How to Move QuickBooks to the Cloud
QuickBooks is one of the most well-known and trusted software applications that helps law firms manage their bookkeeping process. With its gigantic community of users, comprehensive help files, and support offered by Intuit, it’s certainly easy to understand why QuickBooks continues to be a leader in accounting software. Yet, more and more law firms are turning to the cloud, and we’re often asked if it’s possible to move QuickBooks to the cloud.
The answer is: yes. In this post, we’re going to explain how to move QuickBooks to the cloud. Specifically, we’ll explain how to use the complete, desktop (“Professional”) edition of QuickBooks to what’s called a Private Cloud.
Is There Really a Need for a Private Cloud When There’s a Web-based Version of QuickBooks?
Before we talk about how to move QuickBooks to the cloud, we first want to explain why there is a need for a private cloud even though there is a web-based version of QuickBooks that law firms could use.
There are essentially two editions, or formats of QuickBooks.
QuickBooks Professional is the classic, long-running, full-featured QuickBooks software that runs on your desktop computer or a server. QuickBooks Professional has been around decades, and as a result is packed with functionality that law firms need.
QuickBooks Online is Intuit’s relatively new, web-based version of their software. Being web-based, QuickBooks Online runs in a browser and doesn’t require a server. That’s the upside; the downside is that QuickBooks Online, being much newer, is relatively “watered down” compared to its Professional (desktop/server) counterpart. In other words, it simply does less.
This is fine for many solo practices and very small firms. But firms of 5 or more total people often require the functionality missing in QuickBooks Online. (Functionality like Loan/Amortization Manager, Memorized Transactions, and more comprehensive reporting, just to name a few).
The way a law firm can have their cake-and-eat-it-too (the robust functionality of QuickBooks Professional, but the mobility, reliability and security of the cloud) is with a private cloud.
Moving QuickBooks to the cloud provides you with all of the features of QuickBook you know, love, and need as well as providing you (and anyone in your law firm who needs access to QuickBooks) with the ability to use it from anywhere through a virtual desktop. For many law firms it’s a win-win.
How to Move QuickBooks to the Cloud
So, now you know that it’s possible to move QuickBooks to the cloud as well as the difference between using their web-based application and using QuickBooks from a private cloud. Let’s move on to our main event: the options you have to move QuickBooks to the cloud.
Option A: DIY Method.
The first option is to do it yourself. Although it’s an option, it does require specific resources:
- Renting rack space at a data center or a colocation facility. That’s where your own, home-grown “private cloud” would live. You’ll need to setup and pay for rack space, power, and the bandwidth used.
- Buy your own server equipment. Even if your law firm has the budget for this, you’ll want to make sure you buy the right equipment (and enough of it). You’ll also want to make sure that you have plenty of room for growth.
- Hire an IT company. You’ll need experienced IT professionals to set-up the server, install the software, set-up your email, provide cybersecurity (and hope you’re getting the right type of protection), schedule and execute backups, provide updates to your software, and take care of the physical server.
If you do decide to buy your own physical server and bring in IT professionals, be prepared for on-going expenses as well as the expense of replacing the servers every three to five years. While DIY is certainly possible, it’s expensive. It can also be extremely frustrating for law firms. While we’re probably showing a bias here, that bias does come from decades of experience of working with law firms that have been down this path.
Option B: Private cloud.
Most law firms want a comprehensive solution that frees them from worrying about downtime, data security, and accessibility. They just want to be able to use their software when they need to use it regardless of where they’re at or what they’re doing. Our recommendation to make that happen is to move QuickBooks to a private cloud.
A private cloud, as described earlier, is a fully hosted and managed IT service that gives law firms (and other businesses) the ability to ditch the expense and hassle of physical servers and use all (or almost all!) of their software on a single platform. The platform, and support for the platform, are provided be one company. When looking for the right private cloud, you’ll want to know whether the provider can:
- Host QuickBooks
- Provide support and necessary updates for QuickBooks as well as all of the software used by the law firm
- Create and properly maintain the server and the database infrastructure necessary for hosting QuickBooks on the cloud
- Provide licenses to Microsoft Office for every user
- Set-up Exchange email for every user
- Provide a virtual desktop (sometimes referred to as Desktop-as-a Service or DAAS) for each user
- Provide IT and help desk support for your staff
- Proactively manage and maintain individual computers
- Create, implement, and manage security and compliance options appropriate for your law firm (such as two-factor authentication, data backups, etc.).
Why is it so important to find a private cloud provider who can provide all of that? Think about that one time you had a computer problem. Your IT professional said it was a software problem. You contacted the software manufacturer and they said it wasn’t their problem. They said it was a problem with your server.
It’s the classic, “Everything looks good on my end,” problem. Nobody takes accountability for solving the problem.
And that puts the entire issue back into the hands of your IT professional. Meanwhile, you miss a deadline. That’s not just frustrating for lawyers. It’s potentially dangerous from a legal ethics perspective. A private cloud provider designed specifically for the legal industry can help you protect your data, eliminate IT headaches, and keep QuickBooks and all of your other programs accessible when you need them.
What Are Some Common Problems with Moving QuickBooks to the Cloud?
The most common problems you must watch for when moving QuickBooks to the cloud include:
- Just moving QuickBooks and nothing else. If you only move QuickBooks to the cloud and leave everything else on a physical server or physical hard drive, this is known as piecemealing. Generally, the thought from law firms is that they want to move just one thing and see how it works. They believe this is the safest approach. The problem is that it disconnects the technology the firm relies on. This creates more problems because many programs interact with each other and they may not be able to do that if they’re hosted in separate locations. It also creates problems with who is responsible for problems that may occur. Make the decision: either move everything to the private cloud or keep everything on the firm’s physical server.
- Not choosing a private cloud designed for the legal industry. There are a lot of cloud/hosted server options available today. It is absolutely imperative that you choose a private cloud designed for the legal industry. IT experience isn’t enough. Look for a private cloud provider with a great reputation serving the legal industry and one that has experience moving QuickBooks to the cloud. Look for one that provides you with the QuickBooks support (and support for all other programs the firm uses) you need.
- Due diligence is key. There’s a lot to think about when you’re moving QuickBooks to the cloud. Due diligence is important. We’ve created a Cloud Computing Due Diligence Checklist for Law Firms that you can use.
Related: Piecemeal the Cloud at Your Own Risk
Epilogue: QuickBooks in the Cloud
If you’re ready to move QuickBooks to the cloud or if you have any questions about the process, contact us. Uptime Practice is a private cloud designed and ran with law firms in mind. We built our platform to host QuickBooks and other software used by law firms on the cloud.