Thursday, May 25, 2017

The truth about online accounting

I don't see personal computers going away any time soon, so as long as you have and maintain a desktop or laptop, why not utilize it to the fullest?

#1 Security - If you are using your laptop or mobile device on a public wi-fi you are opening yourself up to security breaches. If you are using a "cloud based" solution, all of your financial data is being hosted on a web server, and you don't have control over the security of that server. Many use Amazon servers, and we all know Amazon has been hacked. IT professionals may tell you that the "cloud" is more secure because they have a team of professionals fighting off hacking attempts. Yes, they are being attacked because they are the keepers of the "honey-pot".

#2 Connectivity - You MUST be connected to the internet to access your accounting. While internet is much more stable than it was in the past, but depending upon your network and your bandwidth you will experience inherent latency, slowness and at times simply waiting for your data to refresh and update. Many online accounting software is designed to be used with point & click, or screen tap rather than keyboard input. This will slow your capability to input data efficiently.

#3 Cost - Online solutions are subscription based, usually an annual or monthly fee. You don't have to remember to pay this bill, they auto debit your credit for debit account. One of the most popular programs for small businesses is QuickBooks Pro (QBDT), which costs $200 or less and each version is currently being supported for 3 years. If you look at QuickBooks Online (QBO), "Compare QuickBooks Online to Desktop" Simple Start is basically worthless, you're limited to 20 Vendors (people you spend money with), QBO Essentials cost $24/mo., $288/yr., $864/3 yrs.. Costing you nearly $700 more than QBDT. Essentials is still very basic. Then you look at their QBO Plus offering that one costs you $35/mo., $420/yr., a whopping $1,260/ 3 yrs. That's OVER $1,000 more than QBDT! WoW!

#4 Features - You'd think that if your spending over $1,000 for a 3 year period you'd have a ton of features. NO! Below are the report menu view from QBO Plus and QBDT Premier.

QuickBooks Online Report Menu

QuickBooks Desktop Report Menu

As you can see the QuickBooks Pro/Premier have many more financial reports. (Premier only adds some industry specific reports.) Another major features that is NOT available for QBO is Job Costing. That alone makes this unusable for anyone in the construction industry.

Finally, bookkeepers and accountants are making more money using this software. They can now bill by project rather than hourly. When a bookkeeper comes on-site you receive personalized attention, we delve into more questions than just simply reconciling or processing your A/P, and you pay us by the hour that we're there rather than a flat project fee. I've seen some accounting firms charging $250/mo. for simple bank reconciliations and payroll tax processing. Something I can typically do in an hour or two for $50/hr.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Michigan Treasury Onlne

I'm optimistic for the future of State of Michigan Treasury Online services. Michigan Treasury Online is currently undergoing a system upgrade and promises to have a friendlier user experince. The new site will be up on January 16th. I look forward to exploring this and helping to get more of my clients able to make their Sales, Use and Withholding taxes online.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

QuickBooks Usage & Analytics Study

I am not comfortable with Intuit collecting my or my client's data. I'm turning this off.

"About the QuickBooks Usage & Analytics Study Only the administrator of the company file can turn the QuickBooks Usage & Analytics Study on and off. Once you turn it off, you can't turn it on again.

What data is collected? We collect information about the features our customers use, how they navigate through the product, and other demographic and quantitative data. We also collect information about your license, product, system, or other technical data that help us direct you to the appropriate information or services. We don't collect data that is identifiable to your employees, customers, or vendors.

How will Intuit use your data? We will use the data to improve your experience, to enhance our products and services, and to recommend products, services, and promotional offers that we believe will add value to your business. We won't sell, publish, or share data you entrust to us that identifies you or any person without your explicit permission.

How is the data transmitted? The transmission of data is secure and encrypted. Data transmission takes place in the background without disturbing your current tasks and shouldn't affect the performance of your computer.

What if you don't want this data collected? If you prefer not to have your data collected, or if you change your mind about participating in the study, choose Help > QuickBooks Usage & Analytics Study. Then click Discontinue."

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Windows 10 and Quickbooks 2016

I've never been an early adapter of operating systems, and there's a reason why. I don't care much for being an unpaid beta tester that gets frustrated and experiences loss of productivity at work.

