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6 posts from November 2010

QuickBooks Enterprise 2011: Frequently Asked Questions

Deciding whether to purchase QuickBooks Enterprise 2011 or not?

Here are some questions I am commonly asked and my insight to help you make an educated buying decision.

Q: Why would I need to leave QuickBooks Pro or Premier?

A: There are some limitations within Pro and Premier that may force you to upgrade. Some of those are - maximum number of customer/vendors, inventory items, and most importantly, the size of your QuickBooks data file. You may simply outgrow the capabilities of Pro or Premier or you need more than 5 users at a time. See the link below to download my guide that explains the key differences in Pro, Premier and Enterprise.

Q: How many people can be in Enterprise 2011 at one time?

A: QuickBooks Enterprise 2011 is sold in 5 user increments. The smallest version is 5 users, and then it goes to 10 users, 15, users, etc. up to a maximum of 30 users. If you have a need for more than 5 people in QuickBooks, the Enterprise version is your only option - you can only have 3 people in QuickBooks Pro 2011 and no more than 5 people in QuickBooks Premier 2011.

Q: If I currently use QuickBooks Pro or Premier, will my data upgrade into QuickBooks Enterprise?

A: Your data will definitely upgrade into Enterprise from Pro or Premier. Intuit has made the process of migrating into QuickBooks Enterprise very easy to do.

Q: Is there a big learning curve for QuickBooks Enterprise?

A: If you are moving from QuickBooks Pro or Premier, there is zero learning curve. QuickBooks Enterprise uses the same user interface, icons and menu bars found in Pro and Premier. If you are moving from another accounting software package, there will be a learning curve for you. One of the things I hear frequently from businesses that do move into QuickBooks is that it is so much easier to use than the software they left behind.

Q: Do I have to specify which version of QuickBooks Enterprise I want when I order it? (i.e. Contractor version, Manufacturing/Wholesale version, etc.)

A: No, it is not necessary to specify the version you prefer. All versions are included on the installation CD and/or download file you receive. You simply choose which version you prefer during the installation process.

Q: What are the main differences between QuickBooks Pro, Premier and Enterprise?

A: A few key differences are: Enterprise can hold far more customer, vendor and inventory data; it works with a far larger data file size; you can combine multiple company data files for reporting purposes in Enterprise; it has far more robust security features that Pro or Premier.

Download my free guide for a complete breakdown of the differences between QuickBooks Pro, Premier and Enterprise.

 Q: What is this "Full Service Plan"(FSP) that I get with the purchase of Enterprise all about?

A: The FSP is an extra set of benefits that are available to you as a QuickBooks Enterprise customer that are NOT available to those using QuickBooks Pro or Premier.

Some of these benefits include:

  • A free upgrade to the next version of QuickBooks Enterprise at no additional cost. For example, if you purchase QuickBooks Enterprise 2011, you would get a free upgrade to QuickBooks Enterprise 2012 when it is released.
  • Full support from the QuickBooks Enterprise support desk for 12 months.
  • A free 100GB online data storage vault for 12 months to allow you automated, offsite backup and storage of your critical QuickBooks and other business data.

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Q: What happens when my FSP expires? Am I forced to renew?

A: No. You are not forced to renew your FSP - unlike some software packages that do force you to purchase support every year, that is NOT required of QuickBooks Enterprise.

If you do opt to renew after your first free 12 months, Intuit will simply charge you the current FSP renewal price for the number of users you have. Some businesses really like this approach, as they can easily budget their accounting software costs every year and then get a copy of the latest version of QuickBooks Enterprise. Other businesses have no interest in renewing and simply let their FSP lapse.

If you do NOT renew your FSP, you simply do not renew the benefits mentioned above. If you wanted to purchase the latest version of Enterprise at a later date, you would pay the current price as though you were new to QuickBooks at that time.

Q: If I don't like QuickBooks Enterprise, can I move back into QuickBooks Pro or Premier?

A: Not directly. While it is a snap to move from QuickBooks Pro or Premier into Enterprise, there is no direct route from Enterprise into either Pro or Premier.

You would need to use a third party service such as QuickBooks Users Enterprise downgrade service to migrate your important accounting data back into Pro or Premier format.

Q: Can I access QuickBooks Enterprise from remote locations?

A: If your business is using a Windows server, you can take advantage of the Windows Terminal Server software built in to remotely access QuickBooks Enterprise (and any other software on your network).Check with your IT person on the licensing requirements for Windows Terminal Server.

You could also consider using a solution like GoToMyPC for remote access, but you will probably find that Windows Terminal Server is a better way to go.

Q: Is there a QuickBooks Enterprise for Mac?

