Growing businesses quickly find the limits of QuickBooks accounting functionality when managing their books.

QuickBooks is almost ubiquitous, the default accounting software used by business when they launch or when they’ve progressed beyond basic spreadsheets to manage their financials. Businesses looking for alternatives often look to similar, entry-level accounting tools focused on small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). And while there are levels of differentiation between QuickBooks and these other tools, growing businesses really need to think about their future needs and evaluate a comprehensive enterprise resource planning (ERP) system instead.

What Is the Best Alternative to QuickBooks?

When evaluating QuickBooks alternatives, buyers have a wide array of options. QuickBooks provides basic accounting functionality, including bookkeeping, managing invoices, paying bills and basic cash flow tracking. For those just looking for something that provides those basic capabilities, there are alternatives focused on niche areas like sole proprietors, freelancers and even a freemium option. But none of those systems offer much beyond basic accounting. Any business with expectations of growth is likely going to want a system that handles things like customization, multi-entity consolidation, advanced reporting and segregation of duties. It is going to want an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

The ERP alternatives to QuickBooks can be equally diverse, but many are focused on large enterprises (not the typical QuickBooks user) or older on-premises applications built to run on a customer’s site and requiring the accompanying hardware and IT staff to maintain. Cloud ERP systems are more modern and remove the need for a company to manage servers and hardware. The vendor handles all maintenance, security and upgrades and the customer accesses the software over the internet with a browser. When it comes to cloud ERP, the clear leader — is NetSuite.

Why Is NetSuite the Best QuickBooks Alternative?

  • One of the first software as a service (SaaS) companies, NetSuite is the leader in cloud ERP with more than 28,000 customers.
  • Scalability that allows companies to start small with financial management and add features and capabilities as they grow, supporting businesses from start ups to IPOs and beyond.
  • A full suite of applications that supports far more than basic accounting, including inventory management, customer relationship management, ecommerce, human capital management, global capabilities and professional services automation.
  • Advanced accounting and financial management, including:
    • Revenue recognition
    • Advanced billing
    • Customizable general ledger
    • Fixed asset and lease management
    • Sophisticated reporting
NetSuite QuickBooks Online QuickBooks Enterprise
Simple, easy upgrades
Customization capabilities
Flexible chart of accounts
Drill down reporting
Segregation of duties and audit trail

While QuickBooks ad QuickBooks Online may offer some of the capabilities listed above, they cover only the most basic functionality or rely on partners and integrations.

Key Features in Choosing NetSuite as a QuickBooks Alternative

There are several areas growing companies need to consider when evaluating QuickBooks accounting functionality and where NetSuite can make a significant difference.

Revenue Recognition
For businesses with complex deliverables, particularly businesses delivering services over an extended period of time and software companies with subscriptions, upgrades and other complexities, when and how to recognize revenue can be challenging with QuickBooks. For larger companies and those seeking investments, complying with revenue recognition accounting rules adds even more complexity. NetSuite adheres to these rules automatically and delivers accurate, real-time financial statements. Businesses can manage revenue recognition in QuickBooks with workarounds, but this means relying on error-prone, manual data entry in spreadsheets and leads to cumbersome journal entries.

Billing is an integral part of any business and any errors can have a lasting effect on customer relationships. With NetSuite, businesses can consolidate invoices, automate rating processes and support multiple pricing models as well as customer-specific pricing and discounting. This can be particularly important for businesses with subscription billing where NetSuite SuiteBilling can handle advanced requirements like combining one-time product or service purchases with a recurring subscription on a single bill. It can also handle multiple subscription billing options like variable fixed rate, consumption-based or a combination.

Accounts Receivable
While QuickBooks can create journal entries, it can’t handle downloads and schedules to give customers self-service access to purchase orders, inventory and payment information. Additionally, NetSuite Advanced Inventory Management allows companies to easily forecast and record revenue with milestone billing and contract renewal.

General Ledger
NetSuite allows customers to customize the general ledger (GL) to meet their specific business needs, adding custom lines to GL transactions like invoices or vendor bills, which can significantly reduce the work required for account reconciliation, month-end close and audits.

Fixed Asset and Lease Management
Unlike QuickBooks, NetSuite lets companies manage an asset’s complete lifecycle, track depreciating and nondepreciating assets from creation to depreciation, revaluation and disposal. It also complies with new rules around leased assets.

Inventory Management
NetSuite has comprehensive inventory management capabilities for product-based businesses. It automates manual inventory management processes, provides real-time insight into inventory levels, improves decision making and helps to optimize inventory levels to avoid stockouts and maximize efficiency. QuickBooks customers are forced to rely on third party inventory management packages that do not have the same level of functionality.

NetSuite offers drill-down, real-time reporting for any record in the system, enabling business users to create their own sophisticated reports without the help of IT. Pre-built and customizable dashboards also deliver real-time insights to improve decision making. QuickBooks is limited to standard accounting reports like profit and loss and cash flow.

“We had multiple legal entities with no way to have consolidated reporting,” said Ian Larkin, controller for CentralReach, a company that switched from QuickBooks to NetSuite. “We used Excel to share data across spreadsheets, then manually created reporting systems.”

5 Reasons Why NetSuite Is a Better Alternative to QuickBooks

Scalability for Growth: The limits of QuickBooks accounting functionality, like a lack of multi-book accounting, difficulty with revenue recognition, multi-entity consolidation and more, serve as a limit on growth for many businesses. Forced to rely on additional headcount to handle the increasingly cumbersome tasks or layer on additional applications for specific functions, these businesses face difficulties scaling up and expanding. NetSuite has taken businesses that have moved on from QuickBooks to IPOs and beyond.

QuickBooks is designed to serve small businesses, but once you start growing and servicing more customers, you need more robust systems,” said Brenda Budzinski, director of finance at Preferred Popcorn, which replaced QuickBooks with NetSuite. “We needed better ways to communicate customer needs throughout the whole company.”

A Comprehensive Suite: While QuickBooks is focused on basic accounting for small businesses, NetSuite adds a full suite of applications built on the same platform, including CRM, inventory management, ecommerce, professional services automation, manufacturing and analytics.

Created for the Cloud: One of the very first software as a service companies, NetSuite was architected to run in the cloud, giving employees anywhere, anytime access with just a browser and an internet connection. Customers don’t need to worry about maintaining servers or even desktop applications, NetSuite handles it all.

Continuous Enhancements: NetSuite delivers two major upgrades every year, adding functionality and improving the user experience. As a business unit within Oracle, one of the largest technology companies in the world, it receives significant R&D, ensuring all customers are always on the latest and greatest version of the software.

Customization: NetSuite’s development platform has hundreds of complementary applications built by partners that provide additional functionality for specific roles or industries. Additionally, customers can customize the system to their own unique needs and have those customizations automatically carry forward with every upgrade. For example, HIPAA, the federal law that sets strict standards around protecting patient health information, requires businesses like Quatris Healthco to store and share patient data in very specific ways.

To satisfy these demands, Quatris Healthco uses NetSuite customizations: The company built a feature that strips attachments with patient information and automatically links them to a third-party storage platform.

“We go through HIPAA audits on an annual basis, and we never have issues because of that functionality,” said Cari Thomas, CFO.

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Grow Your Business and Choose the Best Alternative to QuickBooks

For fast-growing businesses, the clear superior alternative to QuickBooks is NetSuite. It offers a basic financial package to get businesses up and running quickly on core financials and they can add more functionality as they need it, including CRM, inventory management and ecommerce.