Common QuickBooks Accounting Mistakes and Fixes

Common QuickBooks Accounting Mistakes and Fixes

Many businesses are using QuickBooks® but few businesses use the program correctly. QuickBooks is very easy to use with the proper set up and training on the correct methods to enter transactions; however, many clients have learned to use the software by trial and error. Because recorded check looks just like the check the client wrote and an invoice is easily generated and sent, clients mistakenly think they are generating accurate accounting records. Unfortunately, these clients lack the accounting knowledge and analytical skills to review the financial statements to ensure accuracy.

The issues and resolutions addressed in this training will better equip you to quickly and easily identify the common QuickBooks errors clients make and understand the methods to effectively and efficiently correct them.

Assisting a client with generating an accurate financial statement can identify may the client has in recording transactions. Clients will appreciate your service when they realize you are a QuickBooks expert and can train them on how to use the software correctly. Ultimately this provides them with more timely and accurate financial information from which they can make better business decisions.

Editors’ Note: This article is the first in a series of articles on Common QuickBooks Mistakes and how to fix them; the content was taken from Intuit’s® own course material.  This series is designed to:

  • identify data file types and other initial considerations,
  • explore symptoms and causes of common mistakes,
  • determine if these mistakes occurred and the impact on the accounting records,
  • assess alternatives available to fix these mistakes, and
  • identify ways to minimize these mistakes in the future.

Notes about the Approach

Because various users choose to use the navigators on the home page, or not, and may customize the icon bar, these instructions will use the menu bar at the top of the software. QuickBooks PREMIER: Accountant Edition 2011 is the version of the software that is used in this course. While many of the fixes will work with other versions, this is the most comprehensive and feature rich product and includes the reports and functionality accountants want and need. We are using the sample data file (Rock Castle Construction) included with the software to make it easy for you to test the solutions with your own copy of the software back in your office.

The majority of these fixes require that you have access to the live data file. Some solutions cannot be implemented when using the Accountant’s Review Copy of the data. There are many ways to access the live data including working at the client’s office, obtaining a back up or portable copy of the data file to use in your office (don’t forget to remind the client not to enter any transactions while you have it or your back up or portable file will overwrite their information), utilizing the Accountant’s Copy or using QuickBooks Accountant 2011 feature of Remote Access or another service that allows remote access to the client’s computer.

IMPORTANT: One of the most important processed you can stress to your clients is the routine and frequent backup of the QuickBooks data file. Do not overwrite the previous QuickBooks backups. Back up before you start and at every major step along the way. In most cases, you will not need to restore the backup, but if you do, being able to restore the data to a specific point in time is critical. Be sure that if the backup is made to the client’s hard drive, you can locate the file and save the backup to another medium such as a CD or USB drive.

NOTE: You can be the hero by reminding your clients that they need frequent and regular backups of their data. The backups should be done from within QuickBooks and not just via their overall computer or network backup. The backups should be to at least two different locations such as the hard drive and a CD or USB drive. Physically separating the backups is also a good recommendation to make. An offsite backup is also strongly recommended.

QuickBooks does not have an undo, undelete, or any other way to say “Oops, I didn’t mean to do that.” For this reason, in addition to the back ups, printing key financial reports as permanent records is also encouraged. Reports can be printed electronically to PDF files. Just be sure to view the report and ensure the proper page settings have been used for a useful report. The page setting such as “Fit report to one page wide” can make reports easier to read.

NOTE: You do not have to print to paper, you can print to PDF and save it electronically. You can get CutePDF free and select it as you would any printer.

When significant errors are detected and correcting the errors will take a considerable amount of time, your client needs to understand and appreciate the level of expertise you possess that allows you to correct these errors. Walking the client through the errors and teaching them the proper method of handling the transactions should help them properly process the transactions next time.

Accessing Your Client’s Data File as an External Accountant User

The Accountant’s Copy is an easy way to document the changes you make to your client’s QuickBooks file. If you use the Accountant’s Copy feature in QuickBooks Premier: Accountant 2011, your changes will be tracked and documented for you and your client. Your client will have the opportunity to accept or reject them when you give them the accountant’s copy back and then to merge the changes into their existing data file. You can also print these changes.

