« May 2010 | Main | July 2010 »

10 posts from June 2010

How Do I Turn Off the QuickBooks Messenger + Bonus Tip

Before you pull out the hammer and beat up your QuickBooks in search of the "off" button for the messenger service, you should know about two very important features it has that aren't readily apparent:

When the QuickBooks messenger service is running, as the administrator, you have the ability to:

1) Send a message to all logged in users (i.e. everyone has to be out of QuickBooks at 5pm for routine maintenance, etc.)

2) Close the company file for users that are logged in. Gone are the days when you are forced to yell down the hall for people to get out of QuickBooks!. You can quickly and easily use the QuickBooks messenger services instead.

To take either of the actions above, just right click the messenger icon in the lower right hand corner, click "Show QuickBooks Messenger", then click the "Actions" button at the top of the screen as shown:

  Instant Messenger Turn Off

OK, STILL WANT TO GET RID OF THE MESSENGER COMPLETELY?

It's easy - just click File > Utilities > Disable QuickBooks Messenger. That's it!

To turn it on later, just repeat the above and choose Enable QuickBooks Messenger

RELATED POST: QuickBooks Messenger - Like It or Not?

___________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Instant Messenger Feature in QuickBooks - Like or Dislike It?

The instant messenger feature has been added to QuickBooks (2009 and later) to help your business communicate more efficiently. It also can provide status information about co-workers quickly and easily.

As soon as you flip to multi-user mode in QuickBooks, our little messenger icon appears in the lower right hand corner by the clock to show that it is running:

  Instant Messenger Icon

You can right click on the icon to bring up a menu with the following options:

  • Set your status for others to see (online, busy, away, in a meeting, do not disturb)
  • Chat with - opens up a chat window to allow you to send text messages to one or more co-workers (of course, you'll be talking strictly about QuickBooks, right?)
  • Settings (to turn notifications on or off)
  • Show the messenger window to see status and other information

  Instant Messenger Window

So the big questions:

  • Do you use the messenger?
  • Do you like the messenger?
  • What could be done to improve the messenger? (no, we can't shoot the messenger, but we can turn it off!)
Feel free to drop your comments in the box below to let me know what YOU think about this feature!

_____________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________


7 Key Questions to Ask Your "Cloud" Software Provider

While the dust still settles from the massive Intuit/QuickBooks service outage (read this excellent article from IT BusinessEdge!), I felt it was a great opportunity to find out what small businesses should do on a proactive basis to evaluate their "cloud" software providers. (NOTE: "Cloud" is the current buzzword for software that runs via the internet, not via a traditional installation on a local desktop or
server). Cloud Computing

Given that, I consulted with my IT guru and business partner, Mark Nekic. Mark is the president of Neothink, an IT solutions provider, and he came up with an excellent list of topics that should be front and center in a discussion with any potential vendor of "cloud" software services.

Let's dissect Mark's suggestions in more detail. Keeping in mind that you run a business and probably aren't fluent in "geek-speak", I'll try to keep these explanations simple and informative.

"CLOUD" SOFTWARE PROVIDERS - KEY QUESTIONS TO ASK (#1, #2, AND #3):

  1. What is your service level agreement (or SLA for short)? What happens if you don't meet it? This question is designed to educate you on just what the vendor promises your uptime will be (compared to downtime) to access the software. Usually stated as a percentage, such as 99.8% uptime. Find out what happens when they are down. A lot of Intuit customers are asking this very question about SLA and uptime right now.

  2. Do you have a disaster recovery (business continuity) plan? If so, can you send me a copy? This is designed to help you understand just what the vendor can (or will) do in the event they have an unplanned emergency at their main business site. In relation to the Intuit outage, the story is that they had multiple power failures at their main data center, thus they went dark. Looks like they will be buffing up their disaster recovery plans, like right this minute.

  3. Can you provide documentation of your uptime for this year and last year? Or asked another way, can you provide documentation of your outages? This information should be readily available from your potential vendor.

    "CLOUD" SOFTWARE PROVIDERS - KEY QUESTIONS TO ASK (#4  AND #5):

  4. How do you communicate problems, outages, and fixes to your customers? Have the vendor explain to you what channels they use (Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, etc.) to keep you posted and up to date in the event of an outage.

  5. How are backups implemented and how long is my data kept? You have a right to know just how the vendor is dealing with the storage and archiving of your data. Don't be bashful about asking. I don't think it's necessary that the vendor tell you the exact model and serial # of backup system they are using, but should provide plenty of insight to understand how safe your data is.

