Save Time with Mobile Barcode Scanning and Enhanced Sales Order Workflow

Platinum Enterprise now has 2 new features that should be a great help for those of you using inventory in a big way – mobile barcode scanning and a greatly improved sales order workflow with real-time updates!

Both features need to be activated in the new Site Operations found in the Company Preferences (Edit>Preferences>Items and Inventory>Advanced Inventory Settings>Site Operations)

sales order fulfillment

The new sales order fulfillment worksheet, found ONLY in the Platinum version of Enterprise’s Advanced Inventory, is easier to understand and more functional.  Note there is now a tab for Picklist instead of just printing out a sheet.

sales order fulfillment

sales order fulfillment

And here’s where it gets really good. Before you had to be physically connected to a computer to enter the picking, but now you can now use a WIRELESS device!

sales order fulfillment

You’ll need to download the free QuickBooks Desktop Warehouse app (for Androids only)

sales order fulfillment

You can use an Android phone or the Zebra MC 40.  The advantage of the Android phone is it’s inexpensive and easily obtained but the advantage of the MC 40 is the ability to scan. You can count wirelessly on the phone but not scan.

sales order fulfillment

And you have real-time status on your sales orders!

sales order fulfillment

This is an area that Intuit plans to continue to develop and I would expect to see additional wireless devices and making adjustments based on feedback.

For those with large warehouses or garden centers with products out in the field, this definitely has potential.  If you would like to download a 30-day trial version of QuickBooks Enterprise, click here.  Let me know if you want more information or what you think of these new features!

 

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Work More Efficiently and Faster

This year’s new QuickBooks 2018 features focus on solving for some common pain points and issues.  These first few are for QuickBooks Pro, Premier and Enterprise, the latter ones I specify the version(s) of QuickBooks.

QuickBooks 2018Multi-Monitor

If you use multiple monitors, then chances are you’ve experienced working in QuickBooks and a pop-up window is on a different monitor – and sometimes behind other windows.  This new feature puts an end to that. In fact, the new feature is supported up to 3 monitors!  The monitors must be touching each other for this to work

Click on View>Multi-monitor

QuickBooks 2018Search Chart-of-Accounts

Ever have to hunt to find an account in the Chart of Accounts?  Now you can search – finally! Type in the word, part of word or number and QuickBooks will help you find it much faster 

 

Copy Line/Paste Line Keyboard Shortcuts for Transactions

If you’re a keystroke person like me, then you will like these.  Ctrl-Alt-Y for Copy (perhaps Y for the last letter in Copy) and Ctrl-Alt-V for Paste (Ctrl-V) is the Windows paste keyboard shortcut.

QuickBooks 2018 QuickBooks 2018

 

Cash/Accrual Toggle on reports

I know some of you have your default report setting on cash (personally I recommend setting it to accrual), but regardless of your setting, chances are you sometimes want to switch “basis”.  In the past, you had to click on Customize Reports to make the change.  Now, you can simply click on a button for to make the change between cash and accrual.

QuickBooks 2018Past Due Stamp on Invoices

If you’re like most businesses, chances are you have a few customers who are “slow pay”.   Up to now,  if you wanted to resend the invoice with a past due notice, you’ve had to manually stamp the invoice. Now you can have it appear on your invoices automatically. You can either turn this feature on at the template level so it appears on all late invoices, or you can click the button on the screen to turn it off or on.

QuickBooks 2018Payroll Liability Reminder

Even been late on a payroll tax payment?  Those penalties and interest can add up!  I remember back when I did bookkeeping trying to keep up with which tax payment was due when – I had a chart that I had to  check frequently.  Over the years Intuit has tried to make this easier, but I love having the reminder show up in red on your home page on Pay Liabilities – gives you 7 days’ notice.

QuickBooks 2018Secure Webmail

If you email invoices using webmail (like Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo), Intuit upgraded from the “old” SMTP to the current industry standard Oauth 2.0.  Not exciting but very important!

 

Edit>Preferences>My Preferences>WebMail –

Check Use Enhanced Security and then log into your Intuit account. 

QuickBooks 2018Enhanced Inventory Reports – (not available in QuickBooks Pro)

In the past, some of the inventory reports have had very few options for customizing.  Now there are 3 inventory reports that let you decide which columns you want to see. Those reports are:

  1. Inventory Valuation Summary
  2. Inventory Stock Status by Item
  3. Assembly Shortage

 

 

Merge Multiple Vendors – available in QuickBooks Accountant and Enterprise

A common occurrence is to have the same vendor listed multiple times in your vendor list – for a variety of reasons.  Different users, variations of store names,…  Currently you can merge 2 vendor names into 1.  This new feature lets you merge up to 4 names at one time.

