Tucked away inside QuickBooks is a very handy report called the Audit Trail Report.
The QuickBooks audit trail report provides what I like to call a "digital fingerprint" of everything that happens within your QuickBooks file, whether it be good or bad.
For example, it tracks each users entries, modified transactions, voided transactions, and deleted transactions. The QuickBooks audit trail is on by default in all versions 2006 and older. Prior to that, it had to be turned on manually.
To access the audit trail report, click Reports > Accountant and Taxes > Audit Trail report. By default, the report only shows the activity for today. You can easily change that by changing the date range as needed in the upper left hand corner of the report.
Your report will look like this (click the image for a larger version):
Important note - the audit trail is only capturing information about new, deleted, modified and voided transactions. It does not keep track of changes made to the various lists within QuickBooks (i.e. customer list or item list).
I urge business owners to use the audit trail report on a regular basis for two reasons:
- As a training tool - if a large number of deleted or modified transactions appear within the report, the first question would be why? Is it because the person doesn't understand how to use QuickBooks properly? Or are there other more sinister reasons behind the changes? It's important for the business owner to ask these types of questions.
- As a control tool - the owner can quickly scan the list of users and transactions processed to ensure that they are only accessing the transactions they have been authorized to. This is a key component of proper internal controls, and the audit trail can provide this information quickly and easily.
As you can see, this audit trail report is quite powerful and a welcome addition to many businesses as they work to keep their accounting records in good order and access to their accounting systems controlled and documented.