premier, but I’m seeing those two new features in my own copies of the program?” Well, actually, if you are a member of the ProAdvisor program, you are enrolled in a variation of the Plus program. ProAdvisors are getting the “Plus” upgraded features in their special versions of QuickBooks Premier (and Enterprise, of course). This means that you have the latest and greatest version, with all of the bells and whistles. Also, the online services are all available to you via the ProAdvisor Support team – I’ve found that a lot of ProAdvisors don’t know that their ProAdvisor plan includes a copy of QuickBooks Connect, Intuit Data Protect and QuickBooks Attached Documents. You just have to call PAP Support to get these features enabled.

Why is access to the Plus product important? If you are providing support to clients, it is very important that you are familiar with all the features of the program. It would be embarrassing to go to a client’s site and see a feature that you didn’t know anything about. Well – that still can happen, because Intuit isn’t very good about telling ProAdvisors about new features and changes – but at least you will have a copy of the of the feature in YOUR program.

It is important, though, to know what features are found only in the Plus versions, because your regular desktop users won’t have these features.

There are a few other considerations for ProAdvisors:

  • As I mentioned before (and Karl Magnuson pointed out) – we cannot turn off the Automatic Update feature. That can create problems – if you are using your copy to access a client’s files, you may be using a more up to date version than what the client has. That can cause problems if there is a file conversion necessary. I’m very concerned about this issue, and I see a lot of potential for problems.
  • This product isn’t sold through ProAdvisors. It is only sold direct through the Intuit web site. For me, this isn’t a big deal, as I don’t see actual sales of Pro and Premier as a major source of income for most ProAdvisors.

I’m sure that we’ll come up with more issues as the year goes on.

How Can I Identify a Plus Installation?

If you press the F2 key in QuickBooks to get the Product Information window, a standard end-user Plus installation will be identified:


Unfortunately, a ProAdvisor version won’t identify that it is a Plus version. This is something I’ve asked Intuit to change if possible. I believe that there is a difference between the Premier Accountant’s Edition that a ProAdvisor gets and a regular Premier Accountant’s Edition that you would sell to one of your customers – but I’ve not yet seen a way to distinguish between them other than to look at the revision and then look for one of the Plus incremental features.

This is a new program so there is a great possibility that some of the details will change. As I’ve said, I am not sure that I’ve identified all of the differences, nor have I thought of all of the potential problems that a ProAdvisor will face in dealing with this product. Let me know what you think!


Category: Product Reviews

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 (15)

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  1. I’m using Enterprise and have two notes for you:
    1. When upgrading to R4, the Receive Payment button appeared on the invoice screen. I didn’t specifically check for the average days to pay report. Apparently these incremental updates are part of the full service plan.
    2. Even though I have the full service plan, my understanding is that QuickBooks Connect, Intuit Commissions, Attached Documents, Time and Billing and Data Protect are NOT included in the plan. Specifically, if my memory is correct I was presented with their monthly subscription payment options when I clicked Attached Documents.

    • Charlie says:

      Chris – thank you for your comment. I knew that the incremental features were included in my ProAdvisor copy of Enterprise, but I wasn’t sure if it was in the end-user version. I thought it would be.

  2. Another good read Charlie. Thanks for keeping us all in the know. It is very overwhelming at times, but I know you are a good source of info.

  3. William "Bill" Murphy says:

    Chris (Solberg)-

    You simply need to contact your Enterprise Customer Rep to get your subscriptions to the ‘plus’ services turned on for your Enterprise Full-service Plan, you can’t do it directly over the ‘web’ via in-product. You are entitled to QB Connect, Attached Documents and Data Protect. At this time the Commissions product is still in Beta and Time and Billing has just come out of Beta, I don’t believe that these two products are going to be part of the “Plus” plan for Enterprise, although Commission Manager may since it really is a sub-component of QB Connect. The number of ‘connected’ services accounts you are entitled to is dependent upon the license-level of your Enterprise….I think 5 users get one ‘connected service’ access account, 10 users two access accounts, and beyond there I think it is dependent if you are 30 users (purchased or upgraded from 15, 20 or 25 users).

