We spoke with Colleen Cravener of Cervis, Inc. about a recent data corruption problem she had with her QuickBooks file and how it was resolved.

AccountingUsers: Colleen, can you tell us a little about your company, and your role there?

Colleen: Cervis Inc. manufactures industrial radio remote controls for the mining industry, overhead crane industry and mobile industry. I am the Information System Specialist at Cervis.

AccountingUsers: What edition of QuickBooks do you use? And what does your office use QuickBooks for?

Colleen: QuickBooks Enterprise 2012 – Manufacturing and Wholesale edition. QuickBooks is used for all accounting processes, and until a few weeks ago was used for years 2004 through 2012 for all inventory, build assemblies, and purchasing. We have since taken inventory and purchasing into Misys.

AccountingUsers: Please tell us what led up to you contacting us about your QuickBooks file. What was going on in QuickBooks?

Colleen: We could not get our QuickBooks file to verify or rebuild. Our file had damage/corruption. Cervis wanted to do a condense data and could not because of damage.

AccountingUsers: What was the process like in getting your file repaired…the steps you took to send your file, the scheduling and turnaround, etc.?

Colleen: All I did was call the 1-800 number and Shannon answered a few questions and immediately sent me a confidentiality agreement. Then I went to their website, filled out a form and paid by Paypal. At the end of Cervis’s business day on a Friday, I made a portable QuickBooks file, which took a long time to make because the file was damaged, and uploaded the file through their website. It was VERY easy! And it was about 9pm before AccountingUsers actually received the file. On Sunday I received an email stating the file was finished and I could pickup the file. Also, the file upload and download process is done via a SECURE connection!

AccountingUsers: How did your repaired QuickBooks file work for you when you got it back from us?

Colleen: First thing I noticed was increased performance. We have 20+ concurrent users, this was a HUGE plus. I had questions about our Profit and Loss numbers and Shannon immediately answered via email – his last email being after midnight! It is obvious that at AccountingUsers customer service is #1! And they know the product (QuickBooks).

AccountingUsers: Anything else you’d like to share about your experience?

Colleen: I am giving your company an A+ in the recovery of the QuickBooks file, the secure website file transfer and the GREAT customer service (EVEN AFTER THEIR JOB WAS REALLY FINISHED!!) Top notch!

AccountingUsers: Thanks for sharing your story, Colleen!

pool planningQuickBooks® is a generic bookkeeping and accounting program, designed to be used by every type of business that you can imagine. If it was industry specific, well, it would have the same big price tag! Sure, Intuit makes a “Contractor” version, but even then it’s designed to meet the needs of every type of contractor – from the handyman to the bridge builder.

As a contractor, you know how important it is to have a plan or blueprint in your hands before you go to the construction site and begin work on the project. That way, you know what you are up against. This same principle applies to using QuickBooks Financial Software for your accounting, payroll and job costing needs.

Many QuickBooks users fall for the seductive marketing messages that boast “easy to set up, easy to learn to use” and fall prey to the myth of do-it-yourself accounting.  QuickBooks users aren’t the only ones who fall prey to this myth; so do accounting professionals.  As a matter of fact, recently I was asked by a QuickBooks ProAdvisor “What are the most common mistakes that you see happen when using QuickBooks for a construction business?”

Here is a list of common mistakes that I see:

  1. Outsourcing payroll
  2. Entering job costs using the Expenses and/or Accounts tab
  3. Thinking or believing that every contractor can/should use the exact same Chart of Accounts or Items List
  4. Not setting up Items to track both Expenses and Income
  5. Not using the built-in Estimate function or an estimating program that interfaces with QuickBooks.
  6. Creating a new QuickBooks file for each project/job
  7. Receiving customer payments incorrectly
  8. Not properly applying Vendor Credits to Bills.
  9. Not reconciling Bank or Credit Card accounts
  10. Not using the Ask My Accountant Chart of Accounts item for expenditures that are difficult to categorize.

The biggest mistake that I see is business owners (not just contractors) failing to hire someone who can help them to really learn how to use QuickBooks and utilize all the different functions that are available.

