25 Accounting Terms You Should Know

September 1, 2013 · Posted in QuickBooks Help, QuickBooks Software, QuickBooks Training · Comment 
It’s back-to-school time. Why not take a page from the kids’ books and do some learning of your own?

QuickBooks is easy to use, intuitive and flexible. But it is not an accounting manual or class or tutorial. If your business is exceptionally uncomplicated, you might get by without knowing a lot about the principles of bookkeeping.

Still, it helps to understand the basics. Here’s a look at some terms and phrases you should understand.

Account. You’ll set up financial accounts like checking and savings in QuickBooks, but in accounting terms, this refers to the accounts in your Chart of Accounts: asset, liability, owners’ equity, income and expense.

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Figure 1: A QuickBooks Chart of Accounts

Accounts Payable (A/P). Everything that you owe to vendors, contractors, consultants, etc. is tracked in this account.

Accounts Receivable (A/R). This account tracks income that hasn’t been realized yet, like outstanding invoices.

Accrual Basis. This is one of two basic accounting methods. Using it, you record income as it is invoiced, not when it’s actually received, and you records expenses like bills when you receive them. Using the other method, Cash Basis, you would report income when you receive it and expenses when you pay the bills.

Asset. What physical items do you own that have value? This could be cash, office equipment and real estate. In QuickBooks you’ll be managing two types. Current Assets are generally used within 12 months (or you could convert them to cash in that length of time). Fixed Assets refers to belongings like vehicles, furniture and land, property that you probably won’t use up in a year and which usually depreciates in value. Depreciation is very complex; you may need our help with that.

Average Cost. This is the inventory costing method that programs like QuickBooks Pro and Premier use to calculate the value of your stock.

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Figure 2: QuickBooks provides a Statement of Cash Flows report.

Cash Flow. This refers to the relationship between incoming and outgoing funds during a specific time period.

Double-Entry Accounting. This is the system that QuickBooks uses – that all legitimate small business accounting software uses. Every transaction must show where the funds came from and where they went. Each has a Credit (decreases asset and expense accounts) and Debit (decreases liability and income accounts) which must balance out (other types of accounts can be affected).

Equity. This refers to your company’s net worth. It’s the difference between your assets and liabilities.

General Journal. QuickBooks handles this in the background, so it’s unlikely you’ll ever be exposed to it. We sometimes have to create General Journal Entries, transactions required for various reasons (errors, depreciation, etc.) that contain debits and credits. Please leave that to us.

Item Receipt. You’ll create these when you receive inventory from a vendor without a bill.

Job. QuickBooks often associates customers with multi-part projects that you’ve taken on, like a kitchen remodel.

Net income. This is your revenue minus expenses.

Non-Inventory Part. When you purchase an item but don’t sell it or you buy something and resell it immediately to a customer, this is what it’s called. It’s merchandise that isn’t stored by you for future sales.

Payroll Liabilities Account. QuickBooks tracks federal, state and local withholding taxes, as well as Social Security and Medicare obligations, that you’ve deducted from employees’ paychecks and will remit to the appropriate agencies.

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Figure 3: QuickBooks helps you track and remit Payroll Liabilities.

 

Post. You won’t run into this term in QuickBooks. It simply refers to recording a transaction within one of your accounts.

Reconcile. QuickBooks helps you with this. It’s the process of making sure your records and those of your financial institutions agree.

Sales Receipt. This is how you record a sale when payment is made in full during the transaction.

Statement. You’ll generally use invoices to bill customers in QuickBooks, but you can also send statements, which contain transaction information for a given date range. 

Trial Balance. This standard financial report tells you whether your debits and credits are in balance. Should you run this report and find a problem, let us know right away.

Vendor. With the exception of employees, QuickBooks uses this term to refer to anyone who you pay as a part of your business operations.  

These are just a few of the terms you should recognize and understand. We hope you’ll contact us when you need help understanding how the accounting process fits into your workflow.

QuickBooks’ Custom Fields: An Overview

August 1, 2013 · Posted in QuickBooks Help, QuickBooks Software, QuickBooks Training · Comment 

Part of QuickBooks’ popularity comes from its flexibility. Here’s a look at how custom fields contribute to that element.


The beauty of QuickBooks is that it can be used for so many different kinds of businesses. Its smart design lets realtors and retail shops, plumbers and plastic surgeons use it to track income and expenses, pay bills and invoice customers, and to run those all-important reports.

But Intuit knows that QuickBooks can’t – and shouldn’t – tailor itself to individual business types (except in the industry-specific versions). So its structure and tools are somewhat generic and as universal as possible.

That’s where custom fields come in. You can simply use them for your own informational purposes, but QuickBooks also lets you create and add fields to your existing customer, vendor, employee and item records and forms, and use them as filters in reports.

A Common Application

Let’s say you want to search for your best customers to create a targeted marketing mailing.

Start by opening the Customer Center and opening any customer’s record there. Click on the Additional Info tab. In the lower right corner of this dialog box, click on Define Fields. This box (with some fields already defined in this example) opens: 

 

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Figure 1: You can create custom fields for your lists of names in this dialog box.

You want to send mailings to customers who order frequently, or who regularly purchase big-ticket items. You can call them your “High-Value Customers.” Click in the first field that’s available in the Label column and type that phrase, then tab over to theCust column and click in it to enter a checkmark. ClickOK. The Edit Customer dialog box opens with the new custom field included.  

