« December 2012 | Main | February 2013 »

8 posts from January 2013

Building Better Business Finances: Stop Driving to the Bank!

C'mon, be honest...

Hauling yourself to the bank to make your deposit every day is a pain in the shorts, isn't it?

As long as your business takes payment by check (and not by coin or currency), you can stop making that daily trip to the bank. How could that could be?


Ask your banker about a product called Remote Deposit. It also goes by Remote Banking, Remote Office, and a host of other names, but the idea is the same. You turn your office into a remote branch of your bank (if only you could print money there too!)

Piggy Bank

Here is an overview of how Remote Deposit works:

  • The bank sells (or rents) you what is called a remote capture terminal. It is a small piece of hardware that sits on your desk. You feed your checks through the terminal, and the image of the check is then stored for processing.
  • You use the bank supplied software to then transmit these images securely and directly to the bank to complete your deposit.

What's in it for you?

  • No longer waste countless days over the course of a year driving to and from the bank and hanging out in line to make the deposit
  • Most banks provide a longer business day when using remote deposit. For example, instead of having deposits after 3pm posting to the next business day, many allow same day deposits up to 5 or 6pm the same day.
  • Acceleration of your cash flow so that you can use available funds more aggressively to pay down debt and reduce interest expenses.
  • Convert the time you spend on non-value added banking activities into value-added and revenue enhancing activities (i.e. chasing customers down for overdue payments, helping to get quotes and estimates out the door, etc.)

Is there a cost for Remote Deposit?

In most cases, there is a cost to purchase or rent the terminal as well as a monthly cost to maintain the remote deposit service.

Naturally, if you are an extremely small business, this concept may not be cost-effective for you. However, if your business has any steady recurring volume of checks, it may pay for itself relatively quickly. Besides, there is a cost to the way you are currently handling your bank deposits - you just don't see it leaving your checkbooks each month!

With some negotiation, you can usually find a way to lower some of these costs as well.

Additional Resources on Remote Deposit:

Are you using Remote Deposit in your business? Let us know how its' working out for you by posting a comment below!

_____________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________


What Is the QuickBooks Full Service Plan (FSP) All About?

Everyone that purchases QuickBooks Enterprise software also receives a free 12-month subscription to the Full Service Plan as well (you may not even realize it!).

What does the QuickBooks Enterprise Full Service Plan (FSP) do for you?

Currently, the FSP provides:

  • A no cost upgrade to the next edition of QuickBooks Enterprise software. For example, if you recently purchased QuickBooks Enterprise 2013, your FSP that is included with that purchase gets you a copy of QuickBooks Enterprise 2014 at no additional cost.
  • Full access to the QuickBooks Enterprise support desk - whether you connect with them once or ten times, it is your choice. (REMEMBER: I am also available for consultations on QuickBooks, but separate fees do apply)
  • Additional benefits to the FSP as outlined here (click the Full Service Plan tab)

SHOULD YOU RENEW YOUR FSP?

Once your free 12-month subscription expires, you have a choice to make - renew or not renew the FSP.

If you choose to renew the FSP, there is an extra charge. Currently, that charge is $950 for a 5-user version of QuickBooks Enterprise and it scales up from there. Renewing the FSP then simply resets all the benefits listed above. Following the example above, if you renewed your FSP, you would then get a copy of QuickBooks Enterprise 2015, full access to the Enterprise support desk, etc. for another 12 month period.

If you choose NOT to renew the FSP (and it is your choice - this is not a forced renewal!) - you simply keep using the version of QuickBooks Enterprise you have. There would be no free upgrade coming and you would have to pay for support if needed. Then, you would simply pay the "street price" to upgrade your QuickBooks Enterprise whenever you chose to do so. Keep in mind that if you use any services like QuickBooks payroll or credit card processing, you have to upgrade at least once every three years to continue using those services.

Many of my clients view the FSP as a very easy way to budget for an upgrade of their critical accounting software each year and like the renewal idea. Others have said it is not something they are interested in, and they are totally ok with paying the going rate for Enterprise if/when they decide to upgrade down the road.

The nice thing about the FSP renewal is that it is not mandatory, unlike many other packages that insist you purchase the support every year.

NEED HELP EVALUATING QUICKBOOKS ENTERPRISE?