    "CLOUD" SOFTWARE PROVIDERS - KEY QUESTIONS TO ASK (#6  AND #7):

  6. Who has access to my data and/or the hardware on which it is running? This question gets to the heart of the idea of whether your information is on a shared server and just how your data is protected from prying eyes, either internally or externally.

  7. How is redundancy implemented within your environment? Do you have spare disk drives, servers, power supplies, internet circuits? Do you have a spare data center to switch to in the event your main data center goes kaput? As with the above questions, you should have a good understanding of just what is supposed to happen in the event of an outage in any one of the critical pieces of the puzzle. Many of us are wondering why there was no backup data center involved with the Intuit outage. It is hard to believe that they didn't have one of those, or at least they aren't saying anything about it.

If you like the idea of "cloud" software but find the due diligence involved in asking questions like those above to be mind-numbing, be sure to enlist the help and advice of a trusted IT professional. Their insight in helping you separate fact from b.s. will more than pay for itself very, very rapidly.

Thanks again to Mark for taking the time to provide this insight to my readers. I hope you find it informative as you evaluate your options and vendors while you consider using software or services "in the cloud".

Feel free to post your thoughts and comments about your "cloud" computing experiences in the comment box below. We'd love to read them!

________________________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________


QuickBooks 2011 Release Date: Guess It and Win a Copy!

Winning Dice EDITORS' NOTE:

QuickBooks 2011 has been released and is
now available for sale.


 

PLEASE NOTE: NO ENTRIES WILL BE ACCEPTED FOR THIS CONTEST AFTER 11:00PM EST ON FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2010

QuickBooks 2011 will be released sometime before the end of 2010 (assuming their past history of delivering new products holds true!).

Even though I am part of their ProAdvisor channel, unfortunately I don't know any more about the details of the 2011 release than you do. So I thought I'd put together a little contest just like I did last year...

  

Take a guess at the release date of QuickBooks 2011 and win a free copy of QuickBooks Pro 2011 for your business! This prize has a $199 value!!

Entering is easy - just fill in the comment box below with your name and your guess as to the date QuickBooks 2011 will be officially put up for sale on the QuickBooks web site. See the contest rules below for more information. Be sure to include your e-mail address in the comment box (it will NOT display when your comment is posted) so I can contact you if yours is the winning entry.

Remember: Save up to 20% on QuickBooks 2011 when it does hit the shelves! Just bookmark to my web page for discounts on all QuickBooks software.


RELATED POST: What's on YOUR Wish List for QuickBooks 2011?
 

_________________________________________________________________________________

Contest Rules:

  1. One (1) entry per person. If multiple entries are submitted, only the first submission will be considered.
  2. One (1) winning entry will be drawn at random from all entries submitted that contain the correct release date of QuickBooks 2011.
  3. Winner will receive one (1) not-for-resale, fully functional copy of QuickBooks Pro 2011 software.
  4. In the event no entry selects the correct QuickBooks 2011 release date, one (1) winner will be drawn at random from those submitted with the next closest date of release prior to the actual release date. 
  5. Winner will be notified within five (5) business days of the official release date. Software will be shipped to winner within six to eight weeks of notification (QuickBooks 2011 software doesn't start shipping immediately upon release, so I won't actually be able to get it to the winner right away).
  6. This contest is for the release of QuickBooks Pro and Premier 2011 only, not Enterprise, Online, Mac or any other version of QuickBooks.
  7. Contest void where prohibited.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________


The Secret Button in QuickBooks for a Better Profit and Loss Report

Imagine having the ability to create a profit and loss for your business by department, location, line of business or other criteria in QuickBooks.

Impossible you say?

Possible I say.

How?

By using the "class" feature of QuickBooks.

REMEMBER TO TURN IT ON

By default, the class is NOT turned on, so there is no visible way in QuickBooks to see how to track a profit and loss by department.

However, once you turn it on, you'll see right away how easy it is to "classify" your invoices, checks, bills and other transactions.

THE PROFIT AND LOSS BY CLASS REPORT

Instead of heading to the Profit and Loss report in QuickBooks, scroll down the list a few options and select the Profit and Loss by Class (again, substitute the word department, location, etc. for the word class).

This report spreads out the income and expenses your business incurred in a nice columnar format by class so you can quickly see which department or location is making money, losing money, etc.

SEE HOW IT'S DONE

The video below takes you on a brief tour and shows you how to turn on classes, tag transactions with classes and then run the profit and loss by class report. I hope you find it helpful in managing your business!



___________________________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Power Outage Knocks QuickBooks Online and Other Intuit Products Off The Grid

Update: 8:20pm EDT 6/17/2010 - Intuit is now reporting that all services have been restored to all customers at this time. Hope you are back in business!

