Is Hosted QuickBooks Right for You?

If you are currently using the popular QuickBooks desktop software, you now have a fairly new option available to you:  hosted QuickBooks.  In this article, we’ll talk about what it is, what type of businesses it’s right for, and how to get started if you decide it’s for you.

A Host of Opportunities

Hosted QuickBooks changes the location of your QuickBooks company file from your local computer to one of the dozen authorized QuickBooks hosting companies.  You then access your QuickBooks file through a secure Internet connection.  The good news is you continue using the exact same QuickBooks software, screens, forms, and reports that you are comfortably familiar with, so the additional learning curve is extremely low.   The two biggest differences are:

  • You access your QuickBooks differently; instead of accessing your local software, you will access the same version of QuickBooks software via the cloud on a secure server provided by a hosting vendor.  You will most likely access your QuickBooks by clicking on a desktop icon or accessing a screen and entering your login information.
  • The pricing is different.  Instead of paying a large software fee at the beginning and then optionally paying for annual upgrades, you pay monthly, like a lease.

There are a few other very minor differences, such as how you back up your file, how you print checks, invoices, and other forms, and how you interface with other software such as Microsoft Outlook® or Word®.  At most, the learning curve for each of these minor changes is five minutes top for any user.

Who Benefits

You will benefit from hosted QuickBooks if any of the following are true:

  • You, your team, your bookkeeper, or your CPA needs to be able to access your QuickBooks files from multiple locations.
  • You are spending at least one hour per month restoring the file from one location to another.
  • You have experienced errors in the past from backing up and restoring the company file or the Accountant’s Copy because of passing it back and forth among people who need to update it or to get information from it.
  • You prefer to save the time it takes installing QuickBooks and applying the upgrades to QuickBooks software.  With hosted QuickBooks, the hosting vendor takes care of all of that.
  • You do not have a recent backup of QuickBooks and forget to take backups on a regular basis.  With hosted QuickBooks, backups are a routine part of the process.
  • You’re great at working on the core items of your business, but want to reduce time spent on IT-related tasks.
  • You dislike or feel inadequate when it comes to technology, and you agree it makes sense to outsource as much as possible.

Any Concerns

Hosted QuickBooks is great, but it’s not right for everyone.  If you feel “safer” with no one having access to your QuickBooks, then hosting it may not be right for you.  Although the data centers are far more secure than the PCs in most people’s homes and offices because they have to undergo a rigorous security audit to become a hosting vendor, some people are simply uncomfortable passing their financial data to others.  If you want to consider hosted QuickBooks and wonder about security, we’ll be happy to have a conversation with you about that.

Hosted QuickBooks is also not right for people that are using very old software versions because you may be forced to upgrade to a newer version.

Hosted QuickBooks is also not right for people who have much more free time than budget.  Although hosted QuickBooks is not particularly expensive, there is a cost outlay that will buy you time savings.  If the free time you gain (that you can apply to completing more important priorities in your business) is not valuable to you, then hosted QuickBooks may not be right for you.

Getting Started

Before moving to a hosted QuickBooks solution, your accounting professional will want to ask you questions about how you are using QuickBooks, if they aren’t already familiar with your requirements.  Selecting the right hosting solution means evaluating:

  • What version and line of QuickBooks you are currently using because this has to be exactly matched with the hosting vendor.
  • What other applications access QuickBooks, such as online banking and payroll.
  • What add-ons you are using with QuickBooks, if any.
  • What printers, Microsoft software, email software, and other peripheral needs you have when using QuickBooks.

Once those answers are gathered, your accounting professional can provide you with some hosting solutions, costs, and implementation plans.  Most accounting professionals partner with one or more hosting companies so that you can get a seamless one-stop shop experience.  You may also be able to benefit from volume or package pricing through your accounting professional.

If you are thinking that hosted QuickBooks might be right for your business, please email us or give us a call so we can talk more about it.

10 Tips to Perfect Check-Printing in QuickBooks

But be sure that you’ve established all the right settings and understand the process.
 
If you used small business accounting products in the early days, you know how frustrating it was to print checks correctly from your software. Pre-printed checks weren’t cheap, and you probably printed at least a few that didn’t line up right or were otherwise unusable. 
 

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Figure 1: The Write Checks window in QuickBooks 2013.

