To QBO or Not to QBO

QuickBooks Online (QBO) is becoming a big deal.  The big question is do you make the switch from desktop and go online or do you stick with the desktop program?  It’s a big decision.  I have tried to avoid the online version for as long as possible, but the truth is, it is a real option and one that is truly beneficial to many agriculture producers out there.  Let’s talk briefly about some of the differences as well as pros and cons of each program.


I have been a hard-core desktop girl my entire life.  I love the program.  A few of the features I use that has kept me loyal to QuickBooks Desktop are:

  1. One-time payment when you purchase the program.  While I always recommend you upgrade every 3-5 years depending on if you use payroll or not, I like that I can stretch my money further and not be required to make a monthly payment.
  2. Customizable reports.  I feel that the desktop program offers me the most flexibility on creating a variety of custom reports. 
  3. Customize my shortcuts bar to show the things I use the most.  I don’t have to keep it in the standard format the program dictates, I can organize it to show the links of the tasks I complete the most often.
  4. It doesn’t require internet, which can be a positive when you live in the boonies and your internet isn’t always as reliable as you would like it to be.
  5. I can have as many companies set up in the program as I need with no additional costs.

However, there are also a few things I don’t love about QuickBooks Desktop:

  1. It is only on one computer so it is hard to share with a team that may be located miles apart.
  2. Payroll updates pop up all the time and must be maintained if you are using the payroll feature in QuickBooks.


I have recently been educating myself on the online version of QuickBooks.  To my surprise there is actually more about the program I like than what I expected.  A few of my favorite features are:

  1. How easily you can use invoicing and receive online payments from customers.  Desktop will do it as well. 
  2. That I can share it with a team and we can all log into the program at once.  My ranch, like many others has members located 250+ miles apart.  It is really helpful to have a program that isn’t on one stationary computer and we can all access the program this way to view reports, help pay bills when someone is busy, etc.
  3. I can send my accountant a link and they can access my company instantly any time I need them to.  Once you get them linked up once, it lasts until you delete them.  I like that my accountant can have such instant access to help me fix problems when I incur them or prepare my taxes as soon as they are ready.  Any adjustments they make are recorded directly in my program.  With desktop you have to physically create a backup or accountants change file to email them and then download any changes they send back.

A few things that can be frustrating about Online QuickBooks is:

  1. Monthly or annual payment requirements.  You cannot do a one-time purchase of the program.  You must pay monthly or annually per company.  In the long term this can potentially make the program more expensive.  Now depending on what your operation needs, it may be worth that extra cost, but you need to be aware of the difference in cost between the two programs when you are making your purchase decision. 
  2. The layout is very different from the Desktop version.  This isn’t necessarily a negative, but it is something to be aware of when you switch because it is something you will have to re-train yourself on.
  3. Each package option of QuickBooks Online has a limit to how many accounts or billable customers you can have.  You may need to purchase a larger package based on the size of your lists.

Both programs are great.  They both offer the same overall features, but each one has a few different aspects.  Depending on your individual operation, one may fit you better than the other.  To be honest, Online QuickBooks is intriguing me more and more and I’m starting to love it more every day.  Still have questions and can’t decide which one is best.  Contact me at my email below. 

Looking for further education opportunities on QuickBooks?  Check out my new Facebook page:

Cassi Johnson

Pacific Intermountain Mortgage Company