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9 posts from January 2011

Is a Bug Lurking in QuickBooks Enterprise 2011?

I recently was alerted to a problem with some QuickBooks Enterprise users where their TLG file is increasing in size at an alarming rate each day. This issue is causing concern because it is rapidly chewing up available hard drive capacity in some cases.

As mentioned in the above post on the Intuit Community, a working theory right now is that the new Search feature in QuickBooks 2011 may be one of the reasons for the explosive growth in the TLG files. There may certainly be other factors in play in this situation too that just have not been identified yet.

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE ABOUT THIS

As a quick refresher (and before your eyes glaze over from "geek-speak"):

  • Every QuickBooks company file has an associated "TLG" file with it (the TLG is short-hand for Transaction LoG file) - here is a graphic that shows some (but not all) of the files associated with a QuickBooks company file, including the TLG file:

    TLG File Graphic

  • The TLG file is located in the same place as your main QuickBooks company file. So, if your QuickBooks company file is on the "Public" drive of the server for example, the corresponding TLG file will be there too.
  • The TLG file is an essential tool in helping with reconstucting QuickBooks company files in the event that some data corruption occurs.
  • The TLG file is supposed to reset itself to a very small size when a QuickBooks backup is performed (via File > Create Backup) with the "complete verification" option turned on. If a backup is only being done via a server, the TLG file continues to grow and grow until it is reset via the File > Create Backup option.
  • A TLG file that gets too big can wreak havoc with available disk space and it can also cause performance issues with QuickBooks company files as well. In addition, it may interfere with the upgrade from an older version of QuickBooks to a new version and slow the process down significantly.

For many QuickBooks users, this whole concept of TLG files is out of their sight and out of their mind since they don't have to mess with it on a daily basis.

However, it is essential to monitor the size of this file to ensure it is not getting too big for its' britches. This is especially true if you are working on an older computer or network where disk space is not as plentiful as it once was.

I'm sure there will be more information forthcoming from Intuit about the problems that have been identified with the TLG files. For now, I wanted you to be aware of this issue that some are experiencing.

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An Easy Way to Work in Two QuickBooks Files at the Same Time

One of the great new features of QuickBooks Enterprise 2011 (and the Accountants Edition of QuickBooks 2011) is the ability to have two company files open at the same time. You never used to be able to do this in QuickBooks.

Thanks to a recent update, Intuit has made it even easier to open a second company file. Just click on File > Open Second Company. From there, you'll initially see a window that looks like this (before the update, you had to open up another copy of QuickBooks by double-clicking the icon on your desktop):

Second Company File

From there, you'll choose the second company file to open, wait for it to open, and you're off and running with two company files open at the same time.

Remember, this functionality ONLY exists in the QuickBooks 2011 Enterprise and Accountants Editions.

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Can I Print a Packing Slip in QuickBooks?

The question about the ability to print packing slips in QuickBooks comes up frequently.

Here's the good news - it is possible to print them.

BEHIND THE SCREENS

If you go hunting around the various screens and menus of QuickBooks, you won't find any reference to packing slips. Except for one place...

The drop down list where you choose which template to use for either a sales order or an invoice:

Packing Slip

Once you have discovered this, you have hit the jackpot! (at least as far as packing slips goes that is...)

HOW QUICKBOOKS THINKS ABOUT PACKING SLIPS

Unlike some software that has a special menu to "print packing slips", QuickBooks simply views a packing slip (or a pick list for that matter) as just another version (or template) of either a sales order or an invoice.

Just like you have a template that you use for creating sales orders or invoices, QuickBooks provides you some default templates for packing slips and pick lists as well. You can customize these forms just like you can customize any other form in QuickBooks.

So, at the time you need to create one, you simply go to the sales order or invoice screen, click the template drop down and choose the one you want to use. Once you've created the packing slip, you then revert the template back to the normal invoice or sales order template and print or e-mail that as needed.

No worries - this process of changing back and forth between the various template is NOT going to create duplicate sales orders or invoices in your QuickBooks. You can switch back and forth between them as much as you like.

