Many companies will be closing their books for the year at the end of December. Although many folks feel the year end activities start in early January with bank and account reconciliations, I believe the process should begin in the fall. If management and the accounting staff takes the time to review the books 2 -3 months before year end and make any necessary adjustments and corrections, they can give their tax advisor a better idea of the annual income. Doing this before year end gives the company a chance to estimate taxes, purchase fixed assets, make plans for funding retirement programs, and plan for cash needed in the next year.
I see too many companies go to their tax preparer just before the tax deadline and pay tax when there were purchases that they could have made to reduce the tax burden and increase productivity. I also find companies that are unhappy with their accounting software and wait until the beginning of the year to replace it or begin the search for a better product. Keep in mind that before year end is the time to purchase the tools and equipment that will help you achieve or maintain your profitability in the future. Also this is the time to work with your financial advisor and tax preparer to plan for the best year ever.
Lately I’ve received many calls asking about cloud based accounting software solutions and in particular QuickBooks Online. My answer to these questions tends to be a lengthy discussion of the needs of the client. Here are my thoughts…
Find the software that meets your needs first. Many cloud applications require the use of various add-ons to achieve the total solution while in-house software may have all the functionality needed in one product. If the in-house product is a better match for the business, it can be hosted by various companies and you still have the option of a 24/7 solution.
If you have a cloud based or hosted solution, you can access your data and program 24/7 and multiple users have access from any location or device that connects to the internet. That sounds great but there are the issues to address:
- Connectivity – Vendor issues that may not allow you to access your data, what is their history?
- Security – What security is available and does it meet the legal requirements of you industry?
- Costs – Expect a monthly fee per user or company file. I am not a fan of free solutions.
- Backups – Do you have the ability to download your data in a usable format?
If you choose an in-house solution you have more control, however there are also issues to address:
- Connectivity – Do you have remote users that need to log into the system?
- Security – How will you provide the proper level of security for your business?
- Costs –What are the software costs, annual renewals/updates, and cost of maintaining server?
- Backups – What is your backup strategy?
These are just some of the issues you will need to consider.
This week I received a call from a potential client saying that their CPA requested that they move from Quicken to QuickBooks. They needed help with the conversion but they were also curious if it was a good idea to make the change. After talking to many potential clients in this situation, I find that some are great candidates for QuickBooks and some were much better off in Quicken. Normally I recommend Quicken for Individuals and Property Management firms and I recommend QuickBooks for businesses. However, I’ve included a summary below so you can decide for yourself.
Quicken is an excellent option for Individuals or businesses tracking personal finances, investments and rental properties. Quicken is available in multiple versions:
- Deluxe – Least expensive version designed for individuals to manage their personal finances.
- Premier – Includes Deluxe features and additional features to manage and track your investments all in one place.
- Home & Business – Includes Premier features and can be used for very small businesses. Does not include inventory or many of the features included in QuickBooks.
- Rental Property Manager – Includes the features of Home and Business but it is designed to meet the needs of individuals or businesses that are managing rental properties.
QuickBooks is an excellent choice for a Business that wants to invoice customers, manage inventory, or produce financial statements. There are multiple versions of QuickBooks that businesses can choose from to meet their needs:
- QuickBooks Pro – Least expensive option allows user to manage basic inventory, invoice customers, calculate payroll, and it provides standard reports and the ability to customize reports. I usually recommend this for very small business with a small number of transactions.
- QuickBooks Premier – This product has industry specific reports and language to meet the needs of small to medium size businesses. The industry versions included are General Business, Contractor, Manufacturing & Wholesale, Nonprofit, Professional Services, and Retail. These versions include all the features of QuickBooks Pro but also have additional features to make the user more productive, industry specific reports and additional inventory features.
- QuickBooks Accountant – This product has all the features of QuickBooks Premier and additional features designed for bookkeepers and accounting professionals. It also includes Intuit Statement Writer.
- QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions – This product has all the features of QuickBooks Accountant and has additional features to manage inventory, larger files, larger volume of transactions, and more options to create user rights when configuring security.
