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4 min read

Converting from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online: What does the process look like?

Converting from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online: What does the process look like?

So you’re finally making the plunge, after years of using QuickBooks Desktop (QBDT), you’re switching to QuickBooks Online (QBO). That’s a great decision. First off, because you’ll be giving your CPA or financial professional a real-time look at your finances but also because QuickBooks Desktop might eventually go away. 

QuickBooks Desktop 2020 is being sunsetted by Intuit. That means that there won’t be any new critical updates or active support. It also means that users will lose access to many of the add-ons that made it so popular (including payroll). Besides that, QBDT will also become a subscription service, in the same way that QBO already is. That makes making the switch a must for most small businesses. 

So why don’t you switch? We get it. Fear of the unknown. So we thought we’d lay out for you how it works with our clients when we switch them from QBDT to QBO. Is it hard? Not necessarily. Especially if you find good help. Should you find a professional to help with this? Well, let’s just say we generally recommend seeking help from a qualified accountant to determine whether your QBDT file is all set for a seamless conversion to QBO.

Make sure your files are in order

For us, working with clients to convert them to QBO is a surprisingly quick process – with a caveat. We have to look at your current files and see if they’re a good candidate for complete conversion. If they are – great! This is going to be a pretty easy task. If not, we’ll start with taking the lists that we can use (customer names, vendors, accounts) and import those into QBO.

Once a QBDT file is submitted – that’s it. You’re done.

Most files typically are OK to convert. We ask that once our clients submit a QBDT file, they do no more work on it. That’s because we can’t have discrepancies between that and the QBO files we are creating and it causes unnecessary redundant work.

We’ll talk more in a second about payroll, but in general you’ll want to disconnect your QB Payment merchant account, especially if you have any recurring charges set up, to avoid duplicate charges to your customers. 

Your CPA will let you know when QBO is online and ready 

Depending on your needs, there are several post-conversion activities for your CPA to do, and they’ll work on the backend to make sure that you have any entries that need to be made. QBO allows for 250 chartered accounts, which means that you won’t typically have to trim down – but in some cases, your accountant will need to do some preliminary work to make data importable.

Once your QBO books are ready to go, your accountant will invite you to your new account, have you connect bank accounts in the live-banking feed, and show you how to best use QBO, including where to find any reports that you need to conduct business. 

A big reason you shouldn’t do this on your own: payroll

Let’s talk payroll. Payroll is one of the few areas that really requires a knowledgeable party for the transition. We could give you horror stories of clients who tried to do this themselves and ended up causing their company tons of money because of costly payroll errors. That’s because QBO’s greatest strength can also be a weakness – automation. Automation works amazing when things are set up correctly, but it can cascade into a series of problems when they’re not. 

QB Payroll doesn’t have the best support team built in, like the QBO software does and — as much of it’s built into its automations — it can be really hard to get a hold of a real person, if one of these critical errors happens. There’s a learning curve here – and one that’s steep enough that you’ll want an expert helping to guide you through it. 

Cut the cost

As business owners, we’re constantly trying to identify ways to cut down monthly expenditures. Bring that thought with you as you consider the fact that QBDT has shifted from a one-time software purchase to a subscription-based model. At the time of writing this post, QBDT 2023 edition costs $649 yearly for a single-user Pro Plus license or $949 for Pro Premier, while QBO plans start at $30/month for the Simple Start level.

It's worth noting that most of the features that our clients use are on the Plus subscription level which includes 5 users, plus 2 accountant users.

Getting used to the QBO presentation

This learning curve continues as you learn how QBO presents its reports. While most of the reports may be familiar, some of the reports may be different than you’re used to. A good CPA will guide you through this process, helping you to understand where to find everything you need. For us that means spending an hour demoing the software with our clients, as well as tailoring the training to what our clients may need. 💡It’s important to ask your CPA about any information critical to your business if you can’t find it and it hasn’t been covered. 

Part of the reason for this is that QBO is constantly fine-tuning and improving their product. They have a huge community of accountants who use their product and, get this, they actually listen to them! That means QBO is constantly getting better – but it also means that you need to be aware of changes as they occur. 

It’s time to make the switch

That said, you gain SO MUCH from transferring to the QBO version. Why? Besides versions of QBDT being discontinued, the move to QBO gives instant access to the folks who need it, across a wide variety of platforms.

With QBO, you – and your accountant – can view your files safely and securely without any messy third party security apps. You’ll have an account that is secure and dynamic, with the capability to be worked on instantaneously by your trusted partners. 

QBDT to QBO switch now (1)

Don’t wait. And, while we don't handle conversion-only as a standalone service, conversion processing is available to our current monthly clients. We'd love to chat about your goals and discuss this process in conjunction with your ongoing business needs. 

Whether it’s us or not, find a professional and make the switch. Our clients often comment that they’re glad they did.

Looking for more on QuickBooks conversions? Find out what data converts from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online with our handy guide.

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