The marquee feature of this update is multi-user support. "It was our number one request," Lynes told us. Many customers have experienced the frustration of wanting to work in QuickBooks, only to be denied because another user has a certain file open. Stop us if you've heard this one before. Fortunately, QuickBooks 2011 fixes all of that.
In fact, up to five people can simultaneously create invoices, generate purchase orders, access vendor information, etc. Plus, QuickBooks 2011 lets an administrator set access permissions for those users. For instance, Jane from inventory doesn't need to see payroll information, while the small business owner will want full access to his or her numbers. All in all, QuickBooks 2011 lets you set permissions across eight areas. In the demonstration we received, the management area was simple to navigate. An overview panel lets you see who's on, what their permission level is, how long they've been connected, and (new to QuickBooks 2011) if they're on iChat. Now, a quick question is just an IM message away.
Mileage tracking is also new to QuickBooks 2011. Now, users can track mileage across up to four vehicles. Miles can be entered individually or in batches. You can even add mileage to invoices, if you bill for that sort of thing (it's simply another line item and easy to add), and browse four new mileage-specific reports: mileage by vehicle summary, mileage by vehicle detail, mileage by job summary, and mileage by job detail. I prefer the instant digital recording of Gas Cubby, but of course, I'm not a large shop with a fleet of vehicles and drivers to monitor.
This update fulfills another big request from Mac users: Numbers support. "A huge number of our customers have asked for Numbers support," Lynes told us. "We're happy to offer it." With QuickBooks 2011, users can export data directly to Numbers. Previously, users with Numbers would first have to export to CSV and then import into Numbers, sometimes losing formatting preferences. Now, a one-click export to Numbers gets the job done easily.
Additionally, Intuit has ramped up the customization options with this update. New tools let users customize both reports and invoices. In our demo, it was very easy to drop a logo onto an invoice, choose colors, and so on. You needn't be a designer to make a great-looking report, but Lynes noted that Mac users typically have a keen sense of aesthetics (really?) and want things to look good.
Here's another nice touch. Intuit's developers have launched Little Square, an informative support site intended for users of QuickBooks; chances are all small business owners will find something helpful there. It's updated regularly with great posts and feature articles that you may find useful.
QuickBooks 2011 is a very nice update indeed. QuickBooks 2011 for the Mac will be available for download or for phone and Web orders on September 27th, with copies arriving in retail outlets by October. Pricing is as follows (all prices are US dollars):
- 1-User: $229.95
- 2-User: $439.95
- 3-User: $599.95
- Add-a-seat: $209.95