I wrote this article for Intuit, Inc back in September 2012 to discuss how quickbooks can be customized and integrated with other systems. Many past students of our QuickBooks Training courses have contacted us asking about getting QuickBooks to work with specific programs that are more related to their specific industries.. so here we go:
Expand QuickBooks Capabilities with Customization and Integrations Tools.
As a business grows, improving the technology infrastructure (servers, workstations, software) becomes a basic necessity. More sales, means more data to manage, which also means more employees to manage it, and more controls necessary for management to be on top of it all. Accounting or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems are in the forefront of this. Most popular ERP systems such as SAP, Great Plains, Oracle, PeopleSoft, just name a few… are still not within reach of most small and medium size businesses due their high costs, long implementation times, and long/expense training & support required. So usually small and medium-sized businesses resort to standard accounting systems as the main database for all business operations.
Most small businesses make the shift from a paper or spreadsheet based bookkeeping system to QuickBooks Pro because of its low price and ease of use. Then as the business has more advanced needs they evolve to QuickBooks Premier for the following features:
- Sales Orders to perform client back orders. And also to have a step to recognize a sale that differs from the estimate and happens before it is invoiced. Sale Order Fulfillment features makes the process of invoicing backorders when the product becomes available very simple
- One-Click Transactions: allow the user to convert Estimates and Sales Orders to Purchase Orders with a single click, and maintain a relationship between those transactions.
- Forecast and Business Plans, two power features to help the small business owner plan for the future by using past date to quickly perform “what-if” and financial projections.
- Inventory Assemblies: to create new items composed of other inventory and non-inventory items, perfect for manufacturers and value-adding wholesalers
- Industry Specific Reports: for Contractors, Wholesale & Manufacturers, Retail, Non-Profit, and Professional Services
- Multiple Units of Measure: for example, to purchase in cozens, but sell by each.
- Invoice Time & Expenses: in a batch format to create invoiced directly from billable time and expenses. Instead of one invoice at the time.
- Price Levels by Item: to have multiple price tables for each client or group of clients in a per-item basis.
- Up to 5 Simultaneous Users: allow more people to collaborate
A powerful accounting system must only be easy to use and feature reach, but it must have the capability to expand with the businesses growth and integrate with other systems such as sales, operations/management, and web-based tools; to increase efficiency by reducing double data entry. Making this jump, to increase capacities and complete data integration, usually marks the turning point of the businesses road to exponential growth.
This jump is made when the business upgrades to QuickBooks Enterprise. It has all the features of Pro/Premier plus additional designed to truly speed-up, increase capacity, and customize the system to match the needs of the growing business:
- Up to 30 Simultaneous users: more users can work at the same time and collaborate. Also more tasks can be done un Multi-User mode (adjust inventory, delete unused items, manage sales tax)
- User Access Controls: with more users, there is a larger need to restrict and control access to certain sensitive business data. With over 115 different activities with customizable access
- Increased Capacity: over 100,000 items and names can be stored with QuickBooks Enterprise.
- Total Inventory Control: with tools such as Inventory picture, Barcode Scanning, FIFO costing, Serial Number Tracking, Bin/Location Tracking, Multiple Inventory Locations, In-form Find & Select items, Enhanced Inventory Receiving (separating inventory receiving from accounts payable process), and auto-create purchase orders to maintain minimum quantity on stock. This significantly reduces data entry time, inventory errors, and the need to have another inventory system outside of QuickBooks.
- More Custom Fields: 12 custom fields can be used to have more detail per item than ever before.
- Auto-Assign Default Classes: to accounts, items, or names; and dramatically decrease keystrokes during data entry.
- Find & Select Items: by name, description or custom fields within sales forms to quickly sort through large number of items
QuickBooks Enterprise powerful built-in integration tools such as:
- Customizable reporting capability: with a built-in ODBC driver, QuickBooks Enterprise can easly connect to database systems such a Microsoft Access or popular reporting tools such as Crystal Reports. Allowing QuickBooks data to integrate with other systems easier, safer, and faster.
- TrueCommerce EDI Transaction manager: one business license included to help you transact faster and 100% digitally with other companies with Electronic Data Interexchange, which significantly reduces data entry time and errors.
- Integrated Remote Desktop Access: QuickBooks Enterprise can be access from anywhere using RDS via Windows Vista/7/8 Professional and Windows Server 2003/2008/2008R2. Fully Integrated to multiple users Remote Access Licenses for Windows Server to reduce amount of required workstations for remote users.
- Linux-Based Database Server: increased flexibility working with Linux servers.
- Field Service Management: seamless integration with one of the best cloud-based field management systems for service proving industry such as service technicians.
- Intuit Statement Writer: fully integrate QuickBooks financial statement data with Excel to allow for customizable reporting capabilities
- Combine multiple companies: integrating multiple company files to create consolidated financial statements.
- Integrated Intuit App Center: to access all cloud-based services that integrate and complement QuickBooks such as the popular: Sales Force CRM for QuickBooks, AuditMyBooks Analyzer, Bill.com , ViewMyPaycheck, etc. There over 200 applications in the Intuit App Center designed to work within QuickBooks.