 

Printing checks from QuickBooks has gotten easier, and online banking has made this task less of a necessity for many businesses. But when you do print checks, precision is still required. 

So to minimize frustration, save time and money, and ensure that everything will be copacetic when your checks are processed at the bank, it’s important that you use the tools that QuickBooks offers appropriately. If you’ve been having trouble with check-printing or you’re considering attempting it, keep these tips in mind:
 
1. First, be sure your are creating standard checks, not paychecks. Go to BankingWrite Checks or click the Write Checks icon on the home page. 

 
2. QuickBooks offers a few option for check creation. Click Edit | Preferences |Checking | My Preferences. Here, you can specify a default account for the Write Checks function. ClickCompany Preferences for additional option.

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Figure 2: Check the boxes here to activate options.

 

3. You can customize the appearance of your checks. Click FilePrinter Setup |

Check/PayCheck. Specify printer options and check style, change the fonts in some fields, designate a partial page printing style (using the envelope feed) and add your company’s name and address, logo and signature image.

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Figure 3: The Printer Setup window provides access to your output options.

4. Be sure that your printer has enough ink or toner before you begin a job.

 

5. If you print a lot of checks, consider dedicating one printer to that task. But secure your blank checks. Don’t leave them in the printer.

 

6. Does your printer process pages in reverse order, last page first? This can cause problems when you’re printing multiple checks. You have several options here. You can:

  • Modify your printer’s property settings in Windows and/or consult your printer documentation.
  • Load the paper to accommodate reverse printing or
  • Alter the check numbers in QuickBooks. Go to
    ListsChart of Accounts and open the correct checkbook register to change them. (This option is the least elegant and most risky, and not something you want to do on a regular basis. Let us help you with your printer setup if you can’t resolve the problem.)

7. QuickBooks supports batch printing. If you’re writing multiple checks that you’ll want to print later, click the Print Later or To be printed link (depending on your version of QuickBooks). When you’re ready, you can either selectFile | Print Forms | Checks or click the Print Checks link on the home page. Both will open this window:

 

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Figure 4: Uncheck any items you don’t want printed to remove them from the batch job.

 

8. Printing a batch of checks and realize that you’ve set something up wrong? Hit the Esc key to halt it.

 

9. Double-check to make sure that your numbers match before you launch a print job. Compare the number in theFirst Check Number field to the number of the first check queued up in the printer.

 

10. Ruin a check or an entire page of them? If you accounting protocol allows you to skip check numbers, just start over by changing the First Check Number so that it corresponds with the starting number on a fresh batch of check blanks. If not, you’ll have to create a check for each one that was ruined, choosing a name and account and an amount of $0.00. Then void the check(s). (Click Banking | Use Register and select the account. Highlights the transaction(s), select the edit option and void. Do not delete them.

 

Check-printing can be tricky, but it must absolutely follow the rules. Let us know if you get stuck or want some guidance upfront — or if you want to switch to online banking and bill-pay.

Preparing Purchase Orders Precisely

Modifying the default template makes tracking easier, more accurate. 
Part of the reason for QuickBooks’ success is its exceptional flexibility. By allowing users to turn features and preferences on and off, the same software can be used by a wide variety of business types and sizes. 
In some cases, the default settings that QuickBooks supplies will work fine for your company. This is not necessarily true in the case of purchase orders, since the whole inventory procurement process is so complex, and users can have such a diverse range of needs.

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Figure 1: QuickBooks 2013’s default Create Purchase Orders screen. You can see that formatting options are available when you click the Formatting tab.

 

So before you order your first widget, make sure that your purchase order form is designed to accommodate all of the information you want to record and track, with no unnecessary data fields to confuse staff.

Working With Templates

There aren’t many program preferences to check. If you can open a purchase order, you’re set. If not, go to Edit | Preferences | Items & Inventory and be sure that the box next to Inventory and purchase orders are active is checked. 

What you want to find first is the Additional Customization screen for the Custom Purchase Order Template. This is easily accessed from the Create Purchase Order screen itself in QuickBooks 2013, but if you’re using an earlier edition, go to Lists | Templates | Custom Purchase Order Template. Double-click on it to open the Basic Customization page. Here, you can add a logo, change fonts and colors, etc. But go ahead and click on theAdditional Customization button at the bottom of the screen. This window opens: 

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Figure 2: The left pane of theAdditional Customization window contains additional fields that you might want on your purchase orders, like Ship Via andTerms.