As a Premier Reseller of Enterprise, I have helped hundreds of businesses make the decision that is right for their business. I welcome the opportunity to help you understand how Enterprise may or may not fit into your business as well. Contact me today!

RELATED INFORMATION

_____________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Compatibility of QuickBooks Pro and Premier Files With Each Other

There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding this issue, so I'll do my best to try and explain how it works.

The key thing you need to know is this - QuickBooks Pro and QuickBooks Premier data files ARE interchangeable - as long as they are of the same YEAR. Remember - Premier refers to all the industry-specific version of QuickBooks too, such as Contractor, Manufacturing and Wholesale Edition, Accountants Edition, etc.

Keep in mind that there are certain functions in Premier (i.e. sales orders and certain industry-specific reports) that are not available in Pro, so even though the underlying data is compatible, you wouldn't be able to access sales order data or these industry-specific reports when using the data file in QuickBooks Pro.

Here are some examples that I think will also help clarify:

  • QuickBooks Pro 2012 and QuickBooks Premier 2012 files - these are interchangeable with each other, since they are of the same year of QuickBooks (2012) - limitations on certain functionality mentioned above still apply.
  • QuickBooks Pro 2011 and QuickBooks Premier 2012 files - these are NOT interchangeable, since they are NOT of the same year of QuickBooks. The QuickBooks Pro 2011 computer would have to be upgraded to QuickBooks Pro 2012 in order for the files to be interchangeable.
  • QuickBooks Pro 2012 and QuickBooks Premier 2011 - these are NOT interchangeable, since they are NOT of the same year of QuickBooks. The QuickBooks Premier 2011 computer would need to be upgraded to QuickBooks Premier 2012 in order for the files to be interchangeable.

BEWARE - If your plan is to shuttle data files between two different computers via flash drives, DropBox or other plans, that plan is a recipe for disaster.

Just because the data is compatible between different versions of QuickBooks that may happen to be installed, it doesn't mean it is a good idea to use it on different computers. You would be much better off considering a hosted solution to your QuickBooks files in this case.

OK, NOW WHAT ABOUT QUICKBOOKS ENTERPRISE FILES?

Glad you asked!

Here is the scoop on them:

  • QuickBooks Pro files are NOT compatible with QuickBooks Enterprise files, regardless of whether they are the same year or not.
  • QuickBooks Premier files are NOT compatible with QuickBooks Enterprise files, regardless of whether they are the same year or not.

As you can see, QuickBooks Enterprise files are on their own level, and they are not compatible with the others.

DOWNGRADE A QUICKBOOKS ENTERPRISE FILE TO QUICKBOOKS PRO OR PREMIER?

For more insights on the nuances of this situation, you will want to read my article moving from QuickBooks Enterprise to QuickBooks Pro or Premier.

RELATED INFORMATION:

_____________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________


QuickBooks Enterprise: Display and Print User Permissions and Roles

QuickBooks Enterprise provides a powerful set of security and user permission capabilities (far more than those offered in the Pro or Premier versions of QuickBooks).

However, sometimes it is necessary to drill down into the details of these permissions and either display or print them out.

Here is a helpful video that will show you how to display or print the user permissions and roles that have been established in your QuickBooks Enterprise file:

 

I hope you find this helpful!

RELATED INFORMATION:

_____________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________


How to Print a Bill in QuickBooks

Many businesses have expressed the need to print out a copy of the actual vendor bill after it was entered into QuickBooks, but have been frustrated to find it wasn't possible.

Until now...

QuickBooks 2013 (Pro, Premier, and Enterprise) now has a print button that sits squarely at the top of the bill entry screen, as displayed in the screen shot below:

Print Bill Button

Just click the button and print out a copy of the bill (or if you have a PDF printer installed, you can save it as a PDF and e-mail it as well).

For older versions of QuickBooks, you can consider using tools like SnagIt or the built in screen tools in Windows.

RELATED INFORMATION:

_____________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Scripted Installations of QuickBooks - Can They Be Done?

Maybe my IT friends can help me with this question...

Why is it that when QuickBooks is installed in a multi-user office environment, you have to physically visit each computer in order to perform the installation?

