Let’s start with the dark side.

Three Reasons Why You Don’t Like QuickBooks

1. It’s not exactly right for your business.

No, it’s probably not. QuickBooks is used (by Intuit’s count) by 5 million businesses. None of them are exactly like yours. You have a particular way you like your income statement to look, or a particular thing you want to track in your sales, or a particular formatting you want for your invoice, and QuickBooks doesn’t and can’t do it exactly like that. That is a characteristic of almost all off-the-shelf software.

RELATED: How Many QuickBooks Users Are There?


The alternative? Industry-specific software, or custom software. Both are many times more expensive than QuickBooks.

2. There are technical glitches.

Yep. In our opinion, there are bugs in QuickBooks. Always have been, always will be. There is no way to write hundreds of thousands of lines of code (purely a guess) with perfect logic, that will anticipate and respond correctly to every possible user action and IT event. My first tech job was as an accounting software quality tester. My second tech job was as an accounting software development code writer. So I’ve seen software quality from different angles, and it’s just hard to write really good accounting code, and perfect code is a mythical beast. We shouldn’t expect unicorn horns and phoenix feathers.

RELATED: Should I Upgrade to QuickBooks 2014…Now?
                     Handling QuickBooks Upgrades and Updates

3. It’s not supported the way it should be.

I guess we all have an opinion about what we should expect of a software company in their support of their product. I hear people express dissatisfaction with Intuit’s sunset policy, the cost of their support plans, and the quality of help received through support staff. (Less complaints about that last issue in the last year or so, it seems to me.) What we’d all like is great support, delivered fast, that’s free. But unless the cost of providing that kind of support were built into the initial product cost, that’s not going to happen. Resources like the Intuit Community and the QuickBooks Forums do offer free support that is often of high quality.

RELATED: The User Who Sailed Around the QuickBooks Sunset (Policy)

One Reason Why You Like QuickBooks. Maybe a Lot.

1. It’s a complete, affordable, flexible system.

Between QuickBooks Pro, Premier industry editions, Enterprise Series, Mac, and Online editions, there is a completeness to what QuickBooks can do for small to medium-sized businesses.

RELATED: QuickBooks Comes in Lots of Flavors


The price of the software and support is reasonable for what you get (in my opinion). And it’s flexible. You can scale up from Pro to Premier to Enterprise, (and even scale down from Enterprise if necessary), or you can scale over to online editions.

It’s not perfect, but there’s a lot to like.

RELATED: What Users Like and Do Not Like About QuickBooks

We asked users how their using QuickBooks saved them money. There seemed to be one common theme: I can do my books in-house. Here’s what some of them said:

“Quickbooks saves me money because it is so easy (and support is good) that my wife was able to figure it out.  Now I don’t have the expense of an additional bookkeeper.”

“Quickbooks is so easy to use that I do not have to hire an accountant to keep my firm’s accounting and financial data.”

“QuickBooks saves my business money by allowing me to do a lot of things that I would have had to pay a CPA for.  I do all of our payroll and payroll taxes.  This also saves us money by not requiring a payroll service that so many businesses use.”

“As a tiny business, payroll is my one of my largest expenses.  QuickBooks allows me do my own payroll and taxes to cut out the expensive middle man.”

(Sometimes it’s not a bad idea, though, to farm out just the payroll part and do the rest of books in-house. Depends on your experience and training.)

“I do not have to pay for a accountant to do my business paperwork each month”

(Yep, and you can run the reports — and change the reports — anytime you want.)

“I can actually do and manage my own accounting without depending on an outside accountant. This might not sound sweet to accountants but it is what it is as QB is easy, friendly to use.”

(You can do the main data entry and reporting, and just use outside accountants for periodic reviews and adjustments as needed.)

“When used in conjunction with a quickbooks professional bookkeeper it means the high-end accountant cannot justify charging me for work that is already done.”

(Right. Divide the labor for most cost-effective results.)

“When I need to get data to my tax accountant to prepare my income taxes, for corporate, franchise and personal, all I need to do is hand over a copy of my Quickbooks file.  It saves me hours of filling out my accountants questionaires and it saves me fees for time charges my accountant would normally charge to get the answers to the information he needs.   When providing an estimate of what it will cost to do my taxes, my accountant always asks, ‘Will you have a Quickbooks file available?’   It is a big savings!”

“Quickbooks is so easy to run I am not only Joe the contractor, electrician and yes the plumber but I can be my own Secretary and Accountant too. Amazing software. QuickBooks is the perfect name.”

(Joe, you’re a talented guy!)

RELATED: What Do People Love Best About QuickBooks?

 Thank you, QuickBooks users, for sharing your thoughts with us.


