Use QuickBooks Custom Fields to Improve Insight

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
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.
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.
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.

Why You Should Use QuickBooks’ Snapshots

Why You Should Use QuickBooks’ Snapshots
 QuickBooks provides multiple ways to get information about your customers, 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
 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
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 QuickBooks’ Calendar Can Do for You

February 2, 2016 · Posted in QuickBooks Help, QuickBooks Software, Time Management Tips · Comment 
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. 
Figure 1: The QuickBooks calendar consists of two parts. The graphical calendar itself displays one of three types of entries: EnteredDue, or To DoThe 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
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

 

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.

How to Add Documents in QuickBooks

January 19, 2016 · Posted in Cost-Saving Tips, QuickBooks Help, QuickBooks Software · Comment 
How to Add Documents in QuickBooks
Accounting is about more than just numbers. QuickBooks lets you make documents available from within the program itself.
 
You could call QuickBooks a “green” computer program. It can conserve reams of paper by storing customer and vendor records, for example, emailing transaction forms, and accepting online payments.
 
Most small businesses are a long way from being “paperless offices,” despite the predictions so many people made when PCs became commonplace. Even though you’re making an effort to be as digital as possible with your accounting files, not everyone else is yet. So you still have to deal with paper.
 
And you’re probably still consulting paper documents or stored computer files or scanned images that relate to your accounting data. QuickBooks makes it possible to keep this information close at hand, easily accessible from the software itself.
The Doc Center
QuickBooks provides a centralized area for managing the documents you want to keep close at hand. The Doc Center contains tools you’ll need to work with your documents. From here, you can:
  • Add them by locating them in your storage device or scanning them in directly,
  • See their details and add to them,
  • Search for them, and,
  • Either remove or detach them.
Figure 1: You’ll use the tools in the QuickBooks Doc Center to work with the documents you want to have available from within the program.
 
There are probably times when you have supporting documentation for invoices or customer and item records, for example. In these cases, you can attach those background documents to the related QuickBooks forms.
 
Easy Operation
 
It’s not difficult to work with documents in QuickBooks. But if you don’t have much experience working with file attachments or scanning paper forms, we can walk you through the process.
 
To get started, click on the Docs tab in the left vertical pane or open the Company menu and select Documents | Doc Center. You’ll see a screen that looks like the one pictured above.
 
Let’s say you have a special price list you often need to consult. Click the Add icon. A window then opens that contains a directory of all of the folders and files on your PC and any external storage areas. Browse to the pricing document you created earlier and double-click it. QuickBooks will return you to the main Doc Center screen, and you’ll see the name of your file and the time added in the first row of the data table there.
 
Deeper Descriptions
Figure 2: Once you’ve added files to the Doc Center, you can view and add details or open the original document.
 
Click in the box in front of the file name, and buttons in the lower right of the screen will light up. Click on View Details, and a small window opens. You can enter information in fields here to add a Title, Description, Keywords, and Comments. Click Save & Close when you’re done. Other buttons here let you Open the file or Remove it. 
Note: To bring in documents, you can also drag and drop them from Outlook, folders, or your desktop. We can help you learn how to do this.
Scan a Document
You can also scan documents directly from your scanner into QuickBooks. Click Scan. The QuickBooks Scan Manager should open and locate your printer or scanner. After you’ve selected it and your other Scan Options, click the Scan button. If you’ve opted to see a preview, that page will appear for your approval. 
 
Click Done, and you’ll have several options for working with the image. When you’ve finished, click Done Scanning and enter any desired descriptive details. Click OK, and the Doc Center will display again with your new scanned document in the list. 
Attach to Forms
Figure 3: Many QuickBooks forms display the Attach File icon.

If you have supporting documentation for an invoice, for example, you can easily make it available from the form itself. Click the Attach File icon and select your file using the Doc Center’s tools. Once you’ve added an attachment to a form, the icon will display the number of documents that are available there.

Your computer’s storage space may be well organized, but you can still waste time trying to hunt down the document you want right when you want it. QuickBooks’ Doc Center can minimize your search time and ensure that important documentation is at hand.