 

(Tip: If you want to design multiple purchase order templates, click Manage Templates on the Basic Customization screen, then Copy on the Manage Templates page. Rename the form and make your modifications. This version will always be available as an option when you create purchase orders.)

Making It Yours

Each of this window’s four tabs opens a new screen that gives you customization control over a different element of the purchase order form: the top, bottom and midsection, and printing options. You simply check the boxes next to the fields that you want to add to the current form (be sure to check both columns if you want the fields to appear both onscreen and in your printed versions; sometimes, one is not an option) and uncheck any you want to delete. 

If the right pane of this window, a dynamic preview changes to reflect each addition or deletion. And when you’ve finished altering the set of fields, you can see an actual print preview. Close that and keep clicking OK until you get back to the Templateswindow.

This simplicity and ease carries over into the more cosmetic elements of your purchase order. Make sure the template you want to redesign is highlighted and click Templates | Create Form Design. QuickBooks walks you through the process of adding a logo and background, colors and fonts, and a grid style, and it lets you apply this same theme automatically to all of your forms. (You can modify your design similarly on the Basic Customizationpage, minus the wizard-like approach and the background options.)

Simple But Complicated

One more comment about the QuickBooks 2013 purchase order screen. Beyond making your formatting options available in the “ribbon,” it also moves you through purchasing to the receiving process. With the appropriate purchase order open, click Create Item Receipts in the ribbon. This window opens, with the correct vendor name selected. When you click in the Item field, this small window appears: 

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Figure 3: Click Yeshere and select the correct PO, and QuickBooks fills in the data. If you check theBill Received box, the Enter Bills window opens.

 

QuickBooks’ purchasing and receiving tools makes your inventory-tracking job easier, but you still need to understand the workflow. We encourage you to let us work with you as you begin managing inventory – or to contact us if you’re tangled up in what can be a very challenging element of QuickBooks. 

Does This Icon Make Me Look Fat?

Spring is a good time to clean up and slim down QuickBooks and its data.

Depending on your location, you’re probably starting to see early signs of spring. The nicer the weather and signs of new life seem to make people want to spruce up their surroundings. 

Now would be a good time, too, to clean up your accounting environment. Some of your screens may be unnecessarily cluttered. And your QuickBooks company file probably needs attention, too. 

So here are some suggestions for streamlining QuickBooks. You’ll have a tidier workspace, and you’ll save time and frustration.

Make a Clean Start

Intuit did a great job of giving QuickBooks’ home page a fresher, more “open” look in its 2013 versions. But does everything really need to be there? Could you simplify it a bit? There are several things you can do, including:

  • Minimize icons. That pretty graphical process map on the home page is great for quick access to frequently-used actions. Some of them must remain there if they’re related to activities you do (i.e. Invoices has to stay if you use Estimates), but you can remove some of the ones you don’t use. Go to Preferences | Desktop View | Company Preferences. You’ll see this: 

Figure 1: You can turn off some of the feature icons on your home page.

Some of the options have been grayed out because they support other processes. To remove an active feature icon like Inventory, click on it. In the window that opens, uncheck the box next to Inventory and purchase orders are active (you can also modify options here). 

Figure 2: Clicking the checkbox next toInventory and purchase orders are active grays out the other options and removed related feature icons from the home page.

To reduce the number of feature icons even more, go to the Finance Charge, Jobs & Estimates, Payroll& Employees, Sales & Customers,Sales Tax and Time & Expenses. QuickBooks removes the related icons and reroutes the process map on the home page. 

More Time-Saving Tweaks

  • Don’t allow multiple windows to open in your work area. Tired of seeing all of those overlapping open windows on your desktop? Open theView menu and select One Window. All of your open windows remain active in the background. To return to one of them, open theWindow menu and select the one you want to move to the front (Window | Close All returns you to a blank work area).

Figure 3: Your icon bar can be your fastest route to often needed screens — if you modify it to only contain the functions you use, in order of importance. You can also change the labels to make them more meaningful to you. 
  • Trim down your icon bar. Seems like a minimal change, but it’s one of those things that can add unnecessary moments of frustration throughout the day (“Where’s the Calendar!“) Click View | Customize Icon Bar.
  • Customize columns in Lists. You probably work in QuickBooks’ Lists often, but are you spending too much time tracking down the right information? Customize their columns so your registers contain only what you usually need (and add additional ones if it’s helpful). Open a list, right-click anywhere within it and select Customize Columnsto modify the display (resize column widths by placing your cursor on the vertical set of dots between labels and dragging).

