QuickBooks Online for Contractors: Is it the Best Choice for Your Business?

In this article, we’ll examine the benefits of QuickBooks Online for contractors, with tips and tricks to get the most out of the app.

Efficient financial management is the cornerstone of success for most businesses, and construction contractors are no different. They wear multiple hats, juggling project management, client relationships, and financial responsibilities. QuickBooks Online is one of the most popular management tools for contractors, as it allows them to streamline financial operations and take control of their business finances.

QuickBooks Online is a versatile cloud-based platform tailored to the unique needs of contractors. With accessibility from anywhere with an internet connection, real-time updates, and collaboration features, it’s designed to make financial management more efficient and accessible than ever before. 

In this article, we’ll explore the features that make QuickBooks Online invaluable for contractors, share insights on streamlining financial processes, and provide tips for maximizing its potential in project management and budgeting.

Understanding QuickBooks Online: An Overview

Before we dive deeper into the QuickBooks Online experience for contractors, let’s explain what QuickBooks Online is and why it’s so essential for your construction business.

QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based accounting software developed by Intuit, a company known for its commitment to simplifying financial management for businesses of all sizes.

Why QuickBooks Online Matters to Contractors

QuickBooks Online is designed to make financial management easier, more efficient, and less time-consuming for contractors. It brings all your financial data into one user-friendly platform, accessible from anywhere with an internet connection.

QuickBooks Online has features specifically designed to meet the unique needs of contractors, including project tracking, invoicing, and expense management.

Key Features of Quickbooks Online

Project Tracking

QuickBooks Online allows you to assign income and expenses to specific construction projects or jobs. This means you can track the financial health of each project individually.


Create customized invoices with ease, including progress billing for construction projects that span over time. 

Expense Management

Track your expenses (materials, equipment, labor costs, or anything else) all in one place for efficient and accurate job costing in QuickBooks.


QuickBooks Online automates many routine tasks, such as data entry, bank reconciliation, and payroll.

Real-time Access

Access your financial data from anywhere, anytime, as long as you have an internet connection.


QuickBooks Online provides robust reporting tools, including profit and loss statements, balance sheets, and custom reports.

Automation enhances people’s lives in the workplace,according to 90% of workers.

Why Contractors Should Choose QuickBooks Online

Now that you have a solid understanding of what QuickBooks Online is, let’s see why this software is the best choice for contractors. We’ll explore how each one of the features above benefits contractors.

Project Tracking


Expense Tracking


Real-time Access

More than five days per month are taken up by invoice processing, according to 66% of businesses. You can cut that time down by automating your invoicing process.

QuickBooks Online vs. QuickBooks Contractor Edition

Regarding financial management, you might be wondering which QuickBooks product is the best fit for your contracting business. 

In this section, we’ll lay out a head-to-head comparison of QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Contractor Edition (or QuickBooks Desktop Premier) to help you make an informed decision.



Access your financial data from anywhere with an internet connection. No need to be tied to a specific computer or location.

Automatic Updates

QuickBooks Online is always up-to-date, so you use the latest features and security enhancements without manual updates.


Multiple users can access and update data simultaneously, fostering collaboration within your team.

Third-Party Integrations

QuickBooks Online offers many integrations with other software and apps, expanding its functionality.


Internet Dependency

You need a stable internet connection to use QuickBooks Online effectively.

Learning Curve

It may take some time to get used to the cloud-based interface if you’re transitioning from a desktop version.

QuickBooks Contractor Edition (QuickBooks Desktop Premier)


No Internet Dependency

You can use QuickBooks Contractor Edition without an internet connection, which can be beneficial at remote job sites.

Advanced Reporting

Desktop versions often offer more advanced reporting options compared to their online counterparts.

One-time Purchase

You buy it once, and it’s yours. No monthly subscription fees.


Lack of Real-time Access

You need to be on the computer where the software is installed to access your financial data.

Manual Updates

Updates and patches need to be installed manually.

Limited Collaboration

Collaboration is more challenging compared to QuickBooks Online, as data can’t be accessed simultaneously by multiple users.

QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Contractor Edition each have certain strengths, and the best choice ultimately depends on your unique needs and circumstances. The key is to align the software with your business goals and workflow.

Remember, QuickBooks Online is ideal for contractors who prioritize accessibility, collaboration, and real-time updates. On the other hand, QuickBooks Contractor Edition (QuickBooks Desktop Premier) suits those who require advanced reporting, work in remote areas, and prefer a one-time purchase model.

Streamlining Financial Processes with QuickBooks Online

There are many ways you can utilize QuickBooks Online to maximize its value. Here are a few helpful tips for using the software:

Customize Your Chart of Accounts

Tailor your chart of accounts to match your contracting business’s needs. This helps you categorize income and expenses accurately. 

You’ll have a clear overview of your financial transactions, making it easier to track costs, profits, and tax-related items.

Set Up Projects and Classes

Use the project tracking and class features in QuickBooks Online to categorize income and expenses by specific jobs or projects. 

