“Should I switch from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online for my restaurant accounting?”

The rapid growth of QuickBooks Online in recent years (25% subscriber growth in the U.S. in 2019 alone) has many QuickBooks Desktop users asking the same question.

Maybe you haven’t already switched because you feel your existing QuickBooks Desktop accounting software works just fine, so why fix what ain’t broke, right? Perhaps the idea of switching is too daunting: the learning curve, training employees, integrating systems, and all of the other work involved.

But today, we’re here to help you get off that fence.

Here are seven compelling reasons to switch from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online and how to do it once you’ve decided to take the leap.

7 Reasons Why QuickBooks Online is the Better Choice

More Restaurant-Specific Integrations

QuickBooks Online is a great tool for basic accounting functions, but integrations are essential for operators to have restaurant-specific functionality. The ability to add integrations improves workflow, eliminates flipping between platforms, saves you time, and provides you restaurant-specific data and insights.

QuickBooks Online Integrates with more than 650 third-party applications across categories like invoicing, inventory, payroll, project management, and payments instead of 200 that the desktop version offers. Many of these applications are restaurant-specific and include:

  • Employee scheduling software like 7shifts to pull labor data like overtime hours into QuickBooks to improve payroll
  • POS systems (e.g., Toast) to export daily sales data (disclaimer: this integration is not automatic and requires another piece of the puzzle: xtraCHEF Sync)
  • Invoice management software, like xtraCHEF, delivers accurate invoice detail by GL, including a PDF of the original invoice for immediate visibility into your payables.

A Faster Move to a Paperless Office

The sheer number of applications QuickBooks Online integrates with means that QuickBooks Online accelerates your move to becoming a truly digital restaurant. Going paperless is not only a time saver, but frees you of the associated handling, printing, and distribution costs.

For example, xtraCHEF’s integration with QuickBooks Online allows you to digitize your vendor invoices, bills, and receipts – no manual data entry required – and deliver the data seamlessly into QuickBooks.

Easy Access From Any Device

QuickBooks Desktop runs on your local computer, whereas QuickBooks Online operates in the cloud. This means you can access QuickBooks Online from any device (mobile, laptop, and desktop) and anywhere (work, home, and on the move) as long as you have the internet. QuickBooks Online also makes this process easier with their mobile app.

QuickBooks Desktop, however, confines you to the device you installed the software on. You can technically access QuickBooks Desktop remotely with remote desktop options, but this isn’t an ideal solution and requires that you fork out more cash.

Seamless Collaboration

Cloud-based systems are inherently more mobile and flexible than their desktop counterparts. QuickBooks Online is no different.

You can invite your accountant to collaborate on a document simultaneously while both being in different locations, no “remoting in” required.

Easy to Use

There is less of a learning curve in using QuickBooks Online than QuickBooks Desktop because the platform is more straightforward. QuickBooks Online focuses on the core features most small businesses need and provides an intuitive platform.

Better Built-In Security

Cloud-based systems like QuickBooks Online have better built-in security than desktop solutions. You don’t have to rely on your physical computer for storing data which could crash. Your information is also not vulnerable to spyware.

QuickBooks Online secures your data with the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol. SSL encrypts your data and protects it from interception when it’s sent between two systems. You can, in theory, get more robust security for QuickBooks Desktop by investing in security and anti-spyware systems, but this is entirely your responsibility and an extra cost.

Cost Savings Upfront

Pricing for QuickBooks Online varies depending on your chosen plan. Pricing for QuickBooks Desktop is based on an annual licensing and yearly subscription model. Neither option is necessarily outright more cost-effective than the other.

The desktop version works well if you don’t plan to upgrade for a few years or add extra users. The online version is ideal if you have several employees using the software.

But where QuickBooks Online really wins is the reduced upfront cost. The monthly pricing works better if cash flow is tight because you don’t have to pay hefty upfront license fees. And so, QuickBooks Online is the clear winner for many small businesses.

How to Switch from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online

Once you’ve decided to take the leap, follow these steps for a smooth migration:

  • Ensure you know what data in your QuickBooks Desktop company profile will convert before transferring. While most data will convert, some won’t. Data that doesn’t will need to be inputted manually.
  • Before converting, prepare for migration by backing up your company profile, updating to the latest version, saving sales tax liability reports, exporting reports and lists, and creating a QuickBooks Online account.
  • Migrate your data. The steps differ depending on whether you’re a Pro, Premier, or Enterprise user.
  • Complete various tasks after migration to ensure transfer was successful, including:
    • Checking company reports
    • Confirming your company settings
    • Setting up sales tax settings
    • Connecting your bank and card details
    • Reconciling all transactions
    • Linking payments and credits
    • Setting up payroll
  • Troubleshoot. Migration is usually a seamless process but sometimes you’ll experience issues that require fixing.

For more details on how to successfully migrate, read the QuickBooks migration guide.

Switch from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online Today

If you’re still on the fence about switching, don’t be. Yes, changing systems can feel daunting. And, yes, there will be some work involved. But in the long run, switching will only benefit you.

You’ll have a system that better integrates with your restaurant-specific applications, helps you become paperless faster, is easier to use, is accessible from anywhere and any device, provides easy collaboration, saves you upfront costs, and offers better out-of-the-box security.

Perhaps, most importantly, you’ll have a system that saves you time and money and gives you peace of mind that your data is secure.

Ready to learn more about xtraCHEF’s integration with QuickBooks Online? Join our upcoming webinar.

Register Now!

xtraCHEF & QuickBooks: A Powerful Restaurant Accounting Combo on

March 24 at 1:00pm ET