Both the purpose and entry of estimates in QBO are significantly different than QuickBooks desktop. The estimate form still fills some of the common purposes of this type of transaction, but the unique job costing capabilities that have been built into the estimate for desktop are not present in QBO.
If your need for estimates centers on the idea of creating a quote or bid or similar function, QBO fills those functions. As of June 2018, it will also allow the creation of multiple invoices from one estimate.
The estimate form can be accessed in QBO in more than one way. It will be available on the quick create menu (the ‘plus’ sign). It can also be started from the customer list as shown below.
The form is simple to fill out with items from the products and services list.
Once complete, estimates can be printed or emailed to the customer. Like invoices and other forms in QBO, they can be customized to have a look and feel unique to your company. Often QBO users want a different title like Bid or Quote, rather than the default Estimate. This can be accomplished in form customization.
Rather than entering the same data twice, estimates in QBO (like desktop) will convert into invoices. There is a setting for this.
Click on the gear icon and select Account and Settings. In the Advanced group, be sure the setting “Copy estimates to invoices” is set to on.
What QBO won’t do with estimates compared to QuickBooks desktop:
You cannot add a cost and a markup for each line item in QBO. As a result, QBO cannot generate the job/project reports that compare estimated costs to actual costs like QuickBooks desktop can.
The recent feature addition to create multiple invoices from one estimate requires a setting in Accounts and Settings in order to function.
Once the setting has been selected, open an estimate and you will see the button, Create Invoice, near the total estimate amount. Selecting the Create Invoice button opens a small window with several options as shown below.
As you can see, you have three selections; invoice the entire estimate total, invoice a certain percentage of the entire estimate, or select a specific amount of each line on the estimate to invoice. These choices are the same as in QuickBooks desktop.
In the above graphic, we selected the third option, a custom amount for each line. If you look over the screenshot above, you see that Rock Castle is invoicing for all the outdoor lighting fixtures and half the labor.
At some future point, the company will finish the job and come back to this estimate to invoice the remaining amounts for sod and the rest of the labor.