top of page

QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop: How to Choose the Best for Your Company

Choosing QuickBooks Online vs Desktop can seem daunting, especially for target construction companies looking to streamline their accounting processes. Each version offers unique features and benefits suited to different business needs. This article will help you decide which version is the best QuickBooks for small business.

QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop: How to Choose the Best for Your Company

Why Choose QuickBooks for Your Business?

QuickBooks is an excellent choice for construction businesses looking to streamline their financial management and gain valuable insights into their operations. Here are a few key reasons

  • Specialized features: QuickBooks offers tailored solutions for construction businesses, including job costing, progress invoicing, and project budgeting. These features help contractors track expenses, manage subcontractors, and create detailed reports for each project.

  • User-friendly interface: QuickBooks is known for its intuitive design, making it easy for business owners and employees to navigate and use. This is particularly beneficial for small construction companies with limited resources.

  • Enhanced collaboration: QuickBooks Enterprise Hosting enables construction businesses to run their operations remotely and collaborate more effectively with team members and clients.

  • Comprehensive reporting: QuickBooks for contractors provides advanced reporting capabilities that give valuable insights into their business performance, helping them make informed decisions and drive growth.

Comparison of Main Features: QuickBooks Online vs. Desktop

QuickBooks Online vs Desktop caters to different business environments and requirements. Here’s a smallcomparison to clarify their distinct features:


QuickBooks Online (QBO)

QuickBooks Desktop (QBD)


Cloud-based, accessed online

Locally installed software


Any device with internet access

Only on installed PCs

User Interface

Modern, intuitive, designed for ease of use

Traditional, robust, feature-rich


Automatic, no need for manual updates

Requires manual update installation

Pricing Model

Subscription-based (monthly or annual)

One-time purchase with optional annual upgrades

Inventory Management

Basic capabilities, suitable for simpler needs

Advanced, detailed inventory management tools

Data Security

Data stored in the cloud with continuous backups

Depends on local data management and backups


Extensive with online apps and services

Primarily with desktop applications


Limited compared to Desktop, but improving

Highly customizable reporting and features


Easily scales with business growth via plan changes

Scalable, but may require hardware upgrades


High (remote access capabilities)

Low (access restricted to installation site)

Multi-user Access

Easily add users based on subscription tier

Requires setup on a network for multi-user access

Ideal Use Case

Small to medium businesses, especially those needing remote access

Small to large businesses with complex accounting needs

Advantages and Disadvantages of QuickBooks Online (QBO)


  • Accessibility: QuickBooks Online is accessible from any internet-connected device, providing the flexibility to manage finances anytime, anywhere. This is ideal for business owners who have remote teams.

  • Automatic Updates: With QBO, software updates are automatically implemented without requiring user intervention. This QuickBooks Online setup ensures that the software always remains up-to-date with the latest features and security enhancements.

  • Ease of Use: Designed with a user-friendly interface, QBO is particularly accessible for non-accountants, making daily financial management simpler and more intuitive.

  • Scalability: QBO offers various subscription levels, making it easier for businesses to scale up or down based on their needs without significant disruptions or system changes.

  • Integration Capabilities: QBO integrates seamlessly with a multitude of other cloud-based applications, enhancing its functionality and allowing for a more connected experience across business tools.


  • Dependence on Internet: Being cloud-based, QBO requires a stable internet connection for access, which can be a limitation in areas with poor connectivity.

  • Recurring Costs: The subscription-based model can become expensive over time, as ongoing payments are required to use the service.

  • Limited Customization: While user-friendly, QBO offers less customization than Desktop, particularly in terms of complex reporting and specific industry QuickBooks Online features like advanced inventory management.

Advantages and Disadvantages of QuickBooks Desktop (QBD)


  • Feature Rich: QuickBooks Desktop offers comprehensive accounting tools that are robust and extensive, particularly suited for complex accounting tasks. It is powerful for industries with specific needs like manufacturing, construction, and retail.

