Sunday, January 26, 2014

Customize QuickBooks Desktop

The customization options in QuickBooks let you:
·       Change the appearance of your desktop
·       Modify forms to include only needed content and to make them look professional and uniform, and
·       Drill down deeply on your company data to isolate only the information that you want.

The benefits of customization are obvious. You’ll accelerate your workflow, polish your image and get insight that helps you make critical business decisions.

Your Desktop View

QuickBooks has always made your most commonly-used tools available on the home page. Intuit revamped this screen very skillfully starting with the 2013 versions, so it’s much cleaner and less cramped. But if you don’t use all of the functions represented by icons, you don’t have to even see them.You can remove icons like Estimates and Time Tracking if you’re not planning to use those functions, but some icons must remain if specific features are active. For example, if sales orders and estimates are enabled, invoices are automatically turned on. Likewise, if you’re enabled Inventory, Enter Bills and Pay Bills are locked in, too.

There’s an option to either limit the QuickBooks display to one window or let multiple windows open simultaneously. When you open QuickBooks, you can choose to have a specific set of windows open, the window or windows that were open when you shut down, or no windows.

Your Forms

QuickBooks comes with pre-defined forms for transactions like purchase orders, invoices and sales receipts. If you don’t like the look of one of these default templates, you can download one from the dozens of alternatives that QuickBooks supplies. You can alter these to better meet your needs – even creating multiple versions of the same type of form to use in different situations.

Columns and fields can be added, deleted, renamed and repositioned so that your forms contain only the information that your business requires. You can add your logo and change fonts and colors. Once you’ve settled on a design, you can apply it to multiple forms to present a unified image to your customers and vendors

QuickBooks provides the tools to do all of this, but let us help you if you plan to do much modification. It can be challenging, especially if you have to use the Layout Designer.

Your Reports

You already know that you can do simple modification of your reports, like changing the date range. You may even have clicked on Customize Report and altered the column structure of a report and its sort order.
But do you regularly click on the Filters tab in the Modify Report dialog box? If you’re often frustrated because your reports cover too much ground or an inadequate, unfocused level of detail, you should be exploring the options offered here regularly. Filters restrict the data in a given report to a smaller, more targeted group of records or transactions, based on your needs.

For example, you might want to find out which customers in your New Construction class have outstanding balances (based on invoices) of more than $500 that are more than 60 days old. 

Why not resolve to make your copy of QuickBooks your copy of QuickBooks in 2014? Some customization processes will require some upfront time, but once you get going, you’ll wish you’d done this sooner.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

QuickBooks Online New Look

Since it was launched over a decade ago, QuickBooks Online has been easy to use. It’s been quicker and “lighter” than the desktop versions, thanks to its cloud-based platform and a feature set that was more limited than the software at the top of Intuit’s food chain.

Still, Intuit recently did a major overhaul of its online offering, and the results will be startling to anyone who has visited the site even once. Beyond being cleaner, leaner and more intuitive, this totally-rebuilt application sits on an open platform that readies it for users who want a state-of-the-art accounting solution that integrates seamlessly with the other web-based tools they use to run their businesses.

Those companies can access QuickBooks Online and its other business management systems from anywhere via a PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet.

You’ll most likely start your day on QuickBooks Online’s dashboard, its home page. As you move on to other elements of QuickBooks Online by clicking on the navigational tabs in the left pane, you’ll see this new emphasis on usability continued. Every screen has been rebuilt so that you’re not hunting around the page, looking for the rather small links to the tasks you want to do

If you just want to get in and create a quick transaction, you can click on the X at the top of the page, which opens a list of links to the most commonly-used ones. Two other links here take you to tools that you’re likely to use regularly. A small icon opens a window containing your most recent transactions. And the magnifying glass gives you access to QuickBooks Online’s Search function.

The new QuickBooks Online also pulls together links that used to be scattered throughout the site. You can easily get to these by clicking the small wheel icon in the upper right corner. From here, you can work with:

· Settings (Company Settings, Chart of Accounts)
· Lists (Products and Services, Recurring Transactions, etc.)
· Tools (Import Desktop Data, Reconcile, Activity Log, etc.)
· Your Company (Your Account, Manage Users, etc.)

This consolidation of important site functions will accelerate your workflow greatly. You use the tabs on the left side of the screen to do your actual accounting work, while all of your other “background” tasks are accessible through one icon.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

QuickBooks 2014 Simplifies, Accelerates Common Tasks

If Intuit named its desktop versions of QuickBooks by the version number rather than the year, we’d be in version 20-something by now. QuickBooks, still the preferred software for small businesses, keeps getting smarter in its annual upgrades. Rather than pile on tons of new features in its upgrades, Intuit – for many years – has concentrated on making it easier for you to access the tools and data that are already there.

QuickBooks 2014 is no exception. Its combination of small-but-effective changes makes it easier to get in and do what needs to be done quickly, and then get out and move on to activities that will help build your business.