This field will now appear in all of your existing customer records as well as any new ones you create. You’ll need to open the record for each High-Value Customer, click on theAdditional Info tab and enter “Yes” on the corresponding line.

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Figure 2: Custom fields appear in this box in your customer records.

Using Custom Fields in Items

If you sell physical inventory, custom fields will probably be needed in your item records. You might want to use them for t-shirt colors or sizes, for example, or to store serial or model numbers. They can be employed for all items types except subtotals, sales tax items and sales tax group items.

The process is similar to the one you used to define custom fields in your contact records. Open theLists menu and select Item List (or Fixed Asset Item List where appropriate). Click Custom Fields in the dialog box that opens.

Tip: The Custom Fields tool is also available in the New Item dialog box. So you can move directly to that step as you create an item record if you’d like.

Click Define Fields and add your field(s). Be sure to put a checkmark in theUse column, and click OK.

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Figure 3: QuickBooks also lets you define and use custom fields in your item records.

Reports and Forms

Custom fields can be invaluable when it comes to using them in forms and reports. Your fields will automatically appear at the bottom of the Filter list within your reports’ customization tools, but you’ll have to add them manually to any forms where they should appear. 

Warning: You should probably enlist our help before you customize forms. QuickBooks provides tools to help you through this process, but you will encounter some potentially confusing messages as you add fields to forms, and you may have to use the Layout Designer, which can present quite a challenge.

Let’s say you wanted to find out how many blue coffee mugs Suzanne Jenkins sold in November. You’d proceed like you normally do when you’re customizing a report, but you’d have to scroll down to the end of the Filter list to find the Colorcustom field that you created. You’d enter the word “Blue” in the field supplied. Your Sales by Item Summary report setup would look something like this:

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Figure 4: Filtering a report using a custom field.

This report will only run properly if you’ve added your Color field to your sales forms. Again, we’d be happy to help you with this, and to explore other uses for QuickBooks custom fields.

Receiving Inventory With or Without Bills in QuickBooks

When your goods come rolling in, be sure to document them correctly.
 
You’re probably happy to see couriers delivering inventory items you’ve ordered since it means you can ship to customers, but recording the new stock means yet another repetitive task. 
QuickBooks’ tools can help with this, but you need to be sure you’re using the right forms. There are two different ones that you’ll use, depending on whether or not you’ve received a bill.
Bill in Hand
Either way, you’ll get started by opening the Vendors menu (or clicking the arrow next to Receive Inventory on the home page). If you do have a bill, select Receive Items and Enter Bill(Receive Inventory with Bill on the home page). The Enter Bills screen opens; select your vendor from the drop-down list. If you had entered a purchase order, you’ll see something like this:
 

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Figure 1: If any purchase orders exist for that vendor in QuickBooks, you’ll see this message.

Click Yes. The Open Purchase Orderswindow will open displaying a list. Select the PO(s) for the items received by placing a checkmark in front of it/them and click OK.
 
Tip: If you accidentally click No, the vendor’s information will be filled in on the Enter Bills screen, and you can click the Select PO icon in the toolbar.
 
Now the PO item information has been entered in the window. Check the form for accuracy, then save it. 
 
Of course, if there was no purchase order, you’ll enter the information about the items you received (descriptions, prices, etc.) in the Enter Bills screen.
 
Delayed Billing
 
If you receive items without a bill, you still need to document the shipment. Open the Vendors menu and select Receive Items (or click the arrow next to the Receive Inventory without Bill). 
 
The Create Item Receipts window opens. Select the vendor by clicking the down arrow next to that field. If a message about existing purchase orders for that vendor appears, click Yes orNo, and either select the appropriate POs or enter the information about what you received.
 
If the items were already earmarked for a specific customer on the purchase order, the Customer column will have an entry in it, and there will be a check mark in the Billable column. If there was no purchase order and you’re entering the information, you can complete those two fields manually. 
 

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Figure 2: If a purchase order was already assigned to a customer and is billable, that information should appear in this window.

Enter a reference number if you’d like. The Memo field should already be filled in with Received Items (bill to follow), and the Bill Received box should not be checked. 
 
Warning: Be sure that theItems tab is highlighted when you’re recording physical inventory. If there are related costs like freight charges or sales tax, click theExpenses tab and enter them there. 
 
Paying Up
 
When the bill comes in for the merchandise that you’ve already recorded on an Item Receipt, you’ll use this procedure to pay it:
  • ClickVendors | Enter Bill for Received Items, which opens the Select Item Receipt window.
  • Select the vendor, then the correct Item Receipt.

Note: If the bill corresponds to more than one Item Receipt, you’ll need to convert each into a bill separately. You can create a new bill if some items received were not accounted for on Item Receipts.

  • Click the box next to Use the item receipt date for the bill date if you want to match it to the inventory availability date. 

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Figure 3: You’ll select purchase orders that you want to create bills for in this window.
  • Click OK. The Enter Bills screen opens, which can be processed like you’d handle any bill.

Though it may seem like extra work, this last procedure is important, since it prevents you from recording the same inventory items twice.

It’s easy to get tangled up on these procedures. We hope you’ll consult us when you being implementing inventory management in QuickBooks, or when you’re taking on a new task there. It’s a lot easier to prevent errors than to go back and fix them.

 

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: 
 

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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: 
 

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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: 
 

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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.

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…

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