A: At this time, there is only QuickBooks Enterprise for Windows and for Linux

Q: If I move into QuickBooks Enterprise from another accounting software package, what happens to my data from that package?

A: There are a number of factors to consider when transitioning from one software package to another. Do I try and transfer my data? Do I start fresh? Can I avoid rekeying my customer and vendor lists?

There are some data conversion services available to you, depending on what package you are leaving behind.

If you have concerns about moving from your accounting software into QuickBooks Enterprise, please contact me so we can discuss your situation in more detail and ensure you have all the insight you need.

OTHER QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS ABOUT QUICKBOOKS ENTERPRISE?

I understand that a move to Enterprise is a big decision. The good news is that over 85,000 businesses like yours have made the successful transition into Enterprise.

Click the button below to contact me for help with your specific situation. As a Certified QuickBooks Enterprise Specialist voted #1 in Customer Satisfaction, I can help you figure all this out and get you the best discount available on QuickBooks Enterprise software.

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QuickBooks 2012: Get Your Order in to the Developers Now!

Really, I'm not crazy (ok, maybe just a little bit).

QuickBooks 2011 just came out about a month ago, and here I am talking about QuickBooks 2012 already?

Absolutely!

HERE'S WHY...

The developers that do the programming for QuickBooks are literally putting their list of customer suggestions and improvements together right now for consideration and possible inclusion in the 2012 editions.

So, let's give them a hand with this process.

MY SUGGESTIONS FOR QUICKBOOKS 2012

First, let me say that from my vantage point, QuickBooks 2011 is hands down the best new release of QuickBooks since the 2006 edition arrived 5 years ago.

They nailed a number of improvements that were on my QuickBooks 2011 wish list and the wish lists of thousands of other QuickBooks users too.

But there are still a significant number of things they can do within QuickBooks to improve its' functionality.

My suggestions:

  • Give the Customer Information screens a complete makeover - as mentioned last year, QuickBooks has space for just 2 contact names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses? Seriously? It's time to bring this portion of QuickBooks into the twenty-first century. It's been pretty much the same since way back to QuickBooks 1999. I'm not referring to the Customer Center itself, but the specific information that is being stored for each customer record. Customers should not have to buy a separate CRM package just because they want to store contact information for more than two people in QuickBooks.
  • Give the Vendor Information screens a complete makeover - same as above. But for vendors.
  • Give the "Modify Report" button more functionality - if memory serves me correctly, this interface has been pretty much the same since QuickBooks 99 as well. It's great that there are third party programs out there that offer advanced report-writing options, but it's time to allow us to add subtotals and have more filtering and formatting options right within QuickBooks.

 AND MORE IDEAS:

  • Sell Additional Licenses of QuickBooks Enterprise in Less Than 5 User Blocks - Businesses don't grow in 5 user increments. Why not offer a 2 user and a 5 user option? I'm perfectly fine with the initial purchase of Enterprise being 5 users. It's when a business needs more because they are growing where the problem lies. It can't possibly be that hard to create an inventory item called "Enterprise Add 2 User Package. Or can it?
  • Make the Pressing Enter Moves Between Fields Preference On By Default - I can't tell you how many students I have worked with that rapidly fall off the rails when they enter their very first transaction in QuickBooks and have that transaction disappear before they were done with it because they hit the Enter key to move to a new field. I'm curious why this ISN'T on by default?
  • Centralize the administration and installation of QuickBooks Updates - In a multi-user environment, why is it that everyone has to see that "QuickBooks has downloaded an update"? Why not centralize this task under the Administrator account or put a preference in to identify a user account for notification. Let that person be the one responsible for making a go/no go decision on the installation of the update. I get it - you want to ensure that fixes, etc. get installed as quickly as possible. However, this message appearing everywhere in a business causes more confusion than benefit from what I've seen.

LAST, BUT DEFINITELY NOT LEAST

  • Bring some clarity to your Merchant Service offerings - There are some terrific products that you have developed relating to businesses and their interaction with customer credit cards. However, trying to decipher what group handles what product is getting so that a PhD is required. GoPayment, Intuit Payment Network, Merchant Services, Billing Solutions are just four that come to mind that all deal with credit cards or electronic payments. Can you simplify it for us?
  • Upgrade to the Budgeting Tools - Please?

QuickBooks 2011 is an excellent edition. Keep building on the momentum you have there as you consider your "to do" list for QuickBooks 2012.

Ok, those are my suggestions for now. I'll be adding more as I think of them.

What are yours?

Feel free to post a comment below, as Intuit monitors this blog. Or, simply click Help > Send Product Feedback directly in your QuickBooks to submit your suggestions.