If you’re in the Accountant’s Edition, click on Accountant>Client Data Review>Merge Vendors

If you’re in Enterprise, click on Company>Accounting Tools> Merge Vendors.

  1. Type in the name (keep it short)
  2. Select the 2 to 4 you want to merge
  3. Choose the one you want to keep
  4. Be sure it has all the pertinent information
  5. Click on Merge

Note: Some names can’t be merged

  • Vendors with direct deposits
  • Federal/state tax agencies
  • Vendors with online transactions (does that mean downloads in bank feeds)

QuickBooks 2018

There are 2 more new features, specific to Platinum Enterprise but they’re big enough to warrant a separate article and many of you aren’t in platinum.

Should you upgrade? If these address some of your pain points, then determine how much your current work-around is costing – daily, weekly, annually – and that will help you determine whether or not to upgrade. Personally, I recommend waiting until at least one release patch (update) has come out, or wait until W-2’s and 1099’s are done.  Those of you working in 2015 QuickBooks, will definitely need to upgrade before the end of May if you want to continue downloading bank transactions, running payroll and processing credit card payments, to name a few.   And I’ll be sure to keep you up-to-date on any sales!  (I suspect there might be a Cyber Monday sale – Intuit has had those in previous years).

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Enterprise Makes Changes

The new QuickBooks has arrived and as typical of the start of a new product year, Intuit has used this time to make some changes.  For those of you using Enterprise, there may be one or more change that will affect you, so be sure to take a look.

  1. Subscription Only

Intuit has done away with their old support plan and moved to subscription only – this will affect many of you. For those of you on older plans, Intuit will automatically move you from your old plan to a new QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise Subscription Plan (annual payment only) UNLESS you let them know otherwise. You will NOT be losing any features or benefits.  However, that plan may NOT be your best deal. If you bought through us, chances are we know your renewal date and will be contacting you, but just in case, please contact our office so we can let you know if you’ll be affected, when, and what your options are.  Intuit has multiple plans and often promotions, so there’s a good chance I can find a better plan for you – including ongoing discounted pricing. I have helped many of my clients save money by moving them into the appropriate subscription plan – especially for those who run payroll in-house.

  1. Price Increase for Subscription Plans

Intuit is raising the price of QuickBooks Enterprise 10%. I will admit the increase is not a surprise –  Intuit has not raised their price on the subscription products since they were introduced in the fall of 2014. The increase will happen on your renewal date. If you contact our office, we can let you know when your Enterprise will renew and what your new price will be.

  1. Monthly payment plans increasing in November

In the past, there was no savings for paying annually vs monthly. As a result, many chose monthly since it was easier for cash flow purposes (especially for seasonal businesses) and spread the cost of the software over a year in your financials.   Just as many other subscription products charge more for monthly payment plans and offer a discount for paying annually, Intuit is now doing the same.  Starting in November, the increase for monthly will be 20% (that’s on top of the 10% increase for Enterprise for a total of 30%) – in essence, a finance charge for paying monthly.  Again, this will happen on your renewal date.  So, if you are paying monthly, let’s talk about your options BEFORE the increase.

  1. Mobile Scanning and Improved Sales Order Fulfillment

If inventory is important to you, you may really like this enhancement.  New in 2018, Intuit has beefed up the sales order fulfillment worksheet substantially and added the ability to scan barcodes wirelessly – great for moving inventory and picking for sales orders!  I will be writing more in-depth about this in upcoming weeks!

As usual, contact our office if you have any questions!

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QuickBooks Desktop vs QuickBooks Online

If you’re in a desktop version of QuickBooks (Pro/Premier/Enterprise) you may be wondering if it would be better to move to QuickBooks Online (QBO) so you have remote access and because 3rd party products are saying Desktop QuickBooks (QBDT) is going away.  With the new products just rolling out, I thought this would be good to discuss pros/cons – and my opinion ;-)

Yes, Intuit has put a heavy emphasis on QBO, but they still have many more desktop customers than online, so they aren’t going do desert them!  While Intuit thinks online is the way to go long-term and is spending a lot to continue to develop this product, they realize that their current online product doesn’t yet meet the needs of many of their customers, so they are still committed to adding new features and improvements for their desktop products.

