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16 posts from June 2009

QuickBooks Registration: More Hassle Than it Should Be?

It took just a bit more than 10 minutes to register a copy of QuickBooks during a recent client visit because I was forced to use the phone option and wasn't able to register online. The time before that it took me 15 minutes and a call back as I was disconnected. How long did it take you?

OnHold

In poking around various message boards and watching some Twitter posts, it seems like there is some building frustration with Intuit (the makers of QuickBooks) for making the registration process more hassle than necessary.

I'm not certain of this, but I have noticed a pattern to the registration process when taking care of it for my clients - the first copy that is registered is forced to go through the phone registration process, while registrations for additional users can normally be done via the online method - the online method wins hands down! So if you are in a multi-user QuickBooks environment, you don't have this pain for each user, but if you have just one copy of QuickBooks, it is quite likely you will be on the phone.

In fact, I dread getting the "please call 800-Big-Pain to get your validation code" message. I know that I am then going to be directed to an overseas call center and get the pitch about other QuickBooks products and services, especially payroll and merchant services. In some cases, the pitch can be pretty annoying, depending upon the call center rep who is delivering the pitch.

TIP: As soon as you are asked during QuickBooks phone registration about how many employees your business has, simply tell the rep you have no interest in any other QuickBooks products and services at that time. It does speed things up a bit, as you should be spared the sales pitch, but it doesn't reduce the overall hassle factor of having to register by phone.

Naturally, from Intuit's perspective, forcing a business to speak to a sales rep when registering QuickBooks is a great way to cross-sell other products and services.However, QuickBooks already has enough other pop up windows that appear while using the software promoting their other products and services that we shouldn't have to endure them just to get the software registered.

BONUS TIP: Click Edit > Preferences > General > Turn off pop-up messages for products and services to minimize the pop-up intrustions while working in QuickBooks. I can't say that this completely eliminates them, but it does reduce them.

Maybe QuickBooks 2010 will bring a more streamlined approach to product registration to it. We can certainly hope so!

Are my impressions of the registration process wrong? Has your QuickBooks registration process gone smoothly? Post a comment below...

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Scott Gregory is a specialist with QuickBooks Pro, Premier and Enterprise software. He also provides controller services to businesses looking to sharpen their accounting systems and profitability. Connect with Scott @ Bottom Line Accounting Solutions.

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The Differences Between QuickBooks Pro, Premier, and Enterprise

Update to Post: QuickBooks 2010 is now available for sale. See what's new and save 20%.


I've compiled a very handy guide you can download to understand the key differences between QuickBooks Pro, Premier and Enterprise software.ApplesandOranges

The guide will allow you to see "at-a-glance" what is included with each of these versions of QuickBooks and how some of these key features vary across the products.

Even better! I've included some "insider insights" relating to many of these differences so you have some expert knowledge behind you as you evaluate which version of QuickBooks is best for your business.

Remember - if you need more than 5 users in QuickBooks, that requirement automatically puts you in the Enterprise version, as Pro and Premier can only have up to 5 users at any one time.

I have intentionally left several versions out of this guide as those versions have some significant limitations to them (Simple Start - for extremely small businesses; Mac - can only have one user at a time; Online Edition - doesn't have a full feature set)

Download your free QuickBooks comparison guide today!

Have any comments or questions to add to the next edition of this guide? Feel free to drop a comment below!

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Scott Gregory is a specialist with QuickBooks Pro, Premier, and Enterprise software. He provides the insight you need before you toss your computer out the window. Connect with Scott @ Bottom Line Accounting Solutions.

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Setting the Default Date in QuickBooks

Getting tired of QuickBooks not using today's date when you record invoices or other transactions?

The fix is easy - QuickBooks provides two options for what appears in the date box on any transaction:

  1. Use today's date as default
  2. Use the last entered date as default

I know my preference is to have it default to using today's date.

