Tag Archives: QuickBooks

Paying Bills in Quickbooks: The Basics

The time-consuming part’s over once you’ve entered bills in QuickBooks. Here’s how to pay them.

Last month, we explained that the process of paying bills in QuickBooks requires two separate sets of actions. We went over what’s required to enter bills and to set up reminders so they aren’t overlooked. This month’s column will walk you through the second step: paying the bills.

You’ll remember you must first click Enter Bills on the home page (or open the Vendors menu and select Enter Bills), which opens a graphic representation of a bill. Select a Vendor from the drop-down list and complete the remaining fields in the top box. Make sure the Amount Due carries over to the lower part of the screen under either the Expenses or Items tab and that the rest of the fields there are completed correctly before you save the bill.

Once a bill is saved, it will be available to you when you click Pay Bills on the home page. That action will open a window similar to this one:

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When you click Pay Bills on the QuickBooks home page, a screen containing a table like this will open.

In the upper left corner, you’ll first SELECT BILLS TO BE PAID by either defining a date range or asking to see all bills that have been entered but not yet paid. To the right of those options is the Filter By field. You can open the list and click All Vendors or click on a specific vendor. Selecting an option in the Sort By field allows you to change the display order of the list of bills.

Selecting Bills

Next, you’ll have to indicate which bills you want to pay, and by what method. This may take more than one pass if you’re using different payment methods for different vendors. If that’s the case, you’ll have to select bills in batches. Click in the box in front of each bill that you want to pay (or click Select All Bills below the table).

There are several columns in the table you will see. Some will already be filled in for each vendor with information that was included in the actual bill, like REF. NO. and AMT. DUE. Others refer to discounts and credits. If you’ve already set up vendor discounts (early payment, for example) or are entitled to a credit (overpayment, returned merchandise, etc.) and have set up QuickBooks to automatically apply them to bills, they should appear in those columns.

Tip: If you are the company administrator, you can set up this option. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences | Bills. With the Company Preferences tab active, check the boxes in front of Automatically Use Credits and Automatically Use Discounts, and select the correct Default Discount Account.

Discounts and credits are rather complex concepts in QuickBooks, and we expect you might need our help with setting them up.

The final step in bill paying on this page is to enter the AMT. TO PAY at the end of each applicable row.

Dispatching Payments

If you’ve selected All Bills (or chosen a batch that will use the same payment method), you’ll need to deal with the lower half of the bill-pay screen, which will look something like this:

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You can click on Go to Bill if you need to see the original form; also, verify the Payment Date and Terms are correct. You can still Set Discount and Set Credits here, but again, please don’t do so until we’ve scheduled a session to go over these advanced tools if you plan to use them. Select a payment method for the bills you’ve selected; the options and account to the right of your choice will change depending on which it is.

When you’re done, click Pay Selected Bills and do any follow-up work that’s requested.

The bill-pay process in QuickBooks has a lot of moving parts, some of which may need prep work before you can actually dispatch bills. We urge you to meet with us at Squire if you’re planning to use this element of QuickBooks. Although beneficial, it’s one of the more complicated processes in the software, and it must be done with extreme accuracy. When you’re ready, we can help. Please contact us by calling (801) 225-6900. We look forward to helping you.

How to Enter Bills in Quickbooks

This month we’ll be talking about how to enter bills in QuickBooks. It’s not as much fun as creating invoices, but the bills must be paid. Here’s how QuickBooks helps.

We’re in a bit of a transitional period with business bill-paying. Some paper bills still come via the U.S. Mail, but you may also be getting some through email. Others don’t come at all: you might get a reminder email, but you have to go to the vendor’s site to make a payment.

How do you keep track of it all so you don’t miss any due dates? You could record them on a calendar, but you’d still have to go back to the actual bill to retrieve the amount. But where is it? Is it online, in your email inbox, in a file folder, or hanging on the wall?

QuickBooks can organize this unpleasant process, saving time and helping you avoid confusion. Here’s how it works.

A 2-Step Process

QuickBooks divides your accounts payable tasks into two separate processes: entering bills and paying them. It requires some extra time upfront as you complete the first step, but streamlines the second so that the actual bill-paying only takes a few seconds.

To get started, click Enter Bills on QuickBooks’ home page to open a window like this:

Before you can pay a bill in Quickbooks, you need to create a record for it.

The toolbar for the Enter Bills window is not pictured in the image above, but you don’t need it yet. Rather, you start by clicking the down arrow in the field next to VENDOR and selecting the biller’s name from your list (or clicking <Add New> if you haven’t yet created a record for that entity). The ADDRESS should fill in automatically, as should the date.

If you set up default payment TERMS in that vendor’s record, your preference should show in that field and the BILL DUE date should be correct. Enter the AMOUNT DUE and complete any of the optional fields that the transaction requires (REF. NO., DISCOUNT DATE, and MEMO).

Since this is a utility bill, the Expenses tab should be highlighted, and the amount you entered above should appear in it. Below that is the ACCOUNT field; open that list and choose the right one. Don’t worry about the CUSTOMER:JOB and BILLABLE fields. These will only be completed when you’re charging a customer for an expense or item.

Warning: If you’re not familiar with the concept of assigning accounts to transactions, please schedule some time with us by calling Squire at (801) 225-6900. This concept is a critical designation that affects so many other areas of QuickBooks.

Saving Your Work

The toolbar from the Enter Bills window

The Memorize Transaction window will open with your vendor already entered in the Name field. You’ll have three options here:

  • Add to my Reminders list. QuickBooks can add this bill to its list of Reminders. To ensure that you’ll see this every time you open the software and can make any changes necessary, open the Edit menu and click Preferences | Reminders| My Preferences. Click in the box in front of Show Reminders List when opening a Company file. Then click the Company Preferences tab (if you’re the administrator) and find the Bills to Pay row. Click the appropriate button to indicate whether you want QuickBooks to Show Summary or Show List, and enter the number of days before due date.
  • Do Not Remind Me. Just what it sounds like.
  • Automate Transaction Entry. You can only select this if the transaction will be exactly the same every time (except for the date). If the number of transactions will be limited, enter the Number Remaining. And tell QuickBooks how many Days in Advance To Enter.

If you choose the third option here, be very careful when you define the automation. You should really only do this if you’re an advanced user.

When you’re done, click OK to close the box, and save the bill.

Next month, we’ll talk about the second step: the actual paying of bills. In the meantime, let us know if you want to schedule a session to go over any aspect of your accounts payable – or anything else in QuickBooks. Please call Squire at (801) 225-6900 to schedule an appointment with one of our ProAdvisors.

Customize QuickBooks Online Using Settings

You can start using QuickBooks Online the first time you sign in. However, your tasks will be easier and faster, if you customize it for your company.

QuickBooks Online was designed to be used by a variety of business types; that’s one reason why it’s such a popular small business accounting website. It was built to be versatile. That is, whether you sell hard drives or you service HVAC systems, you can customize it to “fit’ your company.

This is why your first order of business when you start using QuickBooks Online should be to click on the small gear icon in the upper right corner. The window that opens displays links to all of the site’s options – a collection of choices that’s called “Preferences” in desktop QuickBooks.

When you click on the small gear icon in the upper right corner of QuickBooks Online, this window containing the site’s many options will open.

Global Settings

The first screen you should visit is Account and Settings. This page is divided into five sections, accessible by clicking on one of the tabs below:

Company – Your company’s name and contact information appears here, as well as identifying details like the tax form you file, as well as your industry.

Sales – You can do a lot of customizing here that will affect your company’s selling activities. For example, you can specify preferred invoice terms and delivery method, and indicate whether to turn on features like:

  • Shipping
  • Custom fields and transaction numbers
  • Discounts
  • Quantity and price/rate
  • Inventory quantity on hand

You can also access the site’s tools for customizing the design and layout of your sales forms (invoices, receipts, etc.).

Expenses – You’ll toggle expense-related tools on and off here. You can choose to, for example, track expenses and items by customer and make them billable. Will you be using purchase orders? What will your default bill payment terms be?

Payments – Here, you’ll be able to set up a merchant account so you can accept credit cards and bank transfers from customers through QuickBooks Online. If you already have a merchant account, you can connect it here.

Advanced – There’s a good reason why this section is named “Advanced.” You may not be familiar with some of the concepts here, like “closing books” and specifying default accounts for items like Markup. We can go over these things with you and help you make decisions.

Other entries in this list are easier to complete, though you may still want some guidance. Will you support multiple currencies? Automatically apply credits and invoice unbilled activity? Make individually-tracked time activities billable to customers?

Other Preferences

There are many other areas in this window that you’ll want to explore before you start processing a lot of transactions in QuickBooks Online. If more than one person will have access to the site (we’ll assume you’re the Administrator), you must click on Manage Users. Here, you can set limits of what other employees can access. Click New on the screen that opens to launch this mini-interview, and follow its instructions:

 

You can restrict users to specific areas of QuickBooks Online.

Other preferences you should look at include:

  • Chart of Accounts – only to familiarize yourself with the accounts that make up the backbone of your accounting data. You’ll use these in transactions. Please do not make any changes here without talking to us.
  • All Lists – to see what’s available here, like ClassesRecurring Transactions, and Payment Methods.
  • Products and Services – to start building records for the items and services you sell. If you carry inventory and have never worked with a website that helps you manage it, please let us go over these concepts with you.
  • Budgeting – if you plan to create a budget. QuickBooks Online contains a tool that will accommodate this critical task.
  • Audit Log – if multiple people will be using QuickBooks Online. It tracks all activity by date and user.

QuickBooks Online is easy to use, but there’s a lot to learn upfront about customizing it to meet your company’s accounting needs. It’s natural to feel a bit overwhelmed at first. Let us help you get through those early days of use.  Connect with us, so we can walk you through the basics.

How to Keep Your QuickBooks Data Safe

You work hard to make sure your QuickBooks data is accurate. Make sure it’s safe, too.

Your QuickBooks company file contains some of the most sensitive information on your computer. You may have customers’ credit card numbers and employees’ Social Security numbers. An intruder who captured all that data could create tremendous problems for you and a lot of other people.

That’s probably the worst-case scenario. But other situations could also spell disaster for your business, which  involve losing your company data through fraud, hacking, or simple technical failures.

We can’t overstate the vital importance of protecting your QuickBooks company file, especially your customer and payroll information. Whether someone steals it or it’s inaccessible for another reason, it’s gone. Keeping your business going after such a loss would be very difficult – maybe even impossible.

Here’s what we suggest to prevent that.

Internal Safeguards

No business owner wants to believe that his or her employees could use their QuickBooks access to commit fraud. But it happens. Your company file contains credit card and checking account data that could be used for nefarious purposes. As we discussed last spring, you can restrict user access to specific areas  and actions of QuickBooks.

You can limit your employees who have QuickBooks access to certain areas and activities.

To get started, open the Company menu and select Set Up Users and Passwords | Set Up Users. The User List window opens. It should have at least one entry there, for you (Admin). Click Add User and enter the employee’s name and password in the next window that opens, then click Next.

Tip: Your QuickBooks license limits you to a specified number of users. If you’re not sure how many you’re allowed, click F2 to open the Product Information page. The number of user licenses you’ve paid for appears in the upper left.

On the next page of this wizard, click the button in front of Selected Areas of QuickBooks. The following screens will let you define that employee’s access permissions in areas like Sales and Accounts Receivable, Inventory, and Payroll and Employees. When you’ve clicked through every screen and reviewed the summary displayed, click Finish. Your user will now be able to sign in and access the areas you specified.

You can—and should—take numerous other steps to keep your QuickBooks data safe. If your company is big enough to have a dedicated IT expert, he or she will handle most of this. But there’s a lot you can do on your own to prevent data loss and theft.

Keep Your Operating System and Applications Updated

Don’t ignore this dialog box.

Software companies’ occasional updates offer more than just adding new features and fixing bugs. They sometimes refresh your software to ensure greater security based on new threats. Don’t forget about those all-important antivirus and anti-malware applications, as well as QuickBooks itself.

Keep Your Networks Safe

Just as a cold virus spreads around your office, so, too, can unwanted intrusions like computer viruses. Don’t allow an electronic epidemic to get started; take steps ahead of time to prevent it:

  • Discourage employees from excessive web browsing. This can be a hard rule to enforce, as some employees probably need internet access for research, timecard entry, and other work-related tasks. Create a firm policy legislating what workers can and can’t do on company-issued equipment (including tablets and smartphones) or any personal devices that use your wireless network.
  • Ask employees to refrain from using public networks on work equipment. Enforce the rules vigorously, and make compliance an element of performance evaluations.
  • Minimize app installations on business smartphones. Employees should ask for approval. Viruses and malware get in that way, as well as through some websites and email attachments.
  • Use monitoring software. If you can’t afford to pay for “managed IT” (a la carte, third-party IT services), install an application that alerts you to problems.

Use Common Sense

You can fight data loss and theft by being cautious. Be diligent about backups, and if you create them on a local, portable device, don’t leave them in the office. Cloud-based solutions are better. Shred papers that have sensitive information on them. Log out of QuickBooks when you’re not using it or when you leave your office. Be aware of who may be around you, looking over your shoulder.

