Technology & Innovation

Using QuickBooks? Considering NetSuite? Don’t buy into the hype

As their companies grow, QuickBooks users quickly realize they need more than what simple bookkeeping software can deliver and they begin a journey to find a real accounting platform.

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As their companies grow, QuickBooks users quickly realize they need more than what simple bookkeeping software can deliver and they begin a journey to find a real accounting platform. They look at alternatives that often include Microsoft Dynamics GP, Oracle NetSuite and Sage Intacct, all of which outperform QuickBooks. Usually, Microsoft Dynamics GP doesn’t make the cut as it’s on-premises software and most companies prefer the many advantages of a cloud solution. This narrows it down to NetSuite and Sage Intacct.

The two might seem similar, but there are major differences. For example, Intacct has a direct integration with Salesforce while NetSuite does not. The planning reporting in Sage Intacct is native while NetSuite requires users to learn and use another tool and its rigid prebuilt workflows are difficult to customize. Sage Intacct is endorsed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, while NetSuite, Microsoft Dynamics GP, QuickBooks, indeed no others, are.

High-pressure NetSuite sales reps will tell prospects that they can’t go through an initial public offering using Sage Intacct, which is untrue. They’ll also deeply discount usage in the first year, and I’ve heard many NetSuite users complain about huge jumps in fees, significantly increasing the total cost of ownership. But don’t take my word for it. If you’re using QuickBooks today and you’re looking at alternatives, the stories of these six former QuickBooks users, all of which considered using NetSuite, may be instructive.

Channel Zero

Channel Zero is a Canadian independent media company that started in 2000 with specialty movie channels. After acquiring over-the-air channel CHCH-TV in 2010, the business doubled in size, and today generates income from premium cable subscriptions, film distribution, advertising and other revenue streams. As it grew to over 150 employees across more than 13 distinct entities, so too did its need for a more robust and efficient way to manage the increasing financial complexity

Channel Zero relied on QuickBooks for some entities and Adagio for others, which meant they couldn’t easily consolidate results and had to do time-consuming manual data entry. Channel Zero’s finance team sought out a cloud-based solution that could empower the business to make more data-driven decisions.

After considering NetSuite, they found the best fit in Sage Intacct due to its effortless multiple-entity capabilities and seamless native integration with Salesforce. Following implementation, the team improved efficiency 25%, gained transparency into cash flow and cut their audit cycle by a week, freeing them up to focus more time on forward-looking financial analysis in support of the business.

Channel Zero especially benefits from the increased transparency Sage Intacct provides into the financial health of each of its entities and more. The system’s flexible reporting dimensions allow the team to uncover valuable insights, such as sales by filmmaker and by project, as well as to track advertising sales by agencies and their individual clients. For the first time, Channel Zero can easily produce consolidated balance sheets, not just profit and loss statements. This improved the business’ cash flow forecasting and allowed for more regular communication with shareholders.

Founded in 2011, Rochester, NY-based CloudCheckr supplies a comprehensive platform that helps organizations manage security, utilization and cost across public clouds such as Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. CloudCheckr technology delivers visibility and governance for more than 500 customers, from small startups to Fortune 500 enterprises, managed service providers and government agencies. Their customers include NASA, Harvard University, Salesforce, Intel and Lockheed Martin.

Once they decided to move off QuickBooks, CloudCheckr evaluated NetSuite before selecting Sage Intacct, based in part on capabilities in its contracts module to manage and automate billing, revenue recognition, forecasting and metrics across diverse SaaS pricing models. They found that Sage Intacct’s subscription-centric solution was better geared for a SaaS company than NetSuite. The contract is their focal point for revenue, so the ability in Sage Intacct Contracts to be specific on subscription and services pricing based on a contract is critical.

The move to Sage Intacct prompted greater collaboration between finance and business units. Features like chat boxes built into Sage Intacct are helping streamline communications as compared to email exchange; for example, CloudCheckr can readily identify customers at minimal usage thresholds for its services and from that data has implemented steps to improve annual recurring revenue and retention.

i3 Verticals

i3 Verticals is a technology and integrated payments provider for a range of industry verticals throughout the United States.

After primarily outsourcing its back-office in the early years, i3 Verticals hired new finance leaders, who built out a corporate team and established critical processes to support the business’ highly acquisitive model. As they prepared for massive scale, they needed a SaaS-based, multiple-entity general ledger system to support their growth initiatives, which QuickBooks could not do. Their requirements were to get everything onto a unified chart of accounts, gain the ability to easily add entities as they completed acquisitions and ensure they’d be ready for SEC-compliant reporting when the time came to go public. The team looked at NetSuite but felt Sage Intacct’s flexibility and intuitive interface made it the ideal financial system of record.

i3 Verticals can now integrate new acquisitions into its core financial operations without delay. Acquisitions are a big part of their growth strategy, and they move very quickly as an organization. With Sage Intacct, they can take over a company’s finance function on Day One of an acquisition closing and have the financials consolidated into their next month’s close. This is something that’s not possible using NetSuite.

Sage Intacct also helped streamline i3 Verticals’ revenue recognition, which proved crucial as sales grew. Now, the finance team has confidence in their process, and enjoys being able to easily invoice and recognize various types of revenue across payments, software subscriptions, hardware and professional services income. They’ve painlessly scaled their revenue schedules in Sage Intacct, and the application automatically posts revenue to the ledger at the right times.

In the years since deploying Sage Intacct, i3 Verticals has acquired over 20 companies, grown at a compound annual growth rate of over 50% and completed a successful initial public offering, all with only eight accountants. With Sage Intacct’s powerful automation and improved data accuracy, the finance team cut their typical monthly close cycle by 45% and met their first 10-Q SEC filing deadline with five days to spare.