It’s just common sense that there shouldn’t be many deleted transactions in your QuickBooks file.

If there are a lot of deleted transactions, then it could mean that a lot of mistakes are being made, or someone is trying to hide something. There could be other explanations too, but usually they would not be good news either.

So how can you check and see what has been deleted?

Fortunately, there is a report just for that. It’s called the “Voided/Deleted Transaction” report. It comes in summary and detail formats. You access it by clicking the Reports / Accountant and Taxes menu.

When you run the report, it will show you transactions that have been voided or deleted. It will break that out by the user, so you can see what transactions each user has deleted/voided. It shows the type of transaction and the date the transaction was deleted. Below that, the report shows a kind of audit trail of the original transaction.

Here’s an example. Click on it to enlarge.

Deleted or voided transactions will show up under the headings for the original user, and the user who deleted or voided the transaction. In the example above, Anna both wrote a check to Chris Markley and then deleted the check.

You can change the date range for shown transactions, or click the Customize Report button to add filters to the report.

Have you had issues with deleted or voided transactions in your office? Feel free to share your story with your reply.

hiredNot having a good accountant/bookkeeper may not break your business, but having one on your team sure helps!  A good accountant can have a HUGE impact on your bottom line.

Because they handle your money, choosing one is a big decision and should not be taken lightly.  Take your time — if you are feeling pressure to decide, this may not be the person or firm for you.

To help you along, here are a few questions to ask the prospective accountant (or accounting firm).

1.  How many years has the accountant been in business? With the constant changes in the tax laws and accounting reporting requirements, someone with a minimum of 5 years experience is ideal since you want a business/firm that has been around and won’t go under on you.  You don’t want a fly-by-night operation that’s here today and gone tomorrow.

2.  How many years of experience does the accountant have? Again, a minimum of 5 years is ideal…however, industry specific experience of 2-3 years is a good start.

3.  What industry are they proficient in? Depending on your industry, this question could be vital. You want an accountant/bookkeeper who knows the red flags for your industry as well as what to look for when reviewing your financial statements & taxes for errors.

4.  What is their response time and communication style? Response time should ideally be within 24-48 hours as a business courtesy; however, communication style is up to you. You should lean toward someone that communicates via similar media/channels as you. For example, if you are proficient and comfortable with email/Instant Messenger communication, but your accountant is not…you may have an impasse regarding responsiveness. So keep communication channel preference in mind.

5.  What is the size of the firm? This only matters in terms of services needs and responsiveness. If you are looking for a “one-stop shop” for bookkeeping, accounting, payroll and taxes… someone that only does bookkeeping is not going to be for you in terms of service.

If you need quick turnaround for certain items, a 20+ person firm may not be for you. On the other hand, if you need 20 financial reviews done simultaneously, a 2 person firm may not be for you in terms of responsiveness.

BONUS – What is your comfort level/rapport with them? This isn’t necessarily a question to ask the prospect but rather something you should ask yourself prior to signing a services agreement. You want to have a certain level of comfort with them, after all, they will be handling your business’ money & financial affairs… so if something just doesn’t feel right, don’t ignore it.

Having the answers to these questions is a good foundation for making this decision…If you need help or you have questions, please contact us. We’d be happy to help.


About The Guest Blogger:  Joyce M. Washington, CPA

Joyce is a CPA who has spent the better part of almost 20 years honing her craft as an accountant with various companies in the Greater Baltimore-Washington, DC area – growing, mentoring and managing accounting teams. It’s this experience that she brings to services and training programs, including QuickBooks Basics.

Website:  http://www.thecommoncents.com

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/thecommoncents

Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/thecommoncents

Bookkeeping is a little like physics – there are unbreakable rules. So to paraphrase one of them, “For every debit, there is an equal and opposite credit.” But in QuickBooks, that is not always obvious. The “implied side” of a transaction is not staring you in the face most of the time.

The balancing side of every transaction is there nonetheless, so that your general ledger zeroes out and your financial statements work as they are supposed to.

Where do you find the implied side of the transactions? Sometimes you want to know (or confirm) what the offsetting entry is behind the scenes. That’s where the Transaction Journal comes into play.

You can simply run the Reports / Accountant and Taxes / Journal report. It will show every transaction within the reporting date range (which you can change) and it will break out the debits and credits of every transaction into columns for the accounts that are affected.

In this example (which I split into different lines for viewability), Mr. Teschner made a payment against his customer account. You see the split in the Journal report: Checking account 10100 was debited (increased) by $5,000 and Accounts Receivable account 11000 was credited (decreased) by $5,000.

Example of Journal Report in QuickBooks

You can change the dates on this report to focus on a particular date or date range, or you can click Customize Report / Filters to limit the Journal report’s output to particular accounts you wish to see.