We take data security very seriously in our own office, and we strongly encourage you to do the same. Contact us if you’re at all concerned with your own data safety, and we’ll come up with a plan together.

Social media posts

Concerned about the safety of your QuickBooks data? We can help you take security measures.

Lose your QuickBooks data, and you’ll face serious consequences. Make sure you keep backups in a safe place.

Do you issue smartphones to employees? Make sure they’re not used on public networks.

Even if you don’t have an IT specialist, you can protect your QuickBooks data from viruses and malware. Ask us how.

Receiving Customer Payments: Your Options

It’s one of your more pleasant tasks as a QuickBooks user: receiving payments from customers. Here’s how it works.

QuickBooks was designed to make your daily accounting tasks easier, faster, and more accurate. If you’ve been using the software for a while, you’ve probably found that to be true. Some chores, of course, aren’t so enjoyable. Like paying bills. Reconciling your bank account. Or anything else that has the potential to reduce the balance in your checking accounts.

The process of receiving customer payments is one of your more enjoyable responsibilities. You supplied a product or service that someone liked and purchased, and you’re getting the money due you.

Depending on the situation, you’ll use one of multiple methods to record customer payments. Here’s a look at some of your options.

A Familiar Screen

If you’re like many businesses, you send invoices to customers to let them know what they owe and when their payment is due. So one of the most commonly used ways to record payments is by using the Receive Payments window. To open it, click the Receive Payments icon on the home page or click Customers | Receive Payments.

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You’ll use QuickBooks’ Receive Payments screen when you record a payment made in response to an invoice.

The first thing you’ll do, of course, is choose the correct customer by clicking the down arrow in the field to the right of RECEIVED FROM. The outstanding balance from that customer will appear in the upper right corner, and invoice information will be displayed in the table below. Enter the PAYMENT AMOUNT and make sure the DATE is correct. (The next field, REFERENCE #, changes to CHECK # only if the CHECK option is selected.)

Next, you’ll need to ensure that the payment is applied to the right invoices. If it covers the whole amount due, there will be a checkmark in every row in the first column of the table. If not, QuickBooks will use the money received to pay off the oldest invoices first. To change this, click Un-Apply Payment in the icon bar and click in front of the correct rows to create checkmarks.

Several Options

You’ll then want to tell QuickBooks what payment method the customer is using. Four options are displayed. The possibilities that are visible here are:

  • CASH
  • CHECK
  • CREDIT DEBIT (A specific card type may be shown here if you’ve indicated the customer’s preferred payment method in his or her record.)
  • e-CHECK

If the desired payment method isn’t included in those four, click the down arrow under MORE. If it’s still not there, click Add New Payment Method. This window will open:

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The New Payment Method window

Click OK. When you choose your new payment method from the list, a window opens containing fields for the card number and expiration date. Click Done after you’ve entered it, and you’ll be returned to the Receive Payments screen. If you’re satisfied with your work there, click Save & Close or Save & New.

Haven’t gotten set up to accept credit and debit cards yet? We can get you going with a merchant account to make this possible. You’re likely to find that some customers pay faster with this option. Your customers will be able to click a link in an emailed invoice and make their payments.

Instant Sales

Depending on the type of business you have and its physical location, there may be times when customers will come in and buy something on the spot. You’ll need to give them a Sales Receipt. Click Create Sales Receipts on the home page or open the Customers menu and select Enter Sales Receipts to open this window:

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The Enter Sales Receipts window

You’ll complete this form much like you entered data in the fields of the Receive Payments window. As you can see, you can print the mail for the customer and/or email it.

After all the hard work you’ve done to make your sales, the last thing you want to do is record a payment incorrectly so it isn’t processed and you don’t get paid. Though QuickBooks makes the mechanics of receiving payments simple enough, you still should understand the entire process involved in getting income into the correct accounts. We’re available to help with this and any other areas of QuickBooks.

Getting to Know QuickBooks Online Reports

They’re one of the rewards you get for your conscientious accounting work: reports. Are you using them to make better business decisions?

What do you see when you log on to QuickBooks Online? Your most important business numbers represented by real-time charts. Profit and loss. Income and expenses. Sales. And all of your account balances.

This is a great way to start your workday. You know where you stand financially, and you know what areas of your company file need attention, fast.

But QuickBooks Online’s home page only tells part of the story. You also need more in-depth, customizable reports. In the short term, reports help you further determine any necessary accounting work. Long-term, they’ll provide insight to help you make smarter decisions as you plan for your company’s future.

Critical Overviews

Creating reports in QuickBooks Online is easy. Customizing them is a bit harder. And analyzing them, depending on their complexity, can be more of a challenge.

We’ll start with some of the simplest, most important ones: Accounts Receivable. Where do you stand with customer payments? Who isn’t paying on time? How much is outstanding? To find them, click Reports in the toolbar pane. Click All Reports (over to the right, near the top), and then Manage Accounts Receivable. The list of related reports will open.

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QuickBooks Online displays descriptions of each A/R report and links to the Run and Customize functions in its directory.

Click the Customize button under Open Invoices. The customization options will appear on the pane to the right of the screen. You can modify:

  • The Report period, Number format, and the appearance of Negative numbers
  • Columns (Transaction Type, Due Date, Open Balance, etc.)
  • Aging method (Current or Report Date)
  • Filter (Customer, Territory, Sales rep, etc.)
  • Header/footer (Show logo, Report title, Date prepared, Alignment, etc.)

QuickBooks Online comes with commonly used options already selected. Changing them helps you zero in on the precise cross-section of data you want to see.

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This is a partial list of the Column options in QuickBooks Online. You can also customize in multiple other ways.

When you’ve finished making changes, click Run report to see it displayed with your own data.

If you’d like to save that report (including the modifications you just made), click Save customization in the upper right corner of the screen. In the window that opens, create a new name for the report that you’ll recognize, and enter it in the Custom report name field.

Want to build a group of related custom reports? Click Add this report to a group and type its name into the New group name field. Click Add. That report will now appear in the list of reports you’ve created when you click the down arrow in the field below Add this report to a group.

Would you like to share the custom report with other QuickBooks Online users? Click the down arrow in the field under Share with, and select All or None. When you’re done here, click Save. You can click the icons in the upper right to email the report, print it, or export it to Excel or PDF format.

Reports in other categories—like Review Sales, Business Overview, and Review Expenses and Purchases—work similarly.

Note: There’s one category named Accountant Reports. If you’re very familiar with double-entry accounting, you might attempt to run and analyze these yourself. Most likely, you’ll need some help with these critical financial reports that should be created periodically. We’d be happy to assist with this.

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The Reports page toolbar

Saving Time

You can always go to the All Reports screen and drill down to the report you want to see. QuickBooks Online provides a better, faster way to access many of them. The toolbar pictured above appears when you’re browsing through lists of reports. Click Recommended to see what QuickBooks Online deems the most important data for you to see regularly.

Once you’ve started working with reports, the ones you access most often will appear when you click Frequently Run. Those reports that you modified and saved will be listed under My Custom Reports. Management Reports are geared toward company managers, of course.

We encourage you to familiarize yourself with QuickBooks Online’s reports and modification options. And as we said, we’re on hand to run and analyze the site’s more complex report options on a regular basis, or when you have a specific need, like when you apply for financing. Together, we can get the information you need to complete your daily work and do more long-term planning.

Setting Up Users in QuickBooks

If you plan to have multiple employees using QuickBooks, you can limit their access to specific areas.

Controlling access to your QuickBooks company file is easy when you’re a one-person accounting department. You simply use one password to protect your data.

But when you add new employees to the mix, do you want them to have access to absolutely everything in QuickBooks? Probably not. You have confidence in your employees or you wouldn’t have hired them. But this isn’t solely a matter of trust. It’s just good business practice to restrict individuals to specific areas and responsibilities, no matter what the application.

That’s why QuickBooks has built-in tools to help you limit activity. Here’s how it works.

Identifying Users

To get started, open the Company menu and scroll down the list to highlight Set Up User Names and Passwords. On the slide-out menu, select Set Up Users. The User List window will open, and you should see your own entry as Admin. Click Add User.

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To give an employee access to QuickBooks, enter a User Name for him or her here, then a password.

The Set up user password and access window will open. Fill in those fields and check the box in front of Add this user to my QuickBooks license. This will not be an option if you already have five users, since that’s the maximum number allowed by QuickBooks Pro and Premier. To buy more, open the Help menu and select Manage My License, then Buy Additional User License.

Tip: If you’re not sure how many user licenses you’ve purchased, hit your F2 key and look in the upper left corner. If you’ve maxed out and need more licenses, talk to us about upgrading to QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions.

Click Next. In the window that opens, you’ll define the access level for your new user. Your options here are:

  • All areas of QuickBooks,
  • Selected areas of QuickBooks, or,
  • External accountant (you can grant us access to all areas of the software except for those that contain sensitive customer data, like credit card numbers).

Click the button in front of the second option, then Next.

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You can specify the access rights for individual employees in numerous areas.

The image above shows the first screen of 10 that display the levels of access available in many individual areas of QuickBooks. Be sure to read the whole page carefully before assigning rights. Here, for example, you’re not just allowing the employee to enter sales and A/R transactions. You’re also deciding whether to grant him or her permission to view the Customer Center and A/R reports. As you can see, your options are No Access, Full Access, and Selective Access (three levels there). Check the box below this list if you want the employee to be able to View complete customer credit card numbers.

When you’re finished there, click Next to specify your similar preferences for Purchases and Accounts Receivable, Checking and Credit Cards, Inventory, Time Tracking, and Payroll and Employees. The next two screens contain more complex concepts, but you’ll follow the same process to express your wishes. They are:

  • Sensitive Accounting Activities, like funds transfers, general journal entries, and online banking tasks
  • Sensitive Financial Reporting, which allows access to all QuickBooks reports. The option you choose here overrides all other reporting restrictions that you’ve specified for the employee.

Finally, you’ll tell QuickBooks whether this person can change or delete transactions in designated areas, and whether he or she can do so to transactions that were recorded before the closing date (if this applies). The last screen displays a summary of the access and activity rights you’ve given the employee. Check them carefully, and if they’re correct, click Finish.

Housekeeping Options

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The User List window

QuickBooks then takes you back to the User List window, where you’ll see the employee’s name displayed. If you want to Add, Edit, Delete, or View a user, make sure the correct name is highlighted and click the button for the desired action.

If you’re just now looking to add your first employee to QuickBooks or if you’re starting to outgrow the five-user limit, give us a call. There are more issues to consider when you take on multi-user access. We’d be happy to discuss them with you.

Your First Hour with QuickBooks Online

Whether you’re just launching a business or you’re going online with an existing company, take some time to get acquainted with QuickBooks Online.

Your first hour with any web-based application is probably spent exploring and clicking buttons, links, and other navigation tools to get the lay of the land.

QuickBooks Online should be no different. In fact, it’s even more important to take it slow when you’re using an accounting solution. If you start entering data without understanding how everything works together, you may make mistakes early on that will be difficult to undo down the road.

Simple Setup

If you’re not absolutely certain you’re going to stick with QuickBooks Online, you can sign up for a 30-day free trial (no credit card required). You’ll first create an account by entering a user name, password, etc., then be asked a few simple questions about your business and the features you plan to use (invoicing, inventory, bills, etc.).

If you have data in a desktop QuickBooks file, you can start the import process here, but we strongly recommend that you let us help with setup if you’re planning to do this.

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Once you start entering data, your QuickBooks Online Dashboard will give you an overview of your finances.

When you’ve completed your account setup, the main QuickBooks Online screen opens. You’ll see your Dashboard, a collection of data and charts that provides critical information like your bank balances, your outstanding invoices, and your current profit and loss.

You’ll eventually be using the vertical pane on the left for navigation. But you don’t need to click the links there yet – you have other setup tasks to do first.

Specifying Options

If you’ve used a desktop version of QuickBooks, you know about its many menus and its Preferences window. QuickBooks Online uses a different convention for choosing options and entering the information that will serve as the backbone for your company file. To get there, click the small gear icon in the upper right corner.

Tip: There are two other links next to the gear icon. You’ll be able to search for transactions by clicking the magnifying glass link. The plus (+) sign opens a window with links to screens where you can create transactions and initiate other activities.

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You’ll spend a lot of time working with the links in the Your Company window when you’re setting up QuickBooks Online. You can always refer back to it later on.

As you can see, you have access to a lot of data and activity in the Your Company window. You don’t have to go through absolutely every link before you start using QuickBooks Online, but two you should look at early are Account and Settings and Manage Users.

The Account and Settings page is divided into multiple areas that you can access from a navigation bar on the left. They include:

  • Company. Fill in contact details and upload your company logo for use on sales forms.
  • Sales. Customize sales form content (preferred terms, custom fields, discount field, etc.). Would you like to turn on inventory tracking?
  • Expenses. Do you use purchase orders? Track expenses and items by customer? Make expenses and items billable?
  • Payments. Do you want to subscribe to QuickBooks Payments so you can accept credit cards and/or bank payments through QuickBooks Online?
  • Advanced. You’ll have numerous decisions to make here. For example, what tax form will you use? Will you want to automate some activities, like applying bill payments? Do you need to support multiple currencies?
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The Advanced page of QuickBooks Online’s Account and Settings presents you with numerous options. You may want our help with this.

