Over the years Excel has been the dominant bookkeeping and spreadsheet application in the market with its advanced features and industry-wide acceptability. But, during the long time since Excel’s inception, there have been many attempts to make a better spreadsheet application for various specific tasks.
QuickBooks is one of these alternatives to excel that aims to excel in Excel’s supremacy in the bookkeeping field. If you are starting out a new business and are looking for an accounting solution, you might be looking at Quickbooks as an alternative to Excel.
If you are asking yourself what application you are looking for from QuickBooks and Excel, we will help you answer that question once and for all. This is a complete guide where we will discuss the differences between Excel and QuickBooks. We will also answer which one you should choose for your purpose.
So, why wait? Let’s jump in.
Excel and QuickBooks: An Overview
Before jumping into the differences and similarities between these two applications, let’s look at what these two applications do. With this short overview, we will guide you through the basics of the two applications. We hope that this guide will help you take the decision of choosing one of these.
What Is QuickBooks
Quickbooks is an accounting solution developed by Intuit. Quickbook advertises itself as a simple online accounting solution for small businesses. Quickbooks allows you to track your expenses, see reports and create custom invoices.
QuickBooks organizes your day-to-day expenses in one place and allows you to sync the data with your bank. Quickbooks also has multi-device support as it is an online platform. So you can access QuickBooks from anywhere and from any device. Data from QuickBooks is stored in the cloud instead of any local devices.
QuickBooks is very good at general bookkeeping. That is QuickBooks is a good solution for maintaining a general ledger and tracking your expenses around your business.
You can quickly record assets and liabilities with QuickBooks. QuickBooks also has the ability to record revenues and expenses. This will help you sort out your taxes faster and more effectively.
What is Excel
Excel in plain sight is a traditional spreadsheet application with rows and columns. But those who are familiar with Excel, know that Excel is much more than meets the eye. From its inception, Excel has been continuously improved with different tools and formulas. Excel has been around since 1987 and has since had several updates with the latest iteration being Microsoft 365
Excel has been around for ages and it shows. With each update, Excel has been improved with features and integrations. No other applications in the market can boast such an enormous number of integrations. So you can achieve nearly any task related to data in Excel, including bookkeeping and accounting.
With features and versions like Excel Online, Microsoft 365, and Excel on mobile devices, it has become easier to manage your spreadsheet from anywhere with Excel.
You can also create bars, charts, and graphs to visualize your data in Excel better than many other software solutions out there. And finally, Excel simply is unbeatable when visualizing and analyzing data.
But Excel is at the end of the day a spreadsheet software. If you want, you can manage your accounting with Excel, but it would be a very roundabout way to do so and you would have to be an avid user of Excel to perfect your accounting game.
Excel vs Quickbooks
With many people already accustomed to using Excel, you might be tempted to use Excel for your accounting needs. But before you do that, let’s look at the primary differences between Excel and QuickBooks to help make this decision easier.
Reporting and Invoicing
If the primary purpose for using Excel or QuickBooks is accounting, then QuickBooks has the upper hand. In QuickBooks, there are features to directly convert your daily or monthly sales into reports and quickly make invoices.
On the other hand, Excel also can be used to make reports. But to do that the initial setup would be a complex process with many steps to go with it. But in QuickBooks, it is only a matter of a few clicks.
So, if you want insights into your accounts in the form of reports you will get them from QuickBooks very easily and conveniently.
But if you want better visuals, you can use Excel to visualize your data in bar charts and graphs to track your business progress in a more visually appealing way.
Integration and Add-ons
As we have discussed several times, Excel has been around for ages. So it has integrations with many companies and applications to make your life easier. To this date, Excel has more than 800 integrations.
With the introduction of Microsoft 365, Excel will have more integrations in the upcoming days.
There are integrations and add-ons of different applications and online services from many developers.
But, QuickBooks also has a large integration of applications and services focusing on accounting and bookkeeping for small businesses. QuickBooks has integrations with the likes of Envoice to automate and simplify the process of scanning and inputting data from receipts.
If you are willing to pay the premium for QuickBooks, you can also get access to the hand-picked premium apps for your business in QuickBooks. As QuickBooks boasts, there are integrations with hundreds of applications in QuickBooks that can automate the process of inputting numbers in the QuickBooks App store.
On the other hand for Excel, the list of integrations is free to access if you have a subscription to Microsoft 365 or you have purchased a license. We will discuss the pricing in the next part of this guide.
