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.

 

How to Create a Progress Invoice from an Estimate

Not using progress invoices? Maybe you should be.
 
The U.S. economy may be picking up, but your customers are probably still being very careful with expenditures. If your company’s finances will allow it, you can help them out on sizable jobs by using progress invoicing, also known as partial billing or progress billing.
 
You could, of course, simply create invoices for smaller chunks of the job as they come. A smarter way is build estimates for the entire job or sequential phases so your customer can see the big picture. You can still use progress invoicing to start collecting funds one segment at a time. 
 
How to Proceed
 
First, be sure you have progress invoicing turned on. Go to Edit | Preferences | Jobs& Estimates | Company Preferences and make sure theYes button is filled in next to the questions about estimates and progress invoicing.
 
Now create your estimate (these instructions are for QuickBooks Premier 2013; your steps may vary slightly). Go to Customers | Create Estimates. When you’ve entered all of the items you want to include in this phase of your project, click the Create Invoice button. This window will open: 
 

 photo QBC0613image1_zps8eaa50be.jpg

Figure 1: You can decide how many of your estimate items will be included on your progress invoice.

By clicking one of these buttons, you can bill the customer 100 percent of what’s due on the invoice or just a percentage. But let’s say you and your customer have agreed that payment will be due in pre-defined states, so click the third button and select one or more of the line items. Click OK. QuickBooks will display a new window that lets you select items and/or percentages of amounts due.
 
In our example here, we’re going to invoice the customer for two items, the blueprints and floor plans. So we selected the button next to Show Quantity and Rate and entered the full estimate quantity for each item in the QTY columns (if you chose Show Percentage, new columns would appear). It would look like this: 
 

 photo QBC0613image2_zpsf7de71ac.jpg

Figure 2: You can select specific items or percentages for you progress invoice.

Click OK. QuickBooks will return to your progress invoice, which you can save and print or email to your customer. Your original estimate will remain unchanged.
 
Tip: If you don’t want any of the zero amounts to appear on the progress invoice, go to Edit |Preferences | Jobs & Estimates| Company Preferences and make sure there’s a check mark in the box next to Don’t print items that have zero amount.
 
Following Up
 
When you want to bill for another set of items on this estimate, simply repeat these steps.
 
Here’s an easy way to determine how much (if any) of the estimate has been invoiced. Go to the Customer Center and select the customer. Click the arrow next to the Show field and selectEstimates. Any estimate that has a zero in the OPEN BALANCE column has been completely billed. 
 
QuickBooks provides a report that tells you where you are with all of your progress invoices. Go to Reports | Jobs, Time &Mileage | Job Progress Invoices vs. Estimates. Your report will include the progress invoice you just created: 
 

 photo QBC0613image3_zps1cc39aba.jpg

Figure 3: You can see what percentage of each estimate has been included on a progress invoice in this report.

More Options

What if you determined that you won’t have one or more of the items on the estimate? QuickBooks lets you quickly generate a purchase order. With your estimate open, click Create Purchase Order to select the item(s) needed and generate the form. You can also click Create Sales Order if one is necessary.
Estimates provide a useful way to fine-tune your bookkeeping and inform your customers about impending costs. They can also be confusing if you don’t keep up with them. We can help you determine when they’re a good idea and how to keep them organized. QuickBooks provides good tools here, but they require some administrative control.

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