 
  • Hide inactive items. Highlight an item, right-click and selectMake Item Inactive. Open the Item menu in the lower left and click Hide Inactive Items (this action won’t delete them).

Internal Cleaning

These may all seem like cosmetic changes, but youwill save time and frustration over the long run.

The most critical spring cleaning task is company file analysis and maintenance. We can handle this for you. QuickBooks can slow down and start generating error messages when the data file becomes unwieldy and sloppy. Preventing file corruption before it crashes your system is a lot faster and less expensive than a reconstruction project. So if you have any questions about this, give us a call today.

Use QuickBooks’ Tools and Common Sense Procedures To Prevent Financial Fraud

February 1, 2013 · Posted in QuickBooks Help, QuickBooks Software, QuickBooks Training · Comment 
You work hard for your money. Strong internal controls can keep it from disappearing unnecessarily.
 
You trust your employees or you wouldn’t have hired them. That’s what everyone says as they watch a valued staff member being hauled off in handcuffs.But I trusted him.
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Whether your accounting tasks are done on one PC or you have multiple users working on different screens, it’s critical that you make use of all that QuickBooks offers in terms of internal controls. You’ll also need to establish some common-sense rules. 
 
First Stop: Audit Trail
 
An audit trail is very large report that displays every addition, deletion and modification of every transaction. In older versions of QuickBooks you could turn it on and off, but it’s permanently on now. 
 
Because of its size, you’ll probably have to use QuickBooks’ filtering tools to zero in on the user and/or date(s) you’re looking for. Go toReports | Accountant & Taxes | Audit Trail. Click Customize Report | Filtersto set up your search. 
 
Your audit trail won’t alert you when someone tries to enter a prohibited area, and it won’t detect changes to lists. Setting up permissions will help (Company | Set Up | Users and Passwords | Set Up Users), but you need more than that.

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Figure 1: Be especially careful when granting user access to areas that contain customer, vendor and employee information.

Run the Right Reports
 
Other QuickBooks features can help prevent fraud. Review these reports regularly: 
  • Closing Date Exception. Why were those changes necessary?
  • Voided/Deleted Transactions. Is there supporting documentation? Should you be reviewing these daily?
  • Expenses by Vendor Detail. Look for irregularities, especially multiple payments made to a vendor in a short period of time.
  • Check registers. Use the Balance Sheet for this. Go to Reports | Company &Financial | Balance Sheet Standard and customize the report for the correct period and — if necessary — for specific customers, vendors and/or jobs.

Adhere to Best Practices

You undoubtedly implement financial best practices in your personal life. You reconcile your accounts. You don’t give your online banking password to anyone. And you glance through your recently-posted transactions on your financial institutions’ websites. 

If your company is large enough that you have multiple accounting employees, you probably can’t be as hands-on as you are at home. But you can still set up internal control procedures.  

 

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Figure 2: Debit? Credit? Reverse the transaction? No one should be making General Journal entries but you. It’s easy to err here; talk to us before using this feature.

For example, if your company has grown to the point where you’re removed from the daily workflow, you may still want to have approval rights for some procedures, like bank balance adjustments, refunds and credits, printed checks (you should still be signing them), timesheets and expense reports.
 
It goes without saying that you should password-protect your QuickBooks company file and change the password regularly, even — and especially — if you’re the entire accounting department. And protect yourself forexternal fraud. We can do a review of your security procedures and make suggestions.
 
Reinforce the rules  
 

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Figure 3: Anyone in your company who has access to accounting data should have a background check.

Know who your employees are (consider running background checks) and, if you can, rotate the duties assigned to accounting staff. If you have only one person managing all of your bookkeeping work, conduct an even more thorough background search: credit, references, criminal activity, etc. 
Finally, make sure that all employees understand the definition and consequences of fraud. Let them know about the steps being taken to prevent it, but do some unannounced auditing on your own. Include a session on fraud in orientation and get current staff up in orientation and get current staff up to speed. Explain that this is necessary for their protection, too. Make it easy to report fraud anonymously, with no fear of repercussions. 
This may seem like a lot of extra tasks in your workday, but imagine the time you’ll lose tracking down fraudulent activity if it occurs. So spend a fraction of that time upfront.
If you have questions on this subject, or anything else Accounting or QuickBooks related, give us a call or email. We’re here to be your partner.