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Average Cost and Inventory in QuickBooks

If you are working with QuickBooks inventory items (or plan to work with inventory items in the future), it is important to understand how QuickBooks tracks the cost for them.

The Windows versions of QuickBooks use what is known as the "average cost" for calculating inventory costs. The average cost is just like it sounds - QuickBooks continually calculates the average of the costs involved when inventory is purchased.

A basic example - if you purchase 10 widgets at $1, and another 10 widgets at $2, QuickBooks will calculate your average cost as $1.50 each.

This value is displayed at the bottom of the inventory item screen as shown below:

Average Cost

You may also hear other inventory costing terminology kicked around by us "accountant-types". Terms such as FIFO (first in, first out), LIFO (last in, first out), Specific Cost, Landed Cost and other mind-numbing words. All of these other methods of costing don't matter to QuickBooks - it doesn't understand them. QuickBooks lives in the world of average cost.

CPAs everywhere will often debate the pros and cons of each of these inventory costing strategies. In some businesses and/or certain industries, the use of average cost isn't the best option and alternative software must be explored (more on that in a moment).

However, for a majority of small businesses, the use of average cost to value the inventory is perfectly acceptable and shouldn't entail any filibusters about why to use it. Just use it. The time spent arguing about the costing method could be far better spent actually tracking the inventory properly in many cases!

WHAT IF SOMETHING OTHER THAN AVERAGE COST IS NEEDED?

Good news if that is the case...

There are several really good advanced inventory software add-ons that "bolt into" QuickBooks and provide costing such as FIFO, etc. These software packages also provide inventory functionality that may not be found within  QuickBooks - such as lot tracking, serial number tracking, and more.

The benefit of going the "add-on" approach is this - your business can continue using QuickBooks for your core accounting and financial reporting needs. No need to throw that out or lose your investment. You just gain the benefit of the features and functionality found in the inventory software add-on.

NEED GUIDANCE ON INVENTORY?

I spent over ten years being the point person responsible for over $4 million of inventory when serving as a CFO, so I've worked through a lot of issues you are probably contemplating.

Let me put that knowledge to work to help you make the right decisions when it comes to your inventory and QuickBooks. Click the "Contact Scott" button below so we can connect and talk further.

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QuickBooks: Often Overlooked Report Links for Customers and Vendors

Don't you hate it when the answer to a question is staring right back at you?

I often find that to be the case with businesses using QuickBooks that have questions about their customers and vendors.

ON THE CUSTOMER SIDE

The potential solutions to many customer-related questions may lie in the upper right hand corner of the Customer Center:

Customer Center

Quick Report - shows all the history for that customer for any date range you desire. A powerful report for finding things fast.

Open Balance - gives you a rundown of what invoices are open and the amounts still due

Show Estimates - an easy way to get a listing of all the estimates you have created for this customer (or job)


ON THE VENDOR SIDE

In the upper right hand corner of the Vendor Center, you'll find these quick links

Vendor Center
The QuickReport and Open Balance report provide the same details as above, as they relate to the selected vendor.

These reports won't provide the answer to all of the questions that pop up about customers and vendors, but they sure provide quick answers for commonly asked questions about them!

Do you have a favorite QuickBooks tip to share? Please add a comment in the box below - your comments are welcome.

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QuickBooks: 5 Secrets to Your Success

While I out was out cycling the other day, I got to thinking about what separates those businesses that "get" QuickBooks compared to those who find it a constant, aggravating struggle (don't worry - I was paying attention to the road too...).

Success There are many reasons that contribute to the success or failure with QuickBooks, but here are 5 that I see on a regular basis. I hope you find them helpful in charting your course to success:

  1. If you're not a bookkeeper before you buy QuickBooks, you won't be after either.

    Please - do NOT fall victim to the siren song of do-it-yourself bookkeeping that the marketing folks at QuickBooks are singing.

    Concepts such as "if you can write a check, you can use QuickBooks" and "QuickBooks is built for butchers, bakers and candlestick makers" (both themes have been used in their advertising) will lull you into a very false sense of security.

    To succeed with QuickBooks, you (or someone on your team) absolutely needs to have a solid grasp of bookkeeping. Otherwise, you may quickly offer up a comment such as this one I recently saw on Twitter - "QuickBooks is making me want to poke my eyes out!".

    Like any other tool, when used correctly, QuickBooks provides an incredibly robust accounting system for many small businesses. There is a tremendous amount of functionality bundled inside the software. However, when used incorrectly, bad things can happen to good businesses, and boy, can they happen quickly!