I hope this helps in determining which product(s) will meet your needs. As always please call or e-mail me to get the latest specials on QuickBooks software and add-on services
I was recently talking with someone who needed help with his computer software and mentioned that his new computer consultant had installed software that he had not paid for, and really didn’t even need. The computer consultant had the product codes and enough registration information from his employer that he was able to accomplish this illegal install. The person I was talking to told me that the computer consultant worked for a large company and they really did not care if he did this ….REALLY…. Are you kidding me, I can’t believe you would repeat this comment in a court of law!
I told this individual that the software should be uninstalled immediately and I would perform an uninstall if needed. Instead I was informed that the computer consultant could do this on his next visit…REALLY…are you actually letting that fraudster back in your door???
This is a situation that I see more often than I would expect and I am always surprised who falls for this. It’s folks who could easily afford the software and are ethical in other parts of their lives and businesses but somehow illegal software downloads are OK. The fraudster, otherwise known as the computer consultant, is just one 16 digit number away from stealing your credit card number and just one 9 digit number away from your social security number.
Keep in mind that when you let a computer consultant in the door you are probably giving them a password or two while they are assisting you with your computer and network issues. You may even grant them remote access. I have to admit that I have not met this individual but I can tell you without a doubt they are only one decision away from committing a fraud with your information, it may be a only a matter of time.
As a software reseller and consultant I work with a lot of clients and I sell software and perform installs for some clients. Recently I’ve spent an increasing amount of time helping clients put their businesses back together after frauds. These frauds were often committed by long time employees who were trusted and often socialized with the business owners. Quite often I’m told the owner even attended weddings and other events of these fraudsters. You never know what decisions a person might make, even after they have a history of making the right decision in the past. It’s always a good idea to be careful and exercise common sense when dealing with a situation that just doesn’t seem quite right!
I have many clients who offer credit to their customers in their businesses and the only similarity the have to each other is that their Accounts Receivable has doubled over the past five years. They all have had many uncollectable amounts included in their Accounts Receivable for companies that can’t pay them, or are now out of business. A few of these past due accounts are good customers who have had financial issues and are working diligently on paying off their debts. Although the business owners want to help their customers, they need to consider the viability of the business so they can continue to employ the staff and have a profitable business.
I’ve been advising and all my other clients to limit or eliminate the amount of credit they give to their customers for the following reasons:
- To reduce or eliminate bad debts in the Accounts Receivable
- Most business owners and their staff do not have the time or expertise to evaluate a credit history or credit report and set reasonable credit limits. Therefore they give credit too often to those who cannot pay their debts.
- Many business owners and/or bookkeepers are not good at collecting and following up on delinquent accounts, so a late payment often becomes a bad debt without any follow-up.
If you are not going to give your customers credit, there are several options that you should consider:
- Have customers pre-pay for products and services.
- Have customers pay upon delivery for products and services
- Transfer the risk of loss to a 3rd Party
- Accept credit cards – Merchant fees paid are usually less than bad debts and this method will also increase current cash flow.
- Refer customers to a financing or leasing firm.
Although giving credit is the norm in many businesses, I have seen a shift in this policy over the last few years. As businesses change hands, new owners do not extend credit and they do not lose customers as a result of this policy.
Many of my clients accept credit cards for products and services and they often use their bank to provide this service rather than using other vendors. I think this is a mistake to go directly to any one vendor without comparing the different processors first. Since this can be a difficult decision and there are a lot of companies asking for your business here’s a strategy to help you through the process and compare competing offers.
Does this processor work with my billing and accounting software?
- Can you use one process to make the sale and charge the customer’s credit card?
- How will acceptance of credit cards affect your bank reconciliation process?
- Do I need to purchase additional software to enhance the process?