Multi-User Access

Will more than one person at your company be using QuickBooks Online? If so, you’ll most likely want to specify what areas they’re allowed to visit and what activities they can do. Click the gear icon in the upper right and then select Manage Users. QuickBooks Online displays a mini-interview in a window here that walks you through the process of assigning access rights to individuals (Custom User, Time Tracking Only, etc.).

We’ve probably taken up more than your first hour by now, but we wanted to stress the importance of thoroughly setting up QuickBooks Online before you start entering contact records and creating transactions. If this is your first experience with an accounting application, we highly recommend that you engage us in your first hours of using QuickBooks Online. We can come in at any time and troubleshoot problems, but it’ll be more economical and less time-consuming if we work with you from the start.

Establishing Preferences in QuickBooks

Before you start entering data, make sure QuickBooks is set up appropriately for your company.

QuickBooks was designed to serve the needs of millions of small businesses. To do that, it had to include the tools and processes suitable for a wide variety of companies. But Intuit recognized that every organization is unique, so your copy of QuickBooks can be customized in ways that make it work best for you.

You could just dive in and start adding records and transactions. But we recommend you do some setup first. If you don’t, you may run into some issues later, such as finding that some features you need haven’t been turned on, for example, or that QuickBooks is simply not doing some things the way you do. The good news is that you can change many of these.

Getting There

QuickBooks refers to these options as Preferences. You’ll find them by opening the Edit menu and selecting Preferences.

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To start customizing QuickBooks so it works best for you, open the Edit menu and choose Preferences.

As you can see, the left vertical pane contains a list of Preference types. Click on any of these to change the option screens to the right. Always click the tabs labeled My Preferences and Company Preferences to make sure you see everything that’s displayed for each type (sometimes one will have no choices).

Setting Up Reminders

Let’s look closely at one set of Preferences: Reminders. It’s very important that you visit these screens when you begin using QuickBooks. Depending on how big your company is and how complex your accounting processes are, there may be things you need to do every day, like pay bills and follow up on overdue invoices. It would be nearly impossible for you to do everything on time if you didn’t ask QuickBooks to keep track of critical dates and remind you of them.

Click Reminders in the left vertical tab. You’ll see one option under My Preferences. Do you want QuickBooks to show Reminders List when opening a Company file? If so—and this is a good idea—click the box in front of that line if there isn’t a checkmark there already.

Then click Company Preferences. Here’s where you’ll tell QuickBooks whether you want to see summaries or lists for each reminder, or neither. You can also specify how much advance notice you want for specific tasks by entering a number of days. QuickBooks comes with default settings, but you can easily change these.

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QuickBooks comes with default settings for Reminders, but you can enter your own Preferences here.

As you can see, it’s easy to specify your Company Preferences. Click the appropriate button under Show Summary, Show List, or Don’t Remind Me. If you’ve requested a reminder, delete any number that appears in the box in front of days before or days after and then enter your own.

Critical Areas

We recommend that you look through all of QuickBooks’ Preferences and change any that don’t fit your company. Some simply have to do with the way QuickBooks displays information and how it functions, but others have direct impact on your accounting work. As always, we’re available if you have questions here.

There are many that you will probably want to visit. They may have numerous options, but here’s some of what you can establish in each:

  • Accounting. Do you want to use account numbers and classes?
  • Checking. Which accounts should QuickBooks automatically use for tasks like Open the Pay Bills, Open the Make Deposits, and Open the Create Paychecks?
  • Finance Charge. Will you be assessing finance charges on late payments from customers? What’s the interest rate, minimum finance charge, and grace period?
  • Items & Inventory. Do you want inventory and purchase orders to be active?
  • Multiple Currencies. Does your company do business using other currencies?
  • Payments. Can customers pay you online? What methods can they use?
  • Payroll & Employees. Will you be processing payroll using QuickBooks?
  • Sales & Customers. Do you want to use sales orders? How should QuickBooks handle invoices when there are time and costs that need to be added?

You can see why it’s important to study QuickBooks’ Preferences early on. It’ll help you avoid unnecessary roadblocks and ensure that your company’s needs are reflected well in the software.

 

Anatomy of a QuickBooks Inventory Item

If you have an item-heavy business, you need tools to track your inventory. QuickBooks provides them.

When you started your business, maybe you were able to keep track of your inventory by peering in the closet or your garage. As you grew, that simply took too long. But you grew tired of running out of stock because you didn’t have time to constantly check its levels, and you forgot about items that didn’t sell and were tucked away in a corner.

You need inventory-tracking. QuickBooks can help you create thorough records for each product you sell. It keeps track of how much you have on hand and warns you when your stock is running low. And its reports tell you what’s selling and what’s not, so you can make better, smarter purchasing decisions.

Activating Inventory-Tracking

Before you get started creating item records and including them in transactions, you need to make sure that QuickBooks is set up to start tracking. Open the Edit menu and click Preferences. Click Items & Inventory in the left vertical pane and then select the Company Preferences tab. This window will open:

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QuickBooks needs to know what your intentions are when it comes to inventory-tracking.

First, of course, click in the box to the left of Inventory and purchase orders are active if it isn’t already checked. Click the next box down if applicable. The rest of this window deals with two concepts you need to understand. Quantity on Hand refers to the number of items that you actually have. Quantity Available subtracts items currently on Sales Orders. QuickBooks will warn you if you don’t have enough of a specific item to commit to a customer. You just have to decide which definition of Quantity you want to use.

When you’re done here, click OK.

Accuracy Matters

Now you can start entering records for the products you sell. Accuracy is absolutely essential here. You’ll see why as you explore QuickBooks’ tracking capabilities.

There are a few ways to open an item record window. You can click Items & Services in the upper right corner of the Home Page, or open the Lists menu and select Item List. Both will open a window displaying any item records that have been entered in a register-type view. Right-click anywhere and select New, or click the arrow next to Item in the lower left corner and select New.

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Double- and triple-check your work as you enter information in the QuickBooks item record window.

QuickBooks lets you create records for numerous types of items, including Service, Discount, and Inventory Assembly. To see how inventory-tracking works, select Inventory Part from the drop-down menu under TYPE. Next, enter an Item Name/Number in that field.

If you’ve already named a main category (like Hardware, in the example above) and want to place your product in a subcategory of it, click the Subitem of box and choose from the drop-down list. Manufacturer’s Part Number is optional. You can ignore UNIT OF MEASURE, if this isn’t an option in your version of QuickBooks.

Purchase Information

If you buy this item from a vendor, fill in this side of the window. Write the description that should appear on purchase transactions when you place an order. Enter the cost you pay for it, and select the COGS (Cost of Goods Sold) account if the default isn’t correct. Do you buy this product exclusively from one supplier? Select the name in the drop-down menu under Preferred Vendor.

Sales Information

Enter the description you’d like customers to see on invoices and the price you’ll charge. If you’re at all unsure of what to select for Tax Code or Income Account, we can go over your Chart of Accounts with you and explain how its accounts are used in records and transactions.

Inventory Information

Here’s where the software’s tracking capabilities come in. QuickBooks will probably default to your Inventory Asset account, which is fine. Enter the minimum number of items that should be in stock when you get a reminder to reorder, and the maximum you want to have at any one time. Fill in the On Hand field with the number you currently have. QuickBooks will automatically calculate the Total Value.

In the screen shot above, you see an example of what that last line looks like once you start using that item in transactions. You’ll see its Average Cost and the number that are currently on purchase orders and sales orders.

Creating records for every product you sell can be tedious, time-consuming work. But the payoff comes in the real-time knowledge you’ll have of your inventory that will lead to better, smarter purchasing decisions. As always, we stand ready to help.

Ringing Out 2016 in QuickBooks

2017 is just around the corner. Now’s the time to do your end-of-year QuickBooks tasks.

Since early January of this year, you’ve been faithfully creating new records, entering transactions, and recording payments. You’ve run basic reports. You’ve done your collection duties. You may have paid employees and submitted payroll taxes.

Now the end of the year is rapidly approaching. In the midst of holiday get-togethers, gift shopping, and perhaps preparing for travel, you probably have a list of work tasks that must be completed by December 31.

Is your annual QuickBooks wrap-up on that list? It should be. Here are some of the things we suggest you fit into your busy schedule sometime this month.

Create and send year-end statements.

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As your customers wrap up 2016, too, it’s good to send statements to past-due accounts.

In an ideal world, all of the invoices that are currently due would be paid off by the end of the year. We all know that that’s not usually the reality. Two reports can help you here: the A/R Aging Summary and Open Invoices.

Give everyone a chance to clear their accounts before December 31 by sending statements. Click Statements on the Home page (or Customers | Create Statements) to open the window pictured above.

You have multiple options here that are fairly self-explanatory. The screen above is set up to create statements for all customers who have an open balance as of the date you select, but not for inactive customers or those with a zero balance or no account activity. That way, no one who’s paid in full to date will receive a statement. Of course, if you didn’t want statements created for anyone who’s less than 30 days past due, you’d click in the box in front of Include only transactions over and enter a “30” in the following field. Questions about all of this? Give us a call.

Tip: You can also find out who’s overdue by clicking on the Customers tab in the left vertical pane to open the Customer Information screen. Click on the down arrow to the right of the field just below Customers & Jobs. QuickBooks provides several filters for your list.

Reduce your inventory.

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Want to discount all or selected items in your inventory by the same percentage or amount? Open the Customers menu and click Change Item Prices. We can work with you on the whole item pricing process.

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day might be a good time to sell excess inventory by having a sale. If you only sell a few products, you probably know what hasn’t sold well in 2016. If your stable of products is larger, you can run QuickBooks reports like Inventory Stock Status by Item and Sales by Item Detail to identify your slow-sellers and discount them. You may need to filter your reports to see the right data. Talk to us about customization options if you’re unsure of this.

Clean up your contact lists.

If you don’t maintain your customer and vendor lists, you’ll eventually start wasting time scrolling through them when you enter transactions. So this would be a good time to designate those contacts that you’ve not dealt with in 2016 as Inactive (you can delete their records entirely, but we advise against that). Simply open a Customer record, for example, and click the small pencil icon in the upper right to edit it. Click on the box in front of Customer is inactive.

Send holiday greetings to customers and vendors.

It’s getting a little late to send a holiday greeting/thanks-for-your-business note in December. Consider doing this in January (Best Wishes for a Successful 2017!) when your customers’ and vendors’ lives have slowed down a bit. You’re less likely to get lost in the crowd. If your lists are short enough, personalize these cards as much as possible. At least sign them by hand if you can.

Tip: You can print customer labels for your cards directly from QuickBooks. Open the File menu and then click Print Forms | Labels.

Run advanced reports.

Here’s where we come in. If we’re not already creating and analyzing QuickBooks’ advanced financial reports (found in the Accountant & Taxes submenu of Reports) monthly or quarterly, talk to us about it. They’re important, and they give you insight that you can’t get on your own. This is another activity that can spill into January.

We’d like to thank you for being a client this year, and to wish you a successful 2017!

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Stock image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Paying Bills in QuickBooks Online

In a previous column, we talked about setting up bills in QuickBooks Online. Now it’s time to pay them.

We recently laid out the benefits of using QuickBooks Online for bill entry and payment. It’s faster than manual methods. It leaves an electronic record of your accounts payable. And it helps ensure that bills are paid accurately and on time.

As we discussed, QuickBooks Online employs a two-step process for bill payment. Once you’ve completed the first (setup), the hard part is done, and you can move on to fulfilling your financial obligations. Let’s take a look.

Warning: Because you may be “handling” a lot of your bills twice in QuickBooks Online, this system can take some getting used to. We’ll be happy to walk you through the process until you’re comfortable.

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Before you can pay a bill, you must create a template and enter its details. You can even set up payments to recur, as shown here.

To review quickly, we created a bill by clicking on the plus (+) sign at the top of the screen and selecting Bill under Vendors. Once you’ve created a bill, you can click on Make recurring at the bottom of the screen to establish periodic payments (as pictured above). You can choose to have payments that are always the same sent automatically, or you can request a reminder so that you can change the amount before emailing or printing. Those reminders appear when you first log into QuickBooks Online. You can access them by clicking on the corresponding link under Tasks.

Making Payments

QuickBooks Online makes it very easy to pay bills. You can do so from a handful of different screens on the site – sometimes in multiple places on the same page.

  • Click on the Vendors tab in the vertical toolbar on the left side of the screen. The page that opens displays a horizontal chain of bars near the top, color-coded to indicate what they represent: Purchase Order, Open Bills, Overdue, and Paid Last 30 Days. Each segment tells you how many transactions share that status as well as their total dollar amount. When you click on a segment, the table below changes to include a list of the actual transactions. At the right end of each line is a Make Payment link that you can click to get a payment screen. If you want to see the actual bill that was sent, click on the Vendor name itself.
  • You can click on the plus (+) sign at the top of any screen where it appears and go to Vendors | Pay Bills.
  • Open the bill itself and click on the Make Payment link in the upper right corner.
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A partial view of the Bill Payment screen

When you’ve opened a bill that you want to pay, double-check the information in the upper part of the screen. The Vendor details should, of course, be correct, but make sure the date reads as it should. And look in the box to the right of the vendor’s name. If it’s not displaying the correct account for the transaction, click on the double arrows and select the right one.