If you’re on the fence as to which way you go, it’s wise to look at what the products have to offer BEFORE deciding.

So here’s the deal. Even though QuickBooks is part of the name, the online version of QB is VERY different from the desktop (2 different development teams) – just ask anyone who’s moved from one to the other! I’ve had a few tell me they tried QBO and went back to desktop!

QBO offers 24/7 access, no worries about updates or upgrades, automatic invoicing and bank downloads and a growing number of add-on apps.

However, with QBO, you pay a subscription PER company.  For some of you, that can add up!

If you’re in QBO you probably love the mobile access, but might be feeling some frustration with what you can’t do – especially when it comes to job costing.

  • While easy to access, QBO is not nearly as feature-rich as the desktop product – and may never be. In fact, Intuit (at least for right now), seems happy to focus on mostly on accounting in QBO and letting apps solve for the additional features/functionality you need.  So you may need to subscribe to additional apps – which means additional costs and having to learn another product – or 2 or 3 or ….
  • There will be a definite learning curve for all involved. Some have loved it, many have not!
  • For many of you, job costing is important, and Intuit is aware that QBO is NOT a good fit for those who need job costing.  I’ve seen Intuit partner with some 3rd party apps for job costing, but I recently saw they are starting to add some job cost features in the Plus level, albeit limited compared to desktop. These were in the “lab” last I saw, so not sure of a roll-out date and they got a loong wish list from us!  Here’s the list of what is in the lab:
    • o Projects (in the customer section)
    • o Budgets for projects.

o   You can have both a cost side for a product or service as well as an income side (especially useful if you invoice for time and materials).

I’m not sure just how much they’ll add for job costing vs letting 3rd party apps solve for issues, but will continue to monitor.

So what types of features would you miss if you move to QBO?

  • Group Items – This is a great feature in desktop that lets you pull in lots of items with only one click.  You can also have the detail for job costing purposes with an option to let the customer see the detail – or not (many of my clients love this feature and choose NOT to show the detail to the customer)
  • Fixed Asset List – QBDT has a nice Fixed Asset List (gives you detail without expanding your Chart of Accounts)
  • Price Levels – In QBDT, you can have automatic pricing based on customer or type of customer, but not in QBO
  • Estimates – In QBO, you can enter estimated price, but you can’t enter estimated costs in, so you lose the estimated vs actual reporting. In QBO you create a budget instead and the budget vs actual report will deal with costs, whereas in QBDT, you can see both estimated and actual costs and revenue in one report instead two.
  • Sales Orders There’s no sales order feature (which you can also use as a Work Order in QBDT).  In QBO, you can use an estimate template as a sales order, but since you can’t progress invoice, you can’t track back orders.  Also in QBDT, you can create sales orders from your Estimate, but not so in QBO
  • You can’t do progress invoicing, i.e. multiple invoices from one estimate.  (I would never recommend their suggested work-around – the risk of mistakes is too high!)
  • You can’t job cost your labor. This is huge for many of you.  Even if you can get the hours by job from a 3rd party product, QBO uses total hours only.  Nor can you “burden” your labor with payroll taxes, etc.   So you can’t run a report on a job, drill down the work done and find your true cost of labor (which is sooo easy in desktop QB).  Instead, you will have to find a way to get the information from your add-on product
  • You can’t run a job profitability detail report (which lets you see all the different services and materials),– but you can customize the Item Profitability report.  However, if you can’t allocate labor cost to jobs, you’ll miss out on a significant part of your job costs
  • You can’t see open PO’s totaled by customer:job
  • Reports – Currently there’s no group of job cost reports like you see in the desktop products. Not only are there fewer reports (65+ in QBO vs 100+ in QB Pro/Premier), there are fewer ways to customize reports.  And as I mentioned above, since the subscription is for only one company, you can’t run a combined financial for multiple companies.
  • Permissions aren’t very strong – an employee able to do payroll can also see your financial reports – yikes!   When you start having 3-5 people or more in your books, you definitely want to restrict who can see and/or do what.  Enterprise is by far the best at controlling access.
  • Backups – Intuit does keep your QBO backed up, but you can’t select a specific backup to restore if there are any problems.  Likewise, you can’t manually backup QBO and have your own copy or decide to restore a backup.  So if there was a major problem that happened as a result of an incorrect integration with a product or a bookkeeper making a massive mistake (either accidentally or deliberately), you don’t have a backup to restore like you do with the desktop product. While you can export the data out, it’s not in a ready-to-go format that you could use in desktop QB.
  • While you get the ease of remote access, you miss out on some other time-saving features available in desktop QuickBooks. Here’s a chart comparing the availability of some time-saving features in QBQuickBooks

For a more complete list, you can download my QB Feature Comparison Chart from this link.