BONUS TIP: Sales order functionality is available ONLY in the Premier and Enterprise editions of QuickBooks. If you are a manufacturer, distributor or contractor, be sure to learn more about how sales orders in QuickBooks can really streamline your work flow.

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How To Close Open Estimates in QuickBooks

If you've been trying to figure out how to close open estimates in QuickBooks, you're not alone.

Unlike sales orders in QuickBooks that get marked "invoiced in full" when they have been closed out, estimates do not automatically get marked as closed.

At the top of each estimate, you'll see an "Estimate Active" box. That box stays checked until you manually uncheck it.

Open Estimates

BONUS TIP: For a quick rundown of all estimates in your QuickBooks file that still have the check mark on them, visit your Customer Center, then click on the tab that says "Transactions", and from there, click on the "Estimates" in the list. You'll see a window that looks like this:

List of Open Estimates

From there, you can easily double-click on the estimate, uncheck the "Estimate Active" box and repeat the process.

As far as I know, there are no more "automated" methods to close open estimates at this time.

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Is Your Accountant Bullying You?

I'm curious...

Bullying_Yelling When you asked your accountant about choosing accounting software for your business, is this about how the conversation went:

YOU: "I want to get my books in order for the new year. What accounting software do you think I should use to do that?"

YOUR ACCOUNTANT: "I think you really should use QuickBooks. Many of our clients use it and it is a very popular package."

Here is my translation of what your accountant really meant...

"Since we don't know about or use any other accounting software other than QuickBooks, it has to be the right choice for you. Oh, and by the way, even though we're accountants, we really only know how to use QuickBooks for what WE need it to do. When it comes to helping you understand how to use it for what YOU need it to do, we really can't help you there either".

SAD BUT TRUE

Unfortunately, I have heard this dialogue repeatedly over the years.

The conversation on the topic of accounting software is usually very slanted in terms of what will make it easiest for the accountant. Not what will make it easiest for you on a daily basis.

And that's too bad. It doesn't have to be that way.

WHAT IF QUICKBOOKS IS OVERKILL?

In my mind, there is no question that QuickBooks is a fantastic software package. Especially when you consider the price point. It provides an incredible amount of tools and functionality that allows small businesses to keep track of their finances. I have been providing QuickBooks consulting and training services since 1999 and plan to continue doing so for many years.

But...

For many small businesses, QuickBooks may simply be overkill. These businesses don't need a full-blown general ledger and all the complication that comes with it.

SOME REAL WORLD OBSERVATIONS

Tradtitional accountants tend to get the jitters if they aren't working with accounting software that has the capability to prepare a balance sheet, trial balance, journal entries and historical detail back three centuries ago (ok, that last point is an exaggeration, but you get the idea).

Here is the reality as it applies to many small businesses (and I'm talking about those with revenues less than $100-$200k):

  • My experience has shown that if they do run a balance sheet, it is almost completely wrong a large percentage of the time. Why bother with it then? Let the accountant prepare a correct one at the end of the year instead.
  • If you mention the phrase "journal entry" to many small business folks, their eyes instantly begin to glaze over.
  • Many accountants don't trust the numbers they get (for good reason in many cases), and they end up completely re-keying data into their own bookkeeping or tax preparation software. So if they do this, why are they forcing their clients to live in the world of QuickBooks when simpler alternatives exist?

WHAT ALTERNATIVES ARE OUT THERE?

The beauty of "web 2.0" is that there are some new accounting software vendors that offer some really compelling products.

A few of them that come to mind:

WHAT DO YOU NEED YOUR ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE TO DO?

This is the key question that your accountant should be asking you to help you make an informed decision.

For example, if you need your accounting software to handle purchase orders or sales orders, many of the examples listed above will get knocked out of consideration because they don't offer that functionality. And that is perfectly fine. You've identified what you need and they might not have it.

But...

What if you only need your accounting software to take care of invoicing some clients, keeping track of a checkbook and producing a profit and loss statement every month so you can see how the business is doing?

If that is the case, the world of alternatives just got bigger.

