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How to Keep Your QuickBooks Data Safe

You work hard to make sure your QuickBooks data is accurate. Make sure it’s safe, too.

Your QuickBooks company file contains some of the most sensitive information on your computer. You may have customers’ credit card numbers and employees’ Social Security numbers. An intruder who captured all that data could create tremendous problems for you and a lot of other people.

That’s probably the worst-case scenario. But other situations could also spell disaster for your business, which involves losing your company data through fraud, hacking, or simple technical failures.

We can’t overstate the vital importance of protecting your QuickBooks company file, especially your customer and payroll information. Whether someone steals it or it’s inaccessible for another reason, it’s gone. Keeping your business going after such a loss would be very difficult – maybe even impossible.

Here’s what we suggest to prevent that.

Internal Safeguards

No business owner wants to believe that his or her employees could use their QuickBooks access to commit fraud. But it happens. Your company file contains credit card and checking account data that could be used for nefarious purposes. As we discussed last spring, you can restrict user access to specific areas and actions of QuickBooks.

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You can limit your employees who have QuickBooks access to certain areas and activities.

To get started, open the Company menu and select Set Up Users and Passwords | Set Up Users. The User List window opens. It should have at least one entry there, for you (Admin). Click Add User and enter the employee’s name and password in the next window that opens, then click Next.

Tip: Your QuickBooks license limits you to a specified number of users. If you’re not sure how many you’re allowed, click F2 to open the Product Information page. The number of user licenses you’ve paid for appears in the upper left.

On the next page of this wizard, click the button in front of Selected Areas of QuickBooks. The following screens will let you define that employee’s access permissions in areas like Sales and Accounts Receivable, Inventory, and Payroll and Employees. When you’ve clicked through every screen and reviewed the summary displayed, click Finish. Your user will now be able to sign in and access the areas you specified.

You can—and should—take numerous other steps to keep your QuickBooks data safe. If your company is big enough to have a dedicated IT expert, he or she will handle most of this. But there’s a lot you can do on your own to prevent data loss and theft.

Keep Your Operating System and Applications Updated

Don’t ignore this dialog box.

Software companies’ occasional updates offer more than just adding new features and fixing bugs. They sometimes refresh your software to ensure greater security based on new threats. Don’t forget about those all-important antivirus and anti-malware applications, as well as QuickBooks itself.

Keep Your Networks Safe

Just as a cold virus spreads around your office, so, too, can unwanted intrusions like computer viruses. Don’t allow an electronic epidemic to get started; take steps ahead of time to prevent it:

  • Discourage employees from excessive web browsing. This can be a hard rule to enforce, as some employees probably need internet access for research, timecard entry, and other work-related tasks. Create a firm policy legislating what workers can and can’t do on company-issued equipment (including tablets and smartphones) or any personal devices that use your wireless network.
  • Ask employees to refrain from using public networks on work equipment. Enforce the rules vigorously, and make compliance an element of performance evaluations.
  • Minimize app installations on business smartphones. Employees should ask for approval. Viruses and malware get in that way, as well as through some websites and email attachments.
  • Use monitoring software. If you can’t afford to pay for “managed IT” (a la carte, third-party IT services), install an application that alerts you to problems.

Use Common Sense

You can fight data loss and theft by being cautious. Be diligent about backups, and if you create them on a local, portable device, don’t leave them in the office. Cloud-based solutions are better. Shred papers that have sensitive information on them. Log out of QuickBooks when you’re not using it or when you leave your office. Be aware of who may be around you, looking over your shoulder.

We take data security very seriously in our own office, and we strongly encourage you to do the same. Contact Chahal & Associates, Inc. at 510-222-5800 if you’re at all concerned with your own data safety, and we’ll come up with a plan together.

Getting to Know QuickBooks Online Reports

They’re one of the rewards you get for your conscientious accounting work: reports. Are you using them to make better business decisions?

What do you see when you log on to QuickBooks Online? Your most important business numbers represented by real-time charts. Profit and loss. Income and expenses. Sales. And all of your account balances.

This is a great way to start your workday. You know where you stand financially, and you know what areas of your company file need attention, fast.

But QuickBooks Online’s home page only tells part of the story. You also need more in-depth, customizable reports. In the short term, reports help you further determine any necessary accounting work. Long-term, they’ll provide insight to help you make smarter decisions as you plan for your company’s future.

Critical Overviews

Creating reports in QuickBooks Online is easy. Customizing them is a bit harder. And analyzing them, depending on their complexity, can be more of a challenge.

We’ll start with some of the simplest, most important ones: Accounts Receivable. Where do you stand with customer payments? Who isn’t paying on time? How much is outstanding? To find them, click Reports in the toolbar pane. Click All Reports (over to the right, near the top), and then Manage Accounts Receivable. The list of related reports will open.

