Consulting, Custom Reporting, QQube, QuickBooks

Teaching At Scaling New Heights 2013

Earlier this year Donovan was personally contacted by QuickBooks® expert Joe Woodard, of Woodard Consulting, to present a workshop on Crystal Reports using QuickBooks® Data and QQube by Clearify at this year’s Scaling New Heights Conference at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida. In 2012 Joe was recognized by Accounting Today as one of the Top 100 influencers within the accounting profession. We were honored to receive the invitation from him and the opportunity to present a workshop at the Scaling New Heights Advanced Training Conference.

In order to prepare for the workshop Donovan became a Certified QQube Professional and Alembic is now a Certified QQube Solution Provider. We are excited about this new certification and look forward to working with you to determine how QQube can help you with your reporting needs.

When Donovan returns he looks forward to telling you all about it!

Consulting, QuickBooks

Constant Contact And QuickBooks®

Our friends over at AZ Retail recently asked us to create a report for them that would help update their Constant Contact mailing list more efficiently.

AZ Retail specializes in all things retail including QuickBooks® POS supplies, tagging guns and fasteners, price marking guns and labels, as well as a wide range of other store supplies.  When a customer places an order, AZ Retail sends out a “thank you” email via Constant Contact. Generating the list of customers that made a purchase in the last week was becoming a rather time consuming process, and this is why they asked us for a little help.

To help with this problem we created an Excel file that reads their QuickBooks® Enterprise invoices and generates the contact list they can upload directly into Constant Contact. The Excel file has a date range that is used to define the range of invoices they want to report on. When the date is changed, the file automatically looks at invoices and creates a distinct list of customers  who have made a purchase within that range;  displaying the main e-mail address and company name.*

Constant Contact

Constant Contact2

Now that AZ Retail has this new method of updating their Constant Contact list they can make updates in a matter of minutes so that there is no need to go into QuickBooks® to repeatedly run reports, export them to Excel and modify the data until they get a usable list.

If you are using QuickBooks® Enterprise 11 or higher and want a quick and easy way to update your Constant Contact list call or e-mail us today!

If you are using a different version of QuickBooks® and would like a quicker, faster way of updating your Constant Contact lists please e-mail us so that we can create a solution just for you.

* We are currently reporting the top level customer and not at the job level.

Consulting, QuickBooks

Update QuickBooks® Parent Name Utility

Our utility allows you to update or add a parent name to your QuickBooks® items.

When you created your items list in QuickBooks® did you ever think you would want those items categorized by using parent items? If your answer was “no” but now you think it would be the a great idea but don’t want to go through your 5,000+ items one at a time and check the “Sub Item of” box and select the parent item, then don’t.  We have created a utility that will update the parent items for you, whether there’s one currently assigned or not.

Our Update QuickBooks® Parent Name Utility will add your parent items for you then assign them to your items based on criteria you provide.

The utility cost is $595*.

Contact us today for more information on this utility. If you have a specific need that you would like us to help solved please send us a message today.

*This utility is customized to meet your specific needs. For highly complex needs additional costs may apply.

Consulting, QuickBooks

Increase QuickBooks® Speed And Performance

Update:  Intuit has now posted detailed instructions for all versions of QuickBooks®.  You can view these instructions here, but please feel free to continue to ask us any questions you might have.

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Update: It has been brought to our attention that in the latest release of QBES 12 and all versions of 13 Intuit has possibly implamented a change that would affect the memory allocation discussed in this artical. I have not been able to test this at this time but I will post a new article once I have some results. The change in question could reset the RAM allocation everytime QuickBooks® starts up, which would cause an issue with the changes discussed in this post. Again more info will be posted soon.

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QuickBooks® speed and performance is something that we all deal with.  As our QuickBooks® files get bigger the worse performance becomes.  When you are dealing with Enterprise the typical file begins to demonstrate performance issues at around 500MB while Pro and Premier files typically show degradation around 256MB.  There are two reasons for this, first the number of transactions and list sizes create more data for the software to work through.  The second reason is what we want to discuss in depth with this post and seems to be something most people don’t know about.

In any system the more data you have in the database the more of an effect you will see on the overall performance of the system; however in a SQL or Oracle type environment you don’t see these types of performance issues with this amount of data.  I don’t have a lot of background in how all the various systems utilize memory and other system resources but I have learned quite a bit about how QuickBooks® seems to work, at least in the area of RAM usage.

When QuickBooks® is installed there is a setting in the registry that tells the system how much of the system’s RAM to utilize initially and the maximum amount it is allowed to use.  In Pro and Premier these numbers are 128MB and 256MB, in Enterprise they are 256MB and 512MB.  What does this mean to us?  Well, the amount of RAM set is going to be how much of your QuickBooks® file is loaded into cache.  It also means that initially it will load the amount of data equal to the lower number, and as the file is used more data will be loaded into cache.  For example, if you have a large file and you open it, 256MB of the data will be loaded and then if you run an A/R Aging report more data will be loaded and so on.

