QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions 12: First Take

Best known for its small-business accounting software, Intuit has released a much more scalable product, QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions 12, that's clearly designed to compete against the likes of Sage in the larger corporate market.

The release of QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions 12 sees a big step up in capacity, with support for up to a million accounting objects — that's a mix of customers, suppliers and sale items — compared to 'mere' thousands for the company's small-business products.

Multi-user capabilities are similarly enhanced, QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions 12 providing support for up to 30 users at a time. The Enterprise package can also handle multiple companies and/or divisions, and work with different currencies as standard. Full payroll functionality is provided, along with comprehensive online, email and telephone support.

Upgrading a Quickbooks company file from the SME to the enterprise version is a straightforward one-time process.

Like the SME product, QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions is Windows-based and runs on Windows XP or later. Starting with just five users, the company file holding all the data can be hosted on a desktop PC. However, most customers will to want to host the data on a server, where support for both Windows and Linux is available.

The structure of the company file changes from that used by the small-business products, but that's not an issue as conversion is a straightforward one-time process, making it very easy to upgrade. Moreover, the user interface, with its graphical flowchart front end, is almost identical, making this the obvious choice for existing small-business customers looking to scale up without having to switch vendors.

The UK release of QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions is localised to handle UK VAT and PAYE processing.

On the downside, customers using QuickBooks Online can only transfer customer and supplier information, not transactions. The new software is also a late entrant in an already crowded market, and may struggle to win customers beyond those already using Intuit's small-business product. All the more so given the dominance of Sage — which, conversely, has just launched a new online service aimed at small businesses.

That said, QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions has been available in the US for several years, where it's become a capable and popular solution. And, of course, the UK release is fully localised to handle UK VAT and PAYE processing, including electronic filing with HMRC.

The relatively low price may also attract interest, with a 5-user licence starting at £250 per month (ex. VAT) for the first year, after which you pay an annual maintenance charge of £950 (ex. VAT) for 5 users to cover payroll updates and support services.