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The Myth that Your A/E Firm is Too Big for QuickBooks
October 28, 2021
There’s a popular myth in the architecture and engineering (A/E) industry that QuickBooks can't scale to firms over a handful of people. The reality is that QuickBooks scales just fine for general accounting tasks and can work for firms of all sizes. As a business scales up, they may have additional needs beyond accounting, but that doesn’t mean QuickBooks doesn’t still perform.
Why has the myth persisted?
In talking with outsourced accountants that work with A/E clients, there are a couple of myths that lead firms to believe they have outgrown QuickBooks:
The “doesn’t handle everything” myth
As firms grow, they will certainly have business needs that QuickBooks either isn’t suited to solve or doesn’t handle in the most elegant way. These are rarely in the realm of accounting, and more often fall into the areas of team, project, or client management. So why do we consider this reality part of the myth? Because as a highly effective and affordable accounting package, QuickBooks doesn’t need to handle everything else!
The misconception that QuickBooks is insufficient as an accounting package has been used heavily in messaging from software companies that loom large in the A/E space and have a vested interest in “upgrading” firms to more complex systems. These systems endeavor to not only replace QuickBooks for accounting, but also handle all other aspects of business management for larger firms.
Unfortunately , in an effort to handle all areas of business, these larger systems are often less effective at the true accounting-related functions. For small- to medium-size firms, bigger systems end up being overkill in terms of unused features and over-complicated processes. The cost of licensing, implementing, and supporting these solutions is also high, which is especially frustrating when many features are not utilized or less effective in the areas where a firm really needs help.
"For small- to medium-size firms, bigger systems end up being overkill in terms of unused features and over-complicated processes. "
The “doesn’t fit my business” myth
Another reason why some firms feel unsatisfied with QuickBooks often has less to do with the system’s capability, and more to do with how they have configured the platform. Without enough guidance, firms may inadvertently paint themselves into a corner by setting up their books without foresight into growth. In this case, the system is perfectly capable of scaling, but a firm’s books might need some re-configuration to handle scenarios that face a growing A/E business.
If you’re in the category of businesses that feel constrained by how QuickBooks is configured for your firm, we have another blog post that points out common issues and how to avoid them here.
How can a business scale and keep QuickBooks?
If your firm has needs that QuickBooks doesn’t satisfy, try looking at software that specializes in A/E firm management. Don’t assume you need an expensive package that includes features you won’t use and business processes to match a thousand-person firm. Do your research and find a solution that satisfies your specific needs. Understand what will make the biggest difference in your business in terms of project management, invoicing, and reporting, and don’t waste time implementing any more than you need to (your team and partners will thank you.)
Tools like Factor are built to handle the needs of growing A/E firms while still utilizing QuickBooks for the area where it shines and is totally sufficient: general accounting.
Are there legitimate reasons why QuickBooks isn’t the right accounting package for a firm?
We aren’t going to say that QuickBooks works for every firm at every scale. There are a few reasons why you may need accounting functions that QuickBooks doesn’t handle well, specifically when you get into managing multiple businesses or dealing with foreign currency exchange.
If these don’t apply to you, maybe it’s time you took another look at QuickBooks and the simplicity and affordability offered by an integrated solution, like Factor.
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