QuickBooks Online will follow its own numbering system for bill payments. If you want to assign your own by entering a reference number of some kind, delete what’s showing in the Ref no. field and add your own. The Bill Payment # in the upper left will change to reflect that.

If there are multiple bills in the list below, click in the box in front of the one(s) you want to pay to create a checkmark. Look at the end of each line, too. QuickBooks Online defaults to a full payment for bills. If for some reason you’re planning to make a partial payment, replace the dollar amount in the Payment box with your own. In the bottom left portion of the screen, you can enter a Memo if you’d like and add an Attachment. When you’ve checked everything for accuracy, click Save and close or Save and new in the lower right corner.

Automation Helps

Paying bills manually can be painful. Beyond the fact that you’re watching money leave your accounts, the mechanics of writing checks and/or dispatching electronic payments on time—and keeping everything organized—can be a constant challenge. QuickBooks Online’s bill-paying tools can help with that.

Creating Reports in QuickBooks, Part 2

Last month, we discussed QuickBooks’ report Preferences and The Report Center. We’ll look at report customization this month.

QuickBooks makes your bookkeeping faster, safer, and more accurate than what you could do using a manual system. Still, you may occasionally tire of your daily tasks. You want to know what all of these forms and records mean in terms of your overall financial health. You want to see reports.

The actual mechanics of creating reports in QuickBooks are fairly straightforward. You can go to the Report Center, make a selection, maybe change the date range, and voila! Your company’s related data appears in neat rows and columns.

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You may be able to get some of the information you need by simply changing the date range on a QuickBooks report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

But perhaps you to see different columns than what QuickBooks’ report templates include. Further, you might like to filter your output for more meaningful, targeted analysis. And frankly, some of QuickBooks’ reports—particularly those included in the categories Company & Financial and Accountant & Taxes—can be a little advanced for the average small businessperson with little bookkeeping experience. They’re easy to run, but difficult to understand.

So we strongly encourage you to let us run these more complex reports, like the Balance Sheet, for you on a regular (monthly or quarterly) basis. They can provide valuable insight as you continue to make critical business decisions.

But we don’t want to discourage you from working with QuickBooks’ reports on your own. You could run A/R Aging Detail, for example, to keep an eye on past-due payments, or Unpaid Bills Detail to see where you stand with your own financial obligations.

Make Reports Your Own

Sometimes, QuickBooks’ own report output is a bit too broad for your needs. So the program provides sophisticated customization options. You can work with these to narrow down and shape the data that appears in your reports.

First, columns. Building reports from scratch would be too time-consuming and frustrating for you to do all of the time. And it’s unnecessary, since QuickBooks provides templates for its reports, sets of columns and data filters that would serve some businesses well, but which can be modified by each user.

Try this. Open the Profit & Loss Detail report and click on the Customize Report button in the upper left corner. The Modify Report window opens.

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QuickBooks lets you modify the columns that appear in reports.

The Display tab should be highlighted. Change the Report Date Range if necessary by clicking on the down arrow to the right of the Dates field. You can also create your own custom date range by deleting the dates in the From and To fields and entering new ones, or by clicking on the small calendar icons and clicking on the desired dates.

Warning: Do you understand the difference between running reports as either Accrual or Cash? This is important. If you don’t, let’s get together to go over some basic report concepts.

It’s easy to change the default columns that appear in reports. You can either enter a column label in the Search Columns box or scroll down the list of all possible labels. Click in the space in front of the ones you want to include, and click on existing checkmarks if you want to remove those labels. You can also designate a sort order, either Ascending or Descending.

If you want to work with the Advanced options, or if you come across a Display screen that puzzles you (depending on the report, you may have some complex choices), let us know.

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QuickBooks report Filters screen

When you’re done here, click on the Filters tab. This is a powerful element of QuickBooks report customization. You can limit your report output to data that meet certain criteria. In the image above, for example, you can tell QuickBooks which subset of Accounts should be included. Click on the Billing Status filter, and you can limit the results to Any, Not Billable, Unbilled, or Billed. You get the idea.

You can apply multiple filters to a report. Every one you select will appear in the list under Current Filter Choices.

We’ll skip the Header/Footer and Fonts & Numbers tabs, since these are primarily cosmetic options you can explore on your own. But you can see from this brief overview how you can use many QuickBooks reports as is or customize them extensively. And we do recommend that you work with reports regularly, both on your own and with us. The insight they provide can help your company grow and flourish instead of just getting by.

 

Customizing QuickBooks Online Forms

Make a good impression on your customers by sending them well-designed sales forms. QuickBooks Online helps you create them.

Your company’s “brand” can be composed of many things (and has many definitions), but it’s really about what pops into your customers’ minds when they think of you. Key components include your logo, your color scheme, and any other identifying visual element that people associate with your business.

A good way to reinforce this image is by making sure that a unifying graphic theme runs through every piece of print or web-based customer content you create, like your website, brochures, blog, and ebooks. Your brand should also be visible on all sales forms you dispatch, like invoices and receipts.

QuickBooks Online comes with its own default sales form style; this is the layout and content that will automatically display when you start a new transaction. You can easily change this and have it apply to all transactions.

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Your logo is an important element of your company’s brand. QuickBooks Online lets you include it on sales forms.

Here’s how it works. Click on the gear icon in the upper right of the screen, next to your company name. Select Custom Form Styles to open the table of existing styles. There should be one labeled Standard, though there may be another labeled Classic. You can make either the default by clicking Make Default or Remove as default using the down arrows and links under ACTION at the far right of each row.

Click the Edit link for the default style. This screen contains many of QuickBooks Online’s customization tools. The Style tab in the left vertical toolbar is automatically highlighted. In the column to its right, click through the five design options available and leave the desired one selected. Then click the plus (+) sign in the upper right of the screen. Browse for your logo file when the directory opens and double-click on it to add it to the top of your sales forms. Choose the color scheme you want by clicking in the correct box displayed below.

When you’re done there, click on the Appearance tab to specify your logo’s placement and change any other settings.

Content Critical

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You can decide which fields should and shouldn’t appear on your sales forms by checking and unchecking boxes.

You won’t necessarily need to make every data field available on your sales forms. But you want to include every field you might possibly need without displaying extraneous content areas. QuickBooks Online lets you turn fields on and off and change their labels easily by checking and unchecking boxes.

Click the Header tab on the left to start this process. Among your options here are:

  • Form names. Do you want invoices to say “Invoice,” for example? Do you want to use form numbers and allow custom transaction numbers?
  • How much of your company’s contact information should appear?
  • Do you want fields for Terms, Due date, etc?
  • Do you need to define custom fields?

You’ll see more options when you click on the Activity Table tab in the left vertical pane (see image above). Not only can you choose what content appears and how its labels read, but you can also indicate what percentage of that line each entry should occupy. Under WIDTH%, click on the plus (+) and minus (-) buttons to the right of each number to size it (your numbers, of course, should total 100).

Warning: Many of the decisions you have to make when customizing sales forms are simple. Others take some consideration, like custom fields and the handling of billable time. We can help you with these.

Click on the final tab in the left navigation pane, Footer, to add or edit text that should be displayed at the bottom of your sales forms. Click Save in the lower right when you’re done.

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Some settings may need to be tweaked in Account and Settings.

Note: As you’re browsing through the content options available as described above, you may find that a field appears to be missing or needs a default setting changed. If this occurs, click on the gear icon in the upper right of the main screen, then on Your Company | Account and Settings. Click on the Sales tab in the left vertical pane to get to Sales form content.

Consistent, well-designed sales forms will help promote your brand and present a polished, professional image to your customers.

Creating Reports in QuickBooks, Part 1

QuickBooks comes with dozens of report templates that can be run as is. This month and next, we’ll show you ways to make them “fit” your company.

Reports are your reward for all that hard work you put in entering records and transactions in QuickBooks. Sure, you can always find individual invoices, sales receipts, and customers by using the software’s search tools, but in order to make smart business decisions, you need to be able to see related subsets of the information you so carefully entered in neat rows and columns.

You’ve probably created at least some basic reports in QuickBooks. You may have, for example, wanted to see who’s late paying you, or whether you have unpaid bills. You might need to know your stock levels, or which purchase orders are still unfilled. You certainly want to keep a close eye on whether you’re making or losing money.

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The QuickBooks Report Center displays examples of reports you can create using your company’s own data.

QuickBooks makes it easy to get those answers in only a few seconds. But to get really meaningful, targeted views of your accounting information, you’ll  want to shape your reports so that they reveal precisely what you need to know. You can do some of this on your own, but you might want to enlist our help to drill down even further – and to create and analyze the more complex output that some reports can provide.

Configure Preliminary Settings

As we often do when we’re starting a tutorial on a specific QuickBooks feature, we’re going to send you to the Preferences window first thing. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences, then Reports & Graphs. With the My Preferences section open, you can instruct QuickBooks on some of the ways reports should be handled. You can choose to:

  • Have the Modify Report window open every time you create a report (to remind you to make any necessary changes first).
  • Set your Refresh If you always want to have the most current data displayed when you generate a report, you can tell QuickBooks to Prompt me to refresh or Refresh automatically by clicking on the button in front of the appropriate response. Choose Don’t refresh—the fastest method—if you don’t want to be interrupted when you’re working with a report. You can refresh when you’re done.
  • Draw graphs in 2D to make them run faster, and Use [black and white] patterns instead of colors to better differentiate between segments.

Each person who has access to QuickBooks can set these Preferences any way he or she wishes.

Setting Up Company Preferences

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You must be the QuickBooks Administrator to set Company Preferences.

You can decide on your own whether Aging Reports should start the aging process from the due date or the transaction date. Decide how you want Items and Accounts to appear in reports. And if you click the Format button located directly below Default formatting for reports, you can alter their appearance, for example, by changing fonts and indicating what information should appear in the header and footer.

For other preferences, you may need our help. Do you understand the difference between running Summary Reports as Accrual or Cash? And have you worked with a Statement of Cash Flows before so you can assign accounts to various sections? This is a report we should be generating and analyzing periodically for you, so don’t worry about dealing with it on your own.

Note: QuickBooks was designed for small businesspeople, not accountants. But if you really want to get the most out of it to make the best business decisions possible, let us help you with those concepts you don’t understand.

Navigating the Report Center

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The QuickBooks Reports menu

Unless you’re working with a very old version of QuickBooks, you have two options for accessing the software’s reporting functions. You can simply click on Reports in the left vertical pane to open the Report Center. Or you can get there by opening the Reports menu (which includes links to other areas, like the Transaction Journal, in addition to lists of QuickBooks’ reports divided by category).

Next month, we’ll look at some reports and their customization options in QuickBooks. In the meantime, as always, we’re available to work with you on enhancing your knowledge of QuickBooks reports and their setup.

What Are Payroll Items in QuickBooks?

If you plan to process your own payroll using QuickBooks, you need to understand how payroll items work.

Considering processing your own payroll in QuickBooks? Whether you’re moving from a payroll service or getting ready to pay your first employee, you’re taking on a complex set of tasks that requires a great deal of setup and absolute precision. But the reward is complete control over your compensation records and transactions, and constant access to your payroll data.

If you have no experience dealing with paychecks, deductions, and payroll taxes, we strongly recommend that you let us help you get started. QuickBooks simplifies the actual mechanics of setting up and running payroll, but there’s still a lot you need to know.

It goes without saying that accuracy is critical here. You’re responsible for your employees’ livelihoods and for maintaining any benefits they’ll receive. Federal, state, and local taxing agencies will count on you to submit the proper payroll taxes and filings on time; failure to do so can result in stiff penalties and worse.

A Look Around Payroll Items

That said, we’ll give you a brief preview of how QuickBooks Payroll Items work. You must first make sure that payroll is turned on. Open the Edit menu and click Preferences, then click Payroll & Employees | Company Preferences.

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The Company Preferences screen in Payroll & Employees Preferences

Under QUICKBOOKS PAYROLL FEATURES, make sure the button in front of Full Payroll is filled in by clicking on it. If you’re interested in exploring Intuit’s online payroll service, we can tell you about that, as well as advise you on the other options displayed here.

This element of your accounting is complicated enough that QuickBooks has a separate setup tool to guide you through the myriad details you’ll need to provide. You find this tool by going to Employees | Payroll Setup. This is a multi-screen, wizard-like tool that walks you through the process of providing information about employees, compensation, benefits and other additions/deductions, and taxes. Each page poses questions, and you provide answers by entering data and selecting options from drop-down lists. In doing so, you’re creating Payroll Items.

This is a time- and labor-intensive process, one that will send you scrambling for all of the minutiae that make up your payroll system. Once you have your payroll framework established, though, as we said earlier, everything will be in one place and easily accessible.

A Useful List

The information you entered in Payroll Setup is likely to change and need modification. Maybe you forgot to account for something while you were working in the wizard, or perhaps you just want to look up a bit of payroll data. To do any of these, open the Lists menu and click on Payroll Item List.

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You can access this menu from the bottom of the Payroll Item List screen.

