Intuit Beefs Up QuickBooks For Enterprise

Intuit QuickBooks Enterprise Business Line Leader Bill Lucchini said the new enterprise edition features Sybase's SQL-based iAnywhere database. That's a big change from the proprietary C-Index database in its predecessor, Lucchini said.

The new database has helped increase performance by three to five times and marks the end of a three-year effort to move to a new open database platform, he said.

And, with this QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions 6.0 release, audit trail functions are on all the time, Intuit said. The new database and audit trail capabilities stretch across the QuickBooks line, the company said.

"Because of the better database, the audit trail functions are always on. Before users could switch them on and off for performance reasons. Now there's no benefit to switching it off," said James Cliame, president of Net Result, a San Diego-based QuickBooks consultant and accountant.

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Microsoft partisans repeatedly raised the audit trail and database issue vis a vis QuickBooks. Microsoft's new Small Business Accounting package builds on the MSDE database engine and mandates the use of an audit trail. Microsoft has taken on Intuit's Quicken home finance product, QuickBooks accounting and TurboTax with dubious results.

With its latest foray, Small Business Accounting, Microsoft is pitching a $149 stand-alone SKU (after rebate) as well as a tight bundle with Microsoft Office.

With the 2006 editions, Intuit has dropped the price of QuickBooks Premier from $499.95 list for new users to $399.95. QuickBooks Pro is now $199.95, down from $299.95 for new users. The Simple Start Edition remains $99.95.

QuickBooks Enterprise 2006, however, has raised the pricing bar. A five-user concurrent license is now $3,000, up from $2,500; a 10-user license is now $4,500, up from $3,500; and a new 15-user license option is $6,000.

Lucchini said the three-year-old QuickBooks Enterprise doubled its unit growth to 8,600 units for the fiscal year ended in July. He said about 20 percent of the company's QuickBooks Enterprise business goes through partners and the company is looking to grow that percentage.

"We are seeing more and more channel interest," he said.

Lucchini said the competitive offerings require longer engagement and implementation cycles than QuickBooks Enterprise product. "We're focused on businesses getting the most out of the software," he said.

Microsoft launched Money against Quicken in 1991. Intuit unveiled QuickBooks accounting in 1992, and the next year Microsoft followed with Microsoft Profit, which it ended up selling off. It also launched a hosted offering, bCentral Finance Manager in April 2001, only to discontinue it within a year. Microsoft also launched then nixed TaxSaver, which competed with TurboTax.

While Intuit Chairman Bill Campbell is proud of the company's record, he is clearly not resting on his laurels. "We fight [Microsoft] off here all the time. In small-business accounting, even two or three points of market share is a chink. We took them out of the tax business and neutralized them in home finance but it's wearing, costs time, money and development resources," he told CRN.

Cliame, who concentrates on QuickBooks consulting, said most of customers are companies with 10 to 30 employees, and in that arena the new QuickBooks would save them $25,000 vs. comparable Macola or Great Plains implementations.

QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions 6.0, slated to be widely available Nov. 7, will cost $3,000 for a five-seat license; $4,500 for 10 seats, and $6,000 for 15 seats.

Cliame&s customers are typically running applications like Macola or other custom programs and some "are on things I've never heard of."