QuickBooks Online displays descriptions of each A/R report and links to the Run and Customize functions in its directory.

Click the Customize button under Open Invoices. The customization options will appear on the pane to the right of the screen. You can modify:

  • The Report period, Number format, and the appearance of Negative numbers
  • Columns (Transaction Type, Due Date, Open Balance, etc.)
  • Aging method (Current or Report Date)
  • Filter (Customer, Territory, Sales rep, etc.)
  • Header/footer (Show logo, Report title, Date prepared, Alignment, etc.)

QuickBooks Online comes with commonly used options already selected. Changing them helps you zero in on the precise cross-section of data you want to see.

This is a partial list of the Column options in QuickBooks Online. You can also customize in multiple other ways.

When you’ve finished making changes, click Run report to see it displayed with your own data.

If you’d like to save that report (including the modifications you just made), click Save customization in the upper right corner of the screen. In the window that opens, create a new name for the report that you’ll recognize, and enter it in the Custom report name field. Want to build a group of related custom reports? Click Add this report to a group and type its name into the New group name field. Click Add. That report will now appear in the list of reports you’ve created when you click the down arrow in the field below Add this report to a group.

Would you like to share the custom report with other QuickBooks Online users? Click the down arrow in the field under Share with, and select All or None. When you’re done here, click Save. You can click the icons in the upper right to email the report, print it, or export it to Excel or PDF format.

Reports in other categories–like Review Sales, Business Overview, and Review Expenses and Purchases–work similarly.

Note: There’s one category named Accountant Reports. If you’re very familiar with double-entry accounting, you might attempt to run and analyze these yourself. Most likely, you’ll need some help with these critical financial reports that should be created periodically. We’d be happy to assist with this.

The Reports page toolbar

Saving Time

You can always go to the All Reports screen and drill down to the report you want to see. QuickBooks Online provides a better, faster way to access many of them. The toolbar pictured above appears when you’re browsing through lists of reports. Click Recommended to see what QuickBooks Online deems the most important data for you to see regularly.

Once you’ve started working with reports, the ones you access most often will appear when you click Frequently Run. Those reports that you modified and saved will be listed under My Custom Reports. Management Reports are geared toward company managers, of course.

We encourage you to familiarize yourself with QuickBooks Online’s reports and modification options. And as we said, we’re on hand to run and analyze the site’s more complex report options on a regular basis, or when you have a specific need, like when you apply for financing. Together, we can get the information you need to complete your daily work and do more long-term planning.

One call to 510-222-5800 is all it takes to get started, so don’t wait any longer to get Chahal & Associates, Inc. and QuickBooks working for you.

QuickBooks Online Can Help You Keep Up With Your Bills

There are more pleasant accounting tasks than paying bills, but QuickBooks Online organizes and simplifies this critical chore.

How does your company keep track of its bills now? If you’re like a lot of small businesses, you’re still dealing with a lot of paper. You may have a paper or electronic calendar where you enter all of the due dates as bills come in. When you see one approaching, you either take out your checkbook or schedule an online payment. Then you store all of your paid paper bills in file folders in case you have to look back at them.

It’s probably pretty clear to you that this isn’t the best system. You occasionally miss payments because a bill was lost in transit or for some other reason didn’t make its way to you. Or you were out of the office for a few days and didn’t look back on deadlines you missed.

QuickBooks Online can help keep bill-payment running smoothly and your relationships with vendors on the up-and-up.

Two-Step Process

Before you can start paying bills, you have to enter them into QuickBooks Online. This will entail a bit of extra work the first time you deal with a particular vendor, but there are numerous benefits to handling your accounts payable in this fashion, like:

  • Speed. Once you’ve created a framework (template) for a bill, it will take minimal time to pay it in the future.
  • Documentation. All of your bill payments will be recorded in QuickBooks Online, so you won’t have to hunt through checkbook registers or file folders to see if a bill was paid.
  • Timeliness. QuickBooks Online will always remind you when a bill must be paid (if you’ve set it up correctly).

To enter a bill, click the plus (+) sign at the top of the screen and click on Vendors and then Bill. This screen opens:

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You’ll enter information about each bill on a screen like this. There are fields not pictured here that you’ll sometimes have to complete. So let’s start a conversation about the whole process.

Looks pretty simple, doesn’t it? It is – if you have a simple bill like the one you receive for gas and electric. You select the vendor by clicking on the arrow next to the blank field in the upper left and choosing from the list that opens. The Mailing Address and Terms should fill in automatically if you’ve done all of your initial QuickBooks Online setup. If not, you can add and edit this information.

