Best Practices for Supporting Your QuickBooks Online Clients

While I don’t think any accountant needs to freak out (ala Doomsday Preppers) about all this chatter and push to the cloud, it is important to start your train going down the track. Intuit® is not giving up on QuickBooks® desktop; there are 7 million users in the United States alone! For QuickBooks Online (QBO), the number of global users is more like 400,000. So, you can see that the desktop QuickBooks application isn’t going anywhere. Yet, Intuit is investing more and more in the online platform.

I would love to completely convert from QuickBooks desktop to QBO, but alas, in my current position, I still live in a desktop world. Your clients however, some of them might want to, have already or are asking about switching to QBO. And what of your new clients? Younger, hipper, web-savvier (this wasn’t a real world when I was a kid … no, my Mom would have washed my mouth out with soap had I ever said web-savvier). They are seeking out your accounting services and expertise. Most of these prospects will lead to tax engagements and they will want to know if you support QBO.

Well, do you? Please reply with confidence that you and your firm fully supports QBO, welcome them on as a new client, hang up the phone and then read the rest of this article. You support QBO clients.

Tip #1: Support your QBO clients and sign up for QuickBooks Online Accountant (QBOA).

This may not really seem a tip; actually, it’s more like a platform to manage and support your online clients and their files. For anyone who has at least one QBO clients, QBOA is free. Even if you don’t have any QBO clients, QBOA is free for 6 months, and for QuickBooks ProAdvisors®, it’s just plain free!

There are three ways to sign up for QBOA:

  1. Sign into your ProAdvisor site, click on Software & Discounts or Download Software, and click the button to get QBOA.
  2. Browse to the QuickBooks home page, hover over the QuickBooks tab, click on QBOA and on next screen, click Sign Up Now.
  3. Your QBO client can invite you as his or her “Accountant User to their QBO file” (Company menu/Manager Users), and upon accepting the invite, you will be prompted to either Create or Sign into QBOA.

If you have never signed up for QBOA, click the Create tab and fill out the appropriate fields. It is CRITICAL that your User ID match the User ID you enter when logging into your clients QBO files. That is how QBOA knows which QBO files belong to your QBOA platform. Here’s a short video to QBOA:

Now that you are signed up for QBOA, here are three links to short videos on the key tools that will save you time and steps when working on your client QBO files.

  1. Undo Bank Reconcile with one click
  2. Reclassify Transactions in Batch
  3. More than one AR/AP per Journal Entry

There are many more than three cool tools in QBOA, but these will get your feet wet. When you launch a client QBO file from QBOA, a new tab will open in your browser and you will land on the Accountant Center. Every tool with a green star next to it signifies this tool as not standard in QBO. Click New Window to launch a new tab in your web browser (we suggest using Google Chrome!!!) … and this takes me to the next tip.

Tip #2: Learn how to navigate QBO.

Though QBOA has a New Window link right on the Accountant Center, QBO inherently has some navigation tricks that most accountants are not yet aware of. You can click on the Back and Forward button at top of the browser window, but that is so old school, so say 2009. Below are the key navigation tips for QBO, in general. Here’s another short video of all of them:

Multiple Tabs – In Google Chrome (and other browsers like Firefox and IE 9), I can right click on the tab I am on, click on Duplicate and a second tab opens in the same browser window. I can then go to where I want in QBO, and once there, peel off the tab and place it on my second monitor. You cannot do that in QuickBooks desktop.

Multi Company Files – Again, using Chrome (I hear Firefox can do the same), you can create another user in Chrome settings, launch a second Chrome browser window logged in as that user and then open a second QBO client file. I can open as many QBO client files as I have Chrome users.

Rearranging QBO Menus – Menus in QBO are horizontal and you do not have to click on a menu in order to see where your next option is. I call it hydroplaning; Stacy Kildal calls it hovering. Either way, you can just run your mouse over the different menus to find where you want to go next. And, if you click the “More” option in any menu, at the bottom there is Rearrange menu that allows you to position your menu items per your preference.


Related Reports Tab – On nearly any list in QBO, there is a Related tab on the right side of the window. When you click on it, it offers related reports or lists that make sense to go to next from the list you are on. Brilliant!

Tip #3: The third and final tip is  really two in one: Downloaded Transactions and the Income List

Downloaded Transactions – Ever use When you hook your bank account, Mint downloads the daily activity automatically for you. There is no need to download the statement. You are always up to date with the latest banking activity for that day.

Downloading financial institution activity in QBO works the same way. Once you link your QBO to your bank, credit card or PayPal account, the daily activity is there for you to either Add to register, Match to existing transaction in the register or Exclude the activity. There are options to enter Splits, assign a Class or Location (or both), or tag a Job (if using QBO Plus version). You can set a default account that the transaction will auto-categorize to next time, and while your client is Accepting transactions into QBO, the accountant can review the accepted transactions.

Income List/Money Bar – More like a Dashboard than a list, but I will let Stacy Kildal say it best:

“The Income List is really not a list; it’s an Income List, but not an income list. Confused? Don’t be. It’s a tool.”

The Income List Money Bar is a Customer Workflow Dashboard. I can enter, manage, track and resolve end to end the Customer Transaction River. Hokey? Well, QuickBooks users in Appalachia will get the reference, but this Income List works great for a Homepage. Just take a look at what can be accomplished from this one page in QBO. I can even perform Batch actions from this “dashboard,” including printing and sending transactions, and “The List” can be filtered.

My favorite part is the Money Bar – a colorful flow going left to right – detailing open estimates, unbilled time, materials or expense, and open invoices/overdue invoices and payments. Your customer will have a hard time not realizing he or she needs to receive payment against the open invoice. This Customer Transaction Dashboard trains the client on proper QBO workflow.

While there are many more QBO Tips/Tricks/Best Practices, the ones above will leave you feeling confident about supporting, managing and encouraging your QBO clients.