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7 posts from November 2012

Building Better Business Finances - Sales by Customer Report: Comparing Customer Sales This Year to Last Year

Even though you don't see a "sales comparison" type of report in QuickBooks, it is pretty easy to compare sales by customer from this year to last year.

Here's how:

  • Click Reports > Sales > Sales by Customer Summary
  • Change the date of the report to the desired time period (i.e. This Fiscal Year, etc.)
  • Click the Customize/Modify Report button in the upper left hand corner of the report
  • On the Display tab, add check marks to the "Previous Year" (and $ change/% change if desired) options, then click OK.

You'll then see your report that compares this years sales by customer against last years, with the ability to add dollar and percentage changes as well! Sample screen shot below:

Sales by Customer This Yr vs Last Yr
This is a great way to quickly and easily see the sales trends across your customer base.

Remember, if you need further filtering or analysis of this information, you can easily export it to Excel and use the toolkit there too.




Switching to QuickBooks Enterprise: Need to Run Parallel?

So your business has made the decision to move from another software package into QuickBooks Enterprise? Congratulations, and welcome to the QuickBooks community that includes over 4 million businesses!

Have you considered the need to run both systems in parallel before you "go live" with QuickBooks?


Over the years, I have worked with businesses that approach a conversion to QuickBooks from two distinct perspectives...

  • The "cold turkey" perspective - these businesses pick a date on the calendar and then just start using QuickBooks from that date forward, while keeping a copy of their old software around for historical lookup purposes. Their thinking is that they will deal with any questions, problems or concerns as they happen once they start using QuickBooks.
  • The "run in parallel/pre-planning" perspective - those weighing in with this approach set a "go live" date for QuickBooks. From there, they work backward 30 or 60 days (or even more in some cases), and then start using QuickBooks in addition to their existing software package.


The "cold turkey" approach certainly cuts out a lot of extra administrative work, since transactions are not being entered twice each day. However, this certainly raises the likelihood of encountering one (or more) "oh crap" moments where a process or problem needs attention right then and there. This approach also puts more pressure on the business to ensure the staff is ready to "dive in" when the cutover is made.

The "run parallel" approach normally causes heartburn among the staff since they will be doing most everything twice during the transition period. The benefits of this approach are that it gives the team plenty of time to figure out how QuickBooks works and it helps minimize the stress that will be caused by the inevitable "oh crap" moments that happen during any software conversion. It also gives the staff a chance to cross-check and balance information between the systems.


It is essential that your business carefully weigh the pros and cons of both approaches to determine which one is going to work the best. There is no right answer here, though being a conservative accountant, I usually recommend the run parallel approach for some period of time.

Please let us know your perspective on this issue faced by thousands of businesses every year in the comment box below!



What is Intuit Data Protect and Should I Use It?

Chances are good you have seen (or will see!) some references to Intuit Data Protect while working in QuickBooks.


Intuit Data Protect is a service that allows you to backup your QuickBooks data file and/or the entire contents of your PC to a secure, off-site/online backup "vault".

Currently, the pricing for this service is $4.95/month to backup just your QuickBooks data or $9.95/month to back up your entire PC.


First, let me say that you definitely need to have an automated and offsite backup strategy for your QuickBooks and other critical business data. That is a must. If you don't have one, please take time TODAY to get one put in place. Remember, computers have bad days too - think about what would happen if your computer doesn't start tomorrow!

If you're messing around with flash drives, CDs and other manual backup methods, you're at risk of forgetting to back up, losing the media or other bad things that will prevent you from getting timely and good backup files.

That being said, I have never been a fan of the Intuit Data Protect service due to errant behavior (missed backups, etc.), and poor product support. Even worse, there is no easy way to turn off the nag screens that appear that prompt you to try it (if you know how to use msconfig, you can turn it off that way!) or generally disconnect it from your QuickBooks.


From my experience, I prefer either Carbonite or Mozy as the automated, off-site backup solutions of choice for your critical QuickBooks and business data. Their pricing is comparable (even less in some cases) than Intuit Data Protect and their product support has been very good for my clients.


Do you have a different backup solution that works well for your business? Feel free to share it with everyone via the comments box below.




QuickBooks: What is the "Free Memory" Figure Telling Me?

If you have boldly gone into the F2 screen in QuickBooks (just tap the F2 key if you have not), you'll see a value listed for "free memory" on the screen.

What is this value?

Free Memory Data

It represents the amount of memory that your computer is providing to work with all applications and programs, not just QuickBooks.

This value has no relation to the size of your QuickBooks data file and/or if the data file is too big.

