QuickBooks is ready to use as soon as it’s installed, but you can change settings to adapt it to your company.
All Small businesses need basic features in their accounting software such as a Chart of Accounts and a good set of report templates. There must be tools to bill customers and to document income and expenses. Some companies need payroll management, and some need the ability to create purchase orders. These days, many businesses want to accept payments online.
But it’s unlikely that your business uses absolutely every feature that QuickBooks offers, and you need to ensure that every tool you want to use is set up properly.
If you’ve been using QuickBooks for a while, you may have been directed to the Preferences window already (accessible by clicking on Edit | Preferences). If you’re just starting out with the software, it’s a good idea to acquaint yourself with the most important elements contained there. Here are some of them.
Figure 1: QuickBooks’ Preferences window. Some features are already turned on or off by default, but you can change their status.
Click on the Accounting tab in the left vertical pane, then on the Company Preferences tab. Here, QuickBooks wants to know whether you plan to use account numbers. It also offers the option to turn on class tracking, which lets you define classes like company locations or divisions, or salespeople. Not sure what you should do here? Please ask us.
Options here involve usability and visibility issues. Getting them right can save you time and frustration. For example, under the My Preferences tab, you can choose between a VIEW that displays only One Window, or one that keeps Multiple Windows open. Click on the Company Preferences tab to turn specific features – like Payroll and Sales Tax — on and off.
Should you decide to apply Finance Charges to late payments, for example, please let us go over this feature with you. We’ll explain how it is set up and how it works in day-to-day accounting.
Items & Inventory
This is critical: you must visit this screen if you will be buying and selling products. First, ensure that the box in front of Inventory and purchase orders are active has a check mark in it. If not, click in the box. Also important here: QuickBooks can maintain a real-time inventory level for each item you sell so that you neither run short nor waste money by stockpiling. Check the box in front of Quantity on Sales Orders if you want the software to include items that appear on sales orders in the count. Also, do you want a warning when you don’t have enough inventory to sell (as you’re filling out an invoice, for example)? We can explain the difference between Quantity on Hand and Quantity Available; call us at 256-337-5200 to discuss.
Figure 2: Some inventory concepts may be unfamiliar to you. If you’ll be buying and selling items, let us walk you through this section.
Payroll & Employees
Payroll is integrated with QuickBooks, but it’s so complex that it almost acts as another application. If you’re planning to take this on yourself, some training is advised.
Unless you have a very simple business or an extraordinarily good memory, you’ll probably want QuickBooks to remind you when you need to complete certain tasks. Click Reminders | Company Preferences to see the lengthy list of events that QuickBooks supports, like Paychecks to Print, Inventory to Reorder, and Bills to Pay. You can have the software display either a summary or a list of what needs to be done, and you can specify how many days in advance you want to be alerted.
Sales & Customers, Sales Tax, and Time & Expenses
If your accounting workflow includes tasks in any of these areas, you’ll need to turn features on and make your preferences known.
You probably won’t need to have absolutely every feature turned on from the start. But as your business grows and changes — and we hope it does — you can always revisit the Preferences window to let QuickBooks know about your new needs. We hope you’ll let us know, too. We would love to schedule a QuickBooks Health Check with you. After all, February is American Heart Health month and your QuickBooks file is the heart of your business activities. Call us today at 256-337-5200.
QuickBooks Online (QBO) has worked well for countless businesses, but if you need more than it offers in some areas, there’s likely to be an app for that.
You’d be hard-pressed to find two small businesses in the U.S. that have exactly the same needs when it comes to financial management. Fortunately, QuickBooks Online is powerful and flexible enough to please hundreds of thousands of small businesses.
As companies grow, they often find that the core features, user interface, and navigational tools that QuickBooks Online offers still suit them just fine. Still, they need to move beyond the tools offered in one or more areas.
That’s why QuickBooks Online has dozens of add-on applications — apps — that focus on one specific area of QuickBooks Online and extend what’s offered there. Since they’re all cloud-based, you have access to them anywhere, anytime, on a PC or mobile device, once you’ve set up an account.
To see what’s available, just click on the Apps link in the left vertical toolbar.
Figure 1: You can choose from dozens of integrated applications built specifically to add features and flexibility to individual areas of QuickBooks Online.
