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Accounting

What’s New in QuickBooks 2009: Part II

Column: The QuickBooks Advisor

From the January 2009 Issue

Each year, the new versions of QuickBooks arrive in the fall, and all of us
in the consulting business scramble to figure out how the new features will
affect us and our clients. This year, there are several significant changes
to the software, and except for a few problems with the online banking features
that we expect to see fixes for soon, all of the changes are great for accountants.

In last month’s column (www.CPATechAdvisor.com/go/2197),
I reviewed several of the new features in version 2009, including the new Company
Snapshot, Bank Reconciliation Improvements, Multi-Currency, External Accountant
User designation, Improvements in multi-user functionality, List improvements,
the backwards compatibility features, and the new Help and support features.
This month, I’ll discuss the new Client Data Review feature and the Intuit
Statement Writer (a replacement for the Financial Statement Designer).

Client Data Review Tool

Overview of Features
The Client Data Review (CDR) tool is included with the QuickBooks Premier Accountant
2009 and QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions Accountant 9.0 versions. The CDR tool
allows the accountant to review, detect and correct errors in the client’s
data file. In a nutshell, the tool consists of the following features:

  • A customizable master control screen with a checklist-style view that provides
    access to tools and reports used by the reviewing accountant. This master
    control screen tracks the “status” of each review task (not started,
    in progress, completed or not applicable) and allows you to keep “task
    notes” as you perform the data review.
  • A printable “status” of your review progress that includes
    the status of each review task along with notes about each task.
  • A “freeze” feature that takes a snapshot of 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, it recommends a journal entry to restore
    your original balances.
  • Several tools are provided that allow you to detect problems (or verify
    accuracy) of transactions in the client data file. These tools provide review
    at the account level for any account in the general ledger, as well as tools
    to verify sales tax, inventory, payroll and “links” between transactions.
    Incorrect links are often the cause of inaccurate financial statement reports.
    For example, when a payment is applied to an invoice, QuickBooks creates a
    link between the two transactions. If, for example, you find an incorrect
    “link” between a payment and an invoice (e.g., if the payment
    is applied to the wrong invoice), this could cause big problems in the reports,
    especially the cash basis financial statements.
  • In addition to tracking changes to transactions, as is provided by the
    Audit Trail, the CDR tool tracks changes to the QuickBooks lists including
    additions, deletions, merges and edits to list items. This includes the Chart
    of Accounts, the Item list, the Fixed Asset Item list and the Payroll Item
    list.

Overall,
the whole concept of this client data review tool is right on target. For many
years, we at The Sleeter Group have been developing and perfecting manual methods
for reviewing client data files, and this tool automates many of the steps in
our processes. While the CDR tool does not automatically detect any client errors,
it does facilitate an efficient data review process that will save QuickBooks
consultants hours of time on each engagement.

Starting a Client Data Review
The CDR tool is launched from the Accountant menu in both QuickBooks
Premier Accountant 2009 and QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions Accountant 9.0.

The header at the top of the Client Data Review control screen displays the
review basis (accrual or cash) and the review period (specific date range).
Also, the CDR will indicate if you are logged into the data file with the new
External Accountant User type. Although the CDR tool only works in single-user
mode, it is possible for multiple reviewers (users) to work on the same file
and perform review tasks. This allows the audit trail to report on the activities
of each reviewer separately, and it also allows reviewers to document their
work using the task notes.

Customizing
the Client Data Review
You can customize the view you have in the CDR center to make it unique
for each client’s QuickBooks 2009 file. To customize the task list, click
Customize Cleanup Tasks at the top center of the CDR feature. You can also select
the categories or tasks you want displayed in the Client Data Review tool to
customize the review tasks for each QuickBooks data file.

Client Data Review Tasks and Reports
The following sections provide general information about the Client
Data Review tasks and reports.

Troubleshooting Account Balances
The Troubleshooting Account Balances “freezes” your prior
period reviewed balances so that the next time you review the client’s
file, your stored balances are compared to current QuickBooks balances for that
review period. Any differences are highlighted in the Difference column. You
can set the view to Only show accounts with different balances. You can create
a new Transaction Change Report, listing those changes since the last review
period, allowing you to drill down to the specific transaction(s) creating the
difference.

