In part 1 of this series, we took a brief look at the “cheapest vs. best fit” considerations of both QuickBooks Enterprise and NetSuite.
Now we’ll examine another big decision point when considering new software – on-site vs. in the cloud.
Full Disclosure: I am a reseller for QuickBooks Enterprise and an affiliate sales rep with Brainsell who represent NetSuite.
THE NETSUITE APPROACH
NetSuite was built from the ground up to be a fully cloud based solution. Quite simply - if your business has access to the internet, it has 24/7 access to NetSuite. Desktop or mobile devices included.
Having your accounting/ERP solution in the cloud removes the need to invest in servers and the related IT support eco-system that goes with it and can simplify your operations and reduce your costs.
Naturally, you’ll want do some contingency planning in case your main internet circuit goes down if this type of approach appeals to you. Many businesses purchase a "spare" internet circuit for emergencies such as these, so you'll need to factor in those costs too.
THE QUICKBOOKS ENTERPRISE APPROACH(ES)...
1) LOCAL DESKTOPS/LAPTOPS AND SERVER WITH REMOTE ACCESS
Currently, QuickBooks Enterprise is still a “desktop and server” based software product. That simply means you need to install the software on each desktop/ laptop that will be using QuickBooks Enterprise, and it also needs to be installed and configured on a server computer. In some cases, this configuration also then allows for remote access via “remote desktop” capabilities that have been baked in the server.
As a result of this approach, you have the embedded costs of supporting the desktop, laptop and server computers to consider. If you have a solid IT plan and support team in place, adding another application like QuickBooks Enterprise to the mix shouldn’t increase those costs dramatically. However, if the thought of having to deal with servers and other IT complexities is enough to cause gut-wrenching pain or sleepless nights, maybe this approach is not for you.
2) HOSTED/IN THE CLOUD
Alternately, a growing concept in the QuickBooks Enterprise world is to have it “hosted in the cloud”. Without getting too technical, hosting provides the ability to access your QuickBooks 24/7 via the internet. It removes the need for maintaining servers, etc. as discussed in the traditional approach above.
For example, you would buy QuickBooks Enterprise from a reseller like me. Once you do that, you contract separately with a hosting company – they take these licenses you purchased and then install/configure the software in THEIR server environment (not yours). Once that is done, they give you the keys to access your QuickBooks information via the internet.
Keep in mind this key point – if you need an “add-on” for QuickBooks such as advanced inventory management, this add-on solution ALSO has to be hosted in order for QuickBooks to communicate with it – you can’t have QuickBooks being hosted and the add-on running on your local server. This is completely different than the NetSuite approach – all their modules are under one roof.
For discussion purposes, hosting QuickBooks Enterprise can run about $50 per user PER MONTH. Additional applications such as Microsoft Office and/or other applications will increase that price. So – in some respects, we’re back to the “cheapest vs. best fit” discussion mentioned earlier.
THE BEST APPROACH?
There is definitely no easy or right answer…
The answer to this question boils down to the philosophy, needs and budget of each individual business. The pros and cons of each approach need to be carefully evaluated before a decision can be reached.