Is 2013 the Year You Finally Go Mobile With Financial Data?

January 1, 2013 · Posted in QuickBooks Help, QuickBooks Software, QuickBooks Training · Comment 
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Figure 1: You can see this screen no 
matter where you and your smartphone
are they recently upgraded Android
 version is pictured here). 


Using QuickBooks Mobile, you’ll improve business relations, put out fires before they start and unchain yourself from your office computer.

There are only a few reasons why youwouldn’t be using QuickBooks Mobile on your smartphone. Maybe you don’t have a smartphone. Or when you’re out of the office, you don’t want to be available for accounting work. Or you might not think that it has enough features to make it worth using.

While the first two reasons are a matters of personal preference, the third just isn’t true. QuickBooks Mobile automatically — and almost instantly — synchronizes the data from your desktop or laptop computer copy for QuickBooks. While it’s only focused on sales, not payables or payroll, you can manage receivables quite nicely whether you’re in a customer’s office or at a trade show or community event — or sitting on the couch at home.

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Figure 2: You can record sales receipts and payments on your smartphones — even schedule appointments that move to your Google calendar.


Countless Scenarios

There are numerous situations where you might want to access, add or edit customers, estimates, invoices, sales receipts or payments when you’re not near the PC where QuickBooks is installed, like these:

    • You do a half day of onsite training and your client wants to pay you cash right then to qualify for a discount. You can record the payment and email a sales receipt.
    • You’re on the road and you want to see how well your bookkeeper is managing receivables. QuickBooks Mobile displays three views: recent activity, today and upcoming.
    • You’re with a client who would like to give you a check to get current, but he or she can’t find the invoice. Rather than calling your office and sitting on hold until someone has time to look, you can pull up the form on your smartphone to discuss it.  
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Figure 3: Missed your flight and afraid you’ll miss the current payroll run, too? Intuit Online Payroll gives you access from your Android or iPhone.


The Perils of Payroll

QuickBooks Mobile doesn’t support payroll, but Intuit Online Payroll does. Like QuickBooks Mobile, the app itself is free (of course, you have to pay for the service itself). You can view the most recent payroll run and employee information, as well as preparing, previewing and approving the current payroll.

Neither app is available yet for the iPad, though QuickBooks Online is.

Paper or Plastic?

If you’ve been in business for very long and still don’t accept credit cards, you have an idea of how many sales you’ve lost. And QuickBooks Mobile won’t let you do so, anyway. You’ll need to get a merchant account from Intuit Merchant Service for QuickBooks (fees apply). A merchant account allows you to accept plastic through QuickBooks itself, your web browser, your web storefront — and on your smartphone or iPad.

To do so, you’ll need to apply for a merchant account and download Intuit’s free GoPayment app. You can either swipe cards on the free mobile reader or type numbers in. Your customers sign their names on the surface of your mobile device, and you can print or email a receipt. 

It would be nice if those credit card payments were just instantly zapped into the right places in QuickBooks, but alas, it isn’t so. You’ll need to do some setup and processing both within QuickBooks and in the online Intuit Merchant Service Center. We can help you with setup and your initial transactions to make sure all of your payments get through and are deposited and/or credited correctly. 

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Figure 4: You’ll need to get acquainted  with the Intuit Merchant Service Center
 to work with credit card payments.

We think you’ll find that once you start using all of the mobile payments services that Intuit offers, you’ll wonder what took you so long.

If you have any questions, or need help getting set up, call us…

Say Good-Bye to 2012 and Ready QuickBooks for 2013

December 1, 2012 · Posted in QuickBooks Help, QuickBooks Software, QuickBooks Training · Comment 
We hope you’ll be ringing out a successful financial year at month’s end. In any case, here’s what you should know about preparing for 2013.

End of the year. QuickBooks has been hard at work for the past 11+ months, recording and tracking and storing all of that financial data that you’ve entered so faithfully.

But when you turn the calendar page and make a new start January 1, your accounting software could use some closure on the year that’s just passed. Here are some actions you can take to ring out the old and ring in the new. There’s more you can do (we can help you with the advanced activities) but we’ll just hit the highlights here.