Take a look around this page, and click on any of them to get more information. All of the apps listed were designed to fit QuickBooks Online, but if you’re new to integrated applications or wondering whether a specific one would be a good match for your business, we can help you decide — and get started with it.
QuickBooks Online’s apps cover a lot of ground. Each falls into one of several categories, including billing and collections, expense management, time tracking, and customer relationship management. We’ll look at three of them here.
Bill.com automates your accounts payable and receivable. It began its life as a billing app (hence the name), adding receivables a few years ago. Though you could use it as a sole proprietor, its features are more fully utilized in a team setting. You email, fax, or upload incoming bills to your Bill.com account, where they can be entered, routed to the appropriate staff person, approved, and processed (transmitted directly to a vendor bank account or remitted via paper check). The ability to store all related documents in the cloud and maintain a strict audit trail add to the site’s security. Automated invoices, reminders, and payments simplify your receivables workflow. Bill.com also provides a close, real-time look at your current cash flow and also projects future scenarios.
Concur Travel and Expense has very tight integration with QuickBooks Online; it shares, for example, customer, vendor, and employee records, as well as job data and expense types. Your employees can either enter expense data manually or use a smartphone to take pictures of receipts, which can then be uploaded directly into Concur and automatically attached to their expense reports, along with any credit card charges (which can also be sent directly). Once you’ve approved an expense report, Concur handles the background bookkeeping and transfers funds into your employees’ bank accounts.
Figure 2: Your mobile employees can create and submit expense reports on the road using the mobile Concur app. iPhone, iPad, Android, and Blackberry are also supported.
Method CRM marries your QuickBooks Online data to your customer relationship management tasks. Lists of your customers, vendors, items, etc. and their associated records are available in the app, as are transactions like invoices, payments, and vendor bills. When prospects fill out forms on your website asking for product and/or service information, a new lead/sales opportunity is created in Method CRM. If a lead becomes a customer, that data is shared with QuickBooks. The app is exceptionally customizable, down to the actual design (should you decide to tackle this, though, let us work with you from the start).
There are many other types of apps that can be integrated with QuickBooks Online, including:
Constant Contact: Email marketing
TSheets Time Tracking: Timesheets and time tracking
Bigcommerce: Online shopping cart management
F|G Receivables Manager: Smart accounts receivable management
Shoeboxed: Scans and categorizes paper receipts
Figure 3: You can upload or drag and drop files, forward emails, or send paper receipts through U.S. Mail in a prepaid envelope to Shoeboxed.
These apps are easy to use for the most part, but whenever you’re moving data in and out of QuickBooks Online, you need to have a clear understanding of the source and destination. We’ll be happy to assist as you move beyond the boundaries of QuickBooks Online. Call us today at 256-337-5200 to discuss Aps and/or migrating to QBO.
Whether you’re selling unique items or stocking dozens of the same kinds of products, you need to create records for each. When it comes time to create invoices or sales receipts, your careful work defining each type of item will:
Follow these steps to setup your QuickBooks (QB) file to track inventory and to create items.
Step 1: QB File Setup – Open the Edit menu and select Preferences, then Items & Inventory. Click the Company Preferences tab and click in the box in front of Inventory and purchase orders are activated if there isn’t a check in the box already. Here, too, you can ask that QuickBooks warn you when there isn’t enough inventory to sell. Click OK when you’re finished.
Figure 1: You need to be sure that QuickBooks knows you’ll be tracking inventory before you start making sales.
Step 2: Create item - open the Lists menu and select Item List. Click the down arrow next to Item in the lower left corner of the window that opens and select New. The New Item window opens.
Warning: You must be very precise when you’re creating item records in order to avoid confusing your customers and creating problems with your accounting down the road. Please call us if you want us to walk you through the first few items.
QuickBooks should display the list of options below TYPE. Since you’re going to be tracking inventory that you buy and sell, select Inventory Part. Enter a name and/or item number in the next field. This is not the text that will appear on transactions; it’s simply for you to be able to recognize each item in your own bookkeeping.
Figure 2: Let us work with you if you have any doubts about the data that needs to be entered in the New Item window. It must be 100 percent accurate.
In the example above, the box next to Subitem of has a check mark in it because “Light Pine” is only one of the cabinet types you sell (you can check this box and select <Add New> if you want to create a new “parent” item on the fly). Leave the next field blank if your item doesn’t have a Part Number, and disregard UNIT OF MEASURE unless you’re using QuickBooks Premier or above.