A faster way to pinpoint one particular transaction is to pull up the customer, vendor, employee, etc. in its respective Center.

Let’s say you want to see the implied side of an invoice that posted to a particular customer.

Go the Customer Center and click on the customer you want. You’ll see the customer’s transaction in the right-hand pane.

In this example, let’s say you want to see all the debits and credits associated with invoice 1024, the last transaction in the listing.

You just right-click on that transaction, and select “View Transaction Journal”, like this:

Journal transaction detail

A new window will pop up with the debits and credits for that specific transaction. Here’s the rightmost columns of information in the window:

Viewing the transactions journal in QuickBooks

Nice! This is faster and easier than running the big Journal report and filtering down to this level. You see that the implied side of the transaction is listed first: accounts receivable. That’s the implied side of the invoice transaction.

This is a pretty obvious example. But in cases where you’re not sure what the offsetting debit or credit was, you have ways to find out.

In traditional accounting (and traditional accounting software) you ‘close the books’ at the end of a year. How do you do that in QuickBooks? Short answer: You don’t.

Right or wrong, QuickBooks keeps your accounting data around more or less permanently. You can run the QuickBooks archive/condense/clean up command (the naming of it differs across versions) but that has limited results. You can have your file supercondensed. But otherwise, your transaction history sticks around pretty much forever.

That’s a good thing for running historical reports whenever you want.

The potential for problems, however, comes through the ability to add, change, or delete entries made in a prior year — after you have already filed your company’s taxes. Definitely a no-no.

So how can you avoid that? It’s easy. Use the Set Closing Date and Password command in QuickBooks. That will more or less lock down your prior years’ information so that it cannot be altered without your controlled permission.

With your company file open in QuickBooks, click Edit / Preferences. Select the Accounting preference in the left pane. Then click the Company Preferences tab. You’ll see this:

QuickBooks company preferences screen

Click the button at the bottom called Set Date/Password. Here’s what you’ll see:

QuickBooks Set Closing Date and Password screen

This screen represents powerful accounting control for you.

At the Closing Date prompt, enter the date at which you want to restrict any changes (e.g. December 31 of the previous year).

Enter a password that is unique for this purpose (don’t recycle a user’s password here). Reason? If anyone tries to make a change to a transaction in a “closed” year, they won’t be able to do so without knowing this special password.

If you don’t create a password here, anyone who tries to enter or change a transaction prior to the closing date will get a warning, but will still be able to make the entry. You are leaving the door open to all kinds of problems if you don’t create a password here.

There is a checkbox to exclude sales orders, estimates, and purchase orders from the closing date limitation. Why? Well, those kinds of entries aren’t actually accounting transactions — they don’t post to your general ledger or subledger account balances, so changing them doesn’t change your financial reports. You may or may not want to check the box, depending on your accounting control policies and how you handle those kinds of pre-transactions in your business.

Close the books in QuickBooks? Not really. But that doesn’t mean you can’t control the the books.

QuickBooks can be more than just a basic bookkeeping program for you. It can help you address some of the biggest challenges and opportunities your business faces. Here are some of the most important questions QuickBooks can help you answer:

1. Am I making money, or losing money? Assuming that you enter information into QuickBooks correctly, QuickBooks will generate reports for you that will very simply answer this question.

Run Profit and Loss reports (found in Reports / Company and Financial ) to see whether you are making more money than you are spending. (Hopefully your company is doing better on this than the U.S. government!)

The Profit and Loss Prev Year Comparison report is especially helpful. With it you can tell if you are making or losing money in greater amounts than last year. Why is that important? Well, it can help you decide if your business is going in the right direction, or if you need to make important changes.

I’ve read that most new businesses fail because they don’t know if they are making money or not. If you are using QuickBooks, you shouldn’t be in the dark about whether you’re profitable.

2. Do I have enough cash? Are my business operations generating enough cash to fund the business? Run the Statement of Cash Flows report to see. You can run the report for different date ranges to try to determine what the trend is.

3. Who owes me money? Of course, that’s what the Customer Center is about in QuickBooks. But if you want to get an instant look at the highlights, go to Company Snapshot, and look at the “Customers Who Owe Money” pane. (If that pane is not enabled in your Company Snapshot screen, you can click Add Content and select that screen to put it into your snapshot). By instantly seeing which customers are in arrears, you can get on the phone and work on collections.

4. Which parts of my business are profitable, and which are not? If you use classes in your QuickBooks data, you can track profitability in different ways. For example, you can track profitability by location, by department, by division, by market…

The Profit & Loss by Class report then becomes very interesting. That report will show a separate column for each of your classes — your business areas. You can then see and evaluate the profitability of each. Is one of your business areas unprofitable? What will you do about it? Is one of your business areas especially profitable? What can you do to maximize that?

