Intuit Ramps Up Quickbooks For Enterprises

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 deliver three to five times speed boosts 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, customers can rely on a constant audit trail. 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.

Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft partisans repeatedly raised the audit trail and database issue vis a vis QuickBooks. And in fact, Microsoft&'s new Small Business Accounting package builds on the Microsoft Database Engine and mandates the use of an audit trail. In the past, Microsoft has taken on Intuit&'s Quicken home finance product, QuickBooks Accounting and TurboTax, with dubious results.

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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.

Intuit&'s counterpunch? For most of its 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 at $99.95.

QuickBooks Enterprise 2006, however, raises 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 Mountain View, Calif., 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. According to Lucchini, competitive offerings require longer engagement and implementation cycles than the QuickBooks Enterprise product does. “We&'re focused on businesses getting the most out of the software,” he said. Microsoft and Intuit have had a long history of one-upmanship even before the Department of Justice denied the companies&' efforts to merge in 1995. 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 off [Microsoft] 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 customers have 10 to 30 employees. In that arena the new QuickBooks would save them $25,000 vs. comparable Macola or Great Plains implementations, he said.

QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions 6.0, expected to ship Nov. 7, will cost $3,000 for a five-seat license, $4,500 for 10 seats and $6,000 for 15 seats.