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.

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.

8 QuickBook Reports You Should Be Running

8 QuickBooks Reports That You Should Be Running Regularly
QuickBooks provides dozens of customizable report templates. You know when you need some of them, but which are musts?

You send invoices because you sold products and/or services. Purchase orders go out when you’re running low on inventory, and there are always bills to pay, it seems like. All of this activity is, of course, important in itself, but all of your conscientious bookkeeping culminates in what’s probably the most critical element of QuickBooks: your reports.

Reports can tell you how many navy blue sweatshirts you sold in March, what you paid for health insurance premiums in the first quarter, and how much you bought from your favorite vendor last month. They’re very good at drilling down to get the precise set of numbers you need.

But reports – carefully customized and properly analyzed – can do more than tell you how many golf clubs to order and when it’s time to switch phone services. They can help you make the business decisions that will help you take your growing company to the next level. There are several that you should be looking at regularly, some of which you can interpret easily and use in your daily workflow. We’ll help you with the interpretation of the more complex financial reports.

Who Owes Money? 

That’s probably a question you ask yourself every day. You don’t necessarily have to run the A/R Aging Detail report every day, but you’ll want to run it frequently. It tells you who owes you money and whether they’ve missed the due date (and by how many days).

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Figure 1: By running the A/R Aging Detail report, you can see whether you need to follow up with customers who have past due invoices.

 

As with any report, you can modify it to include the columns, data set and date range you want by clicking the Customize button. When you create a report in a format that you think you might want to run again, click the Memorize button. Enter a name that you’ll remember, and assign it to a Memorized Report Group.

Getting There

 There are two ways to find the reports you want to see. You can open the Reports menu and move your cursor down to the category you want, like Customers & Receivables, which will open a slide-out menu of options there.

Or you can open the Report Center, which lets you explore reports in more depth. Each is represented by a small graphic with four icons under it. You can:

  • Run the report with your own data in it
  • Open a small informational window
  • Designate it as a Favorite, and
  • View QuickBooks help.
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Figure 2: If you access QuickBooks reports through the
Report Center, you’ll have several related options.

 Other accounts receivable reports that you should consult periodically include Open Invoices and Average Days to Pay.

Tracking What You Owe

Reports can also keep you up-to-date on money that you owe to other people and companies. An important one is Unpaid Bills Detail, accessible through the Vendors & Payables menu item. Though you can modify its columns, this report basically tells you who is expecting money from you, the date the bill was issued and its due date, any number assigned to it, the balance due, and relevant aging information.

Vendor Balance Detail is critical, too. This report displays every transaction (invoices, payments, etc.) that contribute to the balance you have with each vendor.

Standard Financial Reports

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Figure 3: We hope you’ll let us help you by running and interpreting these standard financial reports.

 

QuickBooks report categories include one labeled Company & Financial. These are reports that you can run yourself, but they’re critical for understanding your company’s financial status. We can customize and analyze these for you on a regular basis so you’ll know where you stand. They include:

  • Balance Sheet. What is the value of your company? The balance sheet breaks out this information by account (under the umbrella of assets, liabilities and equity).
  • Income Statement. Often referred to as Profit & Loss, this shows you how much money your business made or lost over a specific time period.
  • Statement of Cash Flows. How much money came in and went out during a specified time range?

Reports can only generate information about what you’ve entered in QuickBooks and exactly where it’s been entered. So it’s crucial that you follow standard accounting practice as you proceed through your daily workflow. We’re always available to answer questions you have about QuickBooks’ structure and your activity there. Your reports – and your critical business decisions – depend on it.

Is Hosted QuickBooks Right for You?

If you are currently using the popular QuickBooks desktop software, you now have a fairly new option available to you:  hosted QuickBooks.  In this article, we’ll talk about what it is, what type of businesses it’s right for, and how to get started if you decide it’s for you.

A Host of Opportunities

Hosted QuickBooks changes the location of your QuickBooks company file from your local computer to one of the dozen authorized QuickBooks hosting companies.  You then access your QuickBooks file through a secure Internet connection.  The good news is you continue using the exact same QuickBooks software, screens, forms, and reports that you are comfortably familiar with, so the additional learning curve is extremely low.   The two biggest differences are:

  • You access your QuickBooks differently; instead of accessing your local software, you will access the same version of QuickBooks software via the cloud on a secure server provided by a hosting vendor.  You will most likely access your QuickBooks by clicking on a desktop icon or accessing a screen and entering your login information.
  • The pricing is different.  Instead of paying a large software fee at the beginning and then optionally paying for annual upgrades, you pay monthly, like a lease.

There are a few other very minor differences, such as how you back up your file, how you print checks, invoices, and other forms, and how you interface with other software such as Microsoft Outlook® or Word®.  At most, the learning curve for each of these minor changes is five minutes top for any user.