To access this option in QuickBooks, click Edit > Preferences. Then click the "General" picture on the left hand side of the window and look for the screen that says this:

Todays Date as Default

Choose the option you prefer, and then click the OK button to lock in your change.

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Scott Gregory is a specialist with QuickBooks Pro, Premier, and Enterprise software. He can help iron out your trouble spots with QuickBooks before you take a hammer to it!

Connect with Scott @ Bottom Line Accounting Solutions.

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The Sales Order Fulfillment Worksheet in QuickBooks

Tucked away inside the QuickBooks Premier Manufacturing and Wholesale, Retail and Accountant editions is a sales order fulfillment worksheet tool. This can really help your business manage the open sales orders in the system and determine what orders to ship and when based on availability and other criteria.

Found in the Customer menu in the menu bar at the top of the screen, clicking the Sales Order Fulfillment Worksheet option then brings up a screen that looks like this:

Sales Order Fulfillment Worksheet


Several very important sections of this window:

  • Sort (upper right hand corner) - 9 different ways to sort the information appearing in this worksheet, from the ship date to amount that can be fulfilled (and seven other options!)
  • Choose for me - this is where QuickBooks can apply some intelligence to the open sales orders in the system to make various selections of what orders to fulfill based on the earliest shipping date to orders with the largest revenue potential
  • How to use the Sales Order Fulfillment Worksheet - a link that provides you instant access to a video tutorial that explains how to use this tool in more detail. The solid green sphere means the order can be completely filled, the semi-solid yellow sphere means part of the order can be filled, and the red x means "not happening today" - there is no stock to fill the order.

I seem to recall that this feature first appeared in the 2007 version of QuickBooks Premier, so if you are using that, the 2008 or 2009 versions of QuickBooks Premier (again, only the Manufacturing and Wholesale, Retail or Accountant editions), you have access to it.

If you find that you need more advanced inventory functionality than QuickBooks can provide, let's talk. There are a few excellent QuickBooks add-on software packages that can take your inventory management to an entirely new level.

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Scott Gregory is a specialist in QuickBooks Pro, QuickBooks Premier and QuickBooks Enterprise. Connect with Scott @ Bottom Line Accounting Solutions.


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A New Concept from the Creative Solutions Group at Intuit

Is your business in search of a new logo, web site or other type of design work? Your solution may be just a "contest" away!

You may want to take a look at a new offering from Intuit Creative Solutions. This service, which is powered by 99designs allows you to quickly and easily create a design contest where thousands of designers may compete to create the best possible design to meet your needs.

This service is as simple as taking the following steps:

  1. Create a design brief where you scope out your project. There is a fee of $39 plus 10% of the "prize amount" being offered to the winning designer to post your project. Minimum fees are posted on the web site.
  2. Set a budget, which is also known as the "winning prize". This is the amount you agree to pay to the winning designer to purchase their work.
  3. Work with the designers to hone your idea and concept.
  4. Choose the winning designer, pay the agreed amount "prize" to the designer and receive the final artwork from them.

There are many design contest currently posted, so you can easily see how this process works.

This is an interesting idea that has popped out of the Creative Solutions Group of Intuit, the makers of QuickBooks software.

Post your thoughts on the concept below...

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Scott Gregory is a specialist with QuickBooks Pro, Premier and Enterprise. Connect with Scott @ Bottom Line Accounting Solutions.

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The Inventory Stock Status Button in QuickBooks

Ever seen this icon in the sales order or invoicing screens in QuickBooks and wondered what the heck it was?

Doo Dad 1

This little button packs a powerful punch within QuickBooks - once you click it, a screen appears that shows much more detail about the item in question:

Available to Promise Window

On the left hand side of the screen, the quantity on hand, quantity on sales orders and quantity reserved for assemblies amounts appear. On the right hand side, the quantity on purchase orders appears. In essence, this window is providing the ability to have "available to promise" capability in QuickBooks.

