Quickbooks 2008 includes a host of new features that make it both easier to use and useful as a strategic planning tool.

Gary Epstein, MD of local distributor EasyBiz, comments: "QuickBooks 2008 introduces a SQL Server database. This gives the application greater capacity, better stability and access to a catalogue of other third party applications. In short, it’s now invaluable in your office.”
He adds that, apart from dealing with the underlying database, QuickBooks 2008 developers focused their attention on improving the user interface to make the programme easier to use, creating a new global VAT engine and better integration with Microsoft Office. Users can additionally now look forward to two-way synchronisation with Outlook supported within the core accounting application.
A more streamlined set-up process is something else new users especially can look forward to. “Customer feedback had shown it was taking up to two-and-a-half hours to create a company using the old QuickBooks Easy Step interview process. We thus revamped the wizard completely to make it possible to now complete within 30 minutes."
Epstein adds that the programme has kept the essentials that every business needs but, with the help of the QuickBooks accountants, reduced the number of screens from 126 to 28.
QuickBooks 2008 has also consolidated the programme’s cost, customer, banking and supplier “centres” into a single “one-click” home page process map.
Epstein explains that this enables the business to focus on and improve its customer service. “Each centre page includes a list of customers in the left-hand pane so that users can access their records quickly. This means if someone is on the phone, the user just needs to click on their name in the list and select all their transactions and documents, or use filters to narrow their choices.”
Adding to this improved element of customer service is the “customer list” screen which includes a notes section. “This enables users to record conversations and actions within the customer’s record, with a date stamp facility. This makes it that much easier for the next person to access the account to see what’s going on – and to avoid asking a customer questions they’ve been asked before.”
Customisation is always a key request by customers, which is why all of the on-screen grids for customers, accounts and suppliers to name a few are now fully customisable in QuickBooks 2008. Similar flexibility is also available for the forms and invoices produced.
“We’ve given users the ability to change layouts, fonts and colour schemes, and thus save money on printing." Epstein explains that integration with Microsoft Office adds to these features even further. “Invoices can now be emailed through Outlook with the document included as a PDF attachment. A cover letter or letter with invoice details included can also be created when preparing an invoice.”
Reducing errors was another QuickBooks 2008 objective. The upgraded cheque writing option in the banking module reminds the user of any outstanding bills from cheque recipients for example.
The new VAT module in QuickBooks 2008 acts as a global VAT engine in the application. The new system redresses the programme's shortcomings in dealing with cash-based VAT accounting.
QuickBooks 2008 also features a new report centre that retains the scope of many reports, but presents them in a more comprehensible way.
Google’s desktop search tool is now available as an option within QuickBooks. The search facilities allow you to search within the accounting application alone or for any other related documents held on the local machine. One click on the search hyperlink will open the selected document.
While Epstein says the migration to a SQL Server will be almost invisible to users, having a common relational database engine and SDK with the US version of QuickBooks opens the door to more than 400 third party software applications listed in the QuickBooks Solutions Marketplace.
“If people who take sales orders want to send them via PDAs, they’ll be able to using third party applications. Or if someone wants an online timesheet application, there are some available that can bring the data into QuickBooks. Now that we're on the same SDK, they’re all available. It’s one of our best kept secrets.”