So what are your options?  Personally, I still recommend the desktop versions of QuickBooks for anyone who wants job costing.  For remote access, here are some options:

  • You can use a product like GoToMyPC or LogMeIn and remote into your computer.
  • There are Intuit-approved companies who will “store” (host) your QuickBooks and data; this gives you remote access plus the ability to use QB Pro/Premier or Enterprise.  You pay per month per user to access the remote server in addition to your software.
  • Many 3rd party products work remotely, solving for your “need” and integrate with desktop QuickBooks. They tend to be either task-specific (e.g. time tracking) or industry-specific.  Method is probably the product that give you the most flexibility for remote access without being industry specific.
  • Enterprise can run in a “Remote Desktop” environment.  In this setup, both the software and the data are on the server, so you just log into the server.  In a traditional network environment, the software is on your computer and the data is on the server.  The Remote Desktop servers have to be more powerful than traditional servers because everyone is using both software and data, but they can be really nice when you have people working remotely or in different locations.

If you still opt for QBO, just realize that you may need to find one or more products to integrate with QuickBooks or have work-arounds so you can do all that you need or maybe decide to do without.  Contact me if you want to discuss more or would like to see our discounted pricing on the QuickBooks products.

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Tracking Use Tax

If you have to collect sales tax, then chances are your report form asks you about use tax.  Use tax is a sales tax on purchases taxable in your state but for which you were not charged. An example would be if you ordered office supplies from Amazon and you weren’t charged sales tax, but if you had purchased from your local office supply store, you would have paid the tax.  You see this more often when you make out of state purchases, but you might find that a local supplier didn’t charge you sales tax, so you need to check.  I’ve had landscape clients go through sales & use tax audits and often the auditor will find taxable purchases with no sales tax so the state wants the use tax.

Check with your accountant for what’s taxable and what is not. This varies by state, and sometimes by use. For instance,

  • Downloadable software is taxable in some states, but not others
  • Mulch might be taxable when used one way (e.g. for maintenance) but not taxable in design/build projects.

It’s easier to keep up with tracking as you go along, rather than waiting until the end of the report period, especially if you pay quarterly.  So here are the steps to simplify your reporting.

  1. Use TaxSetup a Use Tax Payable account – this is an Other Current Liability account
  2. When you make a purchase (bill, credit card charge, etc.), review the purchase to see if
    1. The item(s) is taxable
    2. If sales tax was charged (you might be surprised at who charges and who doesn’t!)
  3. If the item is taxable but no tax was charged, then you want to track Use Tax
    1. Calculate the sales tax and add to the cost of the item
    2. On the next line, subtract the new cost from what you paid, and that’s your use tax
    3. In the example below, the company paid $66.50 for office supplies. These would be taxable in this particular state, but no tax was charged.  So the $3.99 was added to the cost of the item and the 3.99 “deduction” puts 3.99 in the Use Tax Payable account.
    4. It’s up to you whether or not you want to add a note in the memo field letting you know if you paid sales tax or added use tax for report purposes.

Use Tax

Just like other balance sheet accounts, the Use Tax Payable account will have a running balance.

At the end of your tax reporting period, you can move the amount in the use tax payable account (for that period) to your sales tax payable account

  • If you create a journal entry,
    • Debit Use Tax Payable and credit Sales Tax Payable (and list your sales tax agency in the Name field)
    • Set the date to the last date in the report period (e.g. 3/31 for a report period that ends in March)
  • Or if you don’t like or understand journal entries, then
    • Go into the Use Tax Payable register
    • Enter your date
    • Put the amount of use tax you owe in the decrease column and save/record.
    • If you right-click on the transaction you just created, you’ll see the journal entry and you can add the tax agency in the Name column.

You can either run a balance sheet report, double-click on Use Tax Payable and change the date range or you can create and memorize a report for Use Tax.