Even better, toward the bottom of the screen, you can "Show Details" for purchase orders, sales orders and the pending build of assemblies to get even more detail about the "how much and when" questions that surface in businesses all the time.

This "available to promise" screen allows many manufacturing and distribution businesses to use QuickBooks and provide a much better level of customer service with little additional work.

A quick check of the various versions of QuickBooks indicated that this button is only available in the Premier: Manufacturing and Wholesale Edition of QuickBooks. It is not available in QuickBooks Pro or the other Premier Editions (Contractor, Professional Services, etc.). If you see this button in your edition of QuickBooks, let me know and I will update this post.

For some businesses, this feature provides enough benefit for them to move from QuickBooks Pro to QuickBooks Premier Manufacturing and Wholesale Edition. Something to at least consider for the QuickBooks 2010 release.

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Scott Gregory is a specialist with QuickBooks Pro, Premier and Enterprise. Connect with Scott @ Bottom Line Accounting Solutions.




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Advanced Inventory Management: QuickBooks + FishBowl Announcement

Some great news concerning the QuickBooks Enterprise product line...

Earlier this week, FishBowl Inventory announced that they will be selling a bundled version of their inventory management software with QuickBooks Enterprise in the coming weeks.

According to the press release:

"The solution provides users with a robust and scalable inventory management system that makes it more attractive and viable for mid-sized companies to stay with QuickBooks as they grow. For example, as mid-size companies continue to grow they often will have multiple locations they must manage. Fishbowl gives these companies the ability to manage their inventory for all of their locations."

This new partnership will take the inventory management features of QuickBooks Enterprise to an entirely new and enhanced level.

I'm still gathering details about the specifics of this announcement and will post them as soon as they are received.

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Scott Gregory is an expert with QuickBooks Enterprise, Premier and Pro software. He also offers controller services to businesses that need financial guidance. Connect with Scott @ Bottom Line Accounting Solutions.

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QuickBooks Enterprise 9.0 - 5 Stars? I Think Not.

A recent review of QuickBooks Enterprise 9.0/2009 at the CPA Technology Advisor web site awarded the software a 5 star rating. I have to disagree with them on that call - I would rate it a solid 4 stars, but there is no way it rates a 5.

(Full disclosure: I am a Certified QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions advisor and a charter member of the Intuit Solutions Provider/Reseller program)

Reasons why I agree with their assessment:

  • QuickBooks Enterprise 9.0 is a very economical choice for businesses that are either outgrowing QuickBooks Pro or Premier, or those that are on the lower end of the mid-market. Compared to other mid-market packages, QuickBooks Enterprise is very budget-friendly. The list price on a 5 user version is $3,000, which is typically thousands less than competing products.
  • QuickBooks software (all versions, including Enterprise) has a very intuitive interface and doesn't require weeks of training time to figure it out.Contrary to some of the marketing done in support of the QuickBooks product line that says accounting knowledge isn't needed to use it, it is still essential that someone in the organization have a rock-solid understanding of accounting to ensure that the software is used correctly.
  • QuickBooks Enterprise 9.0 owners are not forced into a renewal of the support and maintenance agreement once the initial 12 month support agreement expires like other competitive packages. It may make good sense for a business to renew the agreement, but it is their choice to do so. For example, the renewal price for maintenance and support for a 5 user license of QuickBooks Enterprise is $750 per year. This entitles the business to receive a complete upgrade to the newest version of QuickBooks Enterprise (i.e. QuickBooks Enterprise 10.0/2010).
  • The online data backup storage vault is an excellent benefit that is included. Purchasers of Enterprise 9.0 also receive a free 12 month subscription to the QuickBooks Online Backup service. They can use that service to automate their backup of QuickBooks and other critical business data to an offsite location. Up to 10 gigabytes of data can be stored in the vault. Many small businesses suffer from erratic or non-existent backup strategies, and this tool can definitely help them streamline that business necessity.
  • The Messenger utility built into Enterprise 9.0 is a great addition that really helps administrators see what is going on with the users and also allows them to log users off without having to visit their computer to do so.
  • The always-on audit trail helps businesses get some x-ray vision into what exactly is happening with their financial data and the users of that data. This is critical insight that every business using QuickBooks needs to know.
  • There are a number of excellent add-on products that have been developed that enhance the core value of QuickBooks as an accounting platform while the add-on software fills another specific need (i.e. advanced inventory control, document management, etc.)

