Is this the best time of year to switch from QB Online to QB Desktop or vice versa?
This is one of the most fundamental questions for any business person, accountant, QuickBooks Pro Advisors and implementation experts who ever changed their accounting system.
So? When is the best time?
Frequently chosen but not necessarily the best.
Most micro, small and mid-sized entities tie a lot of their major decisions around year end. Why? Taxes. In most cases, businesses usually do a lot of their capital and operational expenditure planning because they're working closely with their tax professionals to see how much money they're going to get back or, sadly have to pay. Regardless, business owners then have a better feel for their financial condition in the upcoming year.
In planning for the upcoming year, owners, their managers or even the outside accounting professionals believe that a clean switchover is what's needed to start the year correctly and thus, the decision is made to switch systems. This makes sense and is a good starting point because it's easy to tie beginning balances together with the tax return that was just filed along with some really clean, reconciled financials.
But it may not be feasible to get all of this done on January 1st or in December (this includes companies who are fiscal years too). Why? In addition to those nice shiny financials that need to be closed and signed off on for 12/31, you may need a few weeks to several weeks to actually plan your migration. Some of the major steps included in a successful migration planning might look like following;
Ask yourself why are you choosing the next-generation system and does it operationally meet our requirements? Here's where, in my humble opinion, organisations tend to make the greatest mistake. Rather than considering an appropriately fitted solution, they're just looking at the price tag and need to spend more time understanding the differences. Measure twice, cut once.
We have seen a lot of companies suffer from this shortsightedness and it can be rather costly.
More expensive solutions like QuickBooks Enterprise offers flexibility and a greater capacity for more complex operations. A company may opt for QBO because of the price is so much lower and simply ignore the actual "fit" of purpose.
The same in reverse is true too. Many consultants have been known to oversell the larger systems because they put their interest before the customer.
To host QuickBooks or not? If QuickBooks Desktop ends up working better for your operations you then have another factor which is to decide if you'll use an Authorized Intuit Hosting provider or self-host. This can potentially affect timing when you're looking to source an IT person to install a new server for your at the end of the year too.
Budget. Whoops! Didn't expect it would cost that much? Although you may get better deals on products at year end, cost of acquiring the right professionals or keeping your team in overtime-holiday pay mode could get quite expensive.
Yes, QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop are fantastically easy systems to learn. But your team needs to know what to do, how to do it and swim in that system a bit before it goes into production and to stay clear of a catastrophe. Education may take as little as a day for experienced team members all the way to weeks depending on schedules or your needs.
3. Cut-over and Go Live.
This is where the rubber hits the road. Even now you have to plan for a detailed or a cut-over data conversion. Each of these choices has implications and should be planned in advance to maintain your operations well during those critical first weeks of using your new system. Although a decision like this can be made quickly, the actual work required will vary depending on the volume of data, historical information required to support you after go-live.
What's usually works better.
When we plan for migrations, whether it's from any system like QuickBooks Desktop to Online or the other way around... we try to start 2-3 months before end-of-year or in some cases, before a company's busy seasons. Then we have time to do everything safely and without rushing.
Make sure when you begin this process that the project owners, managers, employees and related professionals you've engaged with are available from the time you begin the project until it's successful launch. Trying to do this at year end is a gamble because of all the holiday and vacation activity from December until January 15th.
Just give your self enough lead time to make the best decision and allow enough time to correct issues that arise in a comfortable manner. Either way, implementing QuickBooks Desktop or QuickBooks Online to run your business will be a great start to a new year.
I wish everyone a healthy, happy and prosperous new year.