This level of granularity allows you to see the financial performance of each project, helping you identify which ones are most profitable.

Automate Recurring Transactions

Automate recurring transactions like rent, utilities, and loan payments to reduce manual data entry.

Saves you time and ensures you never miss a payment, avoiding late fees or penalties.

Take Advantage of Bank Feeds

Connect your bank accounts and credit cards to QuickBooks Online to automatically import transactions.

You’ll have real-time access to your financial data and reduce the risk of data entry errors.

Utilize Mobile Apps

Download the QuickBooks Online mobile app to access your financial data on the go.

Regularly Reconcile Your Accounts

Reconcile your bank and credit card accounts regularly to ensure your records match your financial institution’s records.

This practice helps identify discrepancies and ensures the accuracy of your financial data.

Stay Current with Updates

Keep your QuickBooks Online software updated to access the latest features and security enhancements.

You’ll always have access to the most advanced tools and stay protected from potential security threats.

Choose the Right Integrations

QuickBooks is one of the most popular business apps in the world, and it integrates with hundreds (if not thousands) of other business applications. Many of these integrations offer functionality, precision, or industry specificity not typically available in QuickBooks Online.

One popular choice for integration with QuickBooks Online is Workyard. Its precise GPS-enabled time-tracking functionality eliminates time theft and inconsistent employee reporting by recording the minute each worker arrives at a job and the minute they leave.

Construction companies have reported saving up to $2,000 in payroll waste per employee per year with Workyard – and its seamless integration with QuickBooks makes it a snap to pay your team once you’ve approved their reported hours through Workyard.

See why Workyard is the best time-tracking app for construction and field workforces using QuickBooks:

A Story of Success with QuickBooks Online

The Challenge

When Dr. John Henner, a retired physician, and his business partner, Dan Mason, embarked on their journey to establish Cabo Yacht Charters in 2021, they faced a significant challenge. 

As co-owners of a rapidly growing yacht charter business in Cabo San Lucas, they needed a robust financial management solution to accommodate their expanding operations. 

Moreover, Henner and Mason frequently found themselves in different locations, making it imperative to have an accounting system allowing seamless communication and real-time access to financial data.

The Solution

Driven by a desire for an efficient and flexible financial tool, Henner turned to QuickBooks Online. QuickBooks Online offered the scalability and cloud-based capabilities necessary for their evolving business needs. 

The decision to transition to QuickBooks Online was informed by its ability to support multiple users and provide anywhere access, allowing Henner and his wife, who also managed the company’s bookings, to work on their finances from any location with internet access. 

Additionally, integrating QuickBooks Online with third-party marketing software streamlined customer order management and scheduling, enhancing their overall operational efficiency.

The Result

Integrating QuickBooks Online into Cabo Yacht Charters’ workflow had a transformative impact. The software not only facilitated remote access for Henner and his wife but also enabled multiple team members to collaborate simultaneously without data conflicts. 

Furthermore, the company benefited from QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping support, which provided valuable guidance and assistance in setting up their financial processes. 

Henner found QuickBooks Online to be a user-friendly tool, despite not considering himself “tech-savvy,” and he recommended it to others for its accessibility and convenience. 

As a result of this successful integration, Cabo Yacht Charters not only optimized its financial management but also continued to contribute to its local community through charitable initiatives, further solidifying its commitment to growth and success in the yacht charter industry.

Cash flow issues were identified as a factor in the closure of 82% of failed businesses.

Maximizing QuickBooks for Project Management and Budgeting

QuickBooks Online offers powerful tools to help you master project management and budgeting.

QuickBooks Online for Project Management

Setting Up Projects

Invoicing by Project

Expense Tracking

Time Tracking

Custom Reporting

Best Practices for Budgeting and Financial Forecasting

Start with a Comprehensive Budget

Regularly Review and Adjust Budgets

Track Variance from Budget

Cash Flow Forecasting

Regularly Update Financial Projections

Consistent project management practices leads to a 92% success rate in achieving project objectives.

Common Challenges and Solutions with QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online is a powerful tool for contractors, but it’s not without its challenges. In this section, we’ll explore some common issues contractors may encounter while using QuickBooks Online and provide solutions to overcome them.

The Challenge: Learning Curve

Contractors new to QuickBooks Online may find it overwhelming, as it has a learning curve.

The Solution

Utilize the wealth of online resources, including tutorials, webinars, and user guides, to get up to speed with QuickBooks Online.

Consider consulting with a QuickBooks ProAdvisor or an accountant specializing in QuickBooks to provide guidance tailored to your business needs.

The Challenge: Data Entry Errors

Accurate data entry is crucial, but manual entry can lead to errors.

The Solution

Use bank feeds in QuickBooks Online to automatically import and categorize transactions, reducing the risk of manual errors.

Regularly reconcile your accounts to ensure your records match your bank statements, catching discrepancies early.

The Challenge: Data Security

Contractors often deal with sensitive financial data, making data security a top concern.

The Solution

Enable 2FA for added security, requiring an additional verification step for anyone accessing your QuickBooks Online account.