The key thing to remember is - the bigger the free memory number, the better and more efficiently your computer will run!




QuickBooks 2013 Is Here - Should You Upgrade?

QuickBooks 2013 has arrived and the perennial question is - "should my business upgrade to it?"

Let's take a moment to review some of the new features in the US QuickBooks 2013...(the first set of new features listed below are available in the QuickBooks Pro 2013, QuickBooks Premier 2013 and QuickBooks Enterprise 2013 editions)

  • MAJOR revisions to the "look and feel" and user interface in an attempt to streamline and simplify many screens and forms
  • Ability to better track information about customers and vendors with redesigned centers
  • Time and expense preference for billable expenses
  • Ability to print a vendor bill
  • Have bill credits print on check and bill payment stubs
  • Show name, description or both for items appearing on reports
  • Other enhancements only found in the Accountants Edition, which most small businesses don't use

These new features are found ONLY in QuickBooks Enterprise 2013:

  • Default class assignments for items, customers or ledger accounts
  • Inventory reorder reports now show available quantities
  • Auto-create purchase orders
  • Bin location tracking (requires Advanced Inventory add-on package)
  • Bar code scanning (requires Advanced Inventory add-on package)

I'll be posting future updates about QuickBooks 2013 functionality in the coming weeks, so be sure to subscribe to this blog to stay updated.


If your business needs some of the specific functionality introduced in QuickBooks 2013, it certainly makes sense to consider an upgrade. For example, I know many clients have been begging for the ability to print a bill from within QuickBooks, so an upgrade may be justified in their case. Same goes for the ability to set a default class on transactions.

However, for the rest of us, my suggestion is to bypass this upgrade.

My guess is that you weren't clamoring for an overhaul of the interface in QuickBooks. I know I wasn't, especially since there are so many other issues and concerns that need attention within the software (see my wish list for QuickBooks 2013 here - they actually got a few of them, but many others need attention!)

Having worked with QuickBooks since 1999, my opinion right now is that this is one of the most underwhelming new releases I have seen in many years when it comes to improvements in the software. Will it change as the weeks roll on? We'll see...


Instead of investing in an upgrade to QuickBooks 2013, consider making an investment in getting more training and insight on how to be more efficient with your existing version of QuickBooks.

There are lots of training options available to you. One that I offer is called an "over the shoulder" review of your QuickBooks. During this session, we connect remotely and I virtually peer over your shoulder while you work, offering suggestions for improvement and conversation about QuickBooks functionality you may not know about. It is one of my most requested training packages. Contact me if you'd like to learn more about my "over the shoulder" sessions.


Am I being too critical of the new release? Getting cranky in my old age?

I welcome your input and feedback on your plans to upgrade or not or anything else relating to the new version of QuickBooks!




Can QuickBooks Recover a Deleted Transaction?

Sorry to say- there is no magic button inside of QuickBooks to bring back a transaction that has been deleted (whether by accident or on purpose).

In order to accomplish something like this, you have a few options:

  • Click Reports > Accountant and Taxes > Voided/Deleted Transactions detail. Zero in on the date of the deleted transaction, and then re-enter the transaction. Note - this only works for transactions that actually post to your ledger. Sales orders and purchase orders do not post to your ledger, so they would not be recorded on this report.
  • Restore a backup copy of your QuickBooks file, locate the transaction and related detals, and then re-enter those details into your live QuickBooks file. Be extremely careful that you do NOT restore your backup copy over the top of your live data file. You won't be happy if you make that mistake.

One additional thought - if you are viewing or working in an existing transaction, and have made some changes to the original data in that transaction that you don't want to keep, you can tap the "Revert" button in the lower right hand corner of the transaction screen. That will literally put the transaction back the way it was originally.

However, even "Revert" doesn't "revive" a deleted transaction.




To Pick and Shipped Columns on QuickBooks Sales Orders

If you are using the sales order module of QuickBooks, you may be wondering where the "to pick" and "shipped" columns are getting their data when the pick list is printed.

Here's the scoop:

  • The "to pick" column is automatically filled in with the backorder quantity for partially shipped orders. For example, if the original sales order called for 10 of an item to ship, and you only shipped 2 on a previous invoice, the "to pick" column would show 8 the next time the pick list is created. From what I can see, there is no way to override this, as the "to pick" column does not appear on the screen - only on the printed copy of the form.
  • The "shipped" or "qty picked" column is not automatically filled in by QuickBooks when the pick list is created. Rather, it is left blank, so that the warehouse can indicate how many of the item are shipping this time so the proper amount can be invoiced.

Remember, only the Premier and Enterprise editions of QuickBooks support sales orders.