Fill in the PURCHASE INFORMATION and SALES INFORMATION fields (or select from the lists of options). Keep in mind that the descriptive text you enter here will appear on transaction forms, though customers will never see what you’ve actually paid for items, of course (your Cost, as opposed to the Sales Price).
QuickBooks should have automatically selected the COGS Account (Cost of Goods Sold), but you’ll need to specify an Income Account. Please ask us if you’re not sure, as this is a critical designation. The Preferred Vendor and Tax Code fields will display lists if you’ve already set these up.
QuickBooks should have pre-selected your Asset Account. If you want to be alerted when your inventory level for this item has fallen to a specific number (Min) so you can reorder up to the point you specify in the Max field, enter those numbers there (the Inventory to Reorder option must be turned on in Edit | Preferences | Reminders).
If you already have this item in stock, enter the number under On Hand. QuickBooks will automatically calculate Average Cost and On P.O. (Purchase Order).
Click OK when you’ve completed all of the fields. This item will now appear in your Item List, and will be available to use in transactions. When you want to create, edit, delete, etc. any of your items, simply open the same menu you opened in the first step here (Lists | Item List | Item).
Figure 3: The Item menu, found in the lower left corner of the Item List
Precisely created Inventory Part records are critical to accurate sales and purchase transactions. So use exceptional care in building them. If you would like additional training and/or tips, contact us at 256-337-5200.
The “QB Bob” Team
We all use invoices for billing our customers, but there are times when you may want to send statements too. Thanks to the company file you’ve built in QuickBooks, creating statements, like invoices, is generally a very simple process that requires no duplicate data entry. Statements are generally not used nearly as frequently as invoices. However, you may find them more appropriate if you:
- Want to create a form that lists all of a customer’s open charges
- Have a customer who accrues multiple charges before being billed
- Receive advance – or regular — payments, or
- Need a historical accounting of a customer’s activity, including charges, payments, and balance.
Limitations of Statements
QuickBooks places some restrictions on statements. For example, if you have a number of related charges for which you want to create a subtotal for you’ll have to use an invoice. Statements also cannot include sales tax, percentage discounts, or payment items. Products or services requiring descriptions that run more than a paragraph can’t go on a statement. Customization options, too, are limited: you can’t add custom fields to the statement form, nor can you include a message to your customers, like, “We appreciate your business.”
The “Reminder Statement”
There may be occasions when you want to create a form that lists invoices received, payments made, and any credits given for one or more customers. This may be necessary when, for example, a customer disputes a charge. You may also want to send out these statements to remind customers of delinquent payments.
You do not have to enter any new data for these statements. Instead QuickBooks will pull the existing activity that you ask for in the Create Statements window, shown below. To get there, either click on the Statements icon on the home page, or open the Customers menu and select Create Statements.
As you can see, QuickBooks offers a lot of flexibility in the creation of statements. You can specify:
- The active date range. Under SELECT STATEMENT OPTIONS, you can either enter a date range or request a statement for every customer who has open transactions as of the Statement Date (be sure that this date is correct before proceeding). You can also ask to include only transactions that are past due by a specified number of days.
- The customers to include. Do you want to use the conditions you just outlined to apply to All Customers? If so, click on the button in front of that options. If you choose Multiple Customers, a small button labeled Choose… will appear. Click on it, and a window displaying your customer list opens. One Customer also opens your list of customers. If you’ve assigned types to your customers and want to include only those in one category (like Residential or Commercial), click Customers of Type. And Preferred Send Method lets you limit your statement output to customers who receive either emailed or printed forms.
- The template to use. Click the down arrow to see the statement templates available. If you have not customized QuickBooks’ standard form and want to do so, let us help.
- Whether QuickBooks prepares one statement per customer or per job. This is a very important distinction, so choose carefully.
- Miscellaneous attributes of your statement run. Click on the box in front of any that should apply.
- If you assess finance charges, you can do so here. This is an advanced activity in QuickBooks, and we’d be happy to provide guidance in this area.
When you’re done, you can Preview your statements, Print, or E-Mail them by clicking those buttons.
Entering Individual Charges
If you need to enter individual charges, you’ll have to work with QuickBooks’ customer registers. You’ll find these by either opening the Customers menu and selecting Enter Statement Charges or highlighting a customer in the Customer Center, then clicking the down arrow next to New Transactions and selecting Statement Charges.
