QuickBooks 2010 is an excellent product and a great value at $199.95.   With the 2010 edition, Intuit presents a host of new features, tweaks to old features, and the typical ease of use that QuickBooks users have come to expect.

New features include an online document storage functionality, electronic check submission for bank deposits, a smart email marketing tool, and an add-on application store link.   Most of these new features are fee based services.  Intuit tweaked the functionality of lists to allow the import of items directly from excel spreadsheets and  the customization of company snapshots.

Last but not least, the 2010 edition provides an option for users to add unmatched transactions from online banking downloads through the check register, as users could easily accomplish prior to the initial introduction of the QuickBooks 2009 version.

The user interface for online banking, introduced with QuickBooks 2009, initially met with a storm of criticism from existing users who greatly preferred adding unmatched transactions through the check register.  Intuit, to its credit, responded with later releases of QuickBooks 2009 (rev7 and later) that permitted users to add transactions through the check register.

To me, none of the new features would make me run out to the store and buy QuickBooks 2010, if I was already using QuickBooks 2009 or 2008.   I can, however, wholeheartedly endorse QuickBooks Pro 2010 for new businesses and businesses other than manufacturers who are using some other small business accounting software.

I have not yet recommended an upgrade to any of my clients (mostly mom and pop small businesses) who use QuickBooks 2008 or 2009.  Still, I can foresee a number of instances where upgrading to QuickBooks 2010 could be worthwhile.  I will discuss these instances below in the context of individual features.

The new feature with which I am most impressed is the ability to make bank deposits electronically—with scanned copies of checks.  This feature is fee based with a setup fee, a monthly service fee, and a per item fee.  This service, despite the fees, could be worth the money to businesses in time saved at bank teller windows.    An important drawback with this feature’s release is that the bank’s receipt of the deposit is not instantaneous; it make take more than 24 hours for the bank to credit the respective bank account.

The online document storage functionality provides for 100 MB of free storage, which Intuit considers sufficient for most small businesses.   After that it is a fee based service.   Non-QuickBooks documents such as contracts can be attached to QuickBooks documents such as related invoices.

The new email marketing tool is an online “smart” tool because it can alert a company that certain clients have made significantly lower purchases over the last six months.   Then, it can email customers to solicit new purchases while calculating the response it terms of new purchases made.  This feature seems to integrate exceptionally well with QuickBooks company data files.  The first 500 emails are free, after that it, too, is a fee based service.

In the long haul, the new online application store could be a boon to Intuit.    All of applications offer a free trial period, after which fees occur.  Intuit, gets a share of the revenue while the application developers bear the brunt of designing and servicing the applications.

QuickBooks continues to be the easiest to use of the top three small business accounting programs.   The initial interview to set up a client takes 20 minutes to half an hour.    Invoicing, check writing, and bill paying are relatively straight forward.   “Items” is a concept that virtually all inexperienced bookkeepers do not use properly.  Inventory processing for most businesses is clean and easy to understand, but may not be the best choice for many manufacturing companies.  Payroll is best handled by outside services (including QuickBooks payroll services).

QuickBooks ease of use paradoxically leads many people to make troublesome mistakes in setting up their QuickBooks files.  I recommend consulting a QuickBooks Pro Advisor or experienced QuickBooks bookkeeper for the initial set up, unless one is well versed in accounting procedures or reading one of the popular QuickBooks manuals.