  • Reconcile, reconcile, reconcile. Yes, we know it’s not one of your favorite chores, but we really like to see all bank and credit card accounts reconciled by the end of the year if at all possible. Void all checks necessary and enter missing transactions. 

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Figure 1: You can make yourself crazy looking for a nickel when you’re reconciling, but it’s a critical function.

 

  • Make accrual adjustments. This is complicated, and it only applies if you accrue payroll and liabilities or prepay expenses that are then carried as assets. We’ll need to create journal entries for you.
  • Close your books. This is totally optional. It depends on whether you want to lock 2012 data to everyone except those who have the password and permissions. If you don’t close them, you’ll have easier access to last year’s transaction details. Regardless of what you chose, QuickBooks will automatically make some year-end adjustments.
  • Do a physical inventory. Then compare this with what QuickBooks says. Reports | Inventory | Physical Inventory Worksheet.

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Figure 2: It’s good to match up your physical inventory count with QuickBooks occasionally, and the end of the year is as good a time as any.

 

  • Run income tax reports. As you know, QuickBooks lets you assign tax lines to tax-related transactions. Use the Income Tax Preparation Report and the Income Tax Summary Report. Let us know about any errors or omissions.
  • Check W-2 and 1099 data. You can’t create these forms, of course, until after your final 2012 payroll, but you can get a head start. Ask employees to verify their names, addresses and Social Security numbers for accuracy. Also, make sure that your EIN and SEIN are correct, as well as company address.
  • Clean up, back up. We can monitor the health of your QuickBooks data file anytime. But year-end is a good time to scrutinize your software’s performance. Has it slowed down, started crashing or returning error messages? We can troubleshoot to find the problem and clean it up. We’resure you’ve been backing up your file faithfully, but archive all of 2012 and store it in a very safe offsite location — or use Intuit Data Protect for online storage.
  • Double-check tax liabilities. If you’re handling your own payroll, look back to see whether all of your payments and filings have been completed.

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Figure 3: Frequent backups are critical, but you should be sure to have a copy of your entire 2012 data file stored somewhere safe.

 

Thanks for another year.

Again, these are suggestions. QuickBooks does not require you to do any of them. There’s more you can do, and you will need assistance with some of these. So let’s set up a December or early January meeting to get you started right in 2013.

We want to take this opportunity to thank you for letting us serve your company in 2012. We certainly appreciate your business, and we’re happy to do what we can to help your business prosper. 

P.S. It’s not too early to think about taxes so let us know if you want to get a jump on planning and preparation in January. 

Are You Defining Items In QuickBooks Correctly?

November 1, 2012 · Posted in QuickBooks Help, QuickBooks Software, QuickBooks Training · Comment 

Create item records in QuickBooks carefully, and QuickBooks will return the favor by running useful, accurate reports.  

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Figure 1: Clearly-defined items result in precise reports. 

Obviously, you’re using QuickBooks because you buy and/or sell products and/or services. You want to know at least weekly — if not daily — what’s selling and what’s not, so you can make informed plans about your company’s future.

You get that information from the reports that you so painstakingly customize and create. But their accuracy depends in large part on how carefully you define each item.  This can be a laborious process, but it’s a critical part of QuickBooks’ foundation.
 
QuickBooks Item Lineup
 
You may not be aware of all your options here. So let’s take a look at what you see when you go to Lists | Item List | Item | New:
 
Service. Simple enough. Do you or your employees do something for clients?  Training? Construction labor? Web design? This is usually tracked by the hour.

Inventory Part. If you want to maintain detailed records about inventory that contain up-to-date information about value, quantities on hand and cost of goods sold, you must define these items as inventory parts. Before you start creating individual records, make sure that QuickBooks is set up for this purpose. Go to Edit | Preferences | Items & Inventory | Company Preferences and select the desired options there, like this:
 

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Figure 2: QuickBooks needs to know that you’re planning to track at least some items as inventory parts.   


Inventory Assembly. Just what it sounds like; it’s sometimes referred to as a Bill of Materials. Do you sell items that actually consist of multiple individual products, services and/or other charges (though you may also sell the parts separately)? If you’re planning to track the compilations as individual units, then you must define them as assemblies.  

 
Non-Inventory Parts. If you don’t track inventory, you can set up items as non-inventory parts. Even if you do track inventory, there may be times when you’ll want to use this designation. For instance, you might sell something to a customer that they asked you to obtain, but you don’t plan to stock it. In that case, QuickBooks only records the incoming and outgoing funds.  