QuickBooks Can Help Get Ready for 2016

December 1, 2015 · Posted in Bookkeeping Tips, QuickBooks Help, QuickBooks Software · Comment 
Get Ready for 2016: QuickBooks Can Help
 
We’ll be ringing in the New Year soon. Will you have wrapped up your 2015 finances by then?
There’s something very satisfying about turning our calendars to January. It always feels like a fresh start. We resolve to develop new, better ways of using our work and leisure time. We reflect on what we accomplished in the last 12 months, and we look forward to achieving even more in the next 12.
 
But sometimes we have a nagging feeling that we forgot something. And it often has to do with our finances, both personal and professional. 
 
You can take steps now to make New Year’s Day less worrisome. Doing some extra work in QuickBooks during December will ensure that you’ll start 2016 ready to move ahead, rather than scrambling to see what you missed on January 2.
 
Thinking Ahead
 
Where to start? Depending on how conscientiously you entered transactions and ran reports, you might need to set some extra time aside in the midst of your other year-end and holiday-related commitments.  
 
For example, did you instruct QuickBooks to “close your books” at the end of the year? QuickBooks will automatically make year-end adjustments if you entered December 31 as a closing date in Preferences. However, it’s not required, and there are both advantages and disadvantages to doing so. We can help you decide if this is the best decision for your company.
 
Figure 1: If you set a closing date of December 31 in QuickBooks’ Preferences, you need to prepare your company file for this deadline in advance. We can help you get ready.
 
Prior to this, though, there’s another important task you should complete before the end of the year. It’s common sense, but not everyone thinks of it during the December rush: Make sure you’ve entered all transactions and payments that should be included in your QuickBooks file for 2015.
 
If anyone else on your staff works in QuickBooks, be certain they know that you’re trying to wrap up the year. If they’re holding anything back because of questions and comments, now’s the time to confer with you.
 
Taxes and Accounts
 
You may have already been working with us on tax planning for the 2015 tax year. If you haven’t, and you haven’t been doing so on your own, you need to look at your incoming and outgoing funds for the year before it’s over. Do you need to hold until 2016 some income and/or expenses that haven’t been recorded until 2016? This kind of question really needs to be resolved now.
Figure 2: Time is short, but we may be able to help you make some decisions about carrying some 2015 income and/or expenses over to 2016 if it will help reduce your tax obligation.
 
Talk to us about your tax situation if you think this may be necessary. We can’t prepare your taxes yet, of course, but we can create some reports and advise you on any situations where you might want to put off — or accelerate — some actions. Is your income running high and your offsetting expenses low? If so, this may be a good time to make a fairly major purchase you’ve been considering. 
 
Odds and Ends
 
How do you back up your QuickBooks company file? On a local drive or in the cloud? How often do you do this? Archiving your data is critical. Think about what would happen if you lost your customer records or a month’s worth of transactions or multiple payments. This is an area where we can provide guidance. Is there a better, safer way to ensure data security? Are there special backup activities you should do at year’s end?
 
Some companies wait until January to do a physical inventory count. Rather than being surprised in January, you may want to consider doing this now if it’s feasible.
 
And when you think you’ve entered everything but payments or transactions that may come in at the last minute (unless you’re going to defer these until 2016), all accounts should be reconciled. QuickBooks makes it easy to do this regularly.
Figure 3: Before the end of December, you should do a final reconciliation of all accounts for 2015.
 

 It will be painful to open QuickBooks on January 2 if you don’t feel like you paid extra attention to your finances in December. We can help you ring in the New Year on a more confident note.

Customize QuickBooks Forms for a More Professional Image

September 9, 2015 · Posted in QuickBooks Help, QuickBooks Software · Comment 
Customize QuickBooks Forms for a More Professional Image 
Want an easy, free way to make your business look more professional and polished? Customize your forms. QuickBooks has the tools.
You probably don’t get as many paper forms in the U.S. Mail as you used to. But when you do, do you draw conclusions about the business that sent them based on what their forms look like?
Whether or not you think you do, most people make judgements on businesses based on collateral materials. You might notice that there’s no company logo, or that there are unnecessary blank fields. Maybe the print is very light or blurry, and there’s no message at the bottom thanking you for your business and your payment.
 