EASIER DOESN'T MEAN MISTAKE-FREE

If you are an accountant reading this post, I know what you're thinking. It doesn't matter how easy the software may be - we'll have clients that mess it up. And you are absolutely right.

The issue of whether a business should even be doing their own bookkeeping and accounting is definitely one that is debated frequently. But you know the outcome of that debate - until a business owner has tried to do the books themselves first, they don't see the value of outsourcing it or bringing someone on board who "gets it". Why not try to make it as easy as possible right out of the gate, rather than introduce all the complexities of QuickBooks first thing?

GRADUATE TO QUICKBOOKS - THE ULTIMATE GOAL?

QuickBooks has been around for decades now. They have a 90%+ share of the small business accounting market for good reason. Everyone know about them.

However, all you need to do is follow a Twitterstream for a few days, and you'll no doubt see comments coming through such as (these are actual quotes I have seen!):

  •  "I think QuickBooks just broke my brain"
  • "QuickBooks is making me pull my hair out. Soon = bald."
  • "There it goes again. QuickBooks sucking all the oxygen out of the room. How rude."

When I first discovered Freshbooks a few years ago, I struck up a great conversation with a VP (who has since left the company). One remark he made really rang true, and it was:

"We hope that our clients ultimately get big enough and sophisticated enough to graduate to the world of QuickBooks. If they do that, everyone is a winner."

I couldn't have said it any better myself.

WHAT'S YOUR TAKE?

It would be great to know more about your perspective on this issue that many small businesses face every day.

Feel free to post a comment in the box below!

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Support for QuickBooks 2008 for Windows, QuickBooks 2007 for Mac and Other Products Ends 5/31/2011

As you read the information below, remember - I am just the messenger <grin>. I didn't make these rules, but I did want to make sure you were aware of them!

In the event you are using any of the following QuickBooks products, you'll have some planning and decision-making to do:

  • QuickBooks 2008 for Windows (Pro, Premier and Enterprise)
  • QuickBooks for Mac 2007
  • QuickBooks POS 7.0
  • Invoice Manager 2008

THE INTUIT SUNSET POLICY

The Intuit discontinuation policy (aka the "sunset policy") states that they only support the most recent version of their products (QuickBooks 2011) and two previous versions (QuickBooks 2010 and 2009).

When the 2008 version rides off into the sunset on May 31, 2011, the software itself will continue to work.

However...

If you use ANY ancillary services through QuickBooks 2008 or the other products listed above (i.e. QuickBooks payroll processing, QuickBooks merchant services, e-mailing invoices through the QuickBooks servers, etc.), those services will NOT work as of June 1, 2011. Here is a complete list of the services impacted by the Intuit sunset policy. (NOTE: If you e-mail your invoices via Outlook or Outlook Express, that WILL continue to work as of June 1, 2011).

YOUR OPTIONS

You really just have two options to choose from:

  1. Upgrade to QuickBooks 2011 - the upgrade from QuickBooks 2008 to QuickBooks 2011 should be seamless - all of your critical QuickBooks data will upgrade. The learning curve in moving from the old to the new should be minimal as well. Plus, you'll get the benefit of all the new features and functionality baked into QuickBooks since you purchased the 2008 version (and there have been many!).
  2. Remain on QuickBooks 2008 - as long as you are NOT tied into any of the affected services that stop working on May 31, 2011, you can continue to function with your older version of QuickBooks. However, if you ARE tied into them, you will want to begin planning and budgeting now for your upgrade!

 NEED HELP WITH THE TRANSITION?

First of all, visit my web site and save 20% (and get an instant download or free shipping) on your purchase of QuickBooks 2011.

In addition, I can work with you remotely to get your QuickBooks installed and your data file updated to the 2011 version. Click the Contact Scott button below and we'll work out the details.

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The Unbilled Costs by Job Report in QuickBooks

It's quite possible you have missed the very handy "Unbilled Costs by Job" report in QuickBooks.

Located under Reports > Jobs Time and Mileage, this report provides some instant feedback to you concerning expenses your business has incurred that have not yet been billed back to your customers.

