How QuickBooks Online Advanced helped increase our value proposition
For a small business to succeed, it must have the right tools for the job – a job I take very seriously as a trusted advisor. Over the weekend, our business received a call from a potential client that was looking to upgrade from QuickBooks® Enterprise to QuickBooks Online, but was uncomfortable selecting which service plan to choose. After a brief conversation, the small business owner shared with me that they had attempted to convert their Enterprise file internally, only to find that many of the custom fields they needed for billing insurance companies had been lost.
While listening to the owner discuss some of the pain points he had hoped to eliminate, I found myself reflecting over all the advancements QuickBooks Online has undergone over the past year. I could not help but smile when I realized that if QuickBooks Online Advanced did not exist, our phone call would have ended quickly and our firm would have missed the opportunity to bring on a new mid-market client.
That call may have been our first opportunity to directly recommend QuickBooks Online Advanced to a new lead, but it was far from our first conversation about the benefits that Intuit’s new service offering provided. Hoping to share our enthusiasm for the product, we wanted to share how our team has taken advantage of the new features.
Advanced user permissions
The new user permissions offered as part of QuickBooks Online Advanced resolved one of the most significant concerns our clients often shared with us as their businesses continued to grow and they added additional employees. With each new employee added, the specific duties of each staff member became much more precise; the owners needed better role-based permissions to strengthen their internal checks and balances.
While discussing this new feature with our clients, we found that the most common requests we received were focused on the access granted to outside sales associates. To ensure the invoicing procedure was followed correctly, the company wanted to separate the access between creating an estimate and invoicing a customer. Due to high turnover in the sales team, the company required the sales manager to review all estimates before creating an invoice. This approval process required all sales associates access to QuickBooks to be restricted to estimate creation only.
For business owners, access to the bank feed section has always been heavily controlled and often required access to all the data or nothing at all. Thanks to the addition of the new user permissions, we have been able to work much closer with office managers to capture deposit details without exposing the financial state of the company.
Custom User Fields
The new custom fields feature within QuickBooks Online Advanced quickly became my favorite new feature. As workflow specialists, my business partner, Mike Snelson, and I have been assisting business owners to design simplified processes that allow for very detailed reporting unique to their industry. To accomplish this, we had to use a mixture of custom fields and classes, along with unique custom reports.
While this process allowed us to help many different businesses across multiple industries, we were always required to do additional data cleansing each month to correct the typos in the custom fields before the information could be useful. For example, while setting up the workflow for a mortgage broker, we discovered they were spending too much time generating the necessary reporting to local agencies about the types of loans that were being processed, as well as the initial value of the home loans. That same information was necessary for the company to track the sales commission that had to be paid out on each of the deals. To help solve both pain points, we used a mixture of custom fields on a memorized transaction that included specialized bundle items.
This complex workflow allowed us to generate a custom group of reports that were sent out to each of the sales associates and the business manager. While this process helped save our client a lot of time, we found that the errors in the custom field generated additional work for our team to clean up the data before the reports could be generated.
With the four different user field types, (text, number, date, drop-down) we have been able to capture unique information on each invoice without all the data entry errors. Prior to QuickBooks Online Advanced, we did not have a way to stop people from entering incorrect data such as accidental typos. Depending on who entered the information, you might find different versions of a name like Matt, Matthew or Mathew. With the new drop-down field, we were able to set the specific options a person could select from. Without the drop-down selection, any custom reporting that we created based on the custom field required us to review every transaction and modify any typos found one at a time. The custom fields create much cleaner, structured data for our client and ultimately better reporting.
Advanced reporting functions
QuickBooks Online Advanced offers two major improvements to the current reporting capabilities compared to the other QuickBooks Online version levels:
- Thanks to the new custom field options included with QuickBooks Online Advanced, users can now generate highly advanced reporting based on the values within those fields. Similar to our discussion about custom fields, the new drop-down field has dramatically reduced the amount of time our team spends cleaning data each month to present specialized reporting to our clients. Previously, it was challenging to track sales by an employee without the use of an additional third-party application.
- Now, thanks to QuickBooks Online Advanced, we have been able to automatically email reports to each employee that shares their total sales and the commissions they should expect on their next paycheck. This simple little change has helped our payroll team reduce the time it took to process payroll and reduced the number of corrections processed for inaccurate commission checks.
Fathom Smart Reporting
Fathom Smart Reporting provides users a visual representation of their financial data. As a small business matures, owners rely on the up-to-date information provided by their accounting platform to make important decisions. As a trusted advisor to my clients, we have often struggled to find the best way to present information in a meaningful manner to our clients that would help them make more informed business decisions.
Like most accounting professionals, our team generates a monthly financial packet that is delivered to each business owner. Each packet contains a monthly P&L, balance sheet and other standard reporting every business owner should review regularly – but very few do. Upon reviewing the open rate of the packets sent, we found that less than 25 percent of our clients consistently reviewed the information sent.
Interested to learn how other accountants overcame this same challenge, I reached out to our good friend, Seth David of Nerd Enterprises who shared how he turned his month-end reporting into an advisory opportunity that allowed him to charge more for services each month. Seth, with all his wisdom, showed me how he introduces industry-specific key performance indicators to his clients to get them to buy into the process, so we decided to give it a try with a couple of our existing clients.
During our client test, we presented two sets of financial data to our clients who were testing out QuickBooks Online Advanced. First, we presented a monthly P&L for the prior year and asked them if anything stood out to them. The answer was almost always the same: “Yeah, my sales have gone up, so where is all of my money?”
Next, we opened Fathom’s reporting functions within QuickBooks Online Advanced, which immediately displayed the key performance indicators specific to their business. Almost immediately, those same clients who previously had only focused on the bottom number of the report started to ask questions about their books.
While most of the reporting offered within Fathom could be manually generated by exporting data from QuickBooks Online to Excel, the time cost made the task very unprofitable.
Measuring our return on investment
Even with all the new features in QuickBooks Online Advanced, some companies will recognize a greater return on their investment than others. Prior to the launch of QuickBooks Online Advanced, our firm relied heavily on the use of classes during our monthly processing, requiring us to set up all company files with QuickBooks Online Plus. After the introduction of the new class limitations, we revisited our standard operating procedures and determined that a portion of our clients were able to transition down to QuickBooks Online Essentials, while another group of clients were a perfect for the upgrade to QuickBooks Online Advanced.
After taking a second look at the files we upgraded, we found that only one of the company files were required to move to QuickBooks Online Advanced as a result of the user limits. Most of our clients who upgraded to QuickBooks Online Advanced recognized that the new features would benefit their current workflow. When we asked our clients, which feature was their favorite, the majority agreed that they appreciated the power the custom fields provided while creating custom reporting.
The launch of QuickBooks Online Advanced opened the door for our team to offer advisory services. By utilizing Fathom Reporting, we can quickly provide meaningful KPIs with our clients as a part of our monthly financial recap meeting. More importantly, QuickBooks Online Advanced has provided us the tools we need as we continue to expand into the mid-market business sector.