- Integrated Employee Organizer: to manage all pertinent information about employees in a single place.
But a fully integrated and high-capacity system is nothing without support. Support must be available from the manufacturer and from 3rd party consultants.
One of the most significant features of QuickBooks Enterprise is access to support. When you purchase QuickBooks Enterprise, it comes with Full Service plan for the first year, which includes unlimited premium U.S. Based Technical Support. Intuit Data Protect, which allows up 100GB of Online backup. Optionally, QuickBooks Enterprise users may purchase the annual Full Service Plan after the first year to continue to have access to technical support and FREE upgrade to the next version of QuickBooks Enterprise that comes out each year. Full Service Plan also has access to in-depth online product training.
There are over 50,000 3rd party consultants (Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors) in the U.S. with expertise in accounting, business management, and/or computer systems available in many local markets to compliment Intuit’s support for QuickBooks Enterprise and deliver a customized in-person training/consulting experience.
The financial implications of customizing and integrating an accounting system to other systems and business processes are crucial. Integrating and Customizing will require an investment which will be easily identifiable. However, and although the return on the investment is difficult to measure, it is usually clear when you immediately see: speed of work is improved, quality of the work increased, and the accuracy of reports allow for better, on-the-fly business decisions.
A Paint Contractor in Houston, TX, in less than a year of acquiring QuickBooks Enteprise, fully integrated their entire operating and business processed with their accounting system. Robert, the owner of the company, will confess that this would not have been an easy task without the help of a QuickBooks ProAdvisor that specializes in the construction/contracting industry and Intuit’s U.S. Based premium technical support.
Apart from Robert, there are 8 staff members running the operation from the office, 2 field managers, and 21 painters. Additionally, there are 20 to 30 subcontractors actively working at any point in time. The challenges and solutions to those challenges were as followed:
- Having all 8 staff members and 2 field managers access the system in different areas without being able look at sensitive information. The solution was with QuickBooks Enterprise, create 10 users all with unique access to the areas they needed to handle; for example: dispatchers only had access to creating work orders for employees (Sales Orders) and work orders for sub-contactors (Purchase Orders), field managers could view all orders issued and cost related to each job to ensure they could always have access to work-in-progress reports and better control expenditures.
- The owner was usually traveling and field managers where always on the road. With integrated Remote Desktop Services, they where able to work from their laptops though the internet seamlessly as if they were are the office working.
- Two sales staff were in contact communication with leads and the clients, and had most of the insights about the client’s specific expectations on the work an it was difficult for communicate to field managers and painters. With Sales Force for QuickBooks, sales staff were able to have a single system in which to input data about phone conversations and emails received from clients which allowed field managers to have all that data at their finger tips integrated within QuickBooks avoiding unnecessary phone calls and potentially very costly mistakes.
- There were 10 vehicles in the fleet, a warehouse, and an offsite painting mixing facility; inventory was hard to track and there was often loss of time money spent in emergency refilling of supplies in the field. With QuickBooks Enterprise Advanced Inventory, they were able to track inventory inside each truck and warehouses in real-time to allow preparing for stock every day before the trucks were sent out.
- The owner owned two other contracting companies: a Drywall Contracting Company and an HVAC Specialty Contracting Company. The challenge was that some of the recourses were share among the companies, and additionally some larger contracts involved two or even all three of his companies. With QuickBooks Enterprise, the bookkeeping staff was able to have two company files open at the same time to record transactions for any of the two without having to close or switch company files. And additionally, within minutes, they could produced a combined/consolidated financial statements for all three companies in a single report which made for faster and better management decisions
Robert painting company continues to grow, and as he hires new personnel, the top priority is getting them trained in QuickBooks Enterprise and assimilated to a total digital process.
Wikipedia’s Definition of the word Personalization (Synonym of Customization):
Personalization technology enables the dynamic insertion, customization or suggestion of content in any format that is relevant to the individual user, based on the user’s implicit behavior and preferences, and explicitly given details.
This can be dissected as:
“Personalization technology enables the dynamic insertion, customization or suggestion of content” – personalization doesn’t just have to be product recommendations: it can also include inserting any content like images or text (e.g. displaying a golf-orientated banner for a returning golf supplies buyer), or customizing content that is already there (e.g. “Hi Joe, we’ve got some great movie suggestions for you!”).
“…in any format” – it isn’t restricted to the web. It can be implemented for any medium or touchpoint, such as emails, apps, in-store kiosks, etc.
“…that is relevant to the individual user, based on the user’s implicit behaviour and preferences, and explicitly given details” – finally, the most important part. Personalization uses both implicit and explicit information, derived in two ways. Firstly, a visitor might explicitly declare some information, such as their gender or date of birth.
Reference: Doman, James. “What is the definition of “personalization”?”. Quora. 19 March 2012.
Hector Garcia, RTRP
QuickBooks ProAdvisor & Registered Tax Return Preparer
QuickBooks Training Courses, South Florida