  1. Click on Reports>Custom Reports>Transaction DetailUse Tax
  2. On the Display tab,
    1. select your date range (e.g. Last Month, Last Fiscal Quarter)
    2. Select the columns you want to see
    3. Total by: you might want to total by Name or by Month (if more than 1 month) or just Total Only
    4. Sort by – You might want date or Name or Memo….
  3. On the Filter tab,
    1. Select Use Tax Payable from Account
    2. Choose your date range if not already done. I recommend using the drop-down dates instead of manually keying in the dates!

Use Tax

  1. On the Header Tab, name your reportUse Tax
  2. Run your report and then tweak as needed.
  3. Once you have the format you like, then Memorize!

Going forward, tracking Use Tax Payable will hopefully be much easier!  Let us know if you need any help with this.

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Cash flow tools in QuickBooks

Many businesses find that sales are sometimes slower in July and/or August- spring projects are complete, people are on vacation… That can mean a slowdown in cash flow.  Here are 5 tools in QuickBooks that can help you monitor your cash flow.

  1. Cash Flow Forecast (Reports>Company & Financial) – This assumes your customers pay timely as do you. While that may not always be the case, this is a quick tool.  If you don’t enter your payables, this report will give you a very lopsided projected balance!Cash Flow
  2. Cash Flow Projector (Company>Planning & Budgeting). Most businesses find fluctuations in their cash flow, so this tool lets you account for known income or expenses you expect in the 6 weeks that might be out of the norm (e.g. quarterly insurance payment, big deposit for a new job starting…).Cash FlowCash FlowCash Flow
  3. Balance Sheet Ratios – I find many businesses ignore reviewing their balance sheet and think it’s not useful, but it can very helpful in many ways, including warnings about heading into tough financial situations if you’re not careful! You can take a quick look to see how your cash balance and receivables compare to payables and debt.  But there are two ratios you can easily get from your balance sheet that are worth reviewing.  Your accountant can help you determine if yours is healthy and/or similar to others in your industry.
    1. Current Ratio – How easily can you pay your debts? For a true picture, you will want to include the “current portion of long-term debt”. In other words, if you have 4 years left on a loan, move 12 months of principle from long-term liability to current liability.  (Your accountant or lending institution could help you determine this number if you need assistance.) This can be a substantial dollar amount depending on the number and size of your loans.  But even if you don’t do this, it can still be a good eye opener.  Simply divide your Total Current Assets by your Total Current Liabilities (both shown in blue below).  In this example, you would take 201,064 divided by 33,545.
    2. Debt Ratio – What percentage of your business is financed by debt? To get this ratio, divide Total Liabilities (debt) by Total Assets, both shown in red below. In the example below, you would take 420,512 divided by 201,064.Cash Flow
  4. Income Tracker – The Income Tracker focuses on money coming in using your “sales” tools – open estimates and sales orders (indicating future sales). Unbilled time and expenses suggesting you need to invoice! And then you view Open Invoices, past due Invoices and recent payments.   If you don’t see the icon on your toolbar, it can be found in the Customer menu.Cash Flow
  5. The Company Snapshot – Still one of my favorite features in QuickBooks. You can check on payables (very important for cash flow), receivables, account balances, reminders, trends in income and expenses and much more – all in one You can choose from 12 possible reports, organize them any way you want and choose the time frame from the drop-down menu (no custom dates). Past due invoices and bills show up in red, making it easy to pick them out.  You can even print the snapshot.  You can also click on the payments tab to see who’s paid you recently.  If you don’t see this on your toolbar, you can find it in the Company menu.Cash Flow

Hopefully you’re cash flow is in good shape, but these tools can be very useful.  I’d love to hear which one(s) you like best!

 

 

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How Fast Can You Be Back Up and Running? Seven Areas Often-Overlooked in Backups

Between storms and malware, many are learning the importance of backups and access.  Hopefully, you’re already making backups of your data on a regular basis.  It’s simple to set up data backups automatically and then forget about them until you need them.  But have you ever looked around to see if there are any gaps in your backup strategy?   Here are seven places to look to make sure all your business data is backed up safely. 

  1. Online Calendar

Do you use an online calendar?  If you use a calendar such as Google Calendar, then it’s a good idea to keep a backup in case something happens to it that’s out of your control.

In Google, go to Settings from the Settings menu, click the Calendars tab, and Export your calendar to get your backup.

