A comprehensive comparison of PlotPath vs QuickBooks Live accounting services for business owners.
Whether your revenue is $1 million per year or $1 billion, bookkeeping is crucial to maintaining a healthy business. But you may not have the time, skills, or willingness to handle bookkeeping yourself. Fortunately, when it comes to business bookkeeping services you have options – lots of options.
Intuit’s QuickBooks is basically the big dog in the business accounting software industry, with millions of customers globally. Does that mean it’s the best, or even a great option for your business? Maybe, but maybe not. Let’s see how QuickBooks Live compares with PlotPath’s own bookkeeping, financial reporting, and CFO services.
QuickBooks Live Overview
Essentially an extension of QuickBooks Online Plus, QuickBooks Live gives you access to certified bookkeepers via one-way video chat (they can’t see you but you can share your screen). All of their Live bookkeepers are QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisors—and some are CPAs—with experience working with small businesses.
This add-on feature can be a good option for small to mid-sized businesses that don’t have in-house bookkeeping staff. However, choosing the right bookkeeping service depends on a few things:
- Which bookkeeping method you use
- Preferred accounting software
- The specifics of your financial situation (i.e. Do you have multiple lines of business, need CFO services or accounts payable support?)
In this comparison, we’ll cover all of these things and more so you can make the best decision for your business.
QuickBooks Live vs PlotPath – Which is Best for My Business?
With such a major presence, you’d think QuickBooks Live would be great for almost any business. But that’s not actually the case.
First off, you have to be a current QuickBooks Online Plus customer in order to subscribe to Live bookkeeping. You must have filed taxes in the last year. And they don’t work back more than five years. Their own FAQ page also says you may not be a good fit if:
- Your business is extremely complex
- You deal in crypto or foreign currency
- Your business and personal expenses are heavily intertwined
Possibly the biggest limitation is that they only work with companies who use the cash accounting method. If you use accrual-based accounting, you’re out of luck. This is a huge drawback for businesses since the accrual method is so critical to accurate revenue recognition as you grow. PlotPath works with you no matter which method you use. And we’ll help you make the switch to accrual accounting when it’s time.
PlotPath is also flexible and uses a variety of industry-standard software including QuickBooks Online, Xero, Intacct, NetSuite, or whatever your business currently uses. All of our bookkeepers and controllers are QuickBooks Online Certified ProAdvisors. We can serve businesses of all different sizes, industries, levels of complexity, and stages of growth.
QB Live vs PlotPath – What (and Who!) You Get
Once you sign up for the QuickBooks Live service, you’ll be assigned a bookkeeper. In the first month, they’ll help you set up or clean up your chart of accounts and review your past transactions and reports.
After that, they’ll handle your ongoing bookkeeping. This includes categorizing transactions, reconciling accounts, and closing your books at the end of each month. You can also meet with your bookkeeper to go over any reports, but you can only have one appointment scheduled at a time.
There is, however, a laundry list of things QuickBooks Live bookkeepers won’t do. The service doesn’t include:
- Sending invoices or paying bills
- Managing inventory, accounts receivable, or accounts payable (all of which are critical to maintaining a healthy cash flow)
- Financial advisory services or tax advice
- Filing income or sales tax returns, or creating and sending 1099s
- Managing payroll (full-service payroll costs extra)
With so many key financial services missing, this hardly lives up to the “full-service bookkeeping” they advertise on the site. Basically, you can count on having basic cash-basis bookkeeping done, and that’s about it.
PlotPath provides all of these services, plus a lot more. Based on your specific needs, we’ll assign you a dedicated team of 1 to 3 PlotPath experts – Bookkeeper, Controller (CPA), and/or CFO – to provide ongoing financial insight & support for your business.
We give you in-depth, easy-to-read reports, plus the strategic CFO guidance to help you budget and plan for growth. We use ongoing performance data about your business to improve your processes, systems, and reporting. Not only will you get the financial insights you need to make better decisions, faster, but you can focus on running your business and rest-assured that all your financial bases are covered.