The first vendor I would approach is your accounting software vendor. Many accounting software vendors provide additional modules or their own credit card processing that makes both the sale and the bank reconciliation easier. I normally look at the software vendor first and see what they have to offer. I sell & support QuickBooks (by Intuit) software and the clients using Intuit Merchant services spend less time processing a transaction and considerably less time reconciling their bank account. I also support Sage 100 (formerly MAS 90/200) and clients can save time using their credit card module but do not necessarily need to use Sage Credit Card processing to achieve these benefits. To insure full disclose I just want to mention that I do sell Intuit Merchant Services.
What are the rates that I should pay?
Credit card fees depend upon many variables including average sale, sales volume, credit or debit cards, type of credit card, annual fees, monthly fees… Rather than trying to compare this complicated billing scheme, most vendors will ask for a copy of your last few statements and do a price comparison for you. If they are not less expensive that your current provider don’t be shy and ask for a match of your current pricing, I’ve seen this reduce fees quite often. Don’t let the rates dictate your entire decision, consider the any additional accounting fees to reconcile the account and verify that you have received all your funds rejected cards. Lost revenue due to a lack of reconciliations and follow thru can offset the cost savings quickly. Also consider the cost of credit card terminals and additional equipment.
Do I rent or purchase the credit card terminal?
- Some software packages do not require a terminal and the user can enter the credit card number directly into the software or smart phone so you may not need a terminal.
- Renting a terminal can be quite expensive but if you have any technical issues, the terminal is usually replaced free of charge.
- Purchasing a terminal is the most economical but you will incur the full cost at the time of purchase. Many processors will discount the terminal or offer cash incentive to offset this cost, so make sure you ask for any promotions available.
What length of Contract should I agree to?
Many processors will require a multi-year contract. I recommend that you ask for a contract with no minimum time required and no cancellation fee. Therefore you can change processors if you are not happy or you find a better fit with another provider.
I hope this helps in making your decision. Please contact me if you need additional assistance.
Can I help you with your work load?
As a CPA, I know that certain months such as October, January, April, and July have a significantly increased workload with tax deadlines. I have a solution that will reduce your workload and help you focus on more profitable tasks in your firm.
Having clients use QuickBooks Assisted Payroll in conjunction with their QuickBooks software, will allow the client to process payroll in-house and print payroll checks and/or check stubs (direct deposit), and Intuit will perform all tax filings and pay tax deposits directly from the clients account. The client’s advantages to using Assisted Payroll are cost, ease of use, and no need to post the payroll after the fact (payroll is recorded automatically).
How will this save you time in your busy months?
- You don’t need to prepare payroll tax returns
- Payroll transactions entered by entering employee’s specifics & time worked
- Payroll tax deposits & payments are paid timely from your client’s bank account.
- Intuit will take responsibility for errors or omissions on payroll tax returns
- The cost is less than most outside service bureaus
- The process is easy and clients are happy with the ability to print checks and technical support.
I believe that this service is very helpful to both you and your clients and, since it’s built into QuickBooks, it’s easier to use and more efficient. Not using Assisted Payroll for a QuickBooks client is like buying a salad, throwing out the tomatoes and going to the store and purchasing the same quality tomatoes for the salad.
*If you are interested please contact me so that we can set up your clients to process through Assisted Payroll.
“ie SOLUTIONS” of Monterey was named as a “2008 Pacesetters, the Select 100” in the Accounting Technology Supplement “. Ilene Eisen, CPA. CITP was given special recognition for Accounting Software sales and support of MAS90/200 & Quick Books Enterprise Solutions Software.
“ie SOLUTIONS” is a Monterey-based consulting firm that specializes in providing integrated accounting software and organization information systems solutions. By specifically targeting accounting software, ie SOLUTIONS provides a greater efficiency, higher quality, and timeliness of information for its clients. “ie SOLUTIONS” currently installs, supports, and provides training for Quick Books Enterprise Solutions, Quick Books Point of Sale, Quick Books , MAS90, MAS200, , and Business Works Gold. Owner Ilene Eisen has combined her formal education in Information Systems with over 30 years of accounting experience to create a solid foundation for her company and accounting software consulting practice.