  1. Website

It’s common for business owners to rely on their webmaster to have a backup of their website, but this is often not within the scope of the webmaster duties.  Check with your webmaster to get a backup of your website files so that you are protected against hackers, hosting problems, and more.  Fortunately, my webmaster does provide backups. So, when my site was compromised a few years ago, I was back up and running in just a couple of hours.

If your blog is in the same place, make sure you have a backup of it as well.  You may also want to preserve any online profiles you have in the same way.  

  1. Your Email

We are so dependent on our email these days that we should consider backing this file up daily, if not hourly.   The location of your email file varies, and some people have more than one.  It’s worth double-checking to see if this file is included in your regular backup routine. I learned last year that my email was not being backed up – you can be sure it is now and with the recent power outage, my backup came in handy.   You may also want to create a separate, more frequent backup routine for this critical file.

If you have an online email account, make sure you have a backup of all those emails in case something goes wrong.

  1. Browser Data

Browser-related data, such as your bookmarks, history, toolbar, and saved passwords are all stored in files, but they can be hard to find and recover.  If something happens to your browser data, it may or may not be a big deal.  If it is, include these files in your regular backup so you can recover what you need more easily.

  1. Online Bank and Vendor Account Information

If you get audited by the IRS, it’s almost always for a year in the distant past.  Digging up invoices you might have had online access to but no longer do can be time-consuming and painful.  Most banks and vendors have made it super-easy to download PDF versions of your invoices and statements, so be sure you do that before your access to them expires or becomes an extra charge.

  1. Local and Cloud Drives

Every business’s technology setup is different.  If you have a server, chances are you’re getting it backed up regularly.  If you have employees, make sure each of their hard drives are backed up so they don’t lose any files that are not on the server.  If you have your files centralized in the cloud, make sure you have a backup of those files.

  1. Desktop

One additional place that may not be backed up is your Desktop.  It depends on your operating system; sometimes desktop files are excluded if you have your backups set to copy only “My Documents” files and subfolders.

Bonus Tip

Periodically check the accuracy and effectiveness of your backups and see if you can recover a file or two.  If not, you’re back to the drawing board, and it’s better to find out in a non-emergency situation that you have some work to do on your backup and recovery strategy.

Reducing Risks 

Being a business owner is all about taking calculated risks.  Having all your important business data backed up helps you reduce your risks and protect what’s perhaps your most important business asset.

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Is Your QuickBooks File “Insured”?

Is Your QuickBooks File “Insured”?

Computers and software are great when they work. But if your computer crashed or your QuickBooks file was corrupted and unusable, do you have a recent backup of your QuickBooks data file?

Recreating data is not fun, easy or fast. I can’t emphasize this enough: Losing your financial data can be the beginning of the end of your company. You won’t know what you’re owed, so you’ll be unable to collect. You’ll miss vendor payments. Payroll will be challenging to reconstruct, and you won’t be able to submit payroll taxes. And how will you know what your income tax obligation is?

You definitely want a backup off site; in case of fire, flood, theft or some other problem, you still have your data. But I always like to have one or more quickly accessible (like an external drive or thumb drive). And, when you have more than one backup, you’re still protected. I’ve had backups not work (bad file or bad media) but if you have multiple backups, your chances are much better.

How often do you backup?  How much data entry do you want to recreate???!!  Weekly is good for some, while daily is a must for others – just depends on the amount of activity in your data file.

I recommend that at least monthly you use the regular backup feature in QuickBooks (and use the verified option) for a couple reasons:

  • This traditional (verified) backup method will look for problems with your data file – an offsite backup won’t do that.  This way you can fix the problem before it goes too far.
  • This will reset the log file(*.tlg) QuickBooks creates. When the log file gets really large (and I’ve seen it get larger than the actual data file), you may find your QuickBooks is not so quick!

QuickBooks provides two ways (actually, three) to create a copy of your QuickBooks data file. When is each appropriate, and how do you proceed?

The Critical Traditional Backup

Click File > Backup Company>Create Local Backup… You’ll be asked whether you want to back up locally — to a network folder or thumb drive, for example – or to the cloud, using Intuit Data Protect (fees apply, unless you’re using QuickBooks Enterprise). If you select the local preference, click on Options to designate a location in the window below.

backup

Click OK, then Next. QuickBooks will ask when you want to save your backup copy and offer scheduling options. When you’re done, click Finish.

backup

To schedule a backup, click on New in this screen below and then choose the day(s) time and where you want the backup to be stored.  The stored password is your Windows password, not your QuickBooks password.

backup 

backup 

Portable Company File

Portable company files are more compact than backup files, so they can be, uploaded faster with file transfer sites or copied onto another computer. But they don’t contain everything that regular backups do. They lack, for example, letters, logos, attachments, images and templates. Don’t use this option if changes will be made, since they can’t be merged back into the file.

