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QuickBooks Pro and Premier are both powerful accounting software solutions that allow you to purchase a one-time subscription and install it locally on your PC. Comparing these two versions of QuickBooks Desktop, Premier outstrips Pro with more in-depth inventory, sales and reporting functionality.
Additionally, QuickBooks Premier gives you access to industry-specific tools, as well as the option to add up to five users — compared to Pro’s three. If you don't need these advanced features, however, QuickBooks Pro offers similar core capabilities for a lower cost.
QuickBooks Pro vs. Premier comparison
How are QuickBooks Desktop Pro and QuickBooks Premier different?
QuickBooks Premier gives you access to over 150 reports, compared to only 100+ with QuickBooks Pro. Although both solutions include automatic reporting for profit and loss, expenses and balance sheets, Premier offers industry-specific reports, such as
Job costing evaluations.
Profitability by product.
Premier also gives you the ability to generate advanced inventory reports with custom fields to track data by location, department or profit center.
Inventory management and sales orders
QuickBooks Pro and Premier both offer robust inventory tracking — functionality that’s not included with all accounting software systems. With QuickBooks Premier, however, you have access to more in-depth features, including those that are industry-specific (similar to reporting).
QuickBooks Premier gives you the ability to:
Track inventory reorder points by vendor and set optimal levels.
Create sales orders and track items promised to customers.
Change and control price levels based on the customer.
Although not as advanced as the capabilities included with QuickBooks Enterprise, QuickBooks Premier allows manufacturers, wholesalers and other businesses to manage their inventory and sales orders on a more granular level compared to QuickBooks Pro.
Job costing and project profitability
Going hand-in-hand with inventory management and sales orders, QuickBooks Premier includes job costing and project profitability features that exceed what is offered within QuickBooks Pro. Again, many of these capabilities are designed to accommodate the needs of businesses within individual industries.
With QuickBooks Premier, you can:
Track profitability by product or by project and client.
Organize job costs by vendor and identify which vendors need to be paid.
Enter job changes within an estimate and track their impact on the bottom line.
Premier also allows you to bill clients progressively by job phase, as well as create rule-based customer groups — based on fields like customer type, status, location, etc. — to help you manage communications.
QuickBooks Pro does not provide any forecasting features. QuickBooks Premier, on the other hand, gives you the ability to create financial forecasts.
You have the option to create a forecast from scratch or use previous years' information. QuickBooks Premier allows you to customize your forecast by customer job, class and other specifications, as well as track and view its progress in dollars and percentages.
QuickBooks Pro and Premier allow far fewer users than some of their cloud-based competitors. (For example, Xero lets you add an unlimited number of user accounts with all plans.) Premier offers a maximum of five users while Pro only offers three.
With either of these products, you can create a copy of your company file for your accountant, but to add separate users, you must purchase a license for each user.
The price of the software increases with each additional user. QuickBooks Pro costs $399.99 for one user, and increases to $899.99 for three users. In comparison, QuickBooks Premier costs $649.99 for one user and $1,399.99 for three users (maxing out at $2,099.99 for five users).
Alternatives to QuickBooks Pro and Premier
Despite their differences, Pro and Premier both offer robust feature suites that extend beyond simple bookkeeping or accounting needs. In addition, they both offer a compelling one-time subscription price.
Nevertheless, these desktop-based solutions also have their drawbacks.
Compared to cloud-based competitors, QuickBooks Pro and Premier are less mobile, more difficult to share with accountants or other business partners and not as user-friendly — especially for those without prior accounting knowledge.
Here are a few bookkeeping solutions you might consider as alternatives to Pro and Premier:
Pricing: Simple Start plan starts at $25 per month.
Pros: If you want to stick with a solution in the QuickBooks suite of products, QuickBooks Online is often considered the industry standard for small-business accounting software. QuickBooks Online offers four different plans — each of which includes access to QuickBooks mobile apps, customer support and third-party app integrations — among a range of core accounting features.
This software is fairly user-friendly, makes it easy to work with an accountant or bookkeeper and, like Pro and Premier, includes strong reporting and inventory management features.
Cons: QuickBooks Online is most user-friendly if you have some accounting knowledge, so there may be a learning curve associated with the software if you’re unfamiliar with the basics. Additionally, QuickBooks Online is priced on a monthly subscription basis and the cost can be expensive, especially for the higher-tier plans.
For example, if you want access to inventory and project profitability tracking, you’ll need to pay for the Plus or Advanced plans — at $70 or $150 per month, respectively.
Pricing: Early plan starts at $11 per month.
Pros: A close competitor to QuickBooks Online, Xero is another cloud-based alternative that offers robust accounting and bookkeeping features with each of its plans. With Xero, you can choose from three plan options, with lower price points than QuickBooks Online.
All Xero plans include unlimited users, inventory management and bill pay. Xero is easy to use, with an intuitive setup and design, as well as 24/7 online customer support.
Cons: With Xero’s Early plan, you can only send/approve 20 quotes or invoices and enter five bills. Additionally, Xero only includes certain features — time tracking, job costing, expense claims and project profitability tracking — with its top-tier plan, the Established plan ($62 per month).
Moreover, although it may not be difficult to find an accounting or bookkeeping professional who is familiar with Xero, this software is not as commonly used as QuickBooks.
» MORE: QuickBooks Online vs. Xero