We highly recommend that you let us help you get started if individual charges are necessary. Like many of QuickBooks’ functions, this isn’t a difficult activity once you understand it, but it’s much easier and economical for you to get upfront guidance than for us to come in and untangle your company file later.
The “QB Bob” Team
Simplify, work smarter and spend more time with your customers—whether you accept cash, checks, or credit/debit cards, QuickBooks has tools that help streamline the process of moving the funds into your physical bank accounts. In fact, part of your job is done when you enter the payments on the Receive Payments or Sales Receipt screens.
Two Ways to Enter Payments for Deposit
When you record a payment in QuickBooks, you can enter it in one of two ways. Payments can be deposited:
- In a specific bank account. QuickBooks lets you specify an individual account for each transaction. If you select this option, a box labeled DEPOSIT TO will appear on the Sales Receipt and Receive Payment screens. Select an account from the drop-down list, and your payment will be automatically deposited into it.
2. In Undeposited Funds. This is an asset account that can hold multiple payments, but they are not automatically deposited.
If you decide to have all payments sent to the Undeposited Funds account, you can establish that as your default. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences | Payments | Company Preferences. Then make sure that the box in front of Use Undeposited Funds as a default deposit to account is checked.
What about money you receive that is neither payment on an invoice you sent or payment for an item or service received immediately? There are many situations where this might be the case, including:
- Vendor refunds, rebates, etc.,
- Unsolicited donations [for non-profits], or
- An owner’s investment in the business.
To record incoming funds like these, open the Banking menu and select Make Deposits to open the Payments to Deposit window. Click OK to skip to the Make Deposits window.
Complete the Deposit To, Date, and Memo fields, then click in the table below them if you haven’t already used the Tab key to get there. Use the drop-down lists to select (or add) the individual or company who submitted the payment, the account where it should be tracked, the payment method, and the amount. Enter any additional information needed, fill in the optional Cash back goes to fields, and then save the transaction.
Note: While you’re working in the Make Deposits window, you can click the Payments button at any time to open a new window containing customer payments that need to be deposited if you want to process them simultaneously.
You may also want to use the Attach tool for miscellaneous payments to store related documentation.
Depositing Undeposited Funds
You should process your Undeposited Funds on a regular basis, whether every day, every few days, or weekly, depending on your banking needs. To do this, go to Banking | Make Deposits.
The Payments to Deposit window will open if you have pending payments in your Undeposited Funds account. Put a check mark in front of all of the payments you want to deposit by clicking in the column to the left of the DATE column.
Click OK, and the Make Deposits window will open, displaying the payments you just chose. As we instructed previously, select the account where you want the money deposited and the date, add a memo, and request cash back if desired. Save your work when you’re finished.
These are the steps you’ll take to deposit payments by cash and check. If you’re planning to open a merchant account so you can accept debit and credit cards, the process is similar, but there are additional steps you must take to ensure that your books balance.
We can answer any other questions you have about depositing payments. You work hard for your money, so make sure you see it in your bank accounts. Let us help you decide the best way for you to deposit funds–call us today at 256-337-5200 to set up an appointment!
QuickBooks is remarkably flexible when it comes to recording the time employees spend on customers and jobs. You can enter information about a single activity (either billable or unbillable) and/or document hours in a timesheet. You can enter time:
- Using the built in “stop watch”
- Manually enter or
- Use a third party App that syncs with QuickBooks.
We have several solutions that will meet your needs-call us at 256-337-5200 for recommendations.
Time/Enter Single Activity
All versions of desktop QuickBooks include dialog boxes designed to help you enter all the details related to a single timed activity. To get there, either open the Employees menu or select Enter Time | Time/Enter Single Activity or click the down arrow next to the Enter Time icon on the Home Page and choose Time/Enter Single Activity.
Fill out the fields in this window like you would any other in QuickBooks. Click the calendar icon in the DATE field to reflect the date the work was completed (not the current date), and click the down arrows in the fields that contain them to select options from a list. If you already know the duration of the activity, simply enter it in the field to the right of the clock icon. Otherwise, use the Start, Stop, and Pause buttons to let QuickBooks time it.
The Time/Enter Single Activity dialog box is designed to record one activity, not necessarily an entire workday, unless an employee only provides one service for one customer in a day. If he or she provides more than one service for one or more customers, you’ll need a fresh record for each.