The first month of QuickBooks Live’s Full Service Bookkeeping service is $500. After that, your monthly investment is based on your average monthly business expenses. There are three pricing tiers and the first one starts at $200. You also have to have a subscription to QuickBooks Online Plus, billed separately ($70 per month). During the month-one cleanup, your bookkeeper goes through your books line-by-line – but only from the date of your last business tax return.
This “we grow with you” messaging may seem nice, but in reality, it just means your accounting cost goes up as your expenses go up, without the extra strategy advice that you’ll need as you scale.
PlotPath’s pricing is a bit more nuanced. Your monthly investment is based on the complexity of your accounting needs – not just how much you spend. Key pricing factors include:
- Cost for the clean-up of your existing books based on your specific situation (going as far back as necessary to get things right).
- Complexity of the month-end close process, which includes accrual basis revenue, COGS, and expense recognition
- Your specific needs for both strategic planning/CFO services, and operational support such as A/R, A/P, and Payroll (which QuickBooks Live doesn’t offer)
In other words, we’re not a cookie-cutter solution. We custom-design a unique process for every client because we want you to get exactly the information you need to make better decisions. Our services can cost as little as $300 per month and as much as $1,000 (or more) per month.
What’s the Customer Experience Really Like?
Probably the biggest disadvantage to using a service from such a massive company is the lack of personalization. Here are some of the biggest gripes we see from QuickBooks Live users:
Lack of access to efficient, human support – If you ever have an issue with your bookkeeper or your service, it can be nearly impossible to get the customer service you need. QuickBooks is notorious for putting people through an endless loop of support emails and chats, but never providing access to a live person on the phone when you need help. According to user reviews, there is NO support line or way to contact a human, other than booking an appointment with your bookkeeper.
Limited bookkeeper availability – Speaking of booking an appointment, availability has been an issue for a lot of QuickBooks customers. Sometimes it took days to get an appointment with a live bookkeeper or there was no matching availability (unless you want an appointment at 3 am).
May not always work with the same bookkeeper – QuickBooks says you’ll “get matched with an online bookkeeper who understands your business”. While we assume their goal is to keep you with the same person every time, according to real users it seems they pass you around like a hot potato.
The PlotPath experience is much more personalized. As we mentioned, you’ll have a dedicated team with a minimum of two financial experts to work on your account—a bookkeeper and a controller (who is a CPA), and a CFO if you need one. The benefits of that are two-fold:
- Consistency – You work with the same team month after month, so there’s no time lost bringing new folks up to speed.
- Accuracy – Two sets of eyes on every reconciliation results in fewer errors
But wait, there’s more.
- You’ll have direct access to your bookkeeper and controller via phone, and a number where you can always reach our oversight team
- You can reach your PlotPath team directly via their email address (none of that support@ nonsense). You’ll also have a shared email address (e.g. finance_YOURCOMPANY@plotpath.com) where you can contact your entire team
- If you’re already on Slack, we can add you to a private channel where we address issues even faster than over email
QuickBooks Live vs PlotPath: Final Thoughts
All in all, QuickBooks Live seems like more of a support feature than a comprehensive bookkeeping service. You can get on-demand assistance, ask questions, and have confidence that your cash-basis bookkeeping is getting done by someone other than you. But you’re missing out on operational accounting (A/R, A/P, Payroll), strategic planning, budgeting, and helping you scale.
If you’re looking for a personalized service that goes beyond bookkeeping and takes into account business growth and forward-looking decision making—you might be better off going somewhere else. That’s what we’re here for.
PlotPath takes your business to a new level of financial and operational excellence. We combine experienced staff (CFOs, controllers, and bookkeepers), best-practice processes, and data-driven systems to develop a forward-looking approach that improves cash flow, profitability, and growth.