    Get professional guidance to set up QuickBooks out of the box and to review your work on a monthly or quarterly basis. Trust me - I've watched many businesses disintegrate due to poor or non-existent accounting information. I want you to avoid becoming a fatality on the small business highway.

  2. Unless you are a payroll genius, outsource it! Contrary to what you might think, you can't afford NOT to outsource your payroll.

    OK, I get it. I hear people frequently say "gee, how hard is it to create paychecks for the employees?" That statement by itself as it relates to payroll is absolutely true. It isn't too terribly hard to create the checks.

    However, the payroll nightmares that haunt thousands of small businesses have NOTHING to do with the creation of the checks. The nightmares have EVERYTHING to do with the timely and correct filing of reports and the accurate and timely deposit of taxes due.

    Let's be honest - payroll is a completely NON-value added activity for ALL businesses. The minimum expectation going in is that it be 100% correct (the amount of the paychecks, the deposits and the tax filings). That's an enormous amount of pressure for someone that very likely doesn't have any background in payroll. Why even risk it?

    Why not transfer that NON-value added activity to someone that lives and breathes payroll every day. Companies like Paycor and Paychex do just that.

    All you have to do is make sure to get the hours reported on time and that the funds are in the bank on time. They take care of everything else. This allows you or your staff to focus on value-added tasks, like marketing, customer service and collecting on overdue accounts!


  3. Learn and experiment freely - in the sample company file, NOT in your "live" company file

    Taking time to learn about the various features, shortcuts and tools within QuickBooks is an excellent goal, and I strongly encourage you to do that. After all, less clicks = more vacation in my book!

    However, my recommendation is that your learning be done in the sample data files that are provided with every edition of QuickBooks. That way, you can play around all day (or night) in these sample files and have absolutely ZERO worries about messing anything up in your "live" file.

    Once you get the hang of things in the sample data file and understand their impact, you can easily transport that knowledge into your "live" file. Not sure how to locate the sample files? Just click on Help and do a search - you'll be on your way.

  4. Do NOT dive into online banking right away

    I know this concept seems completely counter-intuitive. Let me explain...

    As soon as you create a new bank account in your QuickBooks chart of accounts, you are asked if you want to connect to your online banking. Resist the temptation at first.

    Without the initial knowledge of how QuickBooks expects things to be done when it comes to recording bank and credit card transactions, you will be at a big disadvantage.

    In fact, if you connect to online banking right away, there is a very good chance that you'll just be downloading and entering a lot of garbage into your QuickBooks file - you'll just be doing it faster as a result of the electronic connection.

    Better approach - learn how things work manually first. It shouldn't take you too long to get the hang of it, assuming you have the proper setup and knowledgeable training on the inner workings of QuickBooks. Once you start walking, you can then break into a run and connect to your online banking. You (and your tax accountant) will be very glad you followed this plan of action.

  5. Download and install QuickBooks updates when notified

    I know - the "QuickBooks has recently downloaded an update. Would you like to install it now?" messages can get annoying.

    But what you might not know is this - these updates are how the creators of QuickBooks push bug fixes and other updates out to you.

    It is essential that you take the time to install these updates when you are notified about them. If you are skittish about installing them because of worries about potential problems, check your favorite search engine for reports of any problems with these updates. If you find none, forge ahead with the installation.

    In most cases, these updates do far more good than harm and help fix problems within QuickBooks, both minor and major.

Follow these tips, and you will greatly enhance the odds of your business being a success story with QuickBooks!

Do you have a success story to share about how your business is using QuickBooks? Feel free to add a comment to the box below - would love to hear from you!

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QuickBooks 2011: Faster Startup via New Preference

The new "Quick Startup" preference in QuickBooks 2011 may resolve a long-running concern for many QuickBooks users.

I often hear them lamenting that the software takes too long to load up when they start their work day or if they have to restart QuickBooks for some reason. This new features aims to solve that problem.

Inside the General Preferences in QuickBooks 2011 (Edit > Preferences > General > My Preferences), there is a new check box that is on by default - "Keep QuickBooks Running for quick startups" as shown below:

Quick Startup

Without getting too geeky on you, this setting allows the QuickBooks software to "run in the background" on your computer. By doing so, it allows your computer to open it more quickly when called upon.

POTENTIAL CONCERN

This feature should work very well if your business only uses one version of QuickBooks every day. However, if you work in an accounting firm that jumps in and out of various versions of QuickBooks (i.e. 2006, 2008, etc.) during the day, it may be problematic.

In the event you run into trouble with the new fast startup preference, this article explains the issue in more detail and simply suggests that you turn it off.

What has your experience been with this new feature in QuickBooks 2011? Please post a comment in the box below - would love to hear from you!

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