Note: If the employee selected is timesheet-based, an additional field will appear above theCLASS field asking for the related PAYROLL ITEM. And if you’ve turned on workers’ compensation (and the employee is timesheet-based), a field titled WC CODE will drop into place below it. This must be done absolutely correctly, and it can get complicated. We can help you manage this feature.
A Comprehensive View
At the top of the Time/Enter Single Activity dialog box, you’ll see an icon labeled Timesheet. If you click on this with an employee’s name selected, his or her time-sheet will open and display the hours already entered for that period. Or you can open a blank timesheet by opening the Employees menu and selecting Enter Time | Use Weekly Timesheet. You can also click the Enter Time icon on the Home Page.
If you’ve entered all of the hours individually for an employee in a given time period, the timesheet should be correct when you click through from the Time/Enter Single Activity box. If not, you can edit cells by clicking in them and changing the data. Be sure that the Billable box is checked or unchecked correctly.
You can also enter hours directly on a time-sheet instead of recording individual activities. Just select the employee’s name by clicking on the arrow in the NAME field at the top of the Weekly Time-sheet dialog box and fill in the boxes.
Note: Individual activities that you enter for employees are automatically transferred to the time-sheet format and vice-versa.
Billing for Time
QuickBooks keeps track of all entered billable hours and reminds you of them when it’s time to invoice. If customers have outstanding time and/or costs, this dialog box will open the next time you start to create an invoice for them:
QuickBooks also provides several reports related to billing for time. We’ll be happy to go over them and – as always – help with any other questions you might have as well.
NOTE: We are using a great program for billing clients that fully integrates with QuickBooks and makes it easier, more convenient for clients to pay their invoices–hence, you get paid faster. It is called Bill & Pay. Call us to learn more or click here to sign up for a FREE trial and/or to start using Bill & Pay to bill your clients. The $100 set-up fee will be waived for you.
QuickBooks simplifies and speeds up your daily accounting work, but you’re missing out on valuable insight if you don’t tailor and customize your report data.
One of the rewards for diligently entering all of your accounting information is a better grasp of your company’s financial performance. That insight ultimately leads to better business decisions that can contribute to your future growth and success.
Make Reports Meaningful
- Understanding what each report is designed to tell you
- Determining which reports are most relevant to your business information needs, and
- Designing each to produce the critical insight you need in order to move forward.
The first challenge is fairly clear. You can understand what many reports do by their titles, their content, and the descriptions QuickBooks offers. We recommend that you spend some time looking at the Report Center in QuickBooks to familiarize yourself with your options.
The second two challenges are a bit more formidable. It’s our job to assist you in establishing a workflow in QuickBooks to keep accurate records and to produce necessary transactions. But we want you to do more than just maintain the status quo. When you analyze and interpret what your reports are telling you, you can make smart business decisions.
So if we haven’t gone over this with you already or if you need a refresher, we encourage you to schedule some time with us so you can get the maximum benefit from your QuickBooks reports. Call us at 256-337-5200 to schedule an appointment or to sign up for our “QB for Business Owners” training class which goes over the reports you should be frequently reviewing (next class will be October 16, 2014).
A Simple Set of Steps to Customize Your Reports
Let’s take a look at a report you may already generate:
Sales by Customer Detail (Reports | Sales | Sales by Customer Detail).
QuickBooks comes with a commonly-used set of default columns in its reports. This particular report contains column labels like Type (invoice, sales receipt, etc.), Item and Quantity, and Sales Price. You can easily change the default date range up below the toolbar. But to get to QuickBooks’ powerful customization tools, click Customize Report. A window with four tabs opens. They are:
Display. Options in this window help you specify the columns you want to appear in your report. In the lower left corner, there’s a list titled Columns that contains every possible column label for that report. If you scroll down, you’ll see a check mark in front of the default columns. Click on any item to uncheck it, and click in front of any that you’d like to add.
Other options here include how your data should be totaled and sorted. Some reports let you choose between cash and accrual basis.
Filters. This is the difficult one — and the tool that will provide the most insight. Filters determine which subsets of related data you’ll see (accounts, items, customer types, zip codes, etc.) by including only those that meet certain conditions. Here’s where we can really help you answer critical business questions that will lead you to smart decisions.
Header/Footer and Fonts & Numbers. You can tailor the design and layout of your reports here.