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Figure 3: The New Item window looks a bit intimidating, but it’s critical that you complete it thoroughly and correctly. We can help you get started.
 

Other Charges. This is a catch-all category for items like delivery charges or setup fees. You can’t designate a unit or measure here; they’re just standard costs.    

Groups
. Unlike assemblies, these are not recorded as individual inventory units. Use this designation when you sell a combination of items together frequently but you don’t want them tracked as one entity.   


Discount
. This is a fixed amount or a percentage that you subtract from a subtotal or total. 


Payment
. Normally, you would use the Receive Payments window to record a payment made. But if your customer has made a partial or advance payment upfront, use this item to subtract it from the total when you create the invoice or statement. 

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Figure 4: Use the Payment item to record an upfront remittance. 


Sales Tax Item. One sales tax, one rate, one agency. 


Sales Tax Group. If a sale requires two or more sales tax items, QuickBooks calculates the total and displays it for the customer, but the items are tracked individually. 


Additional Actions  

The item menu provides other options for working with items. You can:

  • Edit or delete
  • Duplicate
  • Make inactive
  • Find in transactions and
  • Customize the list’s columns.

Let us know if you’re not confident about items you’ve already created or if you’re just getting started with this important QuickBooks feature. Some extra work and attention upfront can save you hours of back-tracking and frustration — and from reports that don’t tell the truth.

QuickBooks 2013 Gives You a Reason To Upgrade

October 1, 2012 · Posted in QuickBooks Help, QuickBooks Software, QuickBooks Training · Comment 

Tired of QuickBooks’ cramped, claustrophobic screens and uneven interface? You’ll be pleased to see the 2013 version.

You chose QuickBooks for a variety of reasons, a major one being its simplicity and usability.

But the software is more than 20 years old now, and hundreds of features have been added over the years. QuickBooks looks old, tired and in need of a makeover.

Not anymore. Intuit has totally redesigned the program’s interface and navigational tools, providing a more consistent, streamlined, state-of-the-art look and feel. For the first time in a few years, there’s a compelling reason to consider moving up.

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Figure 1: The QuickBooks 2013 home page.

Clean, Efficient, Customizable

What Intuit heard from customers was that they wanted a clean, simple experience. They wanted QuickBooks optimized for efficiency, and they wanted to be able to customize quickly.

So Intuit build a brand new interface, one that offers:

  • An across-the-board, consistent look and feel
  • A minimal learning curve, aided by familiar software conventions
  • A clearer, more obvious workflow.

QuickBooks’ 2013’s dramatic changes are evident from its first screen. The home page has been cleaned up, and many icons removed (with their functions available elsewhere). But the interactive flowchart graphic is still there, along with icons for other commonly-used features.

You can still use the software’s standard drop-down menus. But you now have a choice between the old horizontal Icon Toolbar and a new vertical navigational panel (or neither of the latter two). You can customize the new panel to give you quick access to the functions and reports you use most often, saving time and unnecessary clicking.

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Figure 2: The new vertical navigational panel can be customized to display the icons you want.

Familiarity, and Clear Signals


Whether you just handle a subset of your company’s financial data or you’re the only one working with QuickBooks, your workflow will be faster and more intuitive.

QuickBooks 2013 uses colors and other visual cues to provide helpful hints and speed up your work. If the same option occurs within more than one screen, it’s always the identical color. When you’re completing an invoice, for example, the Save & New button is a bright blue color, as it is on many other screens. The Save & Close and OK icons are the same shade within the forms and records where they occur.

Color is also used to signify related actions in the new navigational Ribbon, a familiar interface convention that replaces the mismatched icons that used to be displayed at the top of transaction forms. In QuickBooks 2013, the icons for related tasks are the same color, and the graphics themselves are much cleaner and well-positioned.

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Figure 3: QuickBooks 2013’s new navigational Ribbon is designed to accelerate workflow.


A Pleasure to Use

No area of QuickBooks remained untouched in this massive overhaul. Every screen has been modified to enhance readability and speed. Fonts look larger and clearer, and the overall design is more aesthetically pleasing.

So besides making your accounting chores zip along faster, the new look and navigation have a positive psychological effect: It’s simply more enjoyable and less frustrating to interact with QuickBooks 2013. Its more modern, attractive look has a lot of appeal.