There are a lot of really great blogs and user forums, such as the forums here at the QuickbooksUsers Forums and the Intuit Community forums for getting help for free.  Keep in mind, when you ask a specific question, it’s difficult for the person answering to know whether or not they should be taking the bigger picture into consideration.  When you hire someone who is experienced in using QuickBooks in your industry, they can help you look at the entire plan.

Have a question about using QuickBooks in your commercial/government construction business?  Feel free to contact me.

There is an error that has been around for several years, and it still pops up from time to time.

some sales orders or estimates may be incorrectly marked

The error usually shows up when verifying company data.

Sometimes it will appear when you verify, but rebuild reports no problems. It doesn’t usually affect day-to-day operations in QuickBooks. I’ve heard one report that it may be caused under certain conditions when a sales order is only partially invoiced out (any confirmation on that from anyone?)

Even though it doesn’t seem to affect day-to-day operations, a lot of people don’t like their company to NOT verify. For one thing, you can’t make a fully verified backup if your data has this condition.

So if you are getting this error and want to resolve it, it can be resolved. It basically involves fixing one or more damaged sales orders or estimate records in your file:

1. You can locate and fix the damaged sales orders or estimates yourself. Do this by following the steps in this Intuit knowledgebase article.

2. If that doesn’t work, or you don’t want to mess with the technical details, we can repair your database for you on a turnkey basis.

Have you run into this error? When or how did it come about? We’re curious about what might trigger it.

Sometimes QuickBooks users want to migrate from their desktop edition (Pro, Premier, or Enterprise) to QuickBooks Online. It’s supposed to be a hassle-free migration. What if it’s not?

The main kink people run into is file size. There is a 200MB limit on file size to do the migration. (This limit was 140MB until not long ago.) So if your QBW file is over that limit, you can’t create the special “Copy for QuickBooks Online” file in QuickBooks. And you therefore can’t import your desktop data to the QuickBooks Online system.

What to do?

1. You can export your company lists out of your desktop file and import the lists into QuickBooks Online. You would then need to enter in beginning balances or reenter open transactions.

2. You can use some third party tools to export and import transaction-level data from your QuickBooks company file into QuickBooks Online.

3. You can use the QuickBooks Online File Preparation Service. This service provides a turnkey solution to the problem: An importable OE.QBW file is returned to you that is ready to be imported into QuickBooks Online. By removing some of the oldest information, the 200MB limit can be observed even if your original QBW file is larger than 200MB.

Have you migrated QuickBooks desktop data to QuickBooks Online? How did it go?

When we supercondense data for a client, they most often will also retain a copy of their original file for historical reporting purposes, while using the smaller, speedy file we return to them for their day-to-day use.

How do you keep track of different versions of your data? How do you keep your team from getting confused, and possibly entering new data into an old file?

There a couple tricks you can use to keep everything straight:

1. Change the company’s name for the old, historical data. You can change the file’s name in Windows, and the company’s internal name in Company / Company Information. If you have a copy of your company information that you DO NOT want anyone making changes to, give it a name like “DO NOT MAKE ENTRIES – MyCompany” or “HISTORICAL REPORTING ONLY – MyCompany”

2. Lock users out of making changes to copies of your data that are for historical reporting purposes only. It’s easy. Click Company / Set Closing Date / Set Date/Password. For closing date, enter a date farther in the future than you think anyone would ever use in this QuickBooks company. Then enter a Closing Date Password.

This should prevent anyone from accidentally making entries into this file, thinking that it is the current file. You can also go into each user’s permissions and in this file and remove user rights that would allow them to change the data.

3. Think through how you open your files. If you use “Open Previous Company”, that’s great — I do it myself all the time. But don’t blindly open your company this way — don’t be on autopilot. Why? Because if someone else (maybe even you) opened a different copy of the company before, that is likely to be at the top of the “Previous Company” list. That may or may not be the copy of the data that you actually want to open and use.

4. Be careful with local copies. If you keep your “master” copy of your data on your network server, but sometimes put a copy of your data on your local C: drive, that can be a potential problem. What if you later open the local copy, thinking it’s the master copy? And you start making changes. Well, by the time you figure out your mistake, you’ve got “live” data in two files, and that’s difficult to fix. Best to name your local file as something like “LOCAL COPY – MyCompany”, or delete it after you’ve temporarily used it.

How do you manage multiple copies of your data? Or do you?