Three Tools That Help Accountants Work More Efficiently
When I look at the mountains of paperwork from pending tax returns on my desk that I need to prepare, I can’t help but think about the last 7 years of my practice. Of course, my practice has changed in many ways over the last seven years, but when I stop to compare the amount of work I did 7 years ago to the amount of work I do now, I feel just as overwhelmed. Yet, I am outputting 10 times the work!
How is that possible? I pondered … and it was immediately obvious: I am more skilled than I was in 2008 and, as a result, faster.
But 10 times worth? Experience has played a big role, but what’s enabled me to get more work done in the same amount of time are the tools I use, with the biggest shift going from manual data entry to importing data.
In the last 7 years, I have tested more than 20 software packages, and combinations of them, to achieve that extra notch of efficiency. Of course, CPAs and accountants know me as the “QuickBooks® Guy,” so I’m obviously going to say that I do all the bookkeeping work in QuickBooks. However, in addition to QuickBooks, I use several tools that allow me to achieve more efficiency.
3 Tools in QuickBooks Desktop
First, there is QuickBooks Desktop Accountant Edition. Although Intuit has tons of product options with QuickBooks Pro, Premier, Accountant, Enterprise, Mac and Online, my software of choice for managing many accounting-bookkeeping projects (write ups) is QuickBooks Accountant because of these three very powerful features:
- Batch Enter Transactions
- Add/Edit Multiple Names (available in Pro/Premier/Mac as well)
- Reclassify Transactions
First, with Batch Enter Transactions, I can take 12 months of bank transaction data (assuming the data was available through the bank) with hundreds or thousands of transactions, clean them up in Excel and then proceed to copy/paste into QuickBooks. What used to be a 2-day job turned into a 2-hour job. In some cases, I charge the exact same fee because clients are willing to pay for the value of your work instead of the time spent, but that’s a topic for another article.
Second, in combination with Batch Enter, I can use Add/Edit Multiple Vendors to quickly add a large list of vendors/payees to speed up that process even more.
Third, Reclassify Transactions is another incredible tool. In the spur of the moment when importing thousands of transactions in 1 hour, there is a chance I may have misclassified some expenses. This tool makes it very easy to quickly change the category.
5 Third-Party Tools
By itself, QuickBooks is terrific. By adding third-party tools and apps, the software truly rocks with the following features that complement my larger data entry bookkeeping jobs:
- ScanWriter Excel Edition by Personable
- 2qbo Convert Pro by MoneyThumb
- Transaction Pro Importer by Baystate Consulting
- Data Transfer Utility by Q2Q.us
- PDF2XL by Cogniview
Here’s how I’m using these tools, sometimes in tandem, based on these scenarios:
Scenario 1: My client does not give me a QuickBooks file with his own bookkeeping; instead, he gives me all the printed paper statements for banks and credit cards because there is no other digital version of the client’s bank transactions.
ScanWriter Excel Edition allows me to take all the transaction data from the bank statements I scan and converts them into a debit/credit format for Excel. In some cases, and if the data is easy to clean in Excel, I will import the data into QuickBooks using Batch Enter, as shown on this video. In other cases, I convert the spreadsheet into .QBO (Web Connect File) using 2qbo Convert Pro, in order to import them using Bank Feeds.
Scenario 2: My client gives me all of her bank statements in their native PDF format as downloaded from the bank, or in a CSV (Excel) file with all the bank transactions. I use 2qbo Convert Pro, by itself, to convert the data to .QBO format and download it via Bank Feeds. Here’s a video explaining how to do that.
Scenario 3: My client gives me his QuickBooks File, and only part of that information is useful. For example, while the client used it very well to Print Checks, everything else is a mess. I use Data Transfer Utility to copy just the checks from my client’s QuickBooks file into my own, clean file. For the rest of the data, I would use Scenario 1 or 2, depending on the circumstance.
Scenario 4: My client provides a list of transactions with multiple lines, such as Invoices with multiple line items, in CSV or Excel format, which is very common for clients that have eCommerce. The only way for me to import these detail-level transactions is with Transaction Pro Importer (TPI). Another similar scenario is when my client provides just a list of customers with open invoices by year-end, also great for TPI.
Scenario 5: My customer actually provides a printout or a PDF file with a list of transactions or a list of items that she wants me to import; in this case, I use PDF2XL, which allows me to “read” the PDF/Printer list and convert the transactions to Excel. Then, based on the situation, I use Batch Enter Transactions, Add/Edit Multiple Names or TPI.
There are, of course, many other scenarios in which I would use a third-party tool to import data, but for the most part, other scenarios probably mean that I have to work 100% in QuickBooks without any apps to help.
A lot of new clients – with whom I do their whole year of books in QuickBooks Accountant – then ask me for the file, so that they can get started with their own books the current year. At that point, I can recommend, without hesitation, QuickBooks Online. Converting companies like these from Desktop to Online is actually quite easy. Here’s a video about converting to QuickBooks Online for reference.
Quality Versus Quantity
I hope this article sheds some light into my approach to bookkeeping and data entry. As always, I like to think of my increased efficiencies as a means to an end. In other words, I am very aware that I must not sacrifice quantity for quality. It doesn’t matter if I can produce 20 times as much work as I did 7 years ago. Instead, I want all of my clients to feel as if I’m a true partner to their businesses and needs. That’s the mark of true success.