Scenario: you’re a CEO. You are sitting at your kitchen table on the weekend and you want to review some of your company’s financial metrics or end-of-quarter numbers. How do you do it? Seems simple, right?

Option 1: Remote Access and MultiUser Mode

Not so fast!

If your company uses QuickBooks Desktop (vs Online), as the vast majority of QuickBooks customers do, then a CEO reviewing financials at home is actually a very difficult proposition! This is because the QuickBooks file is stored on the accountant’s desktop computer at the office.

Here is what you would need to do:

1. Log into the office LAN via a VPN. In order to even see the accountant’s desktop machine, your CEO needs to get onto the office local network as if they were in the building. This requires a VPN. They can be complicated to set up so if you don’t already have one, make sure you get some IT help to set one up.

2. Make sure the accountant’s computer was left turned on. If the accountant saved money by turning the computer off for the weekend then your CEO is S.O.L. You won’t be able to access a file on a hard drive if that hard drive isn’t turned on.

3. Make sure the accountant’s computer has filesharing access enabled. Like #2 this would have needed to be done ahead of time. It also needs to be done by someone who knows what they are doing, because if you incorrectly set up filesharing then your whole company will have access to the financials.

4. Make sure the accountant’s copy of QuickBooks is in “Multi-User” mode. In order to have multiuser mode, QuickBooks will need to have been originally installed as “Multi-User Host Installation.” Then, the accountant needs to have gone to File menu > Utilities > Host Multi-User Access when they last started up QuickBooks. If these options were not chosen at installation and startup then your CEO is S.O.L.

5. Open the file using the CEO’s local copy of Quickbooks. Hopefully the CEO has a copy of QuickBooks installed on their laptop. If not, they need to go buy a copy at the local computer store, or buy another license if your company has a multi-user license setup.

Sounds complicated? No kidding! This was pretty intimidating to write, much less implement.

You can also use a “remote desktop” screensharing solution to replace steps #3 – #5 above. For example, LogMeIn and GoToMyPC are both very good remote desktop applications. There are three problems: (a) they would have needed to be set up beforehand, (b) controlling a computer via screenshare is usually a pretty slow and frustrating experience, and (c) if the CEO is reviewing financials on the accountant’s computer then the accountant will not be able to use their computer during this time.

So, are there better ways to give your CEO basic access to financials? Read on…

Option 2: Migrate to QuickBooks Online

If your company uses QuickBooks Online edition then your CEO can view financials just by opening a web browser and going to Pretty simple.

But…the vast majority of companies still use QuickBooks Desktop. Yes you can migrate to QuickBooks Online from Desktop. However be careful because the Online version does not yet have feature parity with the Desktop version.

If a QuickBooks migration is not something you want to contemplate right now, keep reading…

Option 3: Online Analytics

Instead of migrating QuickBooks to an online version, what if you could leave QuickBooks as-is but have online analytics instead? Your CEO doesn’t need to enter any General Ledger transactions. They probably don’t need access to QuickBooks itself.

This is where an online analytics package (like InsightSquared) can shine. To set one up, you will need two steps:

1. Enable Intuit Sync Manager. Here are Intuit’s official setup instructions for the Sync Manager. Once installed, your QuickBooks desktop data will be synced with Intuit’s secure servers in the cloud. You can then access your data remotely using other applications that you authorize.

2. Pick an analytics package. We happen to be biased — we think our financial analytics are the best in the world! But by all means, feel free to shop around — Intuit has a Marketplace with other applications you can authorize.

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