Well-formulated reports can help you spot cash flow problems, maintain correct inventory levels, see your most profitable jobs, and compare your estimates to actual costs. You’ll also be able to identify your best customers, your best selling items, and your top sales reps. Careful customization of your reports — and thorough analysis of their data — will provide clearer answers to your questions about your company’s future. We can help you take full advantage of these powerful tools.
Call us at 256-337-5200 to schedule an appointment or to sign up for our “QB for Business Owners” training class which explains the reports you should be frequently reviewing (next class will be October 16, 2014).
“The QB Bob” Team
QuickBooks appeals to millions of small businesses because it offers multiple ways to complete the same tasks, which accommodates different work styles. Say, for example, you wanted to look up a specific invoice. You could:
- Go to the Customer Center and select the customer, and then scan through the list of transactions,
- Use the Find feature (Edit | Find), or
- Create a report.
Another way you can get there if you have a recent version of QuickBooks: the Income Tracker. (Note: Only the Administrator or a staff member with the correct permissions can access this feature. Talk to us about whether to allow other employees to use it, and how to set that up.)
To get there, either click the link in the vertical navigation bar or go to Customers | Income Tracker.
One Screen View of Open Estimates and Open, Overdue & Paid Invoices
Four colored bars across the top of the screen represent open (unbilled) estimates, open invoices, overdue invoices, and invoices paid within the last 30 days. Each bar contains two numerical values: the number of transactions of that type and the dollar amount involved.
QuickBooks defaults to displaying all types of transactions, but when you click on a bar, the screen changes to show only that type of transaction.
You can also filter the table of transactions using the drop-down lists below the colored bars. Your choices here include Customer:Job, Type, Status (Open, Paid, etc.) and Date (range). Click the arrow to the right of each filter’s label to display your options.
The column labels below these lists will change depending on the transaction type that’s active.
The Income Tracker is great for simply viewing groups of transactions; double-clicking on one will open the original form. You can also open them by selecting an action to take. For example, open your estimates list and click on a transaction to highlight it. Then click the arrow next to Select in the Action column at the far right end of the row.
If you choose the first option here, QuickBooks opens a small window that asks you whether you’d like to create an invoice for 100 percent of the estimate, a percentage of it, specific items, or percentages of each item. When you make your selection and click OK, a completed invoice form opens, which you can then check over and save.
As you can see above, you can also mark the estimate as inactive, print it, or email it. A great time saver!
Each transaction type supports a different set of actions. In the open invoice action column, as you’d expect, you can click the option to Receive Payment, which opens the Customer Payment window with the customer and amount due already filled in. This can be edited to reflect a different amount, or you can just accept it as is, then save it.
Create New Transactions
You can even create a new transaction within the Income Tracker. Click on the arrow next to Manage Transactions in the lower left corner of the screen and select the form you want.
Print Multiple Forms (Batch)
The Income Tracker also provides one of the fastest ways to print multiple forms. Just select the transactions you want to print by clicking in the box in front of them, and then click the arrow next to Batch Actions in the lower left corner.
Finally, you can edit transactions from here, too. Either double-click on one or select it and click Edit Highlighted Row in the Manage Transactions menu.
QuickBooks’ Income Tracker doesn’t do anything that can’t be done another way in the program. But it provides an excellent one-glance view of the current state of your receivables movement.
If you’re consistently seeing patterns that you don’t like, call us at 256-337-5200. We can evaluate your receivables process and suggest ways to accelerate it. Even if your sales aren’t increasing, getting that “PAID” stamp on invoices quickly will improve your cash flow and strengthen your confidence as a business manager.
The “QB Bob” Team @ www.qbbob.com
There are dozens of reports that you can run in QuickBooks. Do you know which ones are a “must” to run regularly?
Reports can tell you how many green sweatshirts you sold in March and how much you bought from your favorite vendor last month. They’re very good at drilling down to get the precise set of numbers you need.
But reports – carefully customized and properly analyzed – can do more than tell you how many golf clubs to order and when it’s time to switch phone services. They can help you make the business decisions that will help you take your growing company to the next level. There are several that you should be looking at regularly, some of which you can interpret easily and use in your daily workflow. We’ll help you with the interpretation of the more complex financial reports.