A Superior View

If you do upgrade to QuickBooks 2014, head first to the new Income Tracker (Customers | Income Tracker). QuickBooks offers numerous reports and other tools for following the progress of your incoming revenue, but this new feature provides the best we’ve seen in the software.

More Descriptive Email
If you regularly send invoices through email, you may have wondered how many of them actually get opened by your customers in a timely fashion. QuickBooks 2014 contains a new tool that makes the details of each invoice available within the body of the email itself.
 Smaller Changes

Intuit has made many small-but-useful features to QuickBooks 2014, all designed to help you work faster and smarter, and simply to support more convenient operations. For example, the Ribbon toolbars on transactions now include a tab or menu that lets you open related reports.
In addition:
·       QuickBooks’ color scheme has been changed.
·       The program runs faster.
·       You can now copy and paste lines within forms.
·       We can communicate with you (and vice versa) via an email window that’s been embedded into the software. This tool even auto-pastes the transaction in question into the email window.
·       There’s been some retooling of online banking (now called “Bank Feeds”), making it more accessible and understandable.

Upgrading to a new version of QuickBooks can be challenging, so we encourage you to let us know if you’d like to explore the process. New functionality and usability that improves your workflow and your understanding of your finances can be worth the time and trouble.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

How to receive payments in QuickBooks

There are a variety of methods for receiving payments from customers or one-time receipts.  If you have submitted an invoice to the customer, then you will want to Receive Payment (found on the home page or under the Customers menu).  If the client sends you money before you have invoiced them, you can create a Sales Receipt (also under the Customer menu).  If you are going to be receiving installment payments or a deposit, then you will want to create a payment item for each situation.  Finally, you can go to the Banking menu, select Make deposit and simply record the check information and deposit the funds into the proper bank account at the same time.

For more detailed information on receiving payments, go to for an extended article.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Gift of Giving

The news from the Philippines is heartbreaking and bound to get worse over the next few days as officials and volunteers gather to assess the full damage.  I have seen the aftermath of a tornado and realize that that damage was nothing in comparison.

Disasters bring out the giving spirit in people and business, but why does it take a disaster for that to happen?  Giving money, goods or your time is always appreciated by someone else and lets us feel good about ourselves.

My sister-in-law didn't know what to do with herself when she retired.  She tried a couple different part time jobs but they didn't last long.  One day she sent a post that she was volunteering at the local animal shelter, bringing home cats to foster them over the week-ends and posting pictures of dogs trying to find new homes for them.

One of my clients, a small women-owned business, has had several obstacles to overcome in both their personal lives and in the business.  Nevertheless, they signed up to adopt a family for Christmas as they do every year.  All of their staff participate in this and other charitable programs.

The "return on investment" from giving to others can't always be measured in definitive terms but the act of selflessness is always returned in some manner.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Budgeting for the new year

I am knee deep in creating  budgets for one of my clients.  It always amazes me that the less money a government entity gives you, the more hoops there are to jump through.  When I worked on a $400 million dollar budget, there was plenty of wriggle room, but in a $260,000 budget, not so much.

Where to start?  First step is to lay out the programs/services the money requires you to provide and determine how you meet the requirements.  Is it just a matter of assigning a task to a staff member or will you need to identify a dedicated position?  If you need a dedicated position, how many hours a week and at what cost per hour?  Will the individual qualify for benefits?  Which ones?  What supplies, equipment, physical space is needed?

In most cases, you will end up apportioning the funds over more than one position.  Once you have done that for each requirement, go back to see which full time employees positions have not been fully funded.  Of the remaining funds, which are best applied to each position?  Still have money remaining? - which of your part time staff or contract positions still need funding?

If there is any money left over, you will need to cover the fixed expenses - rent, heat, lights, insurance.  The leftovers, if there are any, go to supplies, equipment and other miscellaneous expenses.

If it is a federal grant, take out the indirect cost first so you don't forget it.  Nothing worse than allocating all the money and then realizing you have to start all over again because of that pesky indirect cost.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Business "Housework"

It's the week-end and for me, like most employed adults, that means housework - cooking, cleaning, washing.  It's an automatic function in our personal lives.  But what about our business?

Huh?  What does housework have to do with your business?  Well, have you clean out the Chart of Accounts lately?  Have you reviewed your Accounts Receivable to determine if some of it should just be written off to bad debt?  Is your inventory in order?  Have you done a physical count of your inventory this year to make sure it matches your accounting records?  Do you know what your clients/customers are buying from you?  Is it the same as they were buying a year ago?

There is all kinds of housework to do when you are a business owner, but frequently owners get too busy to do any of it.  Make it a habit to set aside time on a regular basis to perform your "housework" chores - quarterly will probably work for most business owners.  Doing so just may save you money or help you to identify a new revenue source.