If CDR finds a difference, a recommended journal entry to restore your original
balances is prepared for your review. (You remain in control, however, because
you choose if that suggested journal entry gets posted or not.) With each completed
review, your Last Review Balances are updated. These balances cannot be changed
by clients.

Tracking Changes to QuickBooks Lists
QuickBooks 2009 tracks changes to list elements. The Chart of Accounts, Items,
Fixed Asset Items, and Payroll Items lists are tracked when list elements are
added, deleted, merged or edited. Your client’s data will start tracking
this information as soon as they update their file to QuickBooks 2009.

Fix Unapplied Customer Payments and Credits
Often, your clients will create a credit memo or receive a payment
from a customer but not apply it to the original open invoice. The net total
on the Aging Summary report is correct, but when looking at the Open Invoices
report, both the credit memo or unapplied payment and open invoice amount are
still listed.

Use the new CDR clean-up feature to apply the open credit or unapplied payment
to the open invoice. The window will only show those customers with open credits
or payments that need to be applied. You can apply them one at a time or select
a customer on the left and auto apply to all transactions.

Clear-up Undeposited Funds Account
When a client creates a customer receive payment but does not properly
include that customer payment in a Make Deposit form, the result is a growing
balance in the Undeposited Funds account on the balance sheet. The CDR provides
a one-screen view of all customer payments that are included in the Undeposited
Funds balance and any Make Deposit forms that were recorded and assigned to
that customer.

You can associate the customer receive payment transaction to the make deposit
form. The result is that the customer payment is no longer included in the Undeposited
Funds account balance, and the overstatement in the account used in the make
deposit form is reversed. Note, you will have a credit in the accounts receivable
account if the customer payment was not applied to an invoice.

Fix Unapplied Vendor Payments and Credits
Some clients may create a vendor bill and create a vendor credit without applying
the credit to the original open vendor bill. With the Fix Unapplied Vendor Payments
and Credits, you have easy access to one window to apply the credit to the bill.

Find Incorrectly Paid Sales Tax
In previous QuickBooks versions, reviewing a client’s file for
incorrectly paid sales tax payments was a lengthy process and involved preparing
multiple reports. With this custom Client Data Review report, you can identify
these errors. This CDR custom report simplifies the identification of the sales
tax payable payments that were incorrectly created. If these transactions are
found in your client’s data, you will need to make a correcting entry.
Methods to correct these transactions may include voiding the original check
form and re-creating the payment through the Pay Sales Tax dialog, or creating
a Sales Tax Adjustment form.

Using the CDR feature makes it easier to locate these and other types of QuickBooks
data-entry errors.

Find Incorrectly Paid Payroll Liabilities
Previously reviewing the client’s payroll liability payments
included preparing multiple reports or searching the payroll liabilities register
for incorrect payments using the wrong QuickBooks form. With the CDR feature,
the Payroll Liabilities Paid by Regular Check report (see Figure 9 at the top
of next column) will provide details of transactions that were incorrectly recorded
when paying payroll liabilities.

If your client assigned an account other than the Quick-Books created Payroll
Liabilities on a check form, CDR will list those transactions on the report.
This CDR custom report helps identify checks paying payroll liabilities but
not using the proper payroll liabilities payment form.

While the CDR and the Payroll Liabilities Paid by Regular Check report help
you identify payroll liability payment errors, you will need to take further
steps to address any problems, including voiding the original check and re-creating
the payment through the Pay Scheduled Liabilities screen or by using the Adjust
Payroll Liabilities screen.

Marking a Review as Complete
After reviewing your client’s data for a specific accounting
period, you can finalize the review by clicking Mark Review Complete. Marking
a review complete will transfer your reviewed balances to the Last Review Balances
column in the Troubleshooting Account Balances task (see Figure 4), and it will
prompt you to print a report of the review.