Perform regular backups of your QuickBooks Online data to protect against data loss.

The Challenge: Internet Dependency

QuickBooks Online requires an internet connection, which can be challenging in remote job sites.

The Solution

While QuickBooks Online primarily operates online, you can use the mobile app to access some features in offline mode.

Consider using mobile hotspots or portable routers to ensure a stable internet connection on the go.

The Challenge: Migrating from QuickBooks Desktop

Transitioning from QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online can be complex.

The Solution

Carefully plan the migration process, ensuring you have backups of your QuickBooks Desktop data.

Seek assistance from a QuickBooks ProAdvisor or a professional with experience in data migration to make the transition smoother.

The Challenge: Managing Payroll

Payroll management can be time-consuming and complex for contractors.

The Solution

Consider using QuickBooks Online Payroll to automate payroll processes, including tax calculations and direct deposits.

If payroll remains a significant challenge, consider outsourcing it to a payroll service provider that can integrate with QuickBooks Online, or integrating a time-tracking app with better functionality for your industry… like Workyard.

Workyard provides laser-like accuracy when tracking employee time, making it easier to pay your team for the time they’ve put in – and not a minute more. With GPS tracking and geofencing, your employees can be clocked in and out automatically when they arrive or depart jobsites.

See why Workyard is the best time-tracking app for construction and field workforces using QuickBooks:

The Challenge: Scaling Your Business

As your contracting business grows, managing finances becomes more complex.

The Solution

Explore advanced features in QuickBooks Online, such as inventory management and advanced reporting, to handle the complexities of a growing business.

Integrate QuickBooks Online with other business management tools to streamline operations and accommodate growth.

Top CRM Integrations for QuickBooks

Effective customer relationship management (CRM) is a vital component of any successful contracting business. When you integrate CRM with QuickBooks, you gain a powerful toolset for managing client relationships, tracking leads, and streamlining financial transactions.

Zoho CRM seamlessly integrates with QuickBooks, offering a wide range of features for lead management, sales automation, and customer support.

Salesforce is a robust CRM system that can be integrated with QuickBooks, providing comprehensive customer management, sales, and analytics tools.

HubSpot CRM offers a user-friendly interface and integrates seamlessly with QuickBooks, making it easy to manage leads, automate marketing, and track customer interactions.

Pipedrive focuses on sales pipeline management and integrates smoothly with QuickBooks for financial tracking, offering a great balance between sales and finance.

Insightly CRM is known for its project management features and can be integrated with QuickBooks to combine customer relationship management with financial tracking.

Enhancing CRM Capabilities

Integrating CRM with QuickBooks isn’t just about connecting two systems; it’s about enhancing your CRM capabilities and creating a seamless workflow.

CRM integrations help you track leads seamlessly from initial contact to conversion. With financial data at your fingertips, you can prioritize leads based on their potential value.

Access to customer financial history allows you to tailor your interactions and offers, increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

CRM integrations with QuickBooks simplify quoting, invoicing, and payment tracking. This streamlines your sales processes and reduces manual data entry.

Generate comprehensive reports that combine sales, financial, and customer data for better decision-making and strategic planning.

The Bottom Line on Quickbooks Online for Contractors

In this comprehensive guide, we’ve embarked on a journey through the world of QuickBooks Online for contractors. We’ve explored the specific features that make QuickBooks Online an invaluable tool for managing your contracting business’s finances, gained insights into streamlining your financial processes, and learned tips for maximizing QuickBooks Online for project management and budgeting.

Key Takeaways

As a reminder, QuickBooks Online can benefit your business in many ways.

First, QuickBooks Online streamlines financial processes, reduces manual data entry, and offers accessibility from anywhere with an internet connection. Contractors can efficiently manage projects by setting up projects, tracking expenses, and invoicing clients using QuickBooks Online.

Additionally, the software provides comprehensive financial tracking, real-time reporting, and custom reporting options for better decision-making. QuickBooks Online supports collaboration among team members, making it easier to work together on financial tasks.

Lastly, integrating CRM with QuickBooks enhances customer insights, lead tracking, and customer engagement, leading to improved customer relationships.

As you continue your journey with QuickBooks Online, we encourage you to dive deeper into QuickBooks Online’s advanced features, such as inventory management, payroll, and time tracking, to further streamline your business operations. You can also compare QuickBooks Online with other accounting software options to ensure you’re using the best tool for your contracting business.

QuickBooks products tend to be built for the broadest possible audience, which can mean they may lack specific features your business needs.

In the end, it’s all about getting the job done right and on time while ensuring “on time” is tracked properly for every employee every time. Tools like QuickBooks Online can help – but they’re not the only tools available to construction companies.

Workyard was built from the ground up to support construction companies. With Workyard, it’s easy to manage the schedules of dozens or even hundreds (or more) of employees while accurately tracking their time on the job with our mobile app’s industry-leading GPS and geofencing capabilities.

Experience the difference Workyard can bring to your employee time-tracking efforts. Sign up for a free trial today or contact (650) 332-8623 for more details.

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