The window that opens contains a list of the Payroll Items you created. It looks like a checkbook register, with one line devoted to each item. You’ll be able to view, for example, its Type, any Limit imposed, the Payable To name, and Tax Tracking designations. At the bottom of this list, you’ll see three drop-down menus: Payroll Item, Activities, and Reports. When you click on the down arrow next to Payroll Item, you’ll see the menu displayed in the above image.

Warning: There are many options in this menu for altering Payroll Item definitions. QuickBooks allows you to do this, but we would caution you here. If it involves an action that we have not gone over with you, please ask us about it.

This is fairly self-explanatory. To Edit or Delete a Payroll Item or make it Inactive, highlight it in the list and click on the correct option. You can also Customize Columns in the table and perform other related tasks. When you click on New Item and select EZ Setup on the next page, this window opens:

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You can add Payroll Items by working your way through this wizard-like progression of screens.

QuickBooks will help you here by asking questions and building a Payroll Item based on your responses.

There’s much more to know about working with Payroll Items and assigning them to employees. We’re ready to help introduce you to payroll processing in QuickBooks – once you’re ready to take it on.

 

Better Budgeting Using QuickBooks Online Plus

Everyone groans when budget time rolls around. QuickBooks Online Plus offers tools that simplify the process.

Budget. The word evokes a sense of dread in most small business managers’ minds. Large corporations have entire teams of accountants that work on this critical element of financial planning. You, on the other hand, must go it alone – or with the help of other staff if your company is big enough.

Why is this chore so difficult? Several reasons. The biggest stumbling block is probably the sense of uncertainty. How do you know what your income and expenses will be for the coming year?

QuickBooks Online Plus can’t tell you how to plan the next year in terms of numbers, but its tools can make the mechanics of building a budget easier.

Your Fiscal Year Start

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Finding the start of your fiscal year in QuickBooks Online Plus

Do you know exactly when your fiscal year starts? You’ll need this information before you can get started on your budget. Click the gear icon in the upper right next to your company name, and then select Account and Settings | Advanced. The first entry here tells you what the First month of fiscal year is.

Creating a Framework

To get started building your budget, click the gear icon again and select Tools | Budgeting. Click New Budget to open the mini-interview wizard (if it didn’t open automatically). QuickBooks Online Plus creates what are called Profit and Loss Budgets. This kind of budget tracks the numbers in your income and expense accounts.

There are three ways to create one, as you’ll see when you click Next on the first page of the interview. You can:

  • Work from historical amounts by copying last year’s data into the spreadsheet,
  • Start from scratch, or
  • Copy data from an existing budget.
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You can choose from these three options to create your budget in QuickBooks Online Plus.

Click in the button in front of No amounts. Create budget from scratch, and then click Next. QuickBooks Online Plus’s budgets consist of a table divided into months (columns) and accounts (rows). You can break this down into even greater detail by subdividing your budget and tracking accounts separated by Territories, Classes, or Customers if this kind of information is important to you. For now, click the button in front of Don’t subdivide.

When you click Next, you’ll be asked to select the fiscal year for your budget. Click the down arrow to the right of Select fiscal year and choose the appropriate year. Type an easy-to-remember name for your budget in the box below and click Finish. The mini-interview will close, and your budget spreadsheet will open.

Entering the Numbers

QuickBooks Online Plus defaults to a monthly view when you first open it, but you can change this at any time to Quarter or Year by clicking the arrow in the field next to View by in the upper right corner.

If you had copied income and expense data from the previous year, or from an existing budget, those numbers would appear in the corresponding cells and could be changed to create a new budget. You opted to start from scratch, so the table is empty. You can just start entering individual numbers – not within the spreadsheet cells themselves, though.

Look down to the bottom left corner of the screen. If you’ve highlighted Discounts given, for example, by clicking on that label in the spreadsheet column, you’ll see a line directly below that last row that reads Edit – Discounts given.

This area is where you’ll do your actual data entry. If the drop-down list to the right of Enter by is set to Month, you’ll see 12 boxes below labeled with the months of the year. If you anticipate that every month will contain a different figure, enter the numbers in the correct boxes and click Save & Next. QuickBooks Online Plus will copy your numbers into the actual budget spreadsheet.

If the number will remain the same for each month, you can enter it in the Jan box and click Copy Across, then Save & Next (click this button after every row change). Your cells for that account will be automatically populated.

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Entering quarterly budget data

If you think more in terms of quarterly income and expenses, you can highlight the correct account and select Quarter from the drop-down box next to Enter by (see above image). Fill in your quarterly totals, and QuickBooks Online Plus will divide those evenly between each set of three-month periods. The result would look like this:

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QuickBooks Online Plus can divide quarterly totals into monthly budget numbers.

And of course, if you select Enter by: Year, you’ll only enter one number that QuickBooks Online Plus will divide evenly into 12 months.

When you’re done with your budget, click Finish.

This is a lot of information to absorb all at once, and we imagine you may have some questions on budget projections and on the actual mechanics of creating a budget using QuickBooks Online Plus. As always, we’re happy to hear from you.

Setting Up User Access in QuickBooks

Will multiple employees be working with your QuickBooks company file? You’ll need to define their permission levels.

If you ever did your bookkeeping manually, you probably didn’t allow every employee to see every sales form and account register and payroll stub. Most likely, you established a system that allowed staff to work only with information that related to their jobs. Even so, there may have been times when, for example, someone pulled the wrong file folder or was sent a report that he or she shouldn’t have seen.

QuickBooks helps prevent this by setting virtual boundaries. You can specify which features of the software can be accessed by employees who work with your accounting data. Each employee receives a unique user name and password that unlocks only the areas he or she should be visiting.

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To help minimize errors, maintain data integrity, and preserve confidentiality, QuickBooks lets you restrict users to designated areas in the software.

Here’s how you as the Administrator can define these roles. Open the Company menu and select Set Up Users and Passwords | Set Up Users. The User List window opens. You should see yourself signed up as the Admin. Click Add User and enter a User Name and Password for the employee you’re adding. Confirm the Password and check the box in front of Add this user to my QuickBooks license. Click Next.

Note: You can have as many as five people working in your QuickBooks company file at the same time, depending on how many user licenses you’ve purchased. Not sure? Press F2 and look in the upper left corner. If you need more than five user licenses, talk to us about upgrading to QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions.

In the next window that opens (see above screen), you’ll be given three options. Probably you’ll most often select the second option, which lets you specify the screens this user can see and what he or she can do there. The first—All areas of QuickBooks—would seldom be granted. And the third allows us to come in and do whatever tasks have been outlined in our work relationship (troubleshooting, monitoring, creating and analyzing reports, etc.).

Click the button in front of Selected areas of QuickBooks and then Next. You’ll see the first in a series of screens that deal with the software’s functional areas: Sales and Accounts Receivable, Purchases and Accounts Payable, Checking and Credit Cards, Inventory, Time Tracking, Payroll and Employees, Sensitive Accounting Activities (funds transfers, online banking, etc.), Sensitive Financial Reporting, and Changing or Deleting Transactions.

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When you give employees Selective Access in a particular area, you can further define their roles there.

The Sales and Accounts Receivable screen is a good example. You can see the options offered in the above image. By clicking on the buttons pictured, you’re giving this employee permission to both create and print transactions. Below these options, you’ll be able to keep him or her from seeing customers’ credit card numbers in their entirety by clicking in the small box. When you’re finished, click Next.

Keep clicking Next and proceed through the rest of the screens. Your choices will be similar on each. But be sure to read all of the descriptive text very carefully. Keep in mind the importance of confidentiality issues and security as you go along.

The ninth screen, Changing or Deleting Transactions, deserves special attention. First, should this employee be able to change or delete transactions in his or her assigned area(s)? Even though you trusted these employees to work with finances when you hired them, consider this question carefully. Depending on the volume of transactions processed every day, you may want to reserve this ability for yourself.

We may or may not have established and password-protected a Closing Date for your company file. This is the date when the books for a specific time frame have been “closed,” meaning that transactions should not be entered, added, or deleted prior to it. We can talk with you about the pros and cons of such an action.

A summary of user access rights

Here and on every other screen in this multi-step wizard, you can always click the Back button if you want to return to a previous window. When you’re finished, you’ll see a screen like the one in the above image that summarizes the choices you have just made.

If you’re feeling any uncertainty or confusion about the whole issue of access rights, we’ll be happy to go over your options with you. These are important decisions. You’ll want to stress to your employees that restricting their permissions does not signal a lack of your trust in them. Rather, QuickBooks provides these tools to protect everyone who uses the software as well as any external individuals and companies that might be affected.

Charging for Time in QuickBooks Online, Part 2

Last month, we talked about time-tracking setup, single-activity data entry, and user permissions. This month, we’re exploring additional time-and-billing steps.

By now, you’ve set up QuickBooks Online for time tracking and entered your first timed activity. If you have employees who only need to get on the site to complete their timesheets, we showed you how to give them restricted access.

Let’s start here by looking at what’s involved in completing timesheets. We’ll assume for this example that you are entering your own billable time. You can see how this screen looks by clicking the plus sign (+) at the top of the screen, then Employees | Weekly Timesheet. The screen looks very similar to a paper timecard.

If you had entered a single activity for a billable time block already, all of that information would appear in your timesheet for that week, once you selected your name from the drop-down list in the upper left and set the work week to the correct one in the field to the right. It would look something like this:

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Time entries recorded as single activities automatically transfer over to that week’s timesheet.

If you’re going to enter your complete work week directly on the timesheet, you’d open a blank form (using the instructions above) and select your name and the time range. Next, you’d go down to the first field under DETAILS and select the appropriate Customer Name by clicking on the arrows to the right of the field to open the list. Next to that, do the same thing to choose the Service.

The fields below those two are earmarked for Class (if you assign classes) and Territory (or whatever Location Label you’ve chosen). If you haven’t used these and want to explore them, let’s schedule a session to go over QuickBooks Online Classes and Custom Fields.

Type a Description in the box below and click in the box in front of Billable. The hourly rate and tax status should fill in automatically. In the boxes below the correct dates (in the grid to the right), you’d enter the billable hours worked for that customer that week. If you are reporting billable time for more than one customer, or time that is not billable, you’ll of course have to place those entries on new lines.

Employee Timesheets

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This is part of what employees see when they log into QuickBooks Online using their Time Tracking only status.

Your employees can, of course, enter hours directly on their own timesheet screens. As we discussed last month, you can choose whether to let employees see the customer’s billing rate. In this example, the employee can only enter hours worked and indicate that they were billable. When you go to approve the timesheet, you will see the rate.

Getting Paid

As you start to create an invoice for a customer who needs to pay for services that have been included in a timesheet, look at the vertical pane to the right of the main working screen titled Add to invoice. Any estimate that hasn’t yet been accepted and any time that hasn’t been paid for should appear in the small blocks in that pane.

You have two options here: Add or Open. Clicking on the first adds that time block to the invoice, and clicking on the second opens the original form. You can also click on the Add all button at the top of the pane to include the details of every entry in the invoice.

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When you create an invoice for a customer who has outstanding billable time, that information will appear in the right vertical pane. You can open the original transaction or click to add it to the invoice.

Time Reports

As you can see, time billing can get a little complicated when you have employees entering their own timesheets. And QuickBooks Online wants to make sure that you’ve billed customers for every minute that you’ve worked for them. So there are two reports that you should be consulting regularly. Click on Reports in the left vertical pane, then All Reports and Review Sales. In this list, you’ll see:

  • Time Activities by Customer Detail, and
  • Unbilled Time.

The titles of these reports should be fairly self-explanatory. Be sure to set the correct date range before running them, though, to avoid missing anything.

Completing timesheets isn’t rocket science. Nor is earmarking time blocks as billable. But due to the setup and the options involved, as well as the complications that can occur when you add employee self-service to the mix, we highly recommend that you meet with us to go over the whole process. We want to make sure that your company’s time entry and timesheet configuration are right from the start.

Make QuickBooks Your Own: Specify Your Preferences

Your business is unique. Make sure that QuickBooks knows how you operate.

QuickBooks was designed to be used by millions of businesses. In fact, it’s possible to install it, answer a few questions about your company, and start working right away.

However, we strongly suggest you take the time to specify your Preferences. QuickBooks devotes a whole screen to this customization process. You can find it by opening the Edit menu and selecting Preferences.

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Figure 1: This is the screen you’ll see when you go to Edit | Preferences in QuickBooks. You can turn features off and on, and customize the software in numerous other ways.

Let’s look at some examples of what you can do on this page. In the image above, Accounting is highlighted. You can see that QuickBooks makes it easy for you to specify your preferences. You simply click in boxes to check or uncheck them. Sometimes, you’ll click on the desired button in front of a list item. Other times, you’ll be asked to enter numbers and text.

Tip: When you click on a tab in the left navigation pane of the Preferences window, you’ll notice that there are two tabs in the larger pane on the right. If My Preferences is highlighted and there are no options on that screen, click on Company Preferences.

Some of the screens here, like Accounting, contain complex concepts. Do you know, for example, why you would or wouldn’t want to Use account numbers? What Retained Earnings are?