To save a portable company file, click on File > Create Copy (you can do this to copy any kind of file, actually). This window opens:

backup

Select Portable company file and click the Next button. In the following window, you’ll browse to a location for your file. QuickBooks will already have entered the name and will save your data in .qbm format. Click Save, then OK when QuickBooks tells you it must close and reopen your file first. Click OK again when you’re told that the file has been created.

Restoring Your Data

Should you need to restore a backup, click File > Open or Restore Company… In the window that opens, select the type of backup you’re using (traditional *.qbb or portable *.qbm).  The Open Company File window opens; make sure that the file’s location is displayed in the Look in: field. Click Open. QuickBooks then asks where you want to restore the file.

backupThe following step is critical. Rename your file unless you want to overwrite your current company file. You can add a date or some other identifying information like a version number.

Click Save. QuickBooks will convert your backup file to a standard company file with a .qbw extension.

QuickBooks makes it easy to create copies of your data, but an error here can threaten your company’s future.  So take the time to “insure” your QuickBooks.  Contact us if you need assistance.

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Have You Been Hacked? How to Minimize Your Risk

Just about every day, we read in the news that another company has been hacked – including the big companies, like Home Depot and others.  Perhaps might have had your own social media account, email, website, network, or computer hacked. I know some who were victims of a ransomware virus.  Worse, many of you have been hacked but don’t even know it.

So how can you minimize the damage and risk of hackers?  Here are several tips, some familiar, some not so familiar.  As you go through the list, check off the ones you’re already doing and make a list of new ideas to implement to protect your business and personal assets.

Signing Your Life Away

Your signature might look great in a graphic in your email signature line, your website, or your newsletter, but it’s a huge risk.  You’re giving away your handwriting, and forgers can easily replicate, master your handwriting, and impersonate you.  To reduce identity theft, don’t publish your real signature anywhere.

Money, Honey

Implement strong passwords on all of your financial accounts:  banks, credit unions, PayPal, credit cards, and your accounting system.  We know it’s painful, but do not use the same password for your financial accounts anywhere else, especially social media!  If possible, use a different password for each account to reduce risk further.

What’s Your Password?

Here are some quick password tips:

  • Do not use your name, your pet’s names or your kid’s names in your passwords. There’s just too much information available publicly to do that safely anymore.
  • Mix up letters, numbers, capital letters, and special characters, if they are allowed.
  • The longer, the more secure; most apps require at least 8 digits.
  • Change passwords quarterly to be on the safe side.

Password Storage

Most apps that help you save time with passwords are NOT safe!  Here’s what we do and don’t recommend:

DO:

  • Password-protect your computer, even though you don’t have to.
  • Keep a separate file of your passwords on your computer, but DO password-protect that file and make sure it is not shared with anyone on a network. Also name the file something totally unrelated like bio, letter, or goulash recipe; do not name it “passwords.doc!”
  • You can also keep a record of your passwords offline, but be sure to lock it up in a safe.
  • When you make file and disk backups, be sure those are locked up and password-protected too. They will no longer have your PC password to protect them.

DON’T

  • Don’t give in to your browser or any website when it asks to remember your user ID and password, especially for your financial accounts or client information. All of the major browsers have been hacked – Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, and even Safari.

If you use password management applications, proceed with caution.  Be sure you have properly vetted their security claims.  Most of these are simply form fillers that are not safe.

Vulnerable Applications

Avoid leaving vulnerable PC ports open and unattended, including chat, messaging, FTP (file transfer protocol), Skype, webinars, Google hangouts, video sharing, and the like. It’s like having all the doors and windows unlocked in your house; an intruder has a lot of choices for easy entry.  When you are on these more vulnerable connections, shut the others down, and close the applications you don’t need.  Then logoff when you are done.

A Plug for Software

As soon as a hacker has found a new exploit, the software companies will learn about it and make an update available within days.  The hacker community is tight; other hackers will look for software that is not updated and exploit the hack.  Avoid the copycat hackers by staying on top of your software updates, not just your anti-virus, but also your Microsoft and other software updates.  Doing this will eliminate a great deal of the risk out there.

