Coinciding with the release of QuickBooks 2012, Intuit is making a variety of changes to QuickBooks Attached Documents, a cloud-based document storage system that has been available as an extra-cost add-on for users of QuickBooks 2010 and QuickBooks 2011. For QuickBooks 2010, Intuit’s document storage feature was called QuickBooks Document Management, and the changes impact users of that service as well.
For 2012, Intuit is phasing out the online QuickBooks Attached Documents and including a capability for free local document storage.
Let’s summarize the changes based on the year of your QuickBooks version and the impact of those changes based on whether they add capabilities (good), remove them (bad), or it’s too early to assess the impact (unclear):
Good: Local document storage on the computer running QuickBooks is now free, and the new Doc Center supports a drag-and-drop interface, including the ability to add Microsoft Outlook emails to Doc Center. Supported documents can be attached to QuickBooks lists or transactions. Users of QuickBooks Attached Documents have access to a tool to migrate online documents to local storage.
Bad: Users can no longer sign up and pay for an extra cost, cloud-based storage solution from Intuit. Users requiring cloud-based solutions will have to turn to third-party add-ons, some of which have been in existence longer than Intuit’s cloud-based storage.
Good: Intuit has lowered the price of QuickBooks Attached Documents, where the maximum monthly fee is now $9.95 for unlimited document storage.
Bad: Since QuickBooks Attached Documents is being phased out, existing users of the service can continue to use it subject to Intuit’s sunshine policy. Under that policy, and assuming Intuit keeps the service live until that point, QuickBooks 2011 users can continue to use QuickBooks Attached Documents until May, 2014 – provided that they continue to run that same version of QuickBooks. Once QuickBooks 2012 is formally available to the public, QuickBooks 2011 users can not sign up for new subscriptions to QuickBooks Attached Documents. This change effectively limits the users of this version of the program to 2 undesirable choices: don’t upgrade QuickBooks and keep the Attached Documents service for a limited time or upgrade QuickBooks and lose the ability to attach documents and store them on Intuit’s secure servers. The first blocks access to new QuickBooks features, and the second blocks access to a service that may be important to an organization. It should be noted that users that do opt to upgrade QuickBooks will only lose the ability to attach documents stored in the cloud; they will not lose access to the documents themselves, since access in all likelihood will be preserved until May, 2014.
Unclear: While users of QuickBooks 2012 have access to a tool to migrate existing online documents to local storage, it’s not clear if that tool will be made available to users of QuickBooks 2011 without first upgrading to QuickBooks 2012. Without such a tool, there is no obvious way to migrate documents from Intuit’s cloud storage other than saving them one by one, which would be a time consuming process for active users of the service.
Good: For users that have stuck with Intuit’s Document Management, there is little good to report. For those that have migrated to Attached Documents before the introduction of QuickBooks 2012, the lower pricing of Attached Documents is a benefit to QuickBooks 2010 users.
Bad: Similar to the fate of QuickBooks 2011 users, QuickBooks 2010 users of online document storage (either Document Management or Attached Documents) can use the service subject to Intuit’s sunshine policy. However, since QuickBooks 2010 was released 1 year before QuickBooks 2011, the sunshine date is 1 year earlier, or May 2013. New, free subscriptions to Document Management with a cap of 100 Mb can be created, but these were intended to allow evaluation of the service when it was first introduced; it’s unlikely anyone would want to evaluate a service that is being phased out, and the 100 Mb cap has little practical value outside of evaluation testing.
The changes to document attachment are significant, and many QuickBooks users that have avoided attaching documents in QuickBooks because of cost considerations will be pleased at the free local document storage in QuickBooks 2012. On the other hand, organizations that have used Intuit’s cloud-based system will be disappointed to see that low-cost service disappear, but they’ll have ample time to implement other approaches to document storage.