Because QuickBooks can be used by nearly every type of business, there are always additional best practices that relate to specific industries that are more relevant to some than others.

Quickbooks tips and tricks

Jessica Moulder, CPA, CFE

QuickBooks is the most often used accounting software on the market for good reasons: it’s affordable, easy to use and highly customizable. However, I’ve always said the blessing and the curse of the popular software is though it will let you do anything it will also let you create a big mess if you don’t process with caution. Today we’re going to talk about how you can make QuickBooks – whether it’s the desktop version or QuickBooks Online – work for you. Here are some QuickBooks tips and tricks.

Give the right access to the right people, and then keep it safe and secure

Like any other software, you should never share logins and passwords internally. Set up unique users with only the necessary rights needed. You can choose to give them all access, limited access or even read-only access. You can also restrict highly sensitive information, like payroll data. Not only does this allow team members to perform their required responsibilities, but it also creates an audit trail so you can see who created or modified transactions. And make sure you have a good backup and recovery plan if you are a desktop user that is tested from time to time.

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Spend some time on the setup

You might have started up your file with the best of intentions to go back and spend time on the actual setup, because QuickBooks will let you just plug in and go. (Remember when I said it’s a blessing and a curse)? The same thing goes for properly setting up customers, vendors and employees before entering related transactions. For example, you should set up vendors correctly before entering a single bill – which means obtaining their W-9, entering their tax ID number in QuickBooks and determining if they are eligible to receive a 1099 at year end. Doing this front-end setup will make compliance a breeze, and you won’t find yourself scrambling to obtain W-9s at year end!

Once your chart of accounts is set, resist the urge to create new accounts

I’ve seen clients’ chart of accounts grow and grow over the years because QuickBooks makes it so easy to create new ones anytime you think of something new to track. Eventually you find reports growing past the point of being able to perform a good analysis because they are so long. Here’s more QuickBooks tips and tricks. Instead of setting up new general ledger accounts, consider opting into the class tracking function in QuickBooks. Classes allow you to track activity by any segment, department, location or event. This is especially important as your business grows in to more than one area. You can run custom reports by class to view activity in any period, which is usually more efficient than trying to track at the account level.

Make technology work for you

Linking your checking, savings and credit card accounts to your QuickBooks files is a must. It saves so much time on data entry, reduces errors and allows you to stay on top of your activity. You should create a routine that includes clearing out your bank feed every 2-3 days so that there is never a build-up of older transactions that are difficult to identify. The habit of getting in there frequently only takes a few minutes a day, and it saves a lot of time while everything is still fresh in your mind.

Enter your annual budget in QuickBooks

If you take the time to put an annual budget together, you should complete the process by entering it directly into QuickBooks. This requires you to map your budget to your chart of accounts, but that’s not a bad approach in general to simplify the process. Once it’s in the system, you can easily run budget-to-actual analysis reports anytime without any outside work in excel.

Reconcile, reconcile, reconcile

It’s not groundbreaking advice, but it’s still often overlooked or at least delayed for periods of time. You need to be reconciling EVERY account on your balance sheet on a monthly basis. Most of these reconciliations can be done right in QuickBooks, and they can be performed quickly when you use bank feeds whenever possible. Reconciling monthly allows you to identify anything and everything that may be hiding on your balance sheet so that you may confidently move into the next accounting period. It’s the fastest way to reduce errors and identify irregularities in your accounting records.

Use journal entries sparingly

QuickBooks thrives on using the various modules within the software. Think Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Payroll, etc. Running transactions through these modules allows you to properly track customer, vendor and employee data, as well as run reports and toggle between the cash and accrual methods of accounting. If you bypass these modules with journal entries, things can go sideways quickly, so you should plan on using them only when necessary.

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View reports on a regular basis

Have you ever looked through the vast listing of available reports in QuickBooks? You should and identify the ones that would be helpful for you to review on a monthly basis. Reports will often identify issues or errors in your accounting software, like displaying debit balances where you would expect to see credit balances or unapplied payments on aging reports. If you find yourself filtering or adjusting reports frequently, consider memorizing them to save time accessing those reports in the future.

When in doubt, “Ask My Accountant”

Of course we always encourage you to call us with accounting-related questions, and QuickBooks seems to agree because they actually created a general ledger account titled “Ask My Accountant.”  Think of it as a suspense or holding account to park transactions that might need another set of eyes, while saving you time from stressing over questionable transactions. Just make sure this account is cleared out regularly – it should never be a permanent landing place for activity! Using this account won’t hold up your reconciliation process, and your accountant will immediately know where to focus their time.

Close each accounting period

I’ll say it one more time. The blessing and the curse of QuickBooks is that it will let you do almost anything. Delete a transaction? Sure! Change the date on a bill? Why not! Enter something into a prior period? Absolutely! And those are all great features, if you know what the effects will be. Unfortunately, sometimes people do those things by mistake and then they don’t know how to fix their errors. QuickBooks tips and tricks to take note of – Setting a closed period with a password each month will protect you and your other QuickBooks users from making inadvertent changes to prior periods – which saves you and your accountant time! It’s also an opportunity to learn even more QuickBooks tips and tricks.

Because QuickBooks can be used by nearly every type of business, there are always additional best practices that relate to specific industries that are more relevant to some than others. Use these QuickBooks tips and tricks to help you stay on track with best practices. If you have any specific questions or comments unique to your business, I would love the opportunity to discuss them in more detail. Contact your Henry+Horne advisor any time.

Jessica Moulder, CPA, CFE, Partner, specializes in providing accounting services to a number of industries including nonprofits, restaurants, technology companies and more. She can be reached at (480) 839-4900 or JessicaM@hhcpa.com.