Bill date refers to the date of the bill itself, not the day payment is due to the vendor. That goes in the Due date field. Select your Account from the list that opens when you click in that field, and enter a Description and Amount. If that’s all that’s required for that bill, you can save it and proceed to the next. It’s now recorded as a bill that needs to be paid.

Recurring Payments

Some of your bills are just one-offs,but others arrive on a regular basis. So QuickBooks Online has tools that will minimize the time required to process them after you’ve entered the basic information once. After you’ve completed a bill, click Make recurring at the bottom of the page to see this screen:

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QuickBooks Online lets you create templates for bills to use in future payments.

This screen is self-explanatory. You simply tell QuickBooks Online how much notice you want before a bill’s due date so you can process the payment. Take care with this screen to avoid paying bills too early, which affects your cash flow unnecessarily, or too late.

You have three options when you’re creating a Recurring Bill template. You’ll choose one from the list that opens when you click the arrow in the Type field:

  • Scheduled. This is best used when the details of a transaction don’t change, like rent or a loan payment. You don’t have to do anything for the payment to be dispatched; it’s done automatically for you at the interval you set. You can, however, ask to be notified every time this occurs.
  • Reminder. You could use this for periodic payments that will require editing before they’re sent. For example, you’ll probably need to change the amount on your utility bills every month. QuickBooks Online will place a reminder in your Activities list on the home page.
  • Unscheduled. If you have bills that contain a great deal of detail but aren’t due on a set schedule, you can save the template and call it up when you need it by clicking the gear icon in the upper right and selecting Recurring Transactions.

When you’re ready to learn more about making the most of your QuickBooks, give us a call today at Chahal & Associates. Call us today 510-222-5800

7 Best Practices for QuickBooks Online

Even if you’ve been using QuickBooks Online for a long time, it’s good to step back and evaluate your actions.

“Best practices” aren’t enforceable rules. They’re simply guidelines businesses commonly follow in one area or another. If you’re in retail, for example, one best practice might be to always ask customers checking out if they found everything they were looking for. This serves two purposes: It conveys a feeling of concern for the customer’s shopping experience, and it may also lead to increased sales.

QuickBooks Online has many best practices, some of which may serve multiple purposes, including these:

    • They keep your company data safe and clean.
    • They provide insight on your financial status.
    • They save time.
    • They can lead you to better relationships with customers and vendors.

Are any or all the following common practices for your business?

Reconcile accounts regularly.

One of QuickBooks Online’s most useful features is its ability to connect to your financial institution’s websites and download cleared transactions. QuickBooks Online also offers tools to help you keep your accounts reconciled online, like you used to do every month when your paper statement came. Reconciling accounts can help you uncover errors. It gives you a truer picture of your cash flow, and it improves the accuracy and timeliness of some reports.

It’s not a particularly pleasant process, but you should be reconciling your accounts regularly in QuickBooks Online. We can help.

Clean up your lists.

Some lists in QuickBooks Online aren’t overly long. You don’t have to worry about, for example, Payment Methods, Terms, or Classes. Your lists of customers and vendors, products, and services, on the other hand, can grow unwieldy over the years. This means it can take more time than it should to scroll through lists when you’re using those entities in transactions. It also puts unnecessary stress on your company file. If you can’t delete any, at least make them inactive.

Never leave QuickBooks Online open when you leave your work area.

This goes for everyone, even people who work alone and don’t access their company files away from their work areas. The obvious reason is to keep someone else from getting in and authorizing payments, for example, or otherwise compromising your financial information. It also protects the integrity of your data file in case your internet connection suffers some kind of outage.

Keep track of 1099 vendors.

Whether your company uses 10 vendors or a hundred or more, you may have to supply at least some of them with an IRS Form 1099 at about the same time you’re preparing W-2s for employees. Your 1099-related tasks will be much easier if those individuals and/or companies are earmarked. If you think vendors might need 1099s when you create their records in QuickBooks Online, click in the box to the left of Track payments for 1099 in the lower right corner. Not sure? Ask us.

Classify everything with care.

Every time you have to create a record or transaction where categories are involved (i.e., Classes, Customers and Vendors, Territories), check and double-check that you’ve assigned them the correct classification. Errors here can result not only in problems with daily workflow, but your reports will not be accurate. A related best practice: Create a meaningful group of Classes, and use them faithfully. They’ll help you make better business decisions.

To create your list of Classes, click the gear icon in the upper right and select All Lists | Classes | New.

View reports on a regular basis.

There are some advanced financial reports in QuickBooks Online that we should be creating for you on a regular basis, either monthly or quarterly. These include Profit and Loss, Balance Sheet, and Statement of Cash Flows. The mechanics of creating them aren’t difficult, but analyzing them is. You should be running reports on your own at frequencies that you think would be helpful, like A/R Aging Detail, Unpaid Bills, and Sales by Class Detail.