How you present yourself on paper does matter. There’s a lot of competition out there, and you need to use all of the tools available to you to stand out. QuickBooks provides one way to do so with its simple forms customization features.
Getting Started
To see what forms are available for customization, open the Lists menu and select Templates to open this window:
Figure 1: QuickBooks’ Templates window shows you what forms can be customized and provides tools for working with them.
 
Before you try your hand at customizing a form, make a copy to work with first. Highlight Intuit Product Invoice. Click the down arrow next to Templates in the lower left, and select Duplicate. A small window will open, displaying your options. Select Invoice and click OK
QuickBooks will then take you back to the Templates window, and you’ll see a new entry labeled Copy of: Intuit Product Invoice. Right-click on it and select Edit Template from the menu that opens. This will open the Basic Customization window.
There are two parts to this screen. The editing options for the template you selected will appear on the left, and a preview of your invoice will display on the right. As you make modifications to the template, the preview will change to reflect them.
 
The best, most noticeable thing you can do to customize your invoice is to add a logo. Click the box in front of Use logo, and locate the file in the computer directory that opens. Double-click it. You logo will appear to the left of your company name and address in the upper left corner of the preview.
Figure 2: The Basic Customization window displays options for modifying your copy of the Intuit Product Invoice template.
 
You can make numerous changes to your template in this window, like:
  • Selecting a new color scheme,
  • Changing fonts,
  • Deciding how much of your contact information should appear, and 
  • Indicating whether the Print Status Stamp (PAID, PENDING, etc.) should appear where appropriate on your invoices.
Note: You can choose to use the same modified design on multiple types of forms. This is a little complicated; let us help you.
 
More Customizing Options
 
The changes you just made were fairly superficial. However, QuickBooks offers tools that let you go much further, modifying the actual content of the invoice itself, its columns, and its fields. To get started on this, click the Additional Customization button at the bottom of the screen. The window that opens displays a preview of your invoice on the right side, just like in the previous window.
 
Your customization options appear on the left side, divided into five different sections. You’ll work primarily with three of them for your invoice:
 
Header. This includes all of the information that appears on about the top third of the form, like Bill To, Terms, Due Date, and Project/Job.
 
Columns. What are you billing the customer for? Item, Description, Quantity, Rate, etc. 
 
Footer. What information will you want to enter after you’ve completed the invoice’s product or service content? You’ll likely want fields like Total, Balance Due, and Payments/Credits, perhaps a Message.
Figure 3: QuickBooks gives you tremendous control over the content in your forms.
 
As you can see in the above image, QuickBooks lets you choose whether specific fields and columns will appear on your invoices onscreen and/or in print. You can also change field labels if you’d like. And if you have overlapping fields or want to further modify the appearance of the invoice, you can use the Layout Designer. It’s a simple tool, but it requires some design skills.
 
Of course, you may not be printing many invoices at all if you’re set up to email them and accept payments online. But your customers, of course, will still see how carefully you’ve crafted your forms, which will feed into their overall perception of you. Let this impression be a good one.

Receiving Payments in QuickBooks

Receiving Payments in QuickBooks

It’s probably one of your favorite QuickBooks activities. Be sure you understand the mechanics of recording payments.

There are numerous ways to prioritize your workday. Do the most difficult things first. Get important phone calls out of the way. Respond to customer emails.

But it’s likely that one activity takes precedence when you see that it needs to be done: recording payments. While you’re probably very careful with this process, it’s critical that your actions here are accurate. If they’re not, you could either lose money that you’ve earned or anger customers by requesting payments they’ve already made.

QuickBooks comes with some helpful pre-defined payment types; however, you also have the flexibility to edit that list and add new types. To see your list, open the Lists menu and select Customer & Vendor Profile Lists, then Payment Method List. This window opens:

Figure 1: QuickBooks lets you accept payments from customers in a variety of ways.

To make changes to this list, click the down arrow to the right of Payment Method. By selecting items from this menu, you can add, edit, and delete payment methods. You can also make one temporarily inactive if for some reason you’re not going to support that option right now but don’t want to delete it, either. Click in the box next to Include Inactive if you want it to remain on the list (an X will appear next to it). When you want to reinstate it, open the Payment Method menu again and select Make Payment Method Active.