New Users

If multiple team members need to access your software, consider setting up additional users rather than having one account.  If one person gets hacked, the others will likely still have access and can react quicker to the intrusion.

Stay Safe Out There

How many of these are you already doing?  Give yourself a reward, and then get busy implementing the rest so you can stay safe.

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Protecting Your Business From Fraud

How safe is your business from fraud?  While many worry about someone hacking into their systems, you’re more likely to experience embezzlement by a trusted employee.  About 28% of small businesses have this unfortunate experience, including a few of my clients over the years. And one client learned that her trusted bookkeeper of 15-20 years had been stealing from her for many years.  Let’s face it- most who embezzle have your trust – otherwise it would be much harder to steal from you.

Embezzlement is costly on many levels.  It’s not just the dollars lost, which can be significant, but it’s also the dollars to fight it (legal, accounting, staff time), the dollars to pay penalties and interest on unpaid/underpaid taxes/bills, the time to fight it, and the emotions of learning a trusted employee/friend has stolen from you.

This happens more easily in a small business because there are fewer resources to segment work and often, owners are unaware of controls they can put in place.  The generally accepted rule of thumb is 10 percent of people will never steal no matter what, 10 percent of people will steal at any opportunity, and the other 80 percent of employees will go either way depending on how they rationalize a particular opportunity.  So it’s the 80% that you direct your energies for prevention.

There are 3 factors, that when combined, lead to fraud. (1) Pressure (often a financial need such as medical bills, divorce, debt; (2) opportunity (i.e. how easy is it for them to steal) and (3) their rationalization for stealing from you.  While you can’t affect their perceived need or rationalization, you can direct your energies towards lowering opportunities.

As business owners, we want to delegate and bookkeeping is frequently one of the first tasks to be delegated.  While you may want to delegate the books completely, remember that the buck stops with you, the owner. You’re the one who will get assessed penalties and interest for missed tax payments, and you feel it most when your bottom line is less because of theft.

So here are some checks and balances you can put into place both in procedures and in QuickBooks to limit opportunity for theft or discourage most employees from even trying.

  • Run a background check on employees (I had one client who unknowingly hired someone as her bookkeeper who was out on parole from embezzling!)
  • Have separation of responsibilities as much as possible. i.e. use different people for Accounts Receivable, Accounts Payable, and Payroll
  • Checks and Payment Safeguards  – Check fraud is more prevalent than credit card fraud. In fact, 4 out 5 fraud attempts are committed through checks.
    • Use secure checks, i.e. checks that are more resistant to fraud.  The Intuit checks you can order through us (at discounted pricing) were developed with the assistance of  Frank Abagnale (of Catch Me if You Can), now a fraud consultant for over 40 years.
    • If someone other than you can sign checks then have a policy that all checks over a certain dollar amount require your signature or 2 signatures
    • Don’t sign blank checks
    • Keep blank checks locked away.
    • Review Reports: Voided/Deleted Transactions, Missing Checks, Audit Trail
    • Pay bills electronically
    • Setup automatic payments
  • Customer Payments
    • Give customers the opportunity to pay you online via ACH or credit card – then you remove a temptation
    • Use check scanners or Intuit’s e-check so checks go straight into your bank account.
    • Make deposits yourself
  • Bank statements
    • Have bank & credit statements mailed to your home so you can review before delegating
      • If you are paperless, make it a point to review
    • Reconcile bank and credit card statements regularly – either yourself (you can pick up on problems more easily) or have one person review the reconciliation done by another
  • Close the books after certain periods (monthly, quarterly, or annually), so changes can’t be made except by authorized personnel and run the Closing Date Exception Report periodically
  • Monitor
    • Accounts Receivable (Open Invoices),
    • Accounts Payable (Unpaid Bills) and
    • Payroll (timesheets, wages, overtime, deductions and commissions)
  • Other security measures
    • Every user should have their own login, including the business owner, who should also be the administrator of the account
    • Don’t keep your QuickBooks open when you walk away from your desk or office
    • Limit user access – (e.g. they can create & print, but not delete or change)
    • Upgrade to Enterprise Solutions for its advanced security features –NO comparison between Enterprise and the other Intuit products.  Our video will let you see the difference and we have the lowest Intuit-authorized pricing on Enterprise.

I will be happy to assist in showing how to set up these controls in QuickBooks, discuss Intuit services that might be helpful, and help you with the reports.  Hopefully you will never have to deal with embezzlement.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

 

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