When starting a new review, you can open the prior review or continue to a
new review period.

Intuit Statement Writer 2009

The new Intuit Statement Writer is the third attempt by Intuit to create a
truly flexible, feature-rich reporting tool that allows accountants to create
professional-looking customizable, GAAP-compliant financial reports for their
clients. This time, we think they got it right. However, time will tell. Our
first impressions of the Financial Statement Designer were quite positive, but
it turned out to have way too many shortcomings as we put it to the test. So
this time, Intuit took our advice to use Excel instead of trying to add spreadsheet
features within their financial statement design tool. That decision alone is
why we think they finally got it right. Now, instead of having to add new functionality
to satisfy requests for layout and formatting, they can concentrate on developing
harder reports that draw on more data within QuickBooks.

The Intuit Statement Writer 2009 (ISW) tool assists accounting professionals
with the preparation of customized financial reports. Financial statements can
be GAAP-compliant or can be non-compliant management reports. ISW uses Microsoft
Excel (as shown in Figure 11) as the platform for creating and customizing financials
for your clients. The QuickBooks data is linked directly into Excel so that
data can be refreshed in real time.

Note: The Intuit Statement Writer works with Excel 2003 and Excel 2007. It
will not work with Microsoft Excel 2003 Standard Edition, 2003 Student Edition
or 2003 Small Business Edition. Microsoft Excel must be installed before QuickBooks
to have all of the necessary files installed. The ISW tool is available with
Intuit QuickBooks Premier Accountant Edition 2009 (additional fee applies) and
all editions of Intuit QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions 9.0 (no additional fee).
The Intuit Statement Writer connects QuickBooks data to Excel and provides customized
formatting and roll-up functionality. Additionally, your statements are opened
through QuickBooks, but all customized reports are created using ISW macros
and Excel.

QuickBooks Premier or Enterprise users who install the R2 update (or newer
patch) will also have access within the ISW tool to create supporting documents
using Microsoft Words power merge feature. The ISW statement writer replaces
the Financial Statement Designer (FSD). To see a comparison of ISW to FSD, refer
to Table 1 below.

Features of the ISW tool include:

  • Create customized financial statements in Excel from QuickBooks data.
  • Create statements from scratch or use the pre-defined templates. Templates
    come in a variety of formats for Balance Sheets, Income Statements, Cash Flow
    Statements, Budget to Actual Statements, and multiple supporting statement
    documents. For supporting statements, QuickBooks Premier Accountant 2009 and
    QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions 9.0 users must install the R2 or newer update
    patch for this functionality.
  • Uses Microsoft Excel (Excel 2003 or newer) as the platform for customizing,
    adding all the additional features and reporting flexibility available in
    Excel.
  • Refresh reports with current QuickBooks data without leaving the ISW tool.
  • Combine multiple QuickBooks account lines into one line on financial statements
    without changing the QuickBooks chart of accounts.
  • Add rows or columns of detail using QuickBooks data and Excel functionality.
  • Drill down to QuickBooks data and modify QuickBooks transactions within
    the ISW tool.
  • Automatically include new accounts on reports if and when they are added
    to the chart of accounts.
  • Prepare customized Budget versus Actual reports in ISW.

In summary, QuickBooks 2009 has great new features for both accountants and
clients. The Client Data Review tool and the Intuit Statement Writer are huge
new features that required significant efforts on the part of Intuit. I think
both of these features will help accountants and consultants save time while
adding more value to clients.

However, both features will take some time to master. I encourage you to spend
a Saturday with a sample data file and go through the CDR. The key to making
it a useful tool is to understand the different types of client errors you can
(and cannot) fix with it. It won’t help with every situation, but it might
help shorten the amount of time you spend on finding those trouble spots in
files.

As for the Statement Writer, it might pay dividends for you to spend a few
hours just playing with it and making the report you’ve always wanted.
It has great online help, and even a community forum where you can collaborate
with other accountants who might help you figure out how to get the results
you’re looking for. Of course, feel free to reach out to one of our Sleeter
Group consultants for help at www.sleeter.com.