Here is an article about why QuickBooks Online crashed and also a letter from the Intuit CEO to help explain what happened.


Update: 3:05pm EDT 6/17/2010 - Apparently, my post from earlier today isn't quite correct. There are a "small subset" of QuickBooks customers without access to various services as of this time. I hope that doesn't include your business! This is about the only web site I can tell you to monitor for updates and information direct from Intuit.


Update: 7:30am EDT 6/17/2010 - Order seems to be restored to the world of QuickBooks. All sites other than main Intuit web site appear to be functional now. Hoping to learn a lot more from Intuit about the nature of the outage.

Update: 9:50pm EDT 6/16/2010 - Many QuickBooks services still down due to massive outage. No ETA on resuming service posted either on Intuit main site, QuickBooks main site or via Twitter. I think they will have a LOT of explaining to do when everything settles down from this.

3:50 EDT - 6/16/2010:

From news reports I gathered, a massive power outage at the Intuit San Diego data facility has caused many Intuit services such as QuickBooks online, QuickBooks credit card and payroll processing, online time tracker, QuickBooks support sites, QuickBase and others to be knocked out of service.

This service outage has been going on since about 7pm PDT on Tuesday, June 15, 2010.

According to various tweets from Intuit employees, all hands are on deck trying to resolve these problems and get these services up and running again.

I have not yet been able to gather any information or ETA about when services will be restored. More later...

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________


5 Reports for Contractors Found in QuickBooks Contractors Edition

One of the differences between the Pro and Premier versions of QuickBooks is that the Premier versions (i.e. Contractor, Manufacturing and Wholesale, etc.) have additional reports available that the Pro version does not.

Contractor For example, in QuickBooks Premier for Contractors, you will find the following reports (and others) that aren't available in the Pro version:

  • Unpaid Bills by Job - an excellent way to recap what bills are still sitting open and yet to be paid for each of your jobs.

  • Cost to Complete by Job Summary - you input the % complete for all open jobs and QuickBooks run a calculation and report for what the projected costs are to complete the jobs.

  • Job Costs by Vendor and Job Summary - takes accumulated job costs and organizes them by vendor and then by job for a different perspective.

  • Expenses Not Assigned to Jobs - a quick and easy way to see if you paid expenses but forgot to associate them to a job (and get paid back for them!)

  • Billed/Unbilled Hours by Person and Job - a report designed to help you quickly see where you stand on taking care of billable time.

The QuickBooks Contractors edition is designed to help you track the various jobs and projects you work on each week in a pretty decent detail.

In addition, if time tracking is essential to your business, you can pair the Contractors Edition of QuickBooks with a web-based time tracking tool like Minute 7 to really improve your financial reporting and make your team as efficient as possible.

Need help sorting things out in your QuickBooks? Contact me today so we can set up a remote session to tackle your issues and concerns.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________


3 Reasons Why Customer Relationship Management Software May Be a Good Idea

As you have likely discovered, QuickBooks is pretty rudimentary when it comes to tracking extensive information about customers and prospects.

Here are three reasons why you may want to consider a customer relationship management (CRM) software add-on for your QuickBooks:

  1. More than 2 contacts: After all these years, QuickBooks still only allows you to track two primary contacts, two phone numbers and two e-mail addresses for a given customer. Granted, you can mess around with some of the custom fields in QuickBooks to track more information, but that is just putting off the inevitable.

    As you know, your depth of contact with some customers can range anywhere from three to fifteen different people (or more!). A CRM solution allows you to track this information with ease.

  2. Keeping prospects and customers separate: It may be wise to keep the leads and prospects in your sales pipeline separate from your customers. Many businesses like the concept of doing their prospecting in a CRM-based system and then when they prospect "goes live", they get converted into a customer in QuickBooks.

    In addition, QuickBooks Pro and Premier have limits on the number of names you can store in the customer list (10,000). By keeping only customers in QuickBooks, it allows your business more room to grow and extends the amount of time available before hitting this limitation. Otherwise, your business may need to consider an upgrade into the Enterprise version of QuickBooks to continue adding more names to the customer list.

  3. Better mobility and access to information: A CRM solution can provide the ability to access customer and prospect information directly from your smart phone rather than be tethered to your desk to access QuickBooks.  A CRM solution allows you to have key information (contact, address, sales history) at your fingertips!

Two of my favorite CRM add-ons for QuickBooks are:

  • Results CRM - contact Mike Honig at (800) 713-7013 for personalized information and pricing.
  • Oasis CRM - contact Jeff White at (866) 566-9842 for personalized information and pricing.