Warning: While the mechanics of this process are simple, there may be times when you don’t understand what’s being asked because you’re either not familiar with the terms  or you don’t know which option you should choose. Rather than guessing, please connect with us to set up a to go over all of the content in the Preferences window.

Some preferences are easier to define. Let’s look at one of these.

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The Time & Expenses window in QuickBooks’ Preferences

The image above is a partial snapshot of the screen that opens when you select Time & Expenses from the left vertical tab in the Preferences window.

Tip: If you start making changes and decide you’d like to return to the options selected before you started, click the Default tab in the upper right.

Your options here are very simple:

  • Do you want to use the time-tracking features in QuickBooks?
  • On what day does your work week start?
  • Does all of the employee time worked and recorded get billed back to the appropriate customer? (You can change this manually on each time entry by checking or unchecking the box in front of )
  • When you create an invoice for a customer who has outstanding time charges, do you want to be able to select those from a list?

If you check the box in front of Create invoices from a list of time and expenses, this box will appear when you open the Create Invoices window and select a customer who needs to be billed for time:

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If you are creating an invoice for a customer who has received services but who has not been billed for them yet, you can opt to have those charges added to the invoice.

You’ll notice that there’s a box in the lower left corner labeled Save this as a preference. While QuickBooks allows you to specify preferences in countless areas in the Preferences window, you will often have the opportunity to make an exception for a particular action as you’re working on transactions. Also, as shown here, you can sometimes turn on specific preferences once you’ve already started a task.

You’re not required to go through all of the entries in the Preferences window before you start working. You can always go there to see if there’s a setting you can change if an element of QuickBooks isn’t performing the way you expected.

But we think it’s a good idea to learn about all of your options in the software before you get started. If you let us go through this process with you, you’ll learn not only about the customization allowed, but you’ll also get a good introduction to all of the things that QuickBooks can do. You’ll also discover where your knowledge of accounting may be lacking. And we’ll learn more about your business and its needs. Contact us and we’ll help you get going.

QuickBooks Desktop Security Notice

Intuit has identified, and is implementing an update to address a security vulnerability in QuickBooks desktop software. This has no impact on QuickBooks Online.

For supported versions of QuickBooks desktop, Intuit has begun the process of proactively notifying customers of the steps required to install an update, which is designed to address the security vulnerability. The update includes password controls to verify that the person attempting to access an account is authorized. Intuit expects all customers to install the necessary security updates.

As per industry best practices, non-supported versions of QuickBooks desktop do not receive updates (QuickBooks desktop 2012 and earlier are unsupported). Customers using non-supported products are encouraged to upgrade to QuickBooks desktop 2016, the most current version. Customers who continue to use older, unsupported versions of QuickBooks desktop, could be putting their data at risk.

Customers using QuickBooks desktop in multi-user mode will need to ensure that all users are on a supported version of QuickBooks desktop and have installed the security update in order to address the security vulnerability.

Intuit also wants to remind customers of precautions that they should always take to protect their accounts and data. These include:

  • All customers should set up a password for their QuickBooks desktop file, if they don’t already have one.
  • Customers should choose a strong user name and password. Use unique letters and numbers in a password, not basic words that can easily be found online or in the dictionary.
  • Customers should protect all personal information. Never give out a user name or password and make sure to use different passwords for each account.
  • We recommend that all customers upgrade to most resent version, QuickBooks desktop 2016.
  • We recommend that customers use secure methods, such as the Accountant’s Copy File Transfer (ACFT) service, when sharing QuickBooks files.
  • To protect yourself from phishing and other social engineering attacks, don’t open suspicious emails or email attachments.

At Intuit, we are committed to giving you the tools to protect your QuickBooks data. Thank you for taking action to apply the security fixes to your company file.

For more information, an in-product and KB article is posted here. 

Are you Applying Finance Charges? Should You Be?

Assessing finance charges is a complicated process. But if you have a lot of late payments coming in, you may want to consider it.

There are many reasons why your customers send in payments past their due dates. Maybe they missed or misplaced your invoice, or they’re disputing the charges. They might not be very conscientious about bill-paying. Or they simply don’t have the money.

Sometimes they contact you about their oversight, but more often, you just see the overdue days pile up in your reports.

You could use stronger language in your customer messages. Send statements. Make phone calls if the delinquency goes on too long. Or you could start assessing finance charges to invoices that go unpaid past the due date. QuickBooks provides tools to accommodate this, but you’ll want to make absolutely sure you’re using them correctly – or you’ll risk angering customers and creating problems with your accounts receivable.

Setting the Rules

Before you can start, you’ll need to tell QuickBooks how you’d like your finance charges to work. It’s at this stage that we recommend you let us work with you. There’s nothing overly difficult about understanding finance charges in theory: you apply a percentage of the dollar amount that’s overdue to come up with a new total balance. But setting up your QuickBooks file with the finance charge rules you want to incorporate may require some assistance. If it’s done incorrectly, you will hear from your customers.

Here’s how it works. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences, then Finance Charge | Company Preferences.

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Figure 1: Before you can start adding finance charges to overdue invoices, you’ll need to establish your company preferences.

What Annual Interest Rate percentage do you want to tack onto late payments? This is an issue we can discuss with you. Too low, and it’s not worth your extra time and trouble. To, high, and your customers may stop patronizing your business. And do you want to set a Minimum Finance Charge? Will you allow a Grace Period? If so, how many days?

You’ll need to assign an account to the funds that come in from interest charges. This needs to be an income account. In our example, it’s Other Income.

The next decision, whether to Assess finance charges on overdue finance charges, needs consideration – and some research. This may not be an option depending on the lending laws in the jurisdiction where your business is located. So again, if you want to charge interest on unpaid and tardy finance charges themselves, let’s talk.

When do you want the finance charge “countdown” to begin? When QuickBooks identifies a transaction that has not been paid within the stated terms, do you want the added charge to be applied based on the due date or the invoice/billed date?

Note: If your business sends statements rather than invoices, leave the Mark finance charge invoices “To be printed” box at the bottom of this window unchecked.

Applying the Rules

QuickBooks does not automatically add finance charges to your customers’ invoices. You’ll need to administer these additions yourself, though QuickBooks will handle the actual calculations. Open the Customers menu and select Assess Finance Charges to open this window:

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Figure 2: You’ll determine who should have finance charge invoices created in the Assess Finance Charges window.

Make very sure that the Assessment Date is correct, as it has impact on QuickBooks’ calculations. Being even a day off makes a difference. Select the customers who should have finance charges applied by clicking next to their names in the Assess column. QuickBooks will display the Overdue Balance from the original invoice, as well as the Finance Charge it has calculated.

  • If you choose not to apply finances charges to a customer because he or she has provided a good reason for the late payment, be sure the box in the Assess column is unchecked.
  • If you want to change the finance charge due for a valid reason, you can type over the amount in the last column. This would be a rare occurrence and should be exercised only after consulting with us.

Important: If there is an asterisk next to a customer’s name, there are payments or credit memos that have not yet been applied to any invoice.

When everything is correct, click the Assess Charges button at the bottom. QuickBooks will create separate invoices for finance charges for each customer who owes them.

We can’t stress enough the importance of consulting with us before you start to work with finance charges enough. Keep your company file accurate and your customers happy by getting this complex accounting element right from the start.

 

Tracking Products and Services in QuickBooks Online, Part 1

Inventory management requires precision, constant attention, and smart decisions. QuickBooks Online can help.

If you started small with your business, keeping track of your product inventory was probably pretty easy. Maybe you kept your stock in a few boxes or a closet, and it was easy to tell at a glance what needed replenishing.

As you grew, the process of inventory-tracking started to get unwieldy. You were selling too many products in too large a volume; a casual look at your inventory no longer sufficed. And  physical inventory counts took a lot of time. So you found yourself with too many of some items and not enough of others.

Keeping inventory items at financially-responsible levels is a delicate balance. If you have too much on hand, you tie up money. Too little in stock, and, well, you know what happens: you wind up with unfulfilled orders and unhappy customers. QuickBooks Online can help.

Building Inventory Records

QuickBooks Online’s inventory-management tools help you:

  • Create thorough records for each product and service that you sell.
  • Fill out sales and purchase forms — like invoices and purchase orders — quickly and accurately using these item records, and,
  • Generate reports that provide the real-time status of your inventory.
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Figure 1: You can build a database of product and service records using QuickBooks Online’s inventory management tools.

Here’s how to get started. Click on the gear icon in the upper right, next to your company name, and select Products and Services. Once you start adding records, this screen will display a table containing critical details about your inventory and non-inventory items as well as the services you sell.

Click New in the upper right corner. A vertical pane will slide out of the right side of the screen, asking you what type of item you want to describe. Select Inventory item, and the Product/Service information window opens. Enter the name of your item in the first field and its SKU (optional) in the next. You can upload an image if you’d like, too.

The line below this information reads Is sub-product or service. You should only click in the box in front of it if you have already created a parent product or service and want to put this item in a sub-category of it. In the example above, Writing tools is the parent category and 3 4×6 journals, multi-color is one member of that product category. (Questions? Ask us.)

As you can see, you can modify some options here without completely starting over. If this item should have been classified as a Non-inventory item, click Change type and select the correct one. You can also delete your image or replace it with another.

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Figure 2: You need to be absolutely sure that your Initial quantity on hand figure is correct in this window, since it will affect transactions and reports.

How many units of this item do you have right now? Enter that number in the field and then choose today’s date from the calendar that’s available in the As of date field. Your Inventory asset account should be pre-selected to Inventory Asset. Account designations must always be correct in QuickBooks Online.

Warning: If you are unfamiliar with assigning items to accounts, let us walk you through the early stages of setting up your inventory records. We can help you understand the Chart of Accounts and how it relates to various tasks you’ll be doing.

Enter the description you would like to appear on sales forms in the Sales information field. Then complete the Sales price/rate box. This is the price that you will charge customers for the item. If sales tax will be applied, click in the box in front of Is taxable to create a check mark. Sales of Product Income will probably already appear in the Income account field.

Go through similar steps in the Purchasing information fields, keeping in mind that the Cost field should reflect your cost to buy the items you sell, if indeed you do purchase and resell inventory. When you’re done, click Save and close or Save and new.

This is a lot of work, but it’s important work. You’re building the foundation for your inventory management system.

Next month, we’ll look at how you will be using your item information in transactions and reports.

 

Use QuickBooks Custom Fields to Improve Insight

QuickBooks’ structure is universal enough to appeal to millions of small businesses. Custom fields help you shape it to meet your company’s unique needs.

If you’re using QuickBooks, you probably know that you’re complying with the rules of double-entry accounting. The software is designed such that you can be compliant with these requirements without even being aware of it. You’re dealing with invoices and purchase orders, bank account reconciliation and bill-paying and payroll, not debits and credits and journal entries. QuickBooks does the double-entry part in the background.

While every business that uses QuickBooks is following those same rules, each has its own unique structure and its own need to modify some elements of the program to do certain tasks, for example:

  • Store more specific information about customers, vendors, and employees in their records,
  • Differentiate between variations of similar inventory items, and,
  • Create more targeted reports.

This is where custom fields come in.

Defining Custom Fields

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Figure 1: QuickBooks comes with pre-designed form and record templates.

One of the ways that QuickBooks simplifies your life as your company’s accounting manager is by providing pre-designed record and form templates. Need to create an invoice? There’s a form that already contains the most commonly-used data fields; you just fill in the blanks or select from drop-down lists. Want to store information about your customers and about the items you sell? Ditto.

But if you need more fields than QuickBooks offers on a record or form, you can easily add your own. The software lets you add 15 fields total to customers and jobs, vendors, and employees, and you’re limited to seven for any one record type. (If you want to use the same field in two of these, it will only count as one.) And you’re allowed to define up to five fields for your item records.

This type of modification is easy to do, but it’s critical that you think carefully about what fields you should add. You don’t want to learn three or six months down the road that one isn’t really necessary and two more are needed, for example. This is especially important when you’re creating records for inventory items.

You may want to schedule some time with us to go over this (and to explore QuickBooks’ item-tracking features if you’re new to managing inventory). You can change custom field names, but you need to understand how this will affect your data if you do this.

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Figure 2: It’s easy to add custom fields to records, but be sure you give a lot of thought to what will be needed.

Let’s say you want to add some custom fields to your customer records. Open the Customer Center by clicking the tab in the left vertical pane or opening the Customers menu and clicking on Customer Center. Double-click on a customer or click on the small pencil icon in the upper right. The Edit Customer window opens.

Click on the Additional Info tab on the left and then on the Define Fields button in the lower right. The Set up Custom Fields for Names window opens, as pictured above.

Click in the first column, under Label. Enter the name of the field as you would like it to appear in records and reports. Then click in the box or boxes below Cust, Vend, or Empl. If you want to use the same field in more than one record type, enter a check mark in both. Continue to enter field names until you’re done, then click OK.

Now when you create a customer record, you can fill in the blanks. And your new fields will appear as filters in some reports.

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Figure 3: Custom fields can sometimes be used in reports.

You’ll follow a similar set of steps when you create custom fields for items in QuickBooks. Open the Lists menu and select Item List. Double-click on any item to open the Edit Item window. Click the Custom Fields bar on the right, then Custom Fields and Define Fields. If your company sells a lot of products with multiple variations, talk to us before you attempt this.