    Thanks again Charlie for keeping us abreast, we know that while Intuit may not (hardly ever) do a good job of keeping us up-to-date, you are always on the look-out for us. Heck it takes them 10-days to admit to a problem in the R4 release before they put out a Notice to ProAdvisors about it (obviously they had to ‘pass it thru their legal department’ before they ‘admitted anything in writing’.) But as always you were right on top of things, and don’t you ever think that ‘we’ don’t appreciate you ‘for all you do’.

    William “Bill” Murphy – Oklahoma City

    • Charlie says:

      Bill, regarding Commissions and Time/Billing – I was taking the info from the Intuit sales site for Enterprise. They mention those products as being included in one of the hidden “footnotes” that they have.

      And, to confuse the licensing issues – if you get one subscription (in Pro or Premier), your QuickBooks Connect account gives you three registered users to Connect…

  4. Bonnie says:

    Another great article! I did not know that the ProAdvisor plan includes a copy of QuickBooks Connect, Intuit Data Protect and QuickBooks Attached Documents! This is valuable information to me! Thank you!

  5. William "Bill" Murphy says:

    To Bonnie

    As I mentioned in my reply above to Chris, the same thing applies to ProAdvisors. You must contact your ProAdvisor (sales rep) who will get your ‘free’ order for these services processed, you can’t actually use the in-product link or you will get charged. Once the order is placed, they will connect you to ‘support’ who will talk you through the set-up and connection process (if you haven’t used the WebWorkplace and QB SyncManager before. Unfortunately the ProAdvisor feature-set of these connected services only includes a single-access-account.

    There is are issues with all three products, and this is a great opportunity to get to learn the features and how they work and the potential issues you might encounter with any of your clients who want to use them.

    William “Bill” Murphy – Oklahoma City

    Charlie –

    Thanks again for giving us a forum to learn and share.


  6. Charlie,

    Thanks so much for the wealth of information that you shared with us in this post. Thank goodness there are folks like you out there to let us know what is going on as Intuit continues their ‘non-communication’ activities.

    The explanation of this new offering on the Intuit website is sorely lacking. For instance, they mention nothing about QuickBooks Pro version, only Premiere.

    So glad I found your blog – you are on my RSS feed now.

    Happy New Year!

    Mary Margaret Poster

  7. Deb Frawley says:

    Happy New Year and thanks for explaining the new features in more detail. Have a better understanding of them now 🙂

  8. Fran Reed says:

    Great article. Thank you for taking the time to evaluate. it really makes a difference.

  9. Karl Magnuson says:

    That is really good to know. My experience when I first stumbled across this with Intuit support/sales was not fabulous. Sales staff was looking for my application for Connected services. This explains why there was no record of me signing up for these services.

    I’m going to look into the Intuit Data Protect function more next week.

    As always, Charlie, you’re the greatest. Thank you for shedding so much light on QB products for us all.

    Happy New Year!

  10. Karl Magnuson says:

    A lot of times this information is available to Pro Advisors. Often, it isn’t so easy to locate. Like many of us, I am overwhelmed with information and, with Intuit, it usually takes more effort to peel through the layers to find the answers.

    I’m grateful to be a part of the PA program, the Sleeter Group, and NAN. All tremendous resources.

  11. Margaret Collins says:

    We updated to 2011 yesterday, and I lost 103 out of 227 “I9 on file” answers and 149 our of 227 “I9 Expiration Dates” now I am wondering what else I lost. Anyone else having this problem?

  12. Mindy says:

    Would this work well with the Construction version? I have a client who could use the “QuickBooks Connect to provide you with both online and mobile access to your desktop database (through a “synced” copy of the data)”.

  13. Charlie says:

    Mindy, it would work with any “edition” as far as I can tell. The nice thing about this is that you have a 30 day free trial to test things out. So you can set up a test, play with it, decide if it works. If not, no cost. And if you have set up a company file and have real data (not just test data) you have the option of buying the desktop version so that you can continue using your data without the subscription.

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