QuestionMark
Reasons why I disagree with their assessment:

  • Additional licenses must be purchased in 5 user bundles. The reality is that businesses don't increase their users in even increments like this. Businesses need to have the ability to add less than 5 licenses at a time. Why not offer a 2 user and a 5 user increment? It shouldn't cost Intuit any more to offer more flexibility. In fact, it may help Intuit's revenue stream by bringing on businesses that have chosen NOT to increase their license count by 5 and are limping by and asking users to exit when others need to log on.
  • The reporting tools within the software are very tired and need an update. This is an enterprise level software, yet it uses the same report tool found in the Pro and Premier versions. Intuit would counter that you can use the Intuit Statement Writer that comes standard in Enterprise for advanced reporting needs. That's nice and all, but that tool only covers basic reports like the Profit and Loss and Balance Sheet. If I want to make some enhancements to customer or sales reports, I'm out of luck. Intuit would also counter that any report can be exported to Excel for further analysis. I would like to see them either revamp the reporting tools inside the Enterprise edition or bake in something like Crystal Reports.
  • Enterprise 9.0 doesn't offer a significant number of reasons to upgrade. Unless a business has the need for reporting in multi-currency or to increase their number of users beyond 20 (you can have up to 30 in the new version), the rest of the enhancements were relatively minor and caused many businesses to say "I'll pass" on this version.
  • The online banking enhancements in Enterprise 9.0 were not well-received at all. Do a quick Google search on "problems with QuickBooks online banking 2009"  - you'll see the story. Intuit has made some valiant attempts to take care of these issues since the software was released, but the damage has been done.
  • The client data review tool in Enterprise 9.0 is a terrific new feature for accountants to use with their clients. But just how many of the 57,000+ users of QuickBooks Enterprise are accountants? Probably less than 5% would be my guess. My point here is that precious product development time could be spent on new features that have a broader impact on the installed Enterprise client base.
  • The customer relationship interface in QuickBooks is tired too - last time I looked, I can track 2 contact names, 2 phone numbers and 2 e-mail addresses inside the core customer module. Huh? This is supposed to be an enterprise level package. I shouldn't have to purchase a QuickBooks CRM add-on just to deal with the multitude of contact information associated with a customer. While some nice features were added in 2006 to the customer area, the core customer screen has been the same since at least 2003. Time for a facelift guys.
  • My vendor accounts can't contain a remit to and a physical address.Why not? This is basic functionality that should have been written into the software years ago.
  • There are no credit management tools of any significance. Other than a field for a customer credit limit and a warning during order processing that the limit has been exceeded, Enterprise has no ability to put orders on credit hold or get approval from the credit department prior to shipment.
  • There needs to be more improvement to reduce the "multi-user"/"single user" mode hassles. While Enterprise 9.0 now allows a business to create a backup copy of their data while others are still working in it, you still can't resort a list, change a sales tax rate or do other common tasks in multi-user mode. Imagine telling 29 other users they have to exit QuickBooks so you can resort a list that has gotten out of whack.
  • No external tools exist to help repair problems with the company data file. Enterprise has the ability to verify and rebuild data files, BUT, you have to be able to open the data file first in order to use these tools. In some cases, the file becomes corrupted and can't be accessed via normal methods. The only option at that time is to turn to the QuickBooks data team for help. There need to be some external tools made available in case this emergency arises.