Personalizing your copy of QuickBooks by adding custom fields has a lot of benefits. But this major structural change requires a lot of thought and planning up front to make sure that this feature is a plus for your business.

Setting Up Settings in QuickBooks Online

You’ll be visiting QuickBooks Online’s Settings screen regularly, so it’s good to know what’s there.

You can get into a rental car and just start driving to your destination. But you soon realize that you need to know where the temperature controls and the radio tuner are. If it starts raining, you must know where the wiper controls are. And when it gets dark, you’d better know how to turn on the headlights.

The same goes for QuickBooks Online. You can create bills and start paying them or begin to invoice customers or record expenses as soon as you set up an account (though you’ll be adding a lot of data on the fly). But you’ll soon discover that those tasks would be easier if you had established all of your Settings first.

If you have multiple employees using QuickBooks Online, for example, it has probably occurred to you that not everyone needs to have access to everything in your company file. You’ll want to connect the site to your financial accounts, build a budget, and specify payment terms and types.

So it’s a good idea to visit your Settings screen early in your QuickBooks Online journey. It’s easy to find: just click the gear icon next to your company name in the upper right corner of the screen.

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Figure 1: You’ll want to explore the Settings window early on in your use of QuickBooks Online, but you’ll often have occasion to revisit it.

Critical Functions

Some of the links in the Settings window take you to screens that you’ll have to pop into regularly in the course of your daily work. One that you’re likely to visit often is All Lists. Here, you’ll be able to complete tasks like:

  • Creating records for the products and/or services that you sell.
  • Setting up recurring transactions, regularly-scheduled invoices, bills, etc. that occur at periodic intervals. (Note: You can choose to either be reminded of these or let them be processed automatically. Please consult with us if you’re going to be using this feature, as it can create serious problems if it’s not set up exactly right.)
  • Adding or modifying customer payment terms.

Unless you went through the QuickBooks Online setup process on your own or with help from us, it’s important that you click on the link to Account and Settings under Your Company before you start entering live data. QuickBooks Online comes with its own default settings that many businesses would be likely to use; but you need to evaluate these and see if you need to change any of them to better fit your company.

Going through these settings one by one has another benefit: you will learn about things that QuickBooks Online can do that you may not have discovered.

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Figure 2: Work your way through the Account and Settings screens to see what QuickBooks Online can do – and to determine how you want to handle its many features for your company’s accounting.

It’s easy to specify your preferences on these screens. You just click on each tab on the left in succession and go through each setting, toggling between Off and On by clicking on the words and clicking on any buttons whose actions you want to explore.

During this process, you may have to make decisions that you’ve never before considered. For example, do you want to use custom fields or custom transaction numbers? We can schedule a time to go through this together if you’d like to make sure that you know what each option means and whether you should employ it.

Restricting Access

Will anyone besides you be using QuickBooks Online? If so, you’ll need to visit the Manage Users screen. Here, you can assign roles to users and specify what areas of the site they can access, as well as what they can do there. A simple wizard walks you through this critical process.

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Figure 3: What limitations do you want to put on additional QuickBooks Online users?

There are many other Settings that you’ll likely want to visit at some point, like when you’re ready to create a budget or do your first account reconciliation. But we can’t stress enough the importance of establishing your accounting settings and defining user roles. Get the most out of QuickBooks Online by customizing it to meet your company’s unique needs.

 

Why You Should Use QuickBooks’ Snapshots

QuickBooks provides multiple ways to get information about your customers, and their payments, and your company itself. The software’s Snapshots provide quick, thorough overviews.

What do you do when you need to get information in QuickBooks about customers or about payments they’ve made in QuickBooks? You have several options. You could, for example:

  • Create a report
  • Go to their Customer pages
  • Click on Receive Payments on the Home Page and use the Find arrows (not very elegant or fast, but would be an easy way to find recent payments).

One of QuickBooks’ strengths is its flexibility. It helps you find the exact information you’re looking for in a variety of ways.  Which one you choose at any given time depends on what screen you’re working on at the moment and precisely what slice of data you need.

A Home Base

The desktop version of QuickBooks doesn’t have a “dashboard,” like web-based financial applications do. Dashboards are like home pages on steroids. Rather than just providing navigational tools and menus, Snapshots display charts and grids and lists representing the data that you’d most likely want to see when you first log on, like account balances, summaries of income and expenses, and high-priority tasks, with links to related activity screens. You can usually customize these.

QuickBooks’ Reminders tell you what needs to be done either today or very soon. But they don’t reveal anything about your financial status. Snapshots do. There are three versions: Company, Payments, and Customer.

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Figure 1: The QuickBooks Customer Snapshot sums up each customer’s activity and history in a one-page view.

Many Sections

Let’s look at the Customer Snapshot to see how these work. To find it, click on Snapshots in the left vertical navigation pane. When the window opens, make sure that the Customer tab is active; if not, click on it. Click on the arrow next to the CUSTOMER field in the center of the very top to select a customer.

You’ll see three columns of information here. The left pane displays some commonly sought numbers (like Total Sales) and some numbers that you might have trouble finding any other way (Average days to pay, etc.). In the middle, you’ll see Recent Invoices and Recent Payments. And the right section (not shown in the screen shot) includes two customizable graphs, Sales History and Best Selling Items.

This is the default layout, the information boxes you’ll see when you first open the Company Snapshot. To remove any of them, click on the X in the upper right corner. You can restore them at any time by clicking the arrow next to Add Content in the upper left and then clicking the +Add button next to the one you want.

You can also move the blocks into different positions on the page. Grab one by clicking on its header and holding it, dragging it to the preferred position, and releasing it.

Personalized Pages

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Figure 2: You can add, delete, and move blocks of data around in the Customer Snapshot.

Users who have been assigned access to the data that each Snapshot contains can customize their own views by adding or deleting sections and rearranging them. So each employee can have his or her own unique-looking Snapshots, though the real-time data in all of them will be the same.

Note: If you’ve given employees besides yourself access to QuickBooks, it’s important that you assign permission levels to them. You probably don’t want everyone to be able to see and modify everything in your file. We can help you set these up.

Other Snapshots

The other two Snapshots are more complex, containing more data options. They can, however, be customized in the same ways that you personalized the Customer screen. The Payments Snapshot can give you a quick update on things like Recent Transactions and A/R by Aging Period.

The Company Snapshot lets you display up to 12 lists and charts, including:

  • Account Balances,
  • Customers Who Owe Money,
  • Expense Breakdown, and,
  • Vendors to Pay.

This would be a good page to use as your dashboard (home page), especially since it can also show you your Reminders. With the Company Snapshot open, go to Edit | Preferences | Desktop View | My Preferences and click on the button in front of Save current desktop. Remove the checkmark in front of Show Home page when opening company file if one is there.

QuickBooks’ Snapshots can get you up to speed quickly on critical elements of your accounting file, but there are other reports that you should run regularly, including complex standard financials reports that require expert analysis. We can help you interpret these, which in turn will help you make smarter, more informed business decisions.

What You Should Know About the QBO Mobile App

QuickBooks Online’s mobile app lacks some features found in the browser-based version, but it provides mobile access to tools you may want on the road.

First, it’s free (except for your mobile data plan costs). Second, it’s good. And QuickBooks Online’s mobile app offers more functionality than you might expect. Available for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, it gives you remote access to the features that you probably use most frequently on your desktop or laptop.

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Figure 1: The navigational menu in QuickBooks Online’s mobile app slides out from the left side (iPhone 6+ version pictured here).

Why Mobile?

Since you can already access QBO on a laptop, why would you need an app that’s missing some of the main site’s functionality?

You don’t, necessarily. If your work doesn’t take you out of the office much and you don’t travel for the business, downloading the app may just create one more icon on your smartphone screen that you always see but never open.

But you may want to consider using it if you, for example:

  • Want to work at home or in a coffee shop on your off hours,
  • Regularly purchase items or services that you will submit as expenses to your company,
  • Sell something on the spot and want to create a sales receipt,
  • Need to nail down a sale by creating an invoice immediately,
  • Get a question from a customer or vendor about a past transaction, or,
  • Have to look up a price and description for a product or service.
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Figure 2: Using QuickBooks Online’s mobile app, you can create sales transactions wherever you are.

Many Limitations

QuickBooks Online’s mobile app is far from a replacement for the browser-based version. It has numerous limitations. For example, there’s no dashboard — no home page that gives you an overview of your finances and provides reminders about tasks that need to be done. Rather, the app opens to Company Activity, a list of the most recent transactions.

Customer and vendor records are not quite as detailed, and you can’t view or work with your Chart of Accounts. Some settings can be altered, but not nearly as many as on the main site. There are only two reports available, Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet, which is a tiny percentage of what’s offered online. You can’t enter and pay bills, create purchase orders, or work with payroll. And you can’t check inventory levels.

But the app isn’t designed to be a management or everyday tool. You wouldn’t begin your QuickBooks Online experience with the mobile version; setup and high-level functions like reports, bank reconciliation, and assignment of user roles would be done online by the administrator. There’s a separate application for Intuit’s online payroll, and activities like issuing credits and defining recurring transactions would more likely be done from the office.

While they’re laid out differently, the QuickBooks Online mobile app manages to pack a lot of detail in a small space. It includes the features that a remote worker would most likely need to use. And some of those are quite comprehensive. Forms in the app, for example, lack very little compared to those in the browser-based version, especially those that deal with expenses and payments, which are often done outside of the office.

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Figure 3: The QuickBooks Online mobile app looks different from the browser-based version, but it’s very easy to use, and some screens are quite detailed.

Examine Your Workflow

The ability to do accounting work on an app away from the office offers convenience and flexibility that browser-based QuickBooks Online doesn’t. First off, mobile applications show a degree of professionalism and responsiveness to customers and vendors you meet with outside the office. And it keeps you in touch with some of your financial data when you’re on the move.

But can using it create problems? Possibly. Data entered in the app shows up in the browser-based version as soon as it’s entered and saved. But you or your administrator wouldn’t necessarily know to look for an onslaught of expenses or invoices, and by the time they’re discovered, there could be some complications.

So if you’re planning to let employees loose on the QuickBooks Online mobile app and you expect that they’ll use it frequently, it’s best to establish policies ahead of time and make sure that the work that’s done remotely will mesh with the rest of your accounting activities. We can help you prepare well for your new mobile capabilities.

 

What QuickBooks’ Calendar Can Do for You

Yet another calendar? Yes. It’s a good idea to use QuickBooks’ calendar to stay on top of your financial transactions.

These days, some of us find ourselves updating multiple calendars. There’s the Outlook calendar or other web-based solution for scheduling and task management. Maybe a smartphone app to track to-do’s on the road, and a paper calendar as backup.

But where do you keep track of your everyday financial tasks? Including these in your scheduling calendars and/or task lists will make for very crowded screens, not to mention how inconvenient it can be to keep switching between applications.

So consider adding one more tracking tool: the QuickBooks calendar. This graphical screen isn’t designed for data entry (except for to-do’s). Rather, it’s designed to give you a quick overview of your financial activity, both historically and in the future.

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Figure 1: The QuickBooks calendar consists of two parts. The graphical calendar itself displays one of three types of entries: Entered, Due, or To Do. The number in parentheses refers to the number of each type that occurred or will occur that day. Details of each entry appear below; double-clicking on one opens the original form.

Calendar Setup

Before you start using the QuickBooks calendar, you should designate your display and content options. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences | Calendar. Make sure that the My Preferences tab is active.

Click on the arrows to the right of every field to open the menu that displays your choices. The first of these are:

  • Calendar view. Daily? Weekly? Monthly? Or do you want QuickBooks to remember the last view that was open?
  • Weekly view. Should the calendar only display the primary workdays or all seven?
  • Show. What items would you like to have displayed on the calendar? It defaults to All Transactions, but you can filter it by transaction type.

You can also specify whether you want past due and upcoming entries to be included, and for how many days.

Tracking To-Do’s

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Figure 2: You can create to-do items and have them appear on the QuickBooks calendar.

The QuickBooks calendar also offers tools for creating to-do’s of several types (call, fax, email, meeting, appointment, or task).  These will appear on the calendar unless you filter them out.

Tip: The link that opens the to-do window is rather hard to find. It’s in the lower right corner of the graphical calendar.

Click on Add To Do to get started. The window pictured above opens. Click the arrow to the right of the field under TYPE and select the type of to-do that you want to define. You can also select a PRIORITY level if you’d like.

Below those two fields is a small box to the left of WITH. If you want to connect that activity to a customer, vendor, or employee, click in the box and select the type. Then click the arrow next to the field below it and choose the correct individual or company.

You aren’t required to create this link; you can simply designate your to-do type and enter a DATE, TIME, and DETAILS. The activity will still appear on your QuickBooks calendar. But if you do associate it with a specific entity, like a customer, it will appear in that customer’s record when you click on the To Do’s tab.

A Word About Reminders

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Figure 3: You can get advance notice of scheduled financial activities by setting up Reminders. Go to Edit | Preferences | Reminders | Company Preferences.

The QuickBooks calendar is not really a reminder tool. You’ll need to use QuickBooks’ Reminders to get help with advance notice of due dates.