Who Benefits

You will benefit from hosted QuickBooks if any of the following are true:

  • You, your team, your bookkeeper, or your CPA needs to be able to access your QuickBooks files from multiple locations.
  • You are spending at least one hour per month restoring the file from one location to another.
  • You have experienced errors in the past from backing up and restoring the company file or the Accountant’s Copy because of passing it back and forth among people who need to update it or to get information from it.
  • You prefer to save the time it takes installing QuickBooks and applying the upgrades to QuickBooks software.  With hosted QuickBooks, the hosting vendor takes care of all of that.
  • You do not have a recent backup of QuickBooks and forget to take backups on a regular basis.  With hosted QuickBooks, backups are a routine part of the process.
  • You’re great at working on the core items of your business, but want to reduce time spent on IT-related tasks.
  • You dislike or feel inadequate when it comes to technology, and you agree it makes sense to outsource as much as possible.

Any Concerns

Hosted QuickBooks is great, but it’s not right for everyone.  If you feel “safer” with no one having access to your QuickBooks, then hosting it may not be right for you.  Although the data centers are far more secure than the PCs in most people’s homes and offices because they have to undergo a rigorous security audit to become a hosting vendor, some people are simply uncomfortable passing their financial data to others.  If you want to consider hosted QuickBooks and wonder about security, we’ll be happy to have a conversation with you about that.

Hosted QuickBooks is also not right for people that are using very old software versions because you may be forced to upgrade to a newer version.

Hosted QuickBooks is also not right for people who have much more free time than budget.  Although hosted QuickBooks is not particularly expensive, there is a cost outlay that will buy you time savings.  If the free time you gain (that you can apply to completing more important priorities in your business) is not valuable to you, then hosted QuickBooks may not be right for you.

Getting Started

Before moving to a hosted QuickBooks solution, your accounting professional will want to ask you questions about how you are using QuickBooks, if they aren’t already familiar with your requirements.  Selecting the right hosting solution means evaluating:

  • What version and line of QuickBooks you are currently using because this has to be exactly matched with the hosting vendor.
  • What other applications access QuickBooks, such as online banking and payroll.
  • What add-ons you are using with QuickBooks, if any.
  • What printers, Microsoft software, email software, and other peripheral needs you have when using QuickBooks.

Once those answers are gathered, your accounting professional can provide you with some hosting solutions, costs, and implementation plans.  Most accounting professionals partner with one or more hosting companies so that you can get a seamless one-stop shop experience.  You may also be able to benefit from volume or package pricing through your accounting professional.

If you are thinking that hosted QuickBooks might be right for your business, please email us or give us a call so we can talk more about it.

 

August Special: 25% Off 1st 5 QuickBooks Reviews

Are some of your QuickBooks accounts out of balance?

Are your reports not making sense lately?

Are you having any issues with you QuickBooks file?

Then you might be interested in a special deal I will be holding in August.    I have reserved five QuickBooks reviews at a great price – 25% off – especially for those of you who can act quickly.  Plus, any subsequent work, if needed, will be done at a discounted rate.  You get:

  •  Expert review of lists, the account balances, sales tax, payroll and financial reports
  • Detailed written report of the findings and proposed corrective action plan including training or cleanup.
  • 1 hour telephone or in person consultation to review the report.

If you know you have upcoming QuickBooks troubleshooting needs and you’d like to save some money, then act now and call me to find out more and reserve your spot at my discounted rate.  But hurry, because there are only five spots.  When all five spots are gone, so will my great price, so don’t miss out.

Call us at 816-668-8124 to reserve your time now.

Cutting Expenses Key To Profitability, But How? Some Tips

It may seem like a no-brainer – cut expenses to make more money – but many small changes can result in significant savings.

It looks like the economy may finally be looking up. Still, this is no time to loosen the purse strings in terms of your business expenses. Rather, why not re-double your efforts to cut costs and boost your profitability?

Excessive expenses cause debt, which in itself can be very costly. So any money-saving actions you take will be doubly rewarding.

 More Effective Money Management

 To cut expenses significantly, poke into every corner of your company’s finances. Inventory is a good place to start. If you sell multiple units of the same item and reorder regularly, you should be using QuickBooks’ inventory-tracking tools. Go to Edit | Preferences | Items & Inventory | Company Preferences.

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 Figure 1; Make sure that these settings are correct. If you need advanced features like FIFO costing, serial number and lot-tracking or inventory management at multiple locations, contact us about upgrading to Enterprise Solutions.

 

You should be stocking your inventory to match the pace of sales. You don’t want to be caught short, nor do you want to be sitting on too much and tying up money unnecessarily. QuickBooks can help, but you’ll need to calculate the sweet spot for each item. Several built-in reports can help, including:

  •  Inventory Valuation Summary. Displays the current asset and retail value of each item and inventory as a whole
  • Inventory Valuation Detail. Shows how individual transactions have affected the value of your inventory
  • Inventory Stock Status By Item. Helps you set up smart reordering procedures
  • Open Purchase Orders
  • Outlines each purchase order and its expected delivery date

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Figure 2: To maintain profitable inventory levels and minimize expenses, you’ll need to study QuickBooks’ related reports regularly. When you’re making buying decisions, consider factors like reorder turnaround time and seasonal sales upticks.

