Smart Business Magazine
March 1, 2002
From the article:
By Narasu Rebbapragada

Not every company is so quick to embrace Web-based accounting. Chick, Inc., a small Los Angeles-based advertising and Web-hosting company with high-profile entertainment clients, managed its finances with Intuit's QuickBooks desktop app when it opened in October 2000. But as the business grew and billing became more complicated, company president Chick Ciccarelli reluctantly turned to the Web. His chief goal? Streamline.

"I wanted to keep the overhead low, and I didn't want to hire a bunch of people to handle the accounting," Ciccarelli says. "But I could also see that having the bookkeeper come in all the time was taking time out of my day."

At first Ciccarelli was skeptical of online accounting services, assuming existing providers couldn't accommodate his company's complex recurring billing. An experienced programmer, Ciccarelli was resigned to building his own system. The enormous time and costs involved were readily apparent. He backtracked, opting for the Web version of Intuit QuickBooks, which he chose for his familiarity with the stand-alone version. "It was the only one I felt safe with," he says. "I was blown away by its programming. It was extremely well put together, easy to use, and easy to understand."

Ciccarelli began using QuickBooks for the Web in June, springing it on his clients with no notice yet receiving few complaints. Only one of his 27 accounts initially resisted online billing but has since switched. "I'm very satisfied," says Ciccarelli. "Intuit stocked it with features that we probably wouldn't have thought to use if we had built it ourselves."

Invoicing is now practically painless, as the system automatically sends invoices via e-mail at the end of the month. "There are no envelopes, no postage," Ciccarelli says. A monthly invoicing process that used to take six hours now takes about 45 minutes. Ciccarelli also saves money by not hiring an accountant and reducing his bookkeeper's hours from once a week once a month. Total savings from using Web-based accounting? About $2,000 per month.

Converting to the Web wasn't without problems, however. Half of Ciccarelli's accounting data was trapped in the desktop application because the first version of QuickBooks for the Web didn't let him import the accounts payable and accounts receivable data from the software. "If you signed up for a new online account [never having used QuickBooks], this wasn't a problem," Ciccarelli says.

With the first half of the year's accounting on his desktop computer and the second half online, Ciccarelli didn't use QuickBooks for the Web to make online payments. "We didn't want to mess up our payables," Ciccarelli says. "If we were paying our rent, utilities, and printing costs online, we'd have to split the information about our payables into two different programs." He hired an accountant to manually transfer data from the desktop to the online account-a fix that future users won't have to worry about. An updated release of QuickBooks for the Web lets you import data from the application's desktop version. Ciccarelli loves the new version. "Now we use it to do everything," he says.