But the calendar will display the actual due dates for transactions. If you’ve entered a bill that’s due on February 28, for example, the word Due will appear on that date in the graphical calendar; the number of transactions due will appear in parentheses after it. All entries for that day appear in a list below. To see the original form, you’d double-click on the one you want to see.

Using Reminders in conjunction with the QuickBooks calendar can help you stay current with sales and purchases – if you have you due dates established in a way that will be good for your cash flow. Let us know if you want some help scheduling incoming and outgoing payments in a way that will work to your advantage.

Using QBO’s Accounts Receivable Reports

With the holidays and year-end over, you can turn your attention to catching up with your customers.

It would be nice if we could neatly wrap up every accounting month or quarter or year neatly, with all of our transactions completed. All current bills and invoices would be paid, physical inventory counts would match the quantities in our records, and all purchase orders would be fulfilled.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t usually work like that. Businesses and individuals get caught up in the flurry of activity that occurs every December, and work gets delayed.

So it’s a good idea to take stock of your accounts receivable in January. Most people are back in the office and ready to take on the new year’s tasks. QuickBooks Online makes this catch-up work easier with its group of related reports.

Numerous Templates

It’s likely that you at some point have run one of QuickBooks Online’s accounts receivable reports, A/R Aging Summary, to see a list of past due invoice payments. But there are many other reports. Familiarizing yourself with them can help you throughout the year, not just in January when you’re trying to put your financials back in order.

To see the whole list, click on Reports in the left vertical toolbar. If the All Reports link is not underlined, click on it. Then click Manage Accounts Receivable.

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Figure 1: This is a partial list of the accounts receivable reports offered in QuickBooks Online.

You probably don’t need to run every report in this group frequently, but there are some that can provide the insight you need when you’re trying to tie up loose ends and prepare for the rest of the year. They include:

  • A/R Aging Detail. The A/R Aging Summary only displays totals for each customer with a past due status. The report divides these into 30-day increments, so you can see how much each customer owes currently, 1-30 days overdue, 31-60 days overdue, etc. A/R Aging Detail divides the report into those same time periods, but it displays every corresponding invoice for every customer, its original due date, amount, and open balance.
  • Customer Balance Detail. This report doesn’t break out past-due invoices by 30-day increments. It groups outstanding balances by customer. By quickly scanning the Due Dates and Open Balances, you can get a quick snapshot of each customer’s status. Are any payments due soon? Is there a high balance that needs to be addressed?
  • Collections Report. You – or whoever handles collections for your company – should be running this report regularly. You can see which customers have past-due balances and by how many days, which individual invoices are represented, and the total amount owed.

Contacting customers in an attempt to collect past-due payments is probably not your favorite thing to do. Let us know if you want help customizing QuickBooks Online and using its other tools to minimize late remittances.

Seeing the Data You Need

QuickBooks Online’s report templates are constructed to display the data that most businesspeople want to see. You have tremendous control, though, over the columns that appear. Customization options on the site are quite generous.

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Figure 2: QuickBooks Online offers countless options for the data that is displayed in its reports. We can help you work with these if you’re new to report customization.

Open the Customer Balance Detail report and click the Customize button in the upper left. There’s very little that you can’t modify in QuickBooks Online reports. Click on each link in the left vertical navigation tool to get a sense of what’s possible.

If you alter the options in a report and think you’d like to run it again in the future with the same modifications but refreshed data, click Save Customizations in the upper left after you’ve finished making your changes. Type a new name for this modified report in the field provided in the small window that opens. When you want to generate it again, go to All Reports | My Custom Reports to find it.

We strongly encourage you to customize at least some of your reports. This kind of zeroing in on the exact set of data you want can help you evaluate your current financial status — and make better business decisions.

How to Purchase and Download QuickBooks Software

2016-Pro  2016-Premier 2016-Enterprise

Squire and Company, PC. wants to help you with all your QuickBooks needs. Please follow the instructions below to purchase and download your QuickBooks software.

The links provided here only work for those who have purchased QuickBooks software.  A valid license number and product number are required to install the software. 

To purchase and download your QuickBooks software:

  1. Go to Quickbooksadvantage.com
  2. Select Products  from top menu
  3. Select Software from menu
  4. Choose the appropriate version of QuickBooks software*
  5. After the QuickBooks software is purchased you will receive an email confirming payment. Within 48 hours, you will receive an email with a license number and product number for download.
  6. Follow the links below to download your QuickBooks software. The following links will download a setup file which, when run, will download the most recent release of the selected software version and start the installation wizard to install QuickBooks.

*Squire and Company, PC has QuickBooks Pro Advisors that can help you decide which product is best suited for you and your business needs. 

QuickBooks Pro 2016

http://http-download.intuit.com/http.intuit/Downloads/2016/Latest/Setup_QuickBooksPro2016.exe

QuickBooks Premier 2016

http://http-download.intuit.com/http.intuit/Downloads/2016/Latest/Setup_QuickBooksPremier2016.exe

QuickBooks Enterprise 2016

http://http-download.intuit.com/http.intuit/Downloads/2016/Latest/Setup_QuickBooksEnterprise16.exe

QuickBooks Pro 2015

http://http-download.intuit.com/http.intuit/Downloads/2015/Latest/Setup_QuickBooksPro2015.exe

QuickBooks Premier 2015

http://http-download.intuit.com/http.intuit/Downloads/2015/Latest/Setup_QuickBooksPremier2015.exe

QuickBooks Enterprise 2015

http://http-download.intuit.com/http.intuit/Downloads/2015/Latest/Setup_QuickBooksEnterprise15.exe

QuickBooks Pro 2014

http://http-download.intuit.com/http.intuit/Downloads/2014/Latest/Setup_QuickBooksPro2014.exe

QuickBooks Premier 2014

http://http-download.intuit.com/http.intuit/Downloads/2014/Latest/Setup_QuickBooksPremier2014.exe

QuickBooks Enterprise 2014

http://http-download.intuit.com/http.intuit/Downloads/2014/Latest/Setup_QuickBooksEnterprise14.exe

QuickBooks Pro 2013

http://http-download.intuit.com/http.intuit/Downloads/2013/Latest/Setup_QuickBooksPro2013.exe

QuickBooks Premier 2013

http://http-download.intuit.com/http.intuit/Downloads/2013/Latest/Setup_QuickBooksPremier2013.exe

QuickBooks Enterprise 2013

http://http-download.intuit.com/http.intuit/Downloads/2013/Latest/Setup_QuickBooksPro2013.exe

Use Recurring Transactions in QuickBooks Online

Save time and ensure that repeating transactions are processed as scheduled.

You know how much time QuickBooks Online already saves you. Customer, vendor, and item records need never be entered again once they’re created for the first time. Pre-built forms use your record data to complete transactions quickly and accurately. Customizable report templates provide real-time overviews of your financial status in every area.

There’s another way QuickBooks Online can reduce the time you spend on accounting chores: recurring transactions. If you have invoices, bills, and other transactions that occur on a regular basis, you can save all or part of their data to use again. You can even choose to have them dispatched automatically.

Here’s how it works. You need to create a template, a type of model, for each recurring transaction. To do this, simply create the transaction you want to repeat. Say it’s an invoice for a service you provide monthly to a company or individual. You’d fill in all the required fields, then click Make recurring in the horizontal toolbar at the bottom of the screen. This window will open:

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When you click Make recurring at the bottom of a transaction, this window of options will display.

Select the Customer first by clicking the arrows to the right of the blank field. QuickBooks Online will fill in contact information and automatically display name that as the Template name. You can leave it there, or you can try to think of a phrase that describes the transaction, so you’ll remember it. Next, you need to decide how QuickBooks Online will handle the transaction. There are three options:

  • Scheduled. Be very careful with this one, since QuickBooks Online will automatically create and dispatch it. This only works if the information in the transaction—minus the date—is always exactly the same.
  • Reminder. This is safer. QuickBooks Online will display a reminder in time for you to complete and process the transaction.
  • Unscheduled. QuickBooks Online will do neither of the above, but the template will be available to use as you need it. This is good for infrequent transactions that share some common information.

Next, taking into account variables like delivery methods and due dates, enter a number in the field in front of days in advance. Then skip down to Options and click the box in front of all the statements that apply to that transaction. The bottom line in this window contains the fields that will let you specify the transaction’s Interval. Click the arrows next to each field to open its menu.

In the example above, we’ve indicated that the invoice occurs monthly on the first day of the month, starting on January 1, 2017. You don’t know how long this will recur, so we’ve left End set to None. When you’re satisfied with everything in the window, click Save template in the lower right corner.

To see a list of the repeating transactions you’ve defined, click the gear icon in the upper right corner of the screen and select Recurring Transactions. A table displaying them will open and display columns including Type, Interval, and Previous Date. Look toward the end of one of these lines. To modify the template, click Edit.

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The Recurring Transactions screen gives you an overview of the templates you’ve created and provides links to action options.

There are other options here that vary depending on the type of transaction. In the screen shot above, the template is a bill. You can:

  • Use it to create a new transaction,
  • Duplicate it and modify it, to make a new template,
  • Pause it, to temporarily suspend its recurrence,
  • Skip next date and resume after the next interval, or
  • Delete

QuickBooks Online also includes a report that will display all the templates you’ve created. Click Reports in the left vertical pane, then All Reports (unless this list is already active), then Accountant Reports. You’ll find the Recurring Template List in the lower right corner.

Recurring transaction templates can save you a lot of time and increase accuracy. Conversely, they can result in unbilled revenue and past-due bills—or even duplicate transactions—if they’re not created with precision. We’d be happy to step in and guide you through the process for the first time.

 

How QuickBooks Helps You Accelerate Receivables

Getting paid by your customers in a timely fashion is one of the biggest challenges of being a business owner. QuickBooks can help in several ways.

You’re meeting your sales goals. Keeping inventory balanced. Making sure that every billable hour gets invoiced. Taking advantage of vendor discounts. Basically, doing everything in your power to keep cash flow humming.

But you can’t control how quickly your customers pay you.

You can, though, use QuickBooks’ tools to:

  • Make it easier for customers to remit their payments,
  • Remind customers about unpaid balances, and
  • Keep a close eye on unpaid invoices.

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Figure 1: QuickBooks lets you accept payments from customers in multiple forms. Accepting credit cards and e-checks is likely to speed up your receivables.

Process Plastic

You can, of course, offer customers a discount for paying early. That may work in some cases. But accepting credit cards and e-checks is likely to be more effective. It also has other positive impacts on your business, including:

A more professional image. What do you think when you purchase goods or services from a business that doesn’t accept credit cards? In 2015, this is unusual. It may make customers wonder why. And you work too hard to preserve your reputation to give anyone reason to question your standing.

Time savings for you. How much time do you spend logging checks and running to the bank with deposits? It’s must faster to simply record a credit card payment.

Convenience and goodwill for customers.  Your customers will appreciate the time that they’ll save, which translates to a feather in your cap.

There are extra costs associated with setting up what’s called a “merchant account.” And you’ll have to learn how to set up an account and process payments. But once you’ve done so, you’ll be able to invoice customers in QuickBooks and let them pay immediately by credit card. If you ever have occasion to accept payments out of the office, you’ll be able to use your smartphone or tablet to accept them.

We’d like to see you take this positive step for your business, so let us know when you’re ready. We’ll help with setup and implementation.

Send Statements

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Figure 2: You have a lot of options to choose from when you create statements in QuickBooks.

This may be an area of QuickBooks you’ve never explored. Statements are just what they sound like: detailed summaries of what each customer owes over a period of time that you email or print and send by U.S. Mail.

QuickBooks makes this very easy. Start by either clicking the Statements icon on the home page or by opening the Customers menu and selecting Create Statements. The window above appears, laying out the three steps required:

  • SELECT STATEMENT OPTIONS. Be sure that the Statement Date is correct. Then indicate whether you want your statements to include transactions within a specified date range or all transactions are past due by more than a specified number of days.
  • SELECT CUSTOMERS. You can generate statements for one customer, all customers, or a designated group in between.
  • SELECT ADDITIONAL OPTIONS. You’ll have several decisions to make here about your statements’ content and appearance. Let us know if you have questions about any of these.

Track Outstanding Receivables

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Figure 3: When you create the Open Invoices report, make sure that the Aging and Open Balance columns will display.

As a small business owner and/or manager, there are certain QuickBooks reports that you should be looking at frequently. One of them, Open Invoices, gives you an instant status update on your outstanding receivables. But it’s important that you set up the report to give you the exact information you need.

Open the Reports menu and select Customers & Receivables | Open Invoices. If you need to change the date range, click the down arrow to the right of the Dates field in the upper left to display your options and choose. Then click Customize Report above that. The window pictured above opens. Grab the scroll bar under COLUMNS and move it down until you see Aging and Open Balance. If there are no check marks in front of them, click in the column to create them.

There are other reports you’ll want to look at regularly as you try to accelerate incoming customer payments, like A/R Aging Summary and A/R Aging Detail. If we’re not already working with you on reports, creating and analyzing the critical financial reports that we should be generating monthly or quarterly, let’s set up a meeting. We can give your copy of QuickBooks a tune-up at the same time to ensure that you can keep accepting those payments accurately.