If you want more help in deciphering these issues, make an appointment with your CPA and come to the meeting armed with these reports. He or she will be glad to help you understand your company’s financial big picture.

Do you ever wonder if a transaction got changed? When it was actually entered? What its history is? Who made an entry or a change?

The Audit Trail report is handy for those situations.

You access the Audit Trail report through Reports / Accountant & Taxes / Audit Trail

The default sort order for the report is by user, transaction type, and transaction date.

In this Audit Trail report for a sample company, you see transactions entered or changed by the Admin.

quickbooks audit trail report sample 1

The third entry down shows when the date of a previously entered invoice was changed. You can tell because of the boldfacing on the date.

Here’s another section of the same report:

quickbooks audit trail report sample

Here you can see that changes were made to the terms of the invoice, and in the second grouping, the amount. If you could see the next column to the right, you’d see the particular G/L account line item that was changed.

By clicking the Customize Report button, you can change what columns of information you want on the report.

The Audit Trail report only shows changes that could possibly have accounting implications.

This is great in the following situations:

  • Tracking down “lost” transactions
  • Determining who entered what, when
  • Accounting audits (obviously!) and accounting forensics
  • Evaluating effectiveness of existing accounting controls

The Audit Trail function in QuickBooks used to be an optional one — you could turn it on or off. But it has been “on” all the time now over the last few releases of QuickBooks.

Any other tips on using the Audit Trail report to help businesses?

You want to keep good books? Then read a good book.

There are good training resources available for beginning and advanced users of QuickBooks. Here are some of the highest rated ones on Amazon:

QuickBooks 2011, the Missing Manual, by Bonnie Biafore. 720 pages. Pogue Press. 4.7/5 Stars on Amazon. Great balance between instructions on specific features and basic accounting advice.

Running QuickBooks 2011 Premier Editions: The Only Definitive Guide to the Premier Editions, by Kathy Ivens. 608 pages. CPA911 Publishing. 5/5 Stars on Amazon. Tips, tricks, shortcuts, and workarounds to unleash the full power of the Premier editions.

QuickBooks 2010 Solutions Guide for Business Owners and Accountants, Laura Madeira. 528 pages. Que Publishing. 4.5/5 Stars on Amazon. For intermediate to advanced users, this guide helps you use QuickBooks to understand where your business is currently, and where it’s going.

This last one is not a book, but it is a great do-it-yourself training resource: QuickBooks Essentials LiveLessons (Video Training): For All QuickBooks Users [DVD-ROM], by Laura Madeira. 1 DVD. Published by Que Publishing. 4.4/5 Stars on Amazon. This training DVD has 18 lessons to help walk you through every essential QuickBooks skill.

These resources cost under $30, but can fill in some of the gaps in your QuickBooks knowledge.

Do you want your A/P clerk having access to your payroll records? Or your billing clerk having access to your profit and loss statements? Maybe so, but maybe not.

If not, then you can configure your QuickBooks company so that each user has access only to the information they need.

Set this up through the top menu: Company / Set Up Users and Passwords / Set Up Users. Click Add User or Edit User, depending on whether they are already existing users. Then you’ll see this screen:

Click on “Selected areas of QuickBooks” to begin the process of specifying authorized functions for that user.

The first screen that appears gives you control over the user’s access to Sales and Accounts Receivable functions:

You see that control can be broken down between data entry, transaction printing, and reporting. Select the functions that your user needs access to. You can also click (or not) on the checkbox giving the user access to customer credit card numbers.

This level of control in QuickBooks is great — it introduces accounting controls to your use of the software, and potentially reduces the risk of fraud and error.

You can set up controls for these areas in QuickBooks:

* Sales and A/R
* Purchases and A/P
* Checking and Credit Cards
* Inventory
* Time Tracking
* Payroll and Employees
* Sensitive Accounting Activities (like journal entries and online banking)
* Sensitive Financial Reporting

Finally, you can control the ability to change or delete transactions:

This is an important accounting control. If you open this capability to a user, they will be able to delete or change previously entered transactions. Limiting this capability to only staff that truly need it could help lower the possibility of bookkeeping crime in your office, because it makes it harder for users to cover their tracks if they are making entries they don’t want others to see.

Also, you can prevent users from making changes to the books after the close date. Your accountant will really like it if you restrict that.

There are news stories coming out all the time about embezzlement and fraud taking place in offices where QuickBooks or other accounting software is used. Want to lower the chance of it happening to you? Just limit your employees’ access in QuickBooks to the functions they need to do their jobs.

Do you have any tips or advice on using access restrictions in QuickBooks?