  • One-time Purchase: QBD can be more cost-effective in the long run, with a one-time purchase option and annual upgrades rather than monthly fees.

  • Data Control: With local storage, users have full control over their data security and backup, reducing reliance on internet services and third-party data management.

  • Performance: QBD is installed on individual machines, which can offer faster processing speeds and more responsiveness, especially with large data files.


  • Limited Access: Since it’s installed on a specific computer, access is restricted to that machine, which can be limiting for users who need mobility.

  • Manual Updates: Updates in QBD require manual installation, which can be time-consuming and may lead to delays in accessing the latest features and security patches.

  • Complexity: The interface and features of QBD can be complex, potentially requiring more training and a steeper learning curve, especially for those without accounting experience.

Practical Tips: Setting Up Your QuickBooks

Setting up your QuickBooks correctly from the start can save you a lot of time. Here are a few practical tips:

  • For QuickBooks Online: Utilize the custom categorization for expenses. This feature allows you to track project costs accurately, an essential aspect of construction accounting.

  • For QuickBooks Desktop: Take advantage of its advanced reporting features. Setting up detailed reports can give you insights into each project's profitability and help you make informed financial decisions.

How to Decide Which QuickBooks Is Right for You

Consider the following questions to guide your decision:

  • Company Size: Are you a small, owner-operated business, or a larger company with multiple employees and projects?

  • Team Collaboration: Do you need your team to access and update your accounting data remotely?

  • Data Security: How important is on-premise data storage for your peace of mind?

  • Budget: Are you looking for a cost-effective solution, or are you willing to invest in a more feature-rich option?

  • Technical Expertise: How comfortable are you and your team with technology?

By answering these questions, you'll gain a clearer picture of your priorities and needs, and be better equipped to choose the ideal QuickBooks for construction solution for your company.

How CCA Can Help Your Business with These Tools

While both QBO and QBD offer powerful tools, managing your construction company's finances still be a complex task. Here's where a bookkeeping service like Construction Cost Accounting comes in.

We understand the intricacies of construction bookkeeping and accounting. We can help you with:

  • Software Selection and Implementation: We can assist you in choosing the ideal QuickBooks solution for your construction company and ensure a smooth implementation process.

  • Data Entry and Management: Our team can handle your day-to-day bookkeeping tasks, freeing up your valuable time to focus on core construction activities.

  • Job Costing and Reporting: We can provide in-depth reports on project costs, helping you identify areas for optimization and improve profitability.

  • Payroll and Tax Management: We can streamline payroll and tax processes, ensuring accuracy and compliance.

By partnering with a construction cost accounting service like Construction Cost Accounting, you gain the QuickBooks Online benefits of expertise, efficiency, and peace of mind.


Choosing the right QuickBooks version for your construction business involves weighing factors like accessibility, functionality, and cost. By understanding each version's strengths and aligning them with your business needs, you can leverage QuickBooks for construction to enhance your financial operations and decision-making.

Construction Cost Accounting - QuickBooks services

1 commentaire

Velan Bookkeeping
Velan Bookkeeping
08 juil.

QuickBooks Bookkeeping Servies: Accessibility: QuickBooks Online offers cloud-based access from any device, while QuickBooks Desktop is installed locally and accessed from a specific computer.

  1. Features: QuickBooks Desktop generally has more robust features for complex accounting needs, while QuickBooks Online is user-friendly with real-time updates and integrations.

  2. Cost: QuickBooks Online operates on a subscription model, while QuickBooks Desktop requires a one-time purchase with optional annual upgrades.

  3. Scalability: QuickBooks Online is ideal for growing businesses needing multiple user access, while QuickBooks Desktop suits those needing advanced inventory management.

Choose QuickBooks Online for flexibility and ease of use, and QuickBooks Desktop for advanced features and local data control.

bottom of page