NetSuite sales reps will tell you that you can’t go public using Sage Intacct as your financial management platform. Don’t believe them.

AutoClaims Direct

AutoClaims Direct, Inc. is an entrepreneurial company working to change the traditional approach to automobile-claims processing by combining user-friendly management technology with quality network vendor service solutions. The company decided to replace QuickBooks and bring its outsourced basic accounting function in-house in preparation for continued growth. ACD’s finance team went looking for a scalable solution that could automate several manual processes and integrate with its internally developed claims management front end system. After evaluating NetSuite, they preferred the straightforwardness and sophistication of the Sage Intacct solution, and it’s now helped them understand the relationships between business activities so they can be more strategic. In addition, Sage Intacct’s robust APIs allows ACD to speed processes and ensure data accuracy by linking directly to its other business systems, including proprietary ones.

ACD got up and running on Sage Intacct quickly, seamlessly integrating the new system with other business applications to eliminate unnecessary data entry from its accounts receivable, accounts payable and reporting processes. Some of the finance team’s biggest efficiency gains came from automating accounts-receivable management. Claims data from ACD’s front-end system is now updated in Sage Intacct’s accounts receivable module in near real-time, and up-to-date payment history information is sent back to the customer portal.

By leveraging Sage Intacct to deliver more accurate, timely information, ACD enhanced overall customer experience, which drove a competitive advantage for the business. In addition, Sage Intacct streamlined ACD’s accounts payable process, saving at least four days each month that the team previously spent processing checks. Now, the whole process is integrated with ACH processing and takes less than an hour, resulting in a vendor network that’s more loyal because it can count on getting paid on time.


Nasuni is a leading provider of subscription-based cloud file services that simplify IT operations and reduce costs. To build on the company’s first decade of growth, its executives decided to increase their focus on engineering, sales and marketing, as well as expansion into Europe. Knowing they needed more venture capital, they wanted to replace QuickBooks with a modern financial system that could support ASC 606-compliant revenue recognition, global consolidations and timely month-end reporting.

After looking at NetSuite and a few others, the team chose Sage Intacct due to its superior native integration with Salesforce and its ability to effectively manage subscription contracts as the business scaled. With the new system in place, Nasuni’s finance team eliminated extremely high-touch workflows, reducing time to invoice customers by 99%, cutting the monthly close by 40%, and increasing efficiency 25%.

By integrating Sage Intacct with Salesforce CPQ, the company revamped its revenue operations with automated billing and revenue recognition upon order entry. Now, new orders come in from resellers via an email queue, which instantly adds them to the appropriate Salesforce opportunities. Each opportunity is quickly reviewed and approved by the revenue operations team, before being converted into a Salesforce contract object. Next, Salesforce pushes all relevant data to Sage Intacct, where the accounting team does a final review of the order, and the system then calculates amortization over the contract term and sends out an invoice to the reseller. This systemized process slashed Nasuni’s typical order entry cycle from two days down to 15 minutes. The accounting team especially appreciates how easy it is to meet revenue reporting requirements now that they no longer manage orders separately. You can’t do this using NetSuite (and certainly not using QuickBooks).

This financial and operational visibility through Sage Intacct helped the business drive three major accomplishments—it raised $25 million, boosted annual contract values, and improved gross margins 10%. Sage Intacct’s trend reporting and analysis give Nasuni’s leaders more reliable information with which to predict growth and empowers them to make timely, data-based decisions. For instance, line-of-business insights allow the FP&A team to easily uncover potential cost savings and optimize budget management.

Legal Monkeys

Legal Monkeys is a technology services firm composed of several entities that together have been growing at an annual rate of over 15% per year. With a lean finance team, accounting functionality limitations associated with QuickBooks, and several inefficient workarounds, the company’s back office had struggled to keep pace with its growth. QuickBooks’ lack of integration with other systems required significant amounts of duplicate data entry to keep up with hundreds of orders flowing in every day. The team also wasted days every month doing tedious data manipulations in Excel in to calculate budget-to-actuals comparisons. And finally, QuickBooks was unable to maintain annual supplier payment totals, or to separate out reimbursable charges from service fees, which hindered annual 1099 form compliance.

After looking at NetSuite and Sage Intacct, the choice to go with Sage Intacct was clear – as a best-in-class, cloud-based system that integrates with any application they required. They were especially appreciative that the Intacct team, made up of CPAs who understood their end-to-end accounting processes and were always responsive to their questions.

Sage Intacct’s unique dimension capability, which lets users tag individual transactions with key operational details, makes it easy for Legal Monkeys to filter, group, and organize its financial data for deeper analysis. This is something that NetSuite lacks. As the company accumulates more historical information in Sage Intacct, the team will be able to access more granular reporting for better insight into individual entities, service lines, and projects, such as comparing growth rates across the company’s different billing models. In addition, Sage Intacct’s integration with Workforce Go! will allow Legal Monkeys to slice and dice its payroll data according to how many hours are spent working on each customer, so that the team can monitor labor efficiency ratios and better understand profitability by client.

These six companies all have some things in common, besides outgrowing QuickBooks and evaluating NetSuite. Their need to change was propelled by growth, and they wanted much better access to financial data to make strategic decisions. Revenue recognition was hugely important. They all wanted more flexibility. In some cases, they needed easy integration with Salesforce and other platforms. And they all chose Sage Intacct, despite what they might have heard from the NetSuite sales team. Oh, and none of them regret their decisions.

To watch Sage Intacct in action and see how it might help your company, sign up for one of our Coffee Break Demos.

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