QuickBooks update offers greater efficiency

The latest version of Intuit's accounting software, QuickBooks 2011, offers several major updates to help small business owners save time.

QuickBooks 2011 box shot

The latest version of Intuit's small business accounting software, QuickBooks 2011, focuses on the fact that time is money for entrepreneurs. With that in mind, the update offers a host of new features aimed at streamlining important accounting tasks. Namely, QuickBooks 2011 hopes to make invoicing and collecting payments even faster and easier than before.

The main updates for QuickBooks this year are found in the two most popular versions of the software, Pro and Premier. The first thing seasoned users are likely to notice is a vastly simplified start-up process, thanks to the new Quick Start Center feature, which serves as an installation guide and also lets users import business contacts from Web-based e-mail clients such as Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail. This feature will also recommend first steps for new users to quickly and easily populate their accounts with key information. In addition, Intuit asserts that it has improved performance in QuickBooks 2011 so that it will start up quicker.

QuickBooks 2011 Customer Snapshot

Another new feature added this year is something called Customer Snapshot, which will give business a comprehensive and consolidated view of an individual customer's account. This at-a-glance view includes purchase history, average days to pay, and outstanding balance, and aims to help small business communicate more effectively with customers and make timely decisions regarding their accounts.

Intuit also introduced QuickBooks Search--which will populate any report, invoice, account, or customer with a simple keyword search--and a new history view for customers and vendors that will provide a quick overview of details on a single screen. Other features include Batch Invoicing, which lets businesses bill several customers for the same service in one streamlined process, and a collections center tool to help users swiftly identify overdue and almost-due invoices. Premier users will also see the addition of a Balance Sheet by Class tool, which allows tracking of multiple records in a single, Excel-like report.

Finally, QuickBooks 2011 will offer a mobile element that gives workers the ability to manage invoices, access customer data, and check payment status remotely via the Web or on the iPhone using an app made for the purpose. The feature, called QuickBooks Connect, will be offered as an add-on service and will require a separate subscription fee.

In all, Intuit announced four editions of QuickBooks 2011, including the Accountant and Enterprise versions, which will offer a few additional features. The Pro and Premier editions will be available starting September 27 for $229.95 and $399.95, respectively.