(1) Who Owes Money? A/R Aging Detail Report – That’s probably a question you ask yourself every day. You don’t necessarily have to run the A/R Aging Detail report every day, but you’ll want to run it frequently. It tells you who owes you money and whether they’ve missed the due date (and by how many days).
As with any report, you can modify it to include the columns, data set and date range you want by clicking the Customize button. When you create a report in a format that you think you might want to run again, click the Memorize button. Enter a name that you’ll remember, and assign it to a Memorized Report Group.
There are two ways to find the reports you want to see. You can open the Reports menu and move your cursor down to the category you want, like Customers & Receivables, which will open a slide-out menu of options there.
Or you can open the Report Center, which lets you explore reports in more depth. Each is represented by a small graphic with four icons under it. You can:
- Run the report with your own data in it
- Open a small informational window
- Designate it as a Favorite, and
- View QuickBooks help.
Other A/R that you should consult periodically include: (2) Open Invoices and (3) Average Days to Pay.
(4) Tracking What You Owe – Unpaid Bills Detail. Reports can also keep you up-to-date on money that you owe to other people and companies. An important one is Unpaid Bills Detail, accessible through the Vendors & Payables menu item. Though you can modify its columns, this report basically tells you who is expecting money from you, the date the bill was issued and its due date, any number assigned to it, the balance due, and relevant aging information.
(5) Vendor Balance Detail is critical, too. This report displays every transaction (invoices, payments, etc.) that contribute to the balance you have with each vendor.
Standard Financial Reports
QuickBooks report categories include one labeled Company & Financial. These are reports that you can run yourself, but they’re critical for understanding your company’s financial status. We can customize and explain how to analyze these on a regular basis so you’ll know where you stand. They include:
(6) Balance Sheet. What is the value of your company? The balance sheet breaks out this information by account (under the umbrella of assets, liabilities and equity).
(7) Income Statement. Often referred to as Profit & Loss, this shows you how much money your business made or lost over a specific time period.
(8) Statement of Cash Flow. How much money came in and went out during a specified time range?
Reports can only generate information about what you’ve entered in QuickBooks and exactly where it’s been entered. So it’s crucial that you follow standard accounting practice as you proceed through your daily workflow. We’re always available to answer questions you have about QuickBooks’ structure and your activity there. Your reports – and your critical business decisions – depend on it.
If it’s been a while since you’ve had a QB file health check, please call us at 256-337-5200 to schedule an appointment today and let us show you how to start pulling these 8 “must” reports.
The “QB Bob” Team
Fixed assets are physical entities that you purchase to help your business generate revenue, like property, a vehicle or a commercial oven. By definition, they must be in use for over 12 months.
Figure 1: You’ll need our help in depreciating the book value of your fixed assets, but careful recording of them will make your QuickBooks reports, your taxes and your company’s worth more accurate.
QuickBooks can help you track these, but both the value of your company and your tax obligations – and the sale price, should you eventually sell them — are affected by how the book value of your fixed assets is depreciated. It’s important that you work closely with us over the life of each one. What you can do on your own, though, is to maintain absolutely accurate records in this area.
The best time to start recording information about a fixed asset is while you’re creating a transaction related to its purchase. You can build an item record for it as you’re filling out the Item section of Enter Bills, Write Checks, Enter Credit Card Charges or Purchase Order.
Let’s say you’re writing a check for a new company truck. You’d go to Banking | Write Checks and fill in the blanks. Click the Items tab below the MEMO field, then click the down arrow in the ITEM field. Scroll up to the top of the list if necessary and select <Add New>. You’ll see this menu:
Figure 2: Keep track of your company’s fixed assets by creating item records for them. You can do this as you’re entering transactions for their purchase.
Click on Fixed Asset to open the New Item window.
Transactions Not Required
There may be times when you’ll want to create an item record for a fixed asset when you’re not processing a transaction. Such situations include:
- Cash purchases
- Transfer of a personal asset to your company
- Purchase of a fixed asset with personal funds, or
- A multi-item purchase.
To do this, click on the Lists menu and select Fixed Asset Item List. If you’re adding a new one, right-click anywhere in the list part of the screen and select New (or click the down arrow next to the Item button in the lower left of the screen and click New). The same New Item window that you opened from the check-writing screen appears.
You’ve already chosen Fixed Asset as the TYPE, so your cursor should be in the Asset Name/Number field. Enter an easy-to-recognize name so that you’ll be able to quickly identify it in reports. Select the correct Asset Account (ask us if you’re not sure) and type a description in the Purchase Description field, clicking the correct button for new or used.
