This article details and compares features of the Simple Start, Pro, and Premier editions of QuickBooks.  Look for part 2 to detail and compare the features of Intuit QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions.  Part three will focus on the entire Intuit Enterprise Suite while part four will focus on the online edition of QuickBooks.
QuickBooks Simple Start
QuickBooks Simple start is the most simplistic of all the QuickBooks products and comes in two editions: QuickBooks Simple Start Free Edition, and QuickBooks Simple Start.  The free edition is as the name indicates, free while the other edition retails for $99.95.  The two versions are identical, except that the free edition limits the number of customers created to 20, while the paid edition does not have this low number of customers limit.  The product features the ability to perform basic accounting functions such as:
  • Entering and printing checks
  • Tracking sales and customer payments
  • Tracking customer and vendor contact information
  • Manage payroll and payroll taxes (with payroll add-on)
  • Creating estimates and invoices
  • Reconcile bank and credit card transactions
  • Importing list information from Micrsoft Excel
The product allows only one user to work on the program at one time, and includes 14 reports.  It does lack some major accounting functions such as the ability to:
  • Track accounts payable including tracking bills and due dates
  • Track inventory including setting reorder points and entering purchase orders
  • Download banking and credit card transactions into the program
  • Track sales and purchases in multiple currencies
The product was designed to  introduce companies that are not currently using any accounting system such as companies using pen and paper, those using spreadsheets, or those using an outside accounting firm to track their accounting transactions.
QuickBooks Pro
QuickBooks Pro is by far the most popular of all the accounting packages among small businesses and comes in just one edition.  The product retails for $199.95 for one user, $379.95 for two users, and $549.95 for a three user package.  The product was designed to give small businesses one package which includes the ability to perform all accounting functions.  The package includes all of the functions of Simple Start and then adds the following:
  • Increases the number of users able to access the program at one time from one to five. (With purchase of additional licenses)
  • Adds broad user permissions to restrict users from areas of the program
  • Increases the number of built in reports from 14 to more than 100
  • Allows the import of data from Microsoft Excel, Quicken, Microsoft Office Accounting, and prior versions of QuickBooks
  • Allows the tracking of accounts payable including tracking bills and setting due dates
  • Track inventory including setting reorder points & creating purchase orders
  • Download banking and credit card transactions into the program
  • Track sales and purchases in multiple currencies
  • Create and report on budgets
  • Time tracking
It lacks features such as:
  • Advanced inventory controls
  • Sales orders
  • The ability to create a business plan
  • Forecasting sales and expenses
  • Creating industry specific reports
The product offers an accounting system to track the most popular accounting functions needed within small businesses in one package and offers this package at an affordable price.  It is also easy to use and relatively easy to find bookkeepers that have experience in working with the product.
QuickBooks Premier
QuickBooks Premier offers a product that is tailored for particular industries and includes six customized editions:
  • Contractor Edition - for building contractors or construction companies
  • Retail Edition - for companies in the retail industry
  • Non-Profit Edition - for not-for-profit organizations
  • Manufacturing and Wholesale Edition - for distributors, wholesalers, and manufacturing companies
  • Professional Service Edition - for legal firms, designers, architects, etc. in the service industry
  • Accountant Edition - for accounting and CPA firms
The product retails for $399.95 for one user, $749.95 for two users, and $1,099.95 for three users.  The product was designed for companies requiring a little more complex accounting functions and for those with the need to have an edition that adds industry specific reporting without cluttering the interface.  The Premier edition still limits the number of users to five, however it includes all the the features of Pro but adds the following:
  • Increases number of built in reports
  • More advanced inventory controls such as unit of measure conversions and bill of material for assemblies of inventory products
  • Change orders on estimates
  • Customer specific price levels
  • Multiple billing levels for employees
  • Sales orders
  • Create cash flow projections
  • Track workers compensation
  • Increases functionality of journal entries by adding reversing entries
  • Adds accountant specific features such as fixed asset manager
  • The ability to create a business plan
  • Forecasting sales and expenses
  • Creating industry specific reports
The program offers quite a comprehensive feature set for an affordable price.  It does lack some additional features that larger companies might need though such as more granular user permission levels, a more robust database to handle higher volumes of transactions or larger customer or vendor lists, customer relationship management solutions, custom reporting, complex inventory management functionality, or enhanced field service management solutions. Please stay tuned for a followup to this article that will compare Intuit QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions to the Pro and Premier products.  Also stay tuned for another future article detailing the features of QuickBooks Online edition.