 

To search for every transaction that used a specific payment method, highlight it in the list and select Find in Transactions. QuickBooks will open the Find window with that filter already applied.

 

When you’re done working with that window, click the x in the upper right to close it.

 

Applying the Funds 

Ideally, you or someone on your staff will be working frequently with the Receive Payments screen frequently. To get there, open the Customers menu and select Receive Payments, or click Receive Payments on the home page. This is the screen you will work with if you’re recording a payment that is to be applied to an invoice that you sent.

Figure 2: The Receive Payments screen in QuickBooks

First, select a customer by clicking on the down arrow in the field to the right of RECEIVED FROM. If there are outstanding invoices, they will appear in the table below. Enter the PAYMENT AMOUNT in the field below, and change the date if necessary. 

 

Click on the icon representing the payment method. If you don’t see it there, click the down arrow below MORE and add it or select it. Your chosen icon will turn green. Then:

  • For cash or e-checks: Just enter any REFERENCE # needed.
  • For checks: Enter the CHECK #.
  • For credit/debit cards: If you’ve saved the customer’s preferred payment method in his or her record, the number will fill in automatically. If not, or you need to change it, enter it manually. As you know, you need a merchant account in order to accept credit/debit cards and e-checks. If you haven’t set one up and want to, let us help.

If the payment amount equals the total of all outstanding invoices, there will be a check mark in the first column of every line in the table. If the payment is for any less than the CUSTOMER BALANCE in the upper right, QuickBooks automatically pays the oldest invoice(s) first. You’ll also see an UNDERPAYMENT box in the lower left corner. Click the button in front of your preference here (leave as underpayment or write off the extra).

When you’re done, click one of the Save buttons.

Other Types of Payments

You’ll also use the Receive Payments window to record down payments and overpayments. And there are situations where you’ll have to complete other forms to document the incoming money. For example, if a customer makes a partial payment for products or services that haven’t yet been invoiced, you’d use a Payment Item. A customer who pays for a product at the time it is received would get a Sales Receipt.

Figure 3: Sales receipts go to customers who pay for products or services at the time they are received.

 

This may all sound a little confusing. But it won’t be if you gain a thorough understanding of the right way to record different types of payments. We can go over all of this with you to ensure that your incoming money is documented correctly, which will take less time than trying to retrace your steps when a mistake has occurred.

Preventing Data Theft In QuickBooks

May 8, 2015 · Posted in Data Security, QuickBooks Help, QuickBooks Software · Comment 

Preventing Data Theft in QuickBooks

Be proactive about the security of your QuickBooks company file, and you’ll be less likely to encounter data theft.

Thanks to the internet, privacy has been on the wane over the last few years. We assume that our addresses and phone numbers are public information, thanks to sites like Switchboard and 411.com. We hope that our dates of birth are private (though the number of birthday wishes on Facebook makes that doubtful), and we assume that our Social Security numbers are hard to get.

Your customers trust you enough to provide you with additional private information, like credit card numbers. And you’ve seen what an uproar occurs when major corporate entities like Target and Home Depot get hacked.

Your small business may not have hundreds of thousands of customer information files, but you can still be targeted by external hackers and even your own employees. Are you taking measures to ensure the security of that data stored on your hard drive and/or in the cloud?

Your Inner Circle

The last thing you want to imagine is that one of your own employees has been tampering with your QuickBooks company data. It happens, though, and you need to protect yourself from potential internal attacks. 

One of your internal controls, then, should include the establishment of boundaries for every employee who has access to QuickBooks. You can restrict each staff member to specific areas of the program instead of sharing a master password and giving everyone free rein. Go to Company | Set Up Users and Passwords | Set Up Users to do this.

Figure 1: If you click on Selective Access in this window, you can restrict your employees’ activities to specific areas and actions. 
 

The User List window opens, which will display all users who have been set up already, including you as the Admin. Click Add User and enter a name and password. Click the box in front of Add this user to my QuickBooks license, then click Next. Click on the button in front of Selected areas of QuickBooks. Click Next.