 

Ratio reports, like profit over sales, can also be very telling. QuickBooks does not supply these, but we can help you create them in Excel.

Using Available Tools

The efforts you make toward reducing expenses in other ways can result in more savings than you might think. Here are some actions you can take that will accelerate your cash flow:

Use QuickBooks’ budgeting tools

. This doesn’t need to be as onerous as you might expect – you can start by pulling in your real data from the previous year as a base. Build in line items for ongoing accounting support like QuickBooks maintenance. Click on Company | Planning & Budgeting | Set Up Budgets

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Figure 3: Selecting this option simplifies your task.

 

Minimize your April 15 obligation with year-round tax planning. Work with us throughout the year on the next year’s taxes to, for example, make smarter quarterly payments, and we’ll help you reduce your tax bill by making better decisions every day.

 Get discounts by paying invoices early. Set up a custom field in vendor records to track this.

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 Figure 4: Get to know which vendors offer early discounts – and take advantage of them.

 

Analyze the cost-effectiveness of your transportation. Can you replace some in-person sales calls with web-based communication? Make sure that your delivery routes and sales call paths are efficient.

Change product/service prices to build in your own cost increases. Do it across the board, in small increments. It may not even be that noticeable to customers.

Talk to us about establishing a line of credit. We’ll help you determine if this is a viable option for emergencies. It’s cheaper than using credit cards.

Cross-train employees. Have employees train each other on their tasks where it makes sense. You can avoid costly temp help and relieve overworked departments.

 Don’t try to change everything at once. Establishing these new procedures will require some extra work. And you may not notice a reduction in expenses immediately. But over time, you will see a positive change – one that will give you extra dollars and hours to invest in making your company flourish.

Billing for Time and Expenses: How It Works

April 13, 2012 · Posted in QuickBooks Help, QuickBooks Training · Comment 

QuickBooks handles billable expenses capably, but it’s critical that you understand the process thoroughly before proceeding.

Billing for inventory parts is easy. Pick the items from a list and specify a quantity. Poof. Done.

Billing for costs, time or mileage is a little more complex. QuickBooks has built-in tools to help you do this, but it’s a bit of a process.

To simplify your workflow, do this groundwork first:

  •  Go to Edit | Preferences | Time & Expenses | Company Preferences. Click the Yes button under Time tracking and indicate your choices under Invoicing options. If you plan to mark up some costs and want a default number, enter a percentage and account (these can be changed on individual invoices).

 

Figure 1: As you do with other QuickBooks processes, make sure that your Preferences are set correctly.

 

  • Add any billing items necessary by clicking Lists | Item List and then Item | New in the lower left corner.
  • If you plan to bill for mileage, go to Lists | Customer & Vendor Profile List | Vehicle List and enter information about every business vehicle.

Invoicing for Services

If you’re a service-oriented company, you bill for time frequently. This is easy. You’re probably already familiar with the Enter Time entry in the Employees menu. Whether you make individual time entries or complete a timesheet, it’s critical that you make the correct selections for each Customer: Job, Service Item and Payroll Item field, and check the Billable box.

When you create invoices, this box will open after you select a customer:




Figure 2: QuickBooks lets you know when there are time and costs to be billed for each customer.

 

You can let QuickBooks enter the time totals now, or add them later by clicking the Add Time/Costs button. Either way, the Choose Billable Time and Costs window opens. Add a checkmark next to each entry that should be billed, and click Options… to indicate whether you want one line for each time entry or would rather combine all similar service item types.




Figure 3: QuickBooks wants to know which entries should be invoiced.

 

More Complexity

If you’re done with billable expenses for this invoice, click OK. If there are other costs that you covered, click the Expenses tab to see all transactions that you earmarked for this client on a bill, check or credit card. You have the option here to mark up the cost by a percentage or amount (even if you established this in Preferences), and to specify an account.

Do the same for Mileage, which you would have entered previously – when it was incurred — at Company | Enter Vehicle Mileage. Then select any Items that you purchased for the customer. Your records should be correct – assuming that you were conscientious about assigning expenses to customers and jobs.




Figure 4: It’s easy to pull billable expenses into invoices if they’re documented carefully.

 

Turning expenses into invoices and then into income can be complicated. Let us know if we can help. We are your partner in building a successful business.

QuickBooks Tip
Here’s a cool little keyboard shortcut. Hit F2 while you’re in QuickBooks, and you’ll get the Product Information screen. It’ll tell you everything you want to know about your specific copy of QuickBooks, like your release and license number, the file size, number of users logged in, audit trail status and the total number of accounts, customers, employees, etc.

 

QuickBooks News
As of May 31, 2012, Intuit is discontinuing support for QuickBooks Pro, Premier and Simple Start 2009, QuickBooks for Mac 2009 and QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions 9. You can continue to use these solutions, of course, but live technical support and add-on services like payroll, credit card processing, online banking and bill-pay will not be accessible. Talk to us about upgrading if you’re using any of these products or services.