Need to talk further about how a CRM add-on for QuickBooks could be of benefit? Click the "Contact Scott" button below now.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Can I Get a Sales by Rep Report in QuickBooks?

Absolutely!

To create this report, you will want to click Reports in the menu bar, then Sales, then Sales by Rep Summary (or access it via the Report Center as well).

QuickBooks will then display a report that looks like this:

  Sales by Rep Summary
If your report ONLY has the "No sales rep" category listed but none of the individual sales reps, it means you are missing the "Rep" field on your invoices as shown in the example below:

  Sales by Rep Box

Turning on the Rep box is a matter of customizing the invoice template to add the Rep field to your screen (and printed copy of invoice if you desire).

Remember: There is also a Sales by Rep Detail report in the Sales section of the Report menu OR you can double-click on the values shown in the Summary report to drill into the details for any given sales rep.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________


QuickBooks Trick: How to Handle Money Moving Between Businesses

Work for a boss that just loves to move money between their businesses?

Trying to figure out just how to accomplish this properly in QuickBooks without going nuts?

You're in luck...

THE TALE OF TWO COMPANIES

In our example to explain this concept, let's say you are keeping the books in QuickBooks for the ABC Company and the XYZ Company. Lo and behold, the owner just sent you an e-mail letting you know that he moved $10,000 from the checking account of the ABC Company to the checking account of the XYZ Company to cover some upcoming payments the XYZ Company has to make.

Your first thought may be to head for the Banking menu and select the "Transfer Funds" option to take care of recording this transaction. While that choice does work if you are transferring funds within the SAME company, it doesn't work very well when faced with an example like ours where funds are transferred BETWEEN companies.

MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE DUE FROM AND DUE TO ACCOUNTS

In our example above, we actually have two transactions to tackle - the movement of the $10,000 OUT of the ABC Company checking account and the movement of the $10,000 INTO the XYZ Company checking account.

Let's break it down...

First, the entry on the ABC Company books:

When inside the ABC Company QuickBooks file, the first thing you will want to do is create a new account in your chart of accounts. We'll classify this account as an "Other Current Asset" and give it a name of "Due from XYZ Company". Once you have completed that step, simply go to the Write Checks window, and set it up just like the screen shot below:

  Due From XYZ

Once you save this transaction, the ABC Company checking account will be reduced by $10,000, and an account will appear on the balance sheet called "Due from XYZ Company". This is similar to (but not exactly the same as) money due you from customers - the ABC Company will receive this $10,000 back eventually (we hope!).

Then, the entry on the XYZ Company books:

Now you have to record the $10,000 coming into the XYZ Company checking account. By the way, see my blog post explaining that this is NOT income to the XYZ Company.

The first thing you'll want to do in the XYZ Company QuickBooks is to create a new account in the chart of accounts. It will be named "Due To ABC Company" and it will be a type of "Other Current Liability". Once you have done that, simply go into the XYZ Company check register (this is the easiest of several methods to handle it) and record the deposit as shown in the screen shot below:

  Due to ABC Company 

When this transaction is complete, QuickBooks will now show a deposit of $10,000 into the XYZ checking account, and also a liability showing up on the balance sheet called "Due to ABC Company" for $10,000. This is similar to (but not exactly the same as) money you owe your vendors. Eventually, ABC Company will be paid back (we hope!).

TIME FOR PAYBACK!

When the boss says it is time for XYZ Company to pay back the $10,000 it owes ABC Company, you'll have two entries to make:

Entry #1 - On the XYZ Company books, write a check payable to ABC Company for $10,000 and use the "Due to ABC Company" account you created above. Once you enter that, the XYZ Company checking account will be lighter by $10,000 AND XYZ will no longer be showing a liability on the balance sheet called "Due to ABC Company"

Entry #2 - On the ABC Company books, go to the check register and record a deposit of $10,000. Use the "Due from XYZ Company" account created above. Once you enter that, the ABC Company checking account will have $10,000 extra in it AND there will no longer be an amount showing in the "Due from XYZ Company" account, as it has been paid back in full. Yahoo!

Naturally, there may be more than one transaction into these "due from" and "due to" accounts before any money is actually paid back. That's ok - the account balances will always be accurate to show how at a glance much is "due from" or "due to" other companies.

Need personalized help to sort out the intercompany transactions in your businesses? Click the "Contact Scott" button below and get the help you need.

RELATED POST: Moving Money Between Bank Accounts Is NOT Income in QuickBooks

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________