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.

Posted in Job Costing, QuickBooks, Remote Access | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Business Finance, Cash Flow, QuickBooks, Reports | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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!

 

 

Posted in Business Finance, Cash Flow, QuickBooks | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Business Finance, Productivity Tips | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Business Finance, QuickBooks, Security | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Business Finance, Security | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

 

Posted in Business Finance, Cash Flow, QuickBooks | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Better Business Decisions by Customizing QuickBooks’ Reports

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.

filtersOften, 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 –

  1. Summary (i.e. has totals like your Profit & Loss, A/R aging summary) and
  2. 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

filters

  1. 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.filters
    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
  2. 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).filters
    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.
  3. 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.filters
  4. 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.filters

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Business Finance, QuickBooks, Reports | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Filter to Find What You Want

QuickBooks makes it easy to find information with their Filters.  A filter simply limits what you see (i.e. filters out what you don’t want) so you see only what you want to see.   Both the Find Feature and reports in QuickBooks use Filters. So once you know how to use filters in one place, you can use them  elsewhere.

Perhaps you’re having problems reconciling the bank account and you’re off by a $500. Click on Edit>Find

Don’t let the word Advanced scare you off!  Click on Amount, then click the circle by = and type 500 in the box.  Notice on the right, QuickBooks is listing your current Filters/choices.  (Posting status refers to whether or not it affects your financial statements.  Estimates, Sales/work orders, Purchase Order are “non-posting”, i.e. they don’t affect your P & L or your Balance Sheet or other financial reports.)  QuickBooks very quickly finds all the transactions that meet your criteria.  It’s great when you see only a couple transactions.  But sometimes you’ll get a long list and will want to narrow it down some.

filter

Perhaps you know that it’s from last month or you know it’s a payment and not an invoice. So if you scroll through the list of filters, you’ll see Date (in image below  and TransactionType (in image on the right).

filter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So in this example, I selected last month for Date and Bill Payment for Transaction Type.  Now my list is much shorter.

filter

Other filters I frequently use in the Find feature are Account, Class and Entered/Modified.   Perhaps I entered or modified a transaction today, but dated it the beginning of the month or some other date. This way I don’t need to know the actual date of the transaction – simply the date I created it!

I’ve used the Find feature to create reports, and if you go to modify a report, notice you’ll have access to the same set of filters!   So maybe I want to see a list of bills that I clicked to pay but have not printed the checks yet.   Here’s what QuickBooks found. Notice you can click on Report or Export on the right.

filter

So now that you’ve seen Filters, here are the filters to some common reports you run:

filter

filter

Now it’s your turn!  What do you want to find?

 

Posted in Features, QuickBooks, Reports | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

I Need a Product That Does…

Perhaps you’ve been complaining about a problem and don’t realize that a solution exists.  Sometimes it’s helpful to know what’s out there.

I put add-on products in 2 categories –

  1. Industry-specific and
  2. Task-specific

Typically you’ll find predominantly industry-specific products at the conferences and trade shows you attend.  Industry specific solutions understand you and your industry so there are some great products out that that handle a variety of issues you have, integrate with QuickBooks – and you need only 1 product.

Scaling New Heights, the conference I recently attended, was for accountants, bookkeepers, consultants who all work with some version of QuickBooks. So we saw accounting/bookkeeping solutions. Many of these would be considered “task-specific” for you.  My personal favorites– Bill & Pay, Method, NetSpend and TSheets

Here are several great task-specific products (you can also see most of these plus others on my website)

  • Cash Flow –
    • Bill and Pay – Speed up invoicing, payments and collections with automatic reminders, auto-pay invoicing, automatic credit card expiration reminders, and auto-sync with QuickBooks. Click here for more info – Be sure to use MuirAssoc for your invitation code
    • Fundbox – Quickly and easily get an advance on an unpaid invoice when you need the cash. No application, funds in your account the next business day! No fee unless you use it.  Quick and easy to sign up, quick and easy to advance the funds!  Click here for more info:
  • CRM – MethodCRM – The top-rated CRM for QuickBooks and a product I both use and love.  Track your leads, correspondence, sale opportunities for leads or customers, and real-time sync. Web-based, highly customizable and very powerful. Originally also promoted as remote access for QuickBooks so you’ll find you can use this for many of your QuickBooks tasks in addition to the CRM. Click here for a free 30 day trial and an hour of Method assistance.
  • Expense tracking – Expensify – take a picture of a receipt with your phone, it’s transformed to expenses and integrates with QuickBooks. No more lost receipts or hours of data entry.  Can import to Accounts, Items, Customers & Jobs, Classes and Locations. Click here for more info
  • Paperless – Neat Tired of all those pieces of paper and in different places? Or maybe workers “lose” receipts? With Neat, you can snap a picture with your phone, scan, or email all to a central place for easy cataloging/organization. For desktop QuickBooks, you can retrieve those documents and attach to transactions, customers, vendors, etc. With QB Online, documents can be read and converted to transactions!.  Click here for more info
  • Payroll – NetSpend – For contractors with employees who have no bank account, this is a great solution: employee paycheck goes on a prepaid debit card! They can use it for “check” cashing, paying bills and at ATMs (free at the MoneyPass ATM’s). No fee for card – just the Intuit direct deposit fee (unless you use Enterprise Gold or Platinum in which case there is no direct deposit fee). Click here for special deal
  • Sales Tax – Avalara. Simplify and automate sales tax.  If you have to keep track of what’s taxable, who’s taxable and where, you might want to take a close look at Avalara – especially when you work with multiple state/tax jurisdictions. Avalara keeps up with all the rules, can remit the tax forms and payments and even file and keep up with all your sales and use tax forms! Hands down, this is the recommended product for those who have to track and report on multiple sales tax jurisdictions. Click here for more info
  • Time tracking & scheduling – TSheets – A highly-rated easy scheduling time tracking product for employees of all levels that syncs easily with QuickBooks. It fills in the timesheets with task & customer! Good for a wide range of service industries including those who need job costing, like contractors, landscapers, and even government contractors who need DCAA compliance. Also has GPS tracking, crew tracking and a Hispanic option. Click here for a free trial and a 10% discount on your first year if you sign up. Be sure to use MuirAssoc for the coupon code!

And since many of you are contractors, here’s a short list of industry-specific products (in alphabetical order) you might want to check out- I have clients using most of these.  They all have a QB desktop and a QB Online option with the exception of Jobber and Knowify which are for QBO only

Clip – strength is lawn maintenance

Hindsite strength is irrigation

Jobber – – best for field services (short, repetitive)

Knowify – strength is construction (including AIA) and integration w/QBO (desktop not as robust) – most work is in Knowify, not QB

LMN – strength is landscape construction. They gave a great time app too.

Check out the 4’oclock 4 phone app – it’s free!  4 questions to ask at the end of the day – great for those in the contractor world.

Let me know if you have questions on these or other products or needs.  Would love to hear if you try and/or use any of these and your opinion.

Posted in Cash Flow, Payroll, Productivity Tips, Remote Access | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment