Whether you’re a contractor, wholesaler, non-profit or some other service professional, reports are crucial to monitoring your cash flow and profitability. When I work with clients, I often recommend changes in their setup and changes in their data entry. While part of this is to help them save time, the other reason is to help them get the reports they need in QuickBooks instead of using data from a variety of places and then using Excel or a calculator to get their final numbers. Once changes are made, then there are reports in QuickBooks that are just a click or two away. And, these reports can help them make better estimates and business decisions going forward.
Often, to get the information you need, you need to customize an existing QuickBooks report. One of the aspects I like about QuickBooks is the ease of customizing reports. (And having dabbled in Microsoft Access years ago, I’m amazed at how easy QuickBooks makes this!) You’ll find that the more you customize, the more tricks you will pick up helping you get all sorts of reports you didn’t know you could get!
Types of Reports:
There are two basic types of reports –
- Summary (i.e. has totals like your Profit & Loss, A/R aging summary) and
- Transaction detail (which shows the detail behind the totals such as P & L Detail).
If you’re new to customizing, don’t worry if you think you’re not ready to differentiate. Just realize that will explain some of the differences in which display options you’ll have.
When you run a report, then click on Customize Report, you’ll see 4 tabs
- Display options let you specify the columns you want to appear in your report. Note that you can add subcolumns, and change your sorting. If you’ve never done much more than change your date range, take the time to change the columns across the top, try some of the subcolumns, and be bold and even check out the Advanced button (trust me – it’s not too advanced for you)! Other options here include how your data should be totaled. Some reports let you choose between cash and accrual basis.
This screen capture above is from a “summary” report while the one below is from a detail report. Notice you have more columns from which to choose in a detail report.
- Filters let you be more selective as to which data you see (i.e. they filter for only what you want to see). This is the tool that will provide the most insight. You can pick & choose classes, types of transactions, names, types, Items, etc. If you’ve never really taken a look at the different filters, I encourage you to do so; you’ll be amazed at what all is in that list. If you use the “multiple” feature, you can then choose more than one (e.g. class as shown below).
Another way to begin to be more comfortable in this screen is to take a look at some of the reports that come with QuickBooks and see how they’ve used filters. The more you try some of the filters, the more comfort you’ll have in this screen and you can then start to really tweak reports.
- Header/Footer What I like best about this section is that I can name my report so that when it prints, it’s not using the name QuickBooks gave it – which can be very helpful if you’ve customized your report much. And even more so it’s a report you need to give someone or memorize.
- Fonts & Numbers This section is probably used more often by my accounting friends, but if you’ve never looked at this screen, do take a quick look to see if you want to make any changes, like how negative numbers appear or whether or not you see cents.
Memorize! If this is a report you will want to run again, then memorize it so you don’t have to recreate what you did and you can get your information faster next time! One tip on memorizing, as much as possible, use the dates from the drop-down date menu; this way, the report will “roll forward” with you. When you key in the actual dates and memorize, QuickBooks thinks you always want to see those same exact dates, and unless you do, you’ll always have to redo the dates.
With your custom reports (and other QuickBooks reports), you can spot cash flow problems, see which jobs are the most profitable, compare your estimates to actual costs, and maintain the right inventory levels. You’ll also be able to identify your best customers and your most sought-after products and services. Customizing your reports and analyzing your data will make the answers to your questions about your company’s future direction much clearer. Let us know if you need help customizing your reports.