Even with the issues that have been raised, QuickBooks Enterprise 9.0 is very budget-friendly, easy to use and powerful accounting software package. It could be so much more though with some enhancements to the core package and without having to rely on the myriad add-ons to solve some basic accounting and reporting problems. It just doesn't rate 5 stars in my opinion.

Let's see what QuickBooks has in store for the release of QuickBooks Enterprise 10.0/2010 this fall.

What's your take on QuickBooks Enterprise 9 (or any version of Enterprise for that matter)? Drop a comment below to get the dialogue started.

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Scott Gregory is a specialist with QuickBooks Enterprise, Premier and Pro Editions and offers controller services to small businesses. Connect with Scott @ Bottom Line Accounting Solutions.

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Download Free Templates For Use in QuickBooks

One of the great features of QuickBooks is that you can customize your forms (i.e. invoices, estimates, purchase orders, etc.) using the customization features and layout designer tools within the software.

In addition, you can choose from a number of pre-formatted template downloads directly from the Intuit Community web site - at no charge.

To access this free service, click Lists, then Templates. In the bottom of the window, click the Templates box, and then Download Templates as shown below:

Download Templates from QuickBooks

Once you click the Download Templates option, you are transported to the Intuit Community, where you will find many different form templates ready for quick and easy download:

Download Templates at Intuit Community Site  

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Scott Gregory is a specialist with QuickBooks Pro, Premier, and Enterprise. Connect with Scott at Bottom Line Accounting Solutions.

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5 QuickBooks Invoicing Tips for Faster Payment

Shrewd accounts payable departments (and there are many out there) are just looking for ways to delay payment on YOUR invoice which allows them to hold on to THEIR cash longer. Paid Stamp

To improve your cash flow and help minimize the potential for a delay in payment (unfortunately, we can't eliminate the potential completely!), make sure the invoices you send out of QuickBooks contain:

  1. The correct mailing address for your customer - many businesses have a dedicated PO box they use for vendor invoices. Make sure to inquire at the time your customer places their order what the correct mailing address is. As you have probably discovered, this one small detail can doom the chances for a prompt payment.

    Better yet - e-mail the invoice directly to the person responsible for payment. It gets there faster and you save on postage, paper and printing costs too!

  2. Your payment terms - it is amazing to me how many invoices I receive that don't have any reference to payment terms on them. If you are expecting payment in net 15 days, make sure your invoice reflects that. At a minimum, this sets your expectations in writing (your customer can't claim "you never told us what the terms are"!). Many businesses also include a field for "due date" that puts the expected payment date clearly in black and white.

  3. The correct remittance address for your business - while your invoice may look really pretty having the corporate logo on it and all, it may not be functional if it is missing your mailing address. If the accounts payable department has to look up a mailing address, it's just one more reason for them to "do it later" - and you know what that means.

  4. Customer purchase order # and/or other special information - in many cases, if your invoice doesn't have the purchase order number in it, consider the invoice dead on arrival. Same goes for other special wording or identification that your customer has requested. Make sure to read their purchase order carefully when received or ask upfront so you know what information they are requesting to appear on your invoice.

  5. The correct pricing, quantity and description of the items being sold - if your invoice details don't "match" those contained in your customers' accounts payable system, your payment is very likely going to get derailed. I worked with a client recently that was doing work for a very large company - if their invoice description did not match the purchase order letter for letter (even if it was wrong on the purchase order!), it was not paid. A few extra seconds checking invoice details before sending them out can save you extra days or weeks when it comes to getting paid.

Great news! QuickBooks provides the customization tools you need to ensure the invoices you send out have the information necessary to improve your odds of being paid on time. I'm thinking of putting a webinar together on the topic of customizing invoices in QuickBooks. If you're interested, please post a comment below.

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Scott Gregory is a specialist with QuickBooks Pro, Premier, and Enterprise software. In a prior work life, he was also the CFO for a $15 million business. Connect with Scott at Bottom Line Accounting Solutions.

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