The next 10 screens break QuickBooks down into separate activities and activity areas, like Sales and Accounts Receivable, Checking and Credit Cards, and Sensitive Accounting Activities. On each screen, click on the button in front of the correct option:

  • No Access
  • Full Access
  • Selective Access (lets you specify what areas and actions will be allowed for that employee)

Other Internal Controls 

QuickBooks’ Audit Trail is your friend. It records everything that is entered or changed in the software, by whom, and precisely when. To view it, open the Reports menu, then click on Accountant & Taxes, then Audit Trail. Like all QuickBooks reports, it can be customized to display the entries you need to see.

Figure 2: QuickBooks’ Audit Trail provides a detailed history of all activity in the software.

There are other reports that you should review frequently, and some that we should create and analyze for you at least every quarter, if not monthly. We can suggest reports that would help you look for fraud, and tell you what to look for.

Common Sense Practices

It goes without saying that protecting your entire hardware/software/cloud configuration will help keep your QuickBooks company file safe from external marauders. You must employ state-of-the-art antivirus and anti-malware applications and keep them updated. Talk to us if you need recommendations and/or help implementing them.

  • If you’re a sole proprietor or you work from your home, restrict the computer where QuickBooks resides to business software and websites only. Never let anyone install applications, play interactive games, etc. on it.
  • Change your own QuickBooks password at least every 90 days, and do backups to secure drives or websites.
  • When you run into problems with QuickBooks’ functioning, please let us help. Even a computer troubleshooting specialist will not understand the program well enough to solve problems, and he or she may compromise your data file further.

As security software and systems get smarter, so do the hackers. Don’t let your company and its customers be victims of data theft.

Custom Fields Give Better Business Insight

How QuickBooks’ Custom Fields Can Provide Better Business Insight

QuickBooks’ customizability makes it flexible enough for countless business types. Custom fields are a big part of that.

QuickBooks makes it possible for your business to create very detailed records for customers, vendors, employees, and items. In fact, you may find that you rarely make use of every field each contains.

But you may also find that there are additional fields that you’d like to see in your predefined record formats. That’s where custom fields come in. QuickBooks lets you add extra fields and specify what their labels should be.

You can define up to 12 total fields for use in customer, vendor, and/or employee records. QuickBooks treats these just as it treats your built-in fields. They appear in the records themselves, of course, and are included when you export a file containing them. You can also  search for them in reports. 

People Records

There are separate processes for defining fields for your individual and company contacts and your items. Let’s look at how you can set up custom fields for customers, vendors, and employees first.

 

Go to your Customer Center and open a blank Customer record (in newer versions of QuickBooks, you’ll click on New Customer & Job in the upper left corner, and then click New Customer). Then click the Additional Info tab in the left vertical pane of the New Customer window, then click on the Define Fields button in the lower right. This window will open (with blank fields):

Figure1: You can create up to 12 total custom fields that will be shared by customers, vendors, and employees.

It’s easy to create your custom field labels. Simply type a word or short phrase on a line under Label, and then click in the box(es) on the same line in the appropriate column(s). While it’s possible that you would want to include the same field in multiple record types, you’ll most likely have separate labels for each. 

Consider carefully before creating custom field labels. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What do I want to know about customers/vendors/employees that isn’t already covered in the pre-built record formats?
  • What kinds of information will I want to make available in report filters?
  • How will I want to separate out individuals for communications like emails, memos, special sale invitations, etc.

Remember that you’ll have to go back into existing records and fill in these blanks in order to be consistent. You’re not required to complete them, but your searches, reports, etc. will not be comprehensive if you don’t.

As always, you can consult with us if you want some suggestions. 

Item Records

The custom fields we just created are generally only used internally. That is, they won’t automatically appear on sales forms, purchase orders, etc.

You may decide that some custom fields in item records, on the other hand, do need to be available on some forms. For example, you might sell shirts in multiple sizes, colors, and styles.

To start creating them, open the Lists menu and select Item List. Click the down arrow on the Item menu in the lower left, then click New. Since you will be selling similar items that you’ll be keeping in stock, select Inventory Part under TYPE. Then click on the Custom Fields button over on the right and then Define Fields.

Figure 2: If you sell similar items that are available with different characteristics, you’ll want to create custom fields. 

As you did with the earlier custom fields, enter a word or phrase under Label, and then click in the Use column. After you’ve entered up to five fields, click OK.

