3 Questions about Converting to Quickbooks Online from Desktop Answered

Your company has been considering making the switch from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online for sometime, but you and others may have asked, "What will this whole process look like?"

The decision to make the switch is not one to be taken lightly, so you're probably trying to gather as much information as you can to make a good decision and generate buy-in from other key players in the switch (such as your accounting firm, accountant or QuickBooks ProAdvisor and other team members).

Three key questions of converting to Online need to be addressed in order to get a better picture of the conversion process: When to convert, what options do you have for converting, and how the conversion process will play out?

Moving from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online by SalesPad

1. When is it time to convert?

Most companies on QuickBooks Desktop or Desktop Enterprise have a pretty good idea of what they need in order to handle their business. If Enterprise has been your go-to, distribution is likely a key part (or the core) of your business. Additionally, if you're managing a lot of inventory and orders, you're also most likely on the Enterprise level of Desktop. While Desktop has provided the accounting, purchasing, order processing, and inventory management you need, it's also thrown in some things you could live without.

Desktop users with large amounts of data usually see lots of corruption and performance issues. Some Desktop users can even anticipate when the application will crash (at certain times while performing certain tasks) and schedule around those times. While certainly unfortunate, these users have learned to create workarounds and, simply put, deal with it. If this sounds familiar, "now" is the answer to "When should we convert to Online?"

There are several other common issues that users can run into when running Desktop, such as general uncertainty regarding the lifespan of the software and irregular product updates. Learn about other common issues with Desktop and key questions to ask before making the switch here.

2. What are the options for converting?

Intuit does not officially support moving data from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online, and warns that data loss may occur during the conversion process. This can easily intimidate users looking to make the switch.

However, this is where a ProAdvisor comes into the picture. When moving to QuickBooks Online, Intuit converts your current data in Desktop and integrates it to Online, all through prompts built into Desktop. A ProAdvisor will likely assist in that conversion for QuickBooks Online.

Theoretically, you could buy an Online subscription plan and use Inuit's support documentation and community forums to try to upload your Desktop file to Online via Intuit’s official conversion means. However, you'd have to contact a ProAdvisor if you had any specific questions.

Additionally, if you've made it this far in your conversion journey, you probably know that QuickBooks Online alone will not be sufficient to keep your distribution or wholesale business running, since Online lacks the advanced purchasing, order processing, and inventory functionality you need.

This is where syncing with a third-party application comes into the picture. You'll need to consider several factors when choosing an integration app to handle your inventory, such as:

  • Does this inventory management application have a way to replicate your current processes, or will you have to overhaul existing workflows? It's probably worth the effort to find a software that won't require you to change your current operations.
  • Are you looking at shipping and ecommerce apps? You'll want to make sure they integrate with your chosen inventory add-on.
  • You'll want to look into what kind of implementation plans are offered by the third-party inventory management add-on. You should compare pricing and the number of hours included in implementation plans.
  • While not crucial to your chosen inventory add-on, you could also consider other integrations such as time-tracking, marketing automation, and other apps that deal more directly with QuickBooks Online.

According to Nik Czuprinski, Implementation Specialist for SalesPad Cloud, their method of converting is basically a two-step process.

First, via Intuit’s built-in conversion tool in Desktop, a user's Desktop file is stripped down to whatever is able to be used in QuickBooks Online.

Second, Czuprinski and his team takes the rest of that pertinent data (which isn't able to convert to Online, such as customer types, sales representatives, price levels, credit limits, vendor notes, etc.) and inputs it into SalesPad Cloud, which handles all the advanced inventory and order functionality not included in QuickBooks Online alone.

Additionally, Czuprinski says that for many companies making the switch from Desktop to Online, the conversion process is an opportunity to do some data clean-up. The quality of data inputted during conversion will affect the quality of data outputted when implementation is over.

"If you're setting up a system with all old data, all old companies or customers, or old inventory, it's just going to sit in there and potentially cause issues later on," Czuprinski warns.

It's also a good idea to loop your accountant or ProAdvisor in on conversations both before choosing an inventory add-on and moving to Online and during implementation. Send your ProAdvisor ideas for a transition plan and reasons why the switch will benefit your accounting and business overall. During implementation, Czuprinski says its good to communicate certain considerations to your accounting team.

"At SalesPad, we can report sales to specific accounts and we have the ability to map items to specific QuickBooks accounts and specific classes to accounts. So, the customer is taking this information back to their accountants and asking if that's something they'd be interested in -- a per-item class, per-item category level of reporting on the financials."

3. How long does the process take?

For Czuprinski, one of the most common questions he hears during implementation is "How long is this going to take?"

He says his go-to answer usually has a mixed response: it really depends.

"It depends on the complexity of what you're coming from and the complexity of what you want to use with SalesPad, or any third-party add-on."

There are several factors to consider when estimating how long it will take your company to convert from Desktop to Online. From the initial search for a third-party add-on, to data clean-up, to training your team members on new software, the process could take up to several weeks. On the other hand, the actual data conversion from Desktop to Online could be completed in only a few hours.

In regards to data clean-up, Czuprinski says he's seen companies assign data clean-up to a team member as a side project and, working at a moderate pace, be finished in a matter of days to weeks.

Additionally, companies often ask if they can run their existing system while testing the new software and carrying over data. Czuprinski always says yes.

"The safe bet is to run them in tandem, so if something were to happen, you still had the redundancy with your existing system," Czuprinski says.

While Czuprinski admits running an old system and your new QuickBooks Online and third-party system adds a lot of extra work and double entry for a time, it's beneficial to have a fall-back plan. He's seen customers run both systems for a week or two, and then when they're confident in their new system, keep the old system simply as a reference.

Are you ready to convert?

The process of converting from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online can look different for every business, but hopefully, you now have a better picture of what that process could look like. As importantly, you also have some considerations to take back to your team.

Converting to QuickBooks Online and integrating a strong inventory-minded software can offer the best of the cloud experience to your team. For example, software like SalesPad Cloud not only includes all the features you're used to in Desktop, but adds things like document splitting and advanced workflow creation. And with all your information stored securely and centrally in the cloud after converting, you can sleep in peace knowing you have leading software and the option to add any of hundreds of great apps for QuickBooks Online.

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