Wouldn't it be great to create what is known as a "scripted installation" so that QuickBooks could easily be installed at each computer without having to touch it? Think of how much time (and money) that would be saved each time QuickBooks is upgraded!

In checking with Intuit, they indicate they do not support these types of installations, but I'm curious as to why they wouldn't?

Is it because it is too difficult and time-consuming to create the programming to make this happen? Is it simply not possible to do this when installing a new program on a computer (though I believe other software can be installed this way)?

If you have any thoughts to share on the technical challenges of these types of installations, please post them in the comment box below. They are appreciated! (maybe we can help convince Intuit to take another look at this too).

_____________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________


QuickBooks 2013: New Interface - Love It or Leave It?

Here is your opportunity to get an up close and personal look at the "new and improved" user interface you'll find in all versions of QuickBooks 2013 (Pro, Premier and Enterprise).

I have created this video to compare the screens you have used in the older versions of QuickBooks with those found in QuickBooks 2013:

 

So here is the all-important question...

Do you love the new interface or no?

Your thoughts and comments in the box below are appreciated!

RELATED INFORMATION:

_____________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________


QuickBooks for Manufacturers and Distributors: Ideas for Automating and Reducing Expenses

Small manufacturers and distributors using QuickBooks have a number of opportunities to position their businesses to "work smarter, not harder" through automation and improved processes.

Unfortunately, QuickBooks itself will only take these types of businesses so far toward these goals.

FIGURE THE RETURN ON INVESTMENT ON AUTOMATION OPPORTUNITIES

Piggy Bank

Thomas Cutler recently posted an article that addresses the concept of "return on investment" (ROI) when evaluating automation opportunities. This calculation helps a business determine if the investment in new software and/or process improvement will pay for itself and how long it will take for that payback to happen.

To briefly recap Thomas' ideas, here are some of the concepts a business should be considering to reap the benefits of "working smarter, not harder":

  • Acceleration through automation - simply getting more done in the same amount of time
  • Reduction of data entry errors - enter it once and be done with it. Eliminate duplicate data entry wherever possible.
  • Use of barcoding for picking, packing and shipping - reduces the amount of time it takes to receive, move or ship products.
  • Better information - reducing stock-outs and automated ordering are two ways to boost revenue and reduce expenses.

USING THE QUICKBOOKS "ECO-SYSTEM" TO HELP WITH THESE OBJECTIVES

Having worked with QuickBooks since 1998, I can say it is very solid software when it comes to the handling of the money in and money out for a business and providing key financial reports.

However, many small manufacturers and distributors also come to learn they need more functionality than QuickBooks provides when it comes to inventory control and optimization, shop floor planning and control and other non-accounting related tasks essential to the success of the business.

Good news - an entire community of businesses has evolved over the years to develop "add-on" software for QuickBooks that helps fill in areas where QuickBooks is missing functionality or to even improve that provided in the core QuickBooks software.

BETTER INVENTORY CONTROL AND OPTIMIZATION

Here are some applications that can provide capabilities beyond those in QuickBooks:

BETTER SHOP FLOOR CONTROL AND REPORTING

Even the manufacturing edition of QuickBooks doesn't really offer much in the critical areas of shop floor control and reporting. Here are some applications that can help automate and improve your operations:

CONNECTING QUICKBOOKS TO UPS WORLDSHIP OR FEDEX SHIP MANAGER

No need to re-key tracking and shipping information from your shipping software back into QuickBooks. Suggested solution:

MORE AUTOMATION OF BILL-PAYING PROCESSES

Sadly, most accounts payable departments are still using processes and procedures developed in the 60's and 70's. This is an area ripe for automation and process improvement, and the natural choice here is:

Of course, there are investments required for any of the solutions mentioned above. However, it is quite likely that your business will recover many times the investment via better customer service, streamlined processes, reduced expenses, and possibly even increased revenues. I know you would vote for those outcomes!

NEED HELP SORTING OUT YOUR OPTIONS?

Having servied as the CFO for a small manufacturing firm for 10 years and been involved with QuickBooks for nearly 15 years, I can bring a unique set of skills to conversations your business might be having about expanding beyond QuickBooks.

Contact me today so we can discuss where you find QuickBooks lacking some functionality that may be critical to the success of your business.

RELATED INFORMATION

_____________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________