NOTE: Make sure to communicate to the client that they should NOT cancel the Accountant’s copy or restore the data file. If another Accountant’s Copy is generated, your changes will not import as the file is serialized to only accept changes in from the last Accountant’s copy file generated.

The External Accountant role was added in 2009 and gives you another way to track the changes you make to your clients’ data files. The Administrator of your client’s file creates an External Accountant role for you in their data file. You will make your changes as the External Accountant in the client’s live QuickBooks data file. The External Accountant user allows the Accountant access to all areas of QuickBooks similar to the Administrator role. In the past, in order to get Administrator level access, the Accountant would have to sign in as the Administrator on the file. The downfall of signing in as the Administrator is that any changes that the Accountant makes become indistinguishable from those changes the client makes. With the External Accountant user, the Accountant has access to all sensitive accounting activities and information in the QuickBooks data file without needing to be logged in as the Administrator and can easily identify whether a change was made by the Administrator or themselves.

NOTE: The only limitations for the External Accountant user role are that you are unable to add, edit or delete existing users of the QuickBooks file and you cannot view customer credit card information.

The Administrator of the QuickBooks data file is the only person that can create an External Accountant User in the QuickBooks file. Once created, the Accountant should always log on as the External Accountant User to perform accounting tasks in the QuickBooks file. This enables any changes made by the accountant in the QuickBooks file to be tracked separately. The External Accountant should be the only one allowed to have this user role in QuickBooks since it has Administrator-level access to the QuickBooks file. Instruct your client to not use the External Accountant login or give the login information to anyone else in the office.

NOTE: You are able to log in as the External Accountant in QuickBooks Pro and Premier Editions and QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions, as long as the Administrator creates this user role for you in their company file.

To set up an External Accountant User (by the Administrator):

  1. On the Company Menu, select Users.
  2. Select Set Up Users and Roles.
  3. Click New….
  4. Enter User Name and Password for the Accountant.
  5. Select the External Accountant access for the Accountant, click Add, and then click OK.

Client Data Review (CDR)

Client Data Review (CDR) is included in QuickBooks Accountant and QuickBooks Enterprise Accountant Edition. Limited Client Data Review functionality can be accessed in QuickBooks Pro and Premier when you log in as the External Accountant User. Client Data Review helps to easily identify and clean up data entry errors made by your clients in QuickBooks.

Client Data Review helps accounting professionals be more productive when detecting and correcting client data errors. When asked in a QuickBooks ProAdvisor® newsletter survey (April 2008), accounting professionals indicated that as much as 60% of their billable time is spent troubleshooting and correcting client data files, yet it remains one of the least profitable activities the professionals provide for their clients.

The Client Data Review feature includes the following:

  • A single working screen that provides access to tools and reports only available in CDR
  • Links to critical QuickBooks menus and reports
  • Real–time data refresh as corrections are made to the client’s data
  • “Freezes” your prior period reviewed balances. The next time you review the client’s file your stored balances are compared to current QuickBooks balances for that review period. If CDR finds a difference, a recommended journal entry to restore your original balances is prepared for your review (You choose whether or not to post the entry.)
  • A tool to quickly reclassify transactions
  • Tracks changes to the QuickBooks lists including additions, deletions, merges or edits
  • Provides a working screen to conveniently apply open customer or vendor payments or credits to associated open invoices or vendor bills
  • A tool to write off unpaid invoices
  • A tool to troubleshoot inventory balances
  • Tracks the status of individual review ‘steps’ as well as documenting overall review notes
  • Marks a review as ‘completed’ allowing you to either re-open the review or begin a new period review
  • A printable detailed report of the changes made during the review
  • Available for use in QuickBooks Accountant’s Copy data sharing file type (limited to features available in Accountant’s Copy)

Throughout this course, the Client Data Review tools are discussed where applicable.