Pricing is another point of difference between these two services. For Excel, there are options for personal, family, or businesses, whereas QuickBooks is only catered to businesses and has pricing plans for only businesses.
Excel is very flexible in terms of its pricing. There are multiple tiers of pricing for Microsoft 365 along with other applications that come with this application suite. You can choose 365 for personal or family usage and it will set you back around $69.99 to $99.99 a year.
But if you run a business there are also a lot of options for your needs too. Starting from $6.00 a month per user, you can choose any plan up to $22.00 per user a month. Here you can see an overview of the pricing for 365.
But there is also a one-time purchase option for Excel if you are buying a license. Which is only $150. So there are a lot of options for you to choose from.
But on the other hand, QuickBooks has a primarily 30-day free trial. After which QuickBooks will set you back for around $17 dollars. And if you are willing the pay for the Plus version it will cost you around $36 per month.
But there are often discounts for limited times as you can see here which may save up to 70% on each purchase.
So although QuickBooks has some flexibility in its pricing, Excel has more flexibility with a full set of applications. Whereas with QuickBooks you only get one service.
In QuickBooks, you get the option to quickly look at your expenses, and budget and see where your revenues are coming from. These calculations are done very conveniently for you, and you can generate invoices very fast.
But, on the other hand, in Excel, you will have to write formulas and format your data to see summaries at best. You will not be able to get direct reports and invoices from Excel.
Although QuickBooks may give you an automated summary of your expenses and budget, Excel is far superior to QuickBooks for calculations. With Excel, you can do powerful calculations at ease such as pivot tables or statistical analysis of your accounting data. But in Quickbooks, this is absolutely impossible.
So QuickBooks is catered towards convenience while calculating while Excel is more powerful.
QuickBooks and Excel: Our Suggestion
As you saw in our guide, QuickBooks and Excel have their own sets of pros and cons. But what you have to take into account is that both applications are intended for different needs.
Quickbooks is an accounting application, whereas Excel is primarily a spreadsheet. Excel is used to organize data into rows and columns as a traditional Spreadsheet app. Excel is a very powerful app in terms of its data analysis capability and thus is one of the most used applications in the world.
Most people will use Excel because they are already familiar with it and it is convenient for them not to switch to something else. For data analysis and manipulation Excel is the clear winner. But it is not as efficient or convenient as an accounting system.
Don’t get us wrong. Excel CAN be used for basic accounting and for bookkeeping. But for advanced users, QuickBooks is a much better alternative for bookkeeping and accounting.
But really these two applications have different purposes as they have been built with different solutions in mind. Excel is a spreadsheet application and it does that. It lets you format your data into rows and columns and analyze the data according to your needs.
So, what should you do? Which application should you choose?
This question comes down to the understanding of the purposes you will use the software. If you are just starting a business and have only one employee or stakeholder, you may use Excel to gather and analyze your data.
But if you have a small business and have more employees to manage, you should better stick to Quickbooks for your accounting needs.
However, Excel and QuickBooks can be the perfect combo. You can use Quickbooks as your accounting software to accurately track your accounting and bookkeeping. And then use Excel tools like graphs, charts, and pivot tables to summarize all of these and see your account information at a glance.
For example, you can download your POS (Point-of-Sale) data in a CSV format to Excel and then format the data into your preferred method.
You can bring up your unadjusted trial balance in QuickBooks and then analyze the data in Excel. You can match your existing journal entries in Quickbooks to match the closing balance of the Excel worksheet.
So, our suggestion is to use both applications to their full potential by using them in harmony, together.
To Wrap Up
So what is the final answer to the QuickBooks vs Excel argument?
Excel can be used for bookkeeping. But if you want to do that, the initial setup would be a complicated and lengthy process. Also, you would need to be a pro at using Excel.
So, we would recommend that if the primary purpose for you is to bookkeep, then you may choose Quickbooks. As you can easily input your accounting data in QuickBooks you would have to face less hassle to set up and use QuickBooks.
If your primary concerns are bookkeeping and accounting you may want to stick to Quickbooks. And if want to use something other than Quickbooks, then Microsoft Access is a much better accounting solution.
There are also other alternatives if you are solely looking for accounting. Such as Xero or FreshBooks. But these are not comparable to Excel in terms of Excel’s analysis and data manipulation capabilities. But you can get the most out of these applications by using them together.