Enter the Date purchased, the Cost and the Vendor/Payee. Don’t worry about the SALES INFORMATION fields until – and if – you eventually sell the asset.
Figure 3: You should be able to complete the New Item window in QuickBooks for your fixed assets on your own, but consult with us on any questions.
Under ASSET INFORMATION, enter the Asset Description (you can write a lengthier description here), its Location, PO Number if applicable, Serial Number and warranty expiration date. Add Notes if you’d like, and you’re done – unless you want to incorporate Custom Fields. If so, click the Custom Fields button in the upper right, then Define Fields.
(We can provide the depreciation and book value numbers under FIXED ASSET MANAGER.)
Your fixed asset records are critical elements of QuickBooks. You may be storing similar information elsewhere in your office records, but QuickBooks needs it, too, so you’ll have a comprehensive accounting of your company’s value.
This can be a little tricky, contact QBBob at 256-337-5200 if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment.
Ah spring! The season of increased daylight, warming temperatures, and an overall feeling to clean. Most people are eager to throw open the doors and windows, and attack the dirt winter has left behind, both inside and outside of the house.
It’s not hard to see when your home is dirty; however, QuickBooks company file errors are harder to detect. That is, unless you know the signs, including:
- Inability to execute specific processes, like upgrading
- Missing data (accounts, names, etc.)
- Mistakes in reports
- Occasional program crashes
- Performance problems
- Refusal to complete transactions (the dreaded looping)
Call for Help
The best thing you can do if you notice problems like this cropping up in QuickBooks – especially if you’re experiencing multiple ones – is to contact us. We understand the file structure of QuickBooks company data, and we have access to tools that you don’t. We can analyze your file and take steps to correct the problem(s).
One of the reasons QuickBooks files get corrupt is simply because they grow too big. That’s either a sign of your company’s success or of a lack of periodic maintenance that you can do yourself. QuickBooks contains some built-in tools that you can run occasionally to minimize your file size.
One thing you can do on your own is to rid QuickBooks of old, unneeded data. The software contains a Condense Data utility that can do this automatically. But just because QuickBooks offers a tool doesn’t mean that you should use it on your own.
Figure 2: Yes, QuickBooks allows you to use this tool on your own. But if you really want to preserve the integrity of your data, let us help.
A Risky Utility
The program’s documentation for this utility contains a list of warnings and preparation steps a mile long.
We recommend that you don’t use this tool. Same goes for Verify Data and Rebuild Data in the Utilities menu. If you lose a significant amount of company data, you can also lose your company. It’s happened to numerous businesses.
Instead, start practicing good preventive medicine to keep your QuickBooks company file healthy. Once a month or so, perhaps at the same time you reconcile your bank accounts, do a manual check of your major Lists.
Run the Account Listing report (Lists | Chart of Accounts | Reports | Account Listing). Are all of your bank accounts still active? Do you see accounts that you no longer used or which duplicate each other? Don’t try to “fix” the Chart of Accounts on your own. Let us help.
Figure 3: You might run this report periodically to see if it can be abbreviated.
Be very careful here, but if there are Customers and Vendors that have been off your radar for a long time, consider removing them – once you’re sure your interaction with them is history. Same goes for Items and Jobs. Go through the other lists in this menu with a critical but conservative eye. If there’s any doubt, leave them there.
A Few Alternatives
There are other options. Your copy of QuickBooks may be misbehaving because it’s unable to handle the depth and complexity of your company. It may be time to upgrade. If you’re using QuickBooks Pro, move up to Premier. And if Premier isn’t cutting it anymore, consider QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions.
There’s cost involved, of course, but you may already be losing money by losing time because of your version’s limitations. All editions of QuickBooks look and work similarly, so your learning curve will be minimal.
Also, try to minimize the number of open windows that are active in QuickBooks. That will improve your performance. And what about your hardware? Is it getting a little long in the tooth? At least consider adding memory, but PCs are cheap these days. If you’re having problems with many of your applications, it may be time for an upgrade.
A Stitch in Time…
We’ve suggested many times here that you contact us for help with your spring cleanup. While that may seem self-serving, remember that it takes a lot less time and money to take preventive steps with your QuickBooks company file than to troubleshoot a broken one.