If you’ve been using QuickBooks Online for a while, you could probably come up with your own list of best practices. If you’re new to the site, consider scheduling some time with us to go over more of them. Develop good habits from the start, and there won’t be nearly as much need for troubleshooting down the road.

Call Chahal & Associates, Inc. at 510-222-5800 when you’re ready to get started making the most of your QuickBooks.

5 QuickBooks Online Add-On Apps You May Need in 2017

Not finding quite everything you need in QuickBooks Online? Our Bay Area QuickBooks professionals can help. Give us a call at 510-222-5800.

Here are some handy add-on apps available to get you started.

QuickBooks Online may work for you just fine as is. After all, it was designed to meet the needs of the millions of small businesses that want to manage and track their income and expenses, create records and transactions, and run reports to gauge their financial health. QuickBooks Online was also designed to grow along with your business. But there’s no need for Intuit to add internal features to do so. In fact, that would make it too expensive and unwieldy for many companies.

Instead, Intuit has partnered with other small business websites to provides add-ons–applications that extend the usefulness of QuickBooks Online in one or more areas, like accounts receivable and payable, inventory, and expense-tracking. They integrate easily to share data and do the extra work you need. Here are some of them to consider.

Bill.com

Bill.com automates your accounts receivable and payable processes. It supports electronic billing and payment, as well as multiple approval levels.

You can certainly enter and pay bills using QuickBooks Online. And you can send invoices to customers and receive payments. But adding a connection to Bill.com gives you more advanced options for accounts receivable and payable. Simply send your bills to Bill.com by scanning, emailing, faxing, or taking a picture with your smartphone. The site’s automation tools turn them into digital records and route them through your specified approvers. Once approved, they’re paid electronically or by paper check. Invoices are just as easy to process; customers can pay by using PayPal, credit card, or ACH. Bill.com’s mobile app makes it possible to keep up with invoices and bills while you’re out of the office.

Expensify

Are your employees still paper-clipping receipts to handwritten expense reports? This method is unnecessarily time-consuming – and often inaccurate. Expensify solves both problems. Your staff can take photos of receipts with their smartphones. Expensify then converts the expense information into coded digital records and submits them for approval based on your company’s policies. Credit card purchases can be automatically imported, too. All data is synchronized with QuickBooks Online in real-time and coded to reflect your preference of QBO’s expense accounts, customers/jobs, etc. Once you’ve approved a report, you can have the money deposited in the employee’s bank account the next day.

TSheets Time Tracking

TSheets employee scheduling software automates tasks that QuickBooks Online doesn’t do: scheduling and remote time-tracking for your hourly employees. Your staff no longer has to fill in paper timesheets. Instead, they can use their smartphones to track their hours and GPS location points. And while Excel is certainly better for creating schedules than paper, TSheets takes over that task, too. After you’ve approved timesheets, that information is sent over to QuickBooks, ready for use in your payroll processing.

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Your employees can easily “punch” in and out using their smartphones. TSheets also uses GPS technology so that your staff members’ locations are always known to you.

SOS Inventory

QuickBooks Online performs some basic inventory management tasks. You can create records for items and use them in transactions, and keep track of the number of items in stock so you know when to reorder (or have a sale). SOS Inventory goes well beyond those capabilities. You can create sales orders, track cost history and serial numbers, and document work-in-progress (WIP). SOS Inventory supports multiple locations and the entire pick/pack/ship process.

Insightly CRM

You can create thorough customer records in QuickBooks Online and document some of your interaction. But it doesn’t facilitate true Customer Relationship Management (CRM) nor project management. Insightly CRM does both. It lets you build exceptionally thorough customer profiles so that you can view social streams, email history, and any events, opportunities, or events related to them. Its project management features include the ability to track by pipelines or milestones, define contact roles and custom fields, and generate advanced project reporting.

QuickBooks Online Integration Key

All of these apps can work in standalone settings, but their integration with QuickBooks Online and their mobile capabilities create powerful partnerships that help you serve both your customers and your employees in ways that QuickBooks Online alone can’t.

We’re not trying to sell you applications here. Our concern is that you’re getting as much out of QuickBooks itself as you can. We can steer you toward add-on solutions if that seems necessary, but we’re always happy to work with you on getting to know QuickBooks Online better and matching its capabilities to your company’s needs. Call Chahal & Associates, Inc., a Bay Area accounting firm, at 510-222-5800 when you’re ready to get started. We’re prepared to help you make the most of your QuickBooks software. Or, request a free consultation online.