QuickBooks Enterprise is a powerful accounting system for small to medium businesses, capable of handling up to 30 users; customer, item, and vendor list sizes of 100,000 or more; extremely detailed control of user permissions; combined reporting from multiple companies; the ability to work in two company files simultaneously; and more. When you buy Enterprise, you automatically receive one year of the Full Service Plan. (More on that shortly.) However, Intuit also offers subscription pricing, and the two terms can sometimes cause confusion. We’re here to clarify the difference between the QuickBooks Enterprise Full Service Plan and the QuickBooks Enterprise subscription.
As we just mentioned, when you purchase QuickBooks Enterprise, you automatically receive one year of the Full Service Plan (FSP). The most important aspect of the FSP is access to Intuit’s U.S.-based customer support at no charge. This is a very significant benefit, especially if you are transitioning to QuickBooks Enterprise from another system, because without the FSP technical support can very quickly become expensive.
The FSP has another important benefit, although you will probably need to renew your plan at the end of the first year in order to receive it: automatic upgrades as new versions of Enterprise are released. This doesn’t mean new builds of the same version as it is patched; everyone receives those. It means when Enterprise 17 is released and you own Enterprise 16, you receive Enterprise 17 at no extra charge. (We suppose you could be lucky enough to enjoy this benefit during your first year of the FSP, depending on when in the product lifecycle you make your purchase.)
So that’s the Full Service Plan. However, Intuit has transitioned to a subscription model. There are three subscription tiers, Silver, Gold, and Platinum, which as you might expect come with increasing numbers of benefits. Also, not to complicate matters, but there are also local-only and hosted versions of the subscription—more on that in a minute.
The subscription tiers are priced annually but billed monthly, which is a nice change since that large FSP fee each year could sometimes be a lot to chew and swallow, even though it was well worth it. The pricing is also tied to the number of users you have. (It’s important to note here that in QuickBooks Enterprise, the user count refers to how many people can be logged into the same company file at the same time, not the absolute number of users you can have.) However, the user pricing is scaled, so going from (for example) one user to two doesn’t double the subscription price.
The Silver tier provides the two main benefits offered by the FSP: no-fee access to customer support and automatic upgrades to new versions. It also features up to 100GB of online backup storage and access to the Advanced Reporting module. Advanced Reporting provides enhanced search and report-building features and is pre-populated with plenty of templates you can use as soon as you finish installation.
The Gold tier offers all of the features of the Silver tier and adds Enhanced Payroll. We recently discussed the various Intuit payroll service packages here, but in brief Enhanced Payroll calculates payroll based on your entry of employee hours, generates paychecks and direct deposit, calculates generates payroll tax returns, and generates W-2s at year end. Normally Intuit charges a monthly fee plus $2 per employee for Enhanced Payroll, but it is included with the Gold tier at no extra charge for an unlimited number of employees.
Finally, the Platinum tier takes the Gold tier’s benefits and adds two more powerful QuickBooks Enterprise modules: Advanced Inventory and Advanced Pricing. Not every business needs these modules, but for those that use them, they provide significant advantages in inventory tracking (even across multiple locations) and pricing customization.
Earlier we mentioned that each of these tiers is also available as a hosted solution. The benefits are the same, except that hosting gives you access to your accounting system at any time from anywhere with an internet connection on virtually any device—computer, tablet, or phone. In addition, both your software and your data files are stored in the cloud, reducing downtime and vulnerability to data loss.
In moving from the Full Service Plan to its subscription model, Intuit has given users the ability to choose the features that are right for their business, rather than forcing everyone into a one-size-fits-all system. With automatic upgrades to new versions, QuickBooks Enterprise could literally be the last accounting software you every buy.