Now... I have a couple of clients who have this new duo and are experiencing frustration and loss of productivity and turned to me for help. I'm sorry, I had to tell them to file this experience in "lessons learned". Please call your trusted professionals for their opinion BEFORE major upgrades. Please don't trust the big-box geeks.

Last week all worked until we tried to edit downloaded bank transactions. They would not save and we ended up manually entering the transactions. Lucky for us this client has a one page bank statement. I have another with a 13+ page statement who luckily has followed my advice.

Last month another client was so frustrated she went out and bought a new computer... this time a Mac... argggg.... I'm sorry, I know I'm going to get a lot of people mad, but Mac's aren't built for accounting. They are very great with high-end graphics. While the Mac version of QuickBooks is getting better, today we were unable to locate the USB thumb drive to import the data file. I recommended she go to the Mac store and ask for a referral to a bookkeeper that that knows Macs... or, keep installing updates and restarting her Win10/QBK2016 PC until all the bugs are worked out.

While I may know a few things about computers and software, I'm certainly not the expert, but I can steer you in the right direction for good advice. I follow many different forums and blogs, I read about all the frustrations the early adapters are experiencing, and see the links to the "workarounds" that others have discovered, many too complex for the average computer user to attempt. So, I sit and wait and give you the best advice I can.

For everyone using QuickBooks 2013, you must buy QuickBooks 2016 NOW, while it's on sale. But... wait until next spring to install it. Your QBK 2013 will run until April 15th. By then, the majority of the bugs may be worked out.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Why you shouldn't give employees payroll advances

First of all, you're not their parent or their bank. I see this happening most often in businesses with a young staff. You do want to help them out, they made a good plea, but then all too often they up and quit before the cash advance is repaid through payroll deductions.

Saving is a good habit to develop early, but all too often people's finances are stretched to the limits with nothing left to save for those "rainy days". It's not enough to live within your means, but you need to live BELOW your means in order to have enough money left to save.

Encourage your employees to step back and look at their spending habits before you so generously advance them pay when something happens that they are not prepared for. It's never a matter of "if" something will happen, just "when". How much are they spending on cable TV, cell phones, dining out, specialty coffee? Again, you are their employer, not their parent but you can bring up this topic when they come to you for an advance.

There are more and more of these "Payroll Advance" type businesses today, mainly because they are making a ton of cash in interest on payroll loans. These make me sad... they are basically just keeping poor people poor.

I'm a big fan of Direct Deposit for payroll. Especially when we encourage employees to split a percentage of their paycheck into their savings. There are fees involved with any automated banking transaction, but I'd guess that in the long run, these fees are less than employees leaving without repaying advances. And, you'll be helping to create another generation of savers, and when something does happen, they will be prepared.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Online scheduling now available!

No more "phone-tag!" Go and click on the Schedule Appointment link. Request the appointment whenever it's convenient for you, as soon as I'm able I'll confirm your appointment and send you that confirmation.

If the time you want isn't available... no worries! Request first available and as soon as an earlier appointment becomes available, I'll contact you. My schedule changes all the time, I try my best to accommodate everyone's schedules as best I can, but I understand that "life" happens, and schedules change all the time.

I'm looking forward to using this new "tool" to better serve your needs.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Michigan Treasury Online - fail

This website is not yet ready for the amount of traffic it needs to handle. Myself and a few of my clients have spent hours trying to get registered and to simply pay our state payroll and sales taxes on time. I don't recall having such a hard time giving the state money before. Today, I finally got a live person on the phone at 4:50 PM. He kept insisting that we use the web site which by the way clearly states that they are having difficulty and to try accessing the site again later.

After several attempts of him telling me how to access the web site, and me telling him it was broken, it wasn't until after I threatened to send the payment in on an old coupon using white-out to correct the date did he finally give me a link to a new coupon.

For those of you who have gotten the site to work and have successfully paid your taxes on the new MTO site, please let me know. For the rest of us bogged down in a broken web site... here's the new form. MI 5080, 2015 Sales, Use and Withholding Taxes Monthly/Quarterly Return. If you do as I was threatening, and use an old coupon, I was told they would refuse payment at the old address.