A Complicated Process

This is where the simplicity of creating and using custom fields for items in reports and transaction forms ends. If you sell t-shirts in various sizes and colors, you’re going to need our help in order to see true inventory levels in reports and add those custom fields to sales and purchase transaction forms.

Figure 3: Adding custom fields to QuickBooks’ standard transaction forms is possible, but you’ll need our assistance to make sure inventory tracking is set up right. 

It may be that you need more inventory-tracking tools than are offered in your version of QuickBooks. If that’s the case, we can help you either add an application that will meet your needs or suggest an upgrade.

Memorize Transactions in QB: Why? How?

Memorizing Transactions in QuickBooks: Why? How?

QuickBooks saves time in countless ways, one of which is its ability to memorize transactions. Are you taking advantage of this feature?

One of the reasons you started using accounting software, among many others, was to save time. And QuickBooks has complied. Once you create a record for a customer, vendor, item, etc., you rarely — if ever — have to enter that information again; you simply choose it from a list. 

You no longer waste time searching through endless piles of papers to find the one you need; you just do a search. And when you need a report on your monthly sales or inventory purchases or your payroll liabilities, you don’t have to wrestle with Excel or locate the right paper records; you just click a few times.

Memorized transactions can be another major time saver. You might use them when you, for example:

  • Provide the same service for a customer on a regular basis,
  • Charge a monthly fee for rentals, maintenance, membership, etc.,
  • Pay a bill to the same company regularly, or
  • Have a standing order with a vendor for a similar set of items.

It’s easy to create memorized transactions. QuickBooks provides an icon for them in the toolbar of every transaction form that’s supported, like invoices, bills, and purchase orders.

Figure 1: When you see the Memorize icon in the toolbar of a transaction form, you know that you can create a template to use over and over.

To get started, create a transaction that you know will be repeated – even if the amount will be different every time (you’ll still save time because you won’t have to fill in or select absolutely every detail). Let’s say you’re doing some social media consulting for a customer, and you’ve contracted for eight hours every month. Create the invoice for that billing.

Then click the Memorize icon. This window opens:

Figure 2: In the Memorize Transaction window, you’ll tell QuickBooks how often the transaction will be created, in addition to providing other information.

Your customer will already appear in the Name field. You’ll have to choose from among three options so that QuickBooks knows how to handle this recurring form:

Add to my Reminders List. If you choose this by clicking on the button in front of the option, QuickBooks will add this transaction to your existing Reminders List.

Note: Confused about how you get QuickBooks to remind you about actions you have to take? We can walk you through the setup process.

Do Not Remind Me. We don’t recommend this option unless you have an exceptionally good memory, few memorized transactions, or a tickler file in another application. Even then, reminders are a good idea.

Automatic Transaction Entry. This absolutely saves the most time. It’s also the riskiest option. If you select this, QuickBooks will send the transaction through at the intervals you’ve defined. You’ll have to enter a number that indicates how many times you want the form sent and how many days in advance it should be entered. Please consult with us if you are planning to automate transactions. We don’t want you to have unhappy customers or vendors or an unpredictable cash flow.

Next, you’ll tell QuickBooks how often this transaction needs to be created by clicking on the down arrow to the right of How Often. Click on the calendar icon in the Next Date field to select the exact day this should occur next (you’ll have an opportunity when you work with the Reminders List to specify how much advance warning you want). 

When you’re done, click OK.

Once you start memorizing transactions, QuickBooks will store them in a list. When you get a reminder that one is due soon, open the Lists menu and select Memorized Transaction List. You’ll see this screen, populated with your own work:

 

Figure 3: You’ll open the Memorized Transaction List to enter one or to work with one you’ve already created.

Highlight a transaction in the list and click the down arrow next to Memorized Transaction in the lower left corner to see your options here. You can also click Enter Transaction, and your original form will appear. If you’ve saved it with a permanent amount, you can just save and dispatch it. Otherwise, enter the correct amount before you proceed.

If you’re fairly new to QuickBooks and don’t feel like you’re well acquainted with its time-saving features, give us a call and we’ll set up some training. Better to do that up front than to have to untangle a jumbled company file. We’re always happy to help.

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