There are a few new things under the hood in this new version — it’s not just an interface update. For example, customer and vendor records are more flexible and thorough. You can attach to-do’s to them, assign multiple contacts and store more contact options, like Facebook addresses and Twitter handles.

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Figure 4: Contact records in QuickBooks 2013 are more readable and thorough.


Starting Fresh

There are other changes that will make your work life easier, like one-click access to both the Intuit App Center (where you’ll find hundreds of integrated QuickBooks add-on) and your most often-accessed reports.

The last few versions of QuickBooks have been rather ho-hum in terms of new usability and functionality. But we encourage you to seriously consider upgrading to QuickBooks 2013. We’d be happy to help you get up and running with it. Together, we can take a fresh look at your workflow to see if you and QuickBooks can build a better accounting experience.

QuickBooks Payroll Runs: Easy, Fast, Accurate

September 1, 2012 · Posted in QuickBooks Help, QuickBooks Software, QuickBooks Training · Comment 

If you’ve already set up your QuickBooks employee and company payroll files, the hard part’s over.

It’s not just a catchy ad slogan: It’s true. Unless you have dozens of employees or numerous exceptions each payday, you can literally process a payroll run in just a few minutes using the employee compensation tools in QuickBooks.

No matter which version of desktop QuickBooks you’re using, payday chores are similar. Even if you’ve subscribed to Full Service Payroll and are having most of the work done by Intuit, you still have to enter the number and type of hours worked for each pay period.

If you’re doing payroll manually or through a payroll service, you might be surprised at how quickly and easily your payroll tasks can be completed once you’ve finished entering information about your company and its employees, taxes and deductions.

A Simple Process

When you get a reminder that it’s time to run payroll, go to Employees | Pay Employees and choose Scheduled Payroll to get this window:

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Figure 1: No matter how many payrolls you’ve run, it’s important to verify that these dates are correct.

When you click Start Scheduled Payroll, a new screen displays your employee list in a spreadsheet grid. By default, QuickBooks displays several columns, including Employee, Regular Pay and Sick Hourly; you can opt to include others, like Employee Number. If you hide columns that contain information, that data will still be used in paycheck calculation. Then:

  • Verify that the information at the top of the screen is correct (Payroll Schedule, Bank Account, etc).
  • Make sure that all employees to be paid have check marks next to their names.
  • Enter the number of hours worked for each hourly employee, placing them in the correct pay type column.

 Select one and click Open Paycheck Detail to see a complete breakdown of compensation and withholding — all calculated automatically by QuickBooks based on your setup data — within the Preview Paycheck screen. Close the window when finished.

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Figure 2: The Preview Paycheck screen shows the numbers behind the check account.

Checking Your Work

If you’re satisfied that everything is correct, clickContinue.  In the next screen, you’ll verify Payroll Information again and check a box to indicate whether checks will be printed or handwritten (you can assign a starting check number to the latter). QuickBooks displays a grid containing each emplyee’s total gross pay, total taxes, contribution and total hours. TheDirect Deposit field will be checked if the individual is signed up.

If you’re at all unser that your payroll information is correct, you can click Finish Later. Otherwise, select Create Paychecks.

The Final Step

QuickBooks will then display your results:  
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Figure 3: Once you’ve previewed and approved a payroll, you can simply click to print any paper checks and pay stubs.

Check the box at the bottom of this window next to Don not advance the dates of this payroll schedule in the Payroll Center if you still have employees to process for this run. If the box isn’t checked, QuickBooks will change the dates in the Pay Employees window to reflect your next pay period.

When you select Print Paychecks or Print Pay Stubs, the selection window opens. You can toggle among views of Paychecks, Direct Deposit or Both. Select the ones you want to dispatch and click Print or E-Mail. You’ll have the option to reprint any checks if you need to; otherwise, click OK.
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Figure 4: Click Preferences in the print selection window to customize paycheck vouchers and pay stubs.

No Room for Errors

Sounds simple, and it is — as long as your setup was error-free. As you well know, you can’t make mistakes running payroll or you’ll initiate a whole series of incorrect numbers, making employees, benefits providers and government agencies unhappy. 

So do not proceed if something doesn’t look right; QuickBooks always gives you an out. And let us know how we can help with setup, taxes or payroll runs — or anything in between.

 

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