Here is a screen shot (click on it for a larger view) with more detail:

Unbilled Costs by Job Report

This report provides a quick recap of all unbilled expenses for all jobs. Like other QuickBooks reports, you can add or remove various columns to it and memorize it for future use.

The Unbilled Costs by Job Report can be found in the Pro, Premier and Enterprise versions of QuickBooks for Windows.

BONUS TIP:

if you need to see this report for one or a select handful of jobs instead of all of them, click the Modify Report button in the top left portion of the report screen, then the Filters tab, then the Name filter, then Multiple Names from the top of the filter list. From there, simply select the names you would like to appear on the report!

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Organize Your Receipts for Tax Time and Import into QuickBooks

Yes, it is that time again...

The annual madness surrounding the compilation of data and preparation of your business taxes.

ShoeBoxed

CONSIDER A NEW (AND MUCH BETTER!) APPROACH

Sure, you can take your bag of receipts to your CPA like you always do to get your taxes done. Keep in mind that this approach very likely leads to the loss of critical tax deductions, since your CPA can't make heads or tails out of some of the information you've given them.

Or, you could simplify your life as well as that of your CPA by investing in a service like that offered by Shoeboxed.com.

AN OVERVIEW OF SHOEBOXED.COM

The Shoeboxed.com service is based on a very simple workflow (see the service in action on the video located on their home page):

  1. You gather your business receipts, put them in an envelope and send them off for scanning and processing (or, you can do your own scanning and categorization).
  2. The Shoeboxed data team scans and organizes your receipts
  3. You view your information online, print it, download it or send it to your CPA all nice and organized.

DOWNLOAD TO YOUR FAVORITE SOFTWARE

Once the data has been scanned and organized, you can download the reports into a number of different data formats, including:

  • QuickBooks
  • Quicken
  • Excel
  • PDF
  • CSV
  • Freshbooks
  • Bill.com and others

CAPTURE INFORMATION ON YOUR MOBILE PHONE

Shoeboxed.com gives you the ability to snap a picture of your receipt and get it added to your account with ease.

They also offer free iPhone apps for business card and receipt scanning.

PRICING

Shoeboxed.com offers the following pricing:

  • Free trial for 30 days
  • A "DIY" plan at no cost
  • Lite plan - $9.95 per month
  • Classic plan - $29.95 per month
  • Business plan - $49.95 per month

Annual plans are also offered that provide additional discounts

Each plan has a different set of features and benefits, so be sure to assess which option best suits the needs of your business.

Multi-user accounts (for accountants, CPAs and corporate workgroups) are also available.

THE KEY BENEFITS

Shoeboxed.com can help your business in two critical ways:

  1. Allows you to be FAR more organized and up to date DURING the year. Having information about the expense trends of your business during the year is essential to managing your finances.
  2. Allows your CPA to spend a LOT MORE value-added time and thought on the best ways to minimize your taxes instead of the time they currently waste just sorting out the mess you give them each year (right about April 13th...)

Are you currently using Shoeboxed.com in your business? If so, drop us a note in the Comments section below to let everyone know how it is working out for you.

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Learn How to Create Budgets in QuickBooks

I hope you will join me for my webinar on Friday, January 21, 2011 titled - "How to Use the Budgeting Tools in QuickBooks".

This will be an excellent opportunity for you to learn about these tools via a live demonstration with QuickBooks.

You'll have the opportunity to see and learn how to do the following:

  • Create a new budget in QuickBooks from scratch
  • Create a new budget in QuickBooks using prior actual data
  • Use the time-saving data entry tools inside the budgeting window
  • Print a budget
  • Run a budget vs. actual report
  • Export your reports to Excel for further analysis
  • Create a budget vs. actual graph

CAN'T MAKE THE LIVE WEBINAR?

No problem. Register anyway - everyone who registers will receive a link to the live recording of the webinar so it can be played back at your convenience.

Register today for my "How to Use the Budgeting Tools in QuickBooks" webinar!

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