Let’s look at this in relation to a “large” QuickBooks® file.  I like to use our first introduction to a “large” file as an example for all of this.  We were contacted by a customer with a QuickBooks® file that was 1.2GB in size and it contained about a year and a half worth of data.  The client was completely against starting a new file, like most users they wanted to be able to see history when viewing reports and such.  We started with basic troubleshooting, things like network setup and such.  Nothing we tried was helping the fact that a 10 line invoice took 3 minutes to save, and that the user would often surf the web between entering invoices.

We had to find a way to resolve this issue because honestly the customer was close to abandoning QuickBooks® altogether.  One day while speaking with an Intuit employee something was said about this registry setting that could possibly help the situation.  After a little research we found the setting and applied the change on the clients system.  We changed the setting to allow for 2GB of RAM to be dedicated to QuickBooks® to allow for file growth.  Invoice processing went from 3 minutes to 3 seconds, and we had a very happy customer.  Since then we have had a customer that has a 3.8GB file and a 40 line invoice took about 6 minutes to save and now it takes about a minute.

Here are some things to understand about this registry change.  First off, the numbers mentioned above are the defaults; however these may not be the settings your system is using.  I have seen situations where the maximum setting was 32MB!  This means users began to see performance issue after the file reached only 32MB in size, and in an Enterprise file that isn’t very much data.  The only thing I can come up with on this one is that the system did not have the typical 512MB of RAM free at the time of install so QuickBooks® determined that 32MB was the “safe” amount of RAM it could use without causing major issues for the system.  With that being said, I like to check any system I get my hands on to verify that it is at least using the default amount of RAM.  Also, the system information screen (F2) always shows the default numbers at the bottom of the window no matter what the settings are, so don’t go by those.

Something else to keep in mind is that the registry setting will reset when an update is installed, so you will have to make the change again after you update the system.  Please note that this is on the system that is hosting the QuickBooks® file (the “server”) and not on the client.

I could continue to talk about this for some time, but I think the basics have been covered here.  The only other thing I would like to cover is when multiple files are being used at the same time.  You will need to ensure that you have enough RAM allocated to accommodate the total of all the files that are being accessed at the same time by all users.

The final thing I would like to add is that we are changing the system registry and that it is always recommended to make a backup before any modifications are made.

This is not a change that will allow for unlimited file growth, but it will help you get more out of your QuickBooks® file before having to split your file or start a new one.  I hope this has been an educating and helpful piece of information for everyone that reads it and even more importantly I hope it helps make for happier QuickBooks® users!

If you would like to discuss this further, have questions or would like to have detailed instructions on how to make the registry change please feel free to contact us at quickbooks@acsi-az.com.

Consulting, QuickBooks

Moving Memorized Transactions In QuickBooks®

We recently had a situation where we needed to combine three QuickBooks® company files into one single  file.  Overall this wasn’t extremely difficult and we had a plan in place to take care of all the tasks at hand; that was until we got a look at the list of memorized transactions that the client wanted to include.

QuickBooks® allows you to export most of the available lists, but the Memorized Transactions list is not one of them.  Fortunately there are a couple ways to get your Memorized Transactions from one file to another.

The first way that you  can accomplish this is to remove all transactional data from a copy of your file and once complete use this as the base for your new file.  The second way to handle this issue is to run all your memorized transactions with a date in the future.  Then use a tool such as the Data Transfer Utility by Karl Irvin to transfer those transactions to your new file.  Once they have been copied you can then memorize them and you will now have a new Memorized Transactions list.

If neither of these works for you then you have one option left, and that is to manually recreate all of your memorized transactions.  If you would like to use one of the methods above and need assistance please feel free to contact us, we’d be happy to help.

Consulting, QuickBooks

Custom Reports – Cash Register Receipt

One of the latest reports we created using the great new Custom Reporting tool in QuickBooks® Enterprise 2011 was a Cash Register Receipt Report that a client requested.  This report allows the client to enter a specific date and see the checks that were received for that day, what invoices they paid off, and then what account those checks got deposited into.

We have this report grouped by deposit account number and then by the check number.  The report displays the check number, date, and customer along with the payment total and total amount of discounts given for the invoices covered by that check.  Additional invoice details from the check such as date, memo, amount paid, discount amount, etc. are displayed as well.

This report will help the client with daily reconciliation of their finances, something very important to their business.  If you have a need to have all this type of info all in one place please feel free to contact us.  We will be happy to customize this report to make it fit the specific needs of your company, or use this as a starting place to create a whole new report for you.

Please note that this report was created using the QuickBooks® Enterprise 2011 Custom Reporting Tool and Crystal Reports XI.

Email us at quickbooks@acsi-az.com or call us at 620.454.9222 to discuss your custom reporting needs.

Consulting, QuickBooks

What’s Your Backup Plan?

We could have many long debates on the topic of cloud computing and on-line services, but that is not where we want to take this post.  We feel that there is a time and a place for everything, but a majority of the time we try to keep services “in house” if at all possible.  However, this is not always the best solution, especially for small business that may not have the resources needed to perform all their necessary day to day activities.

Instead of debating on the practicality of using “the cloud” and covering pros and cons; we would like to take a moment and cover some alternatives you might want to have available for when the cloud your business depends on isn’t available.  We have seen this happen more frequently than many would like (no one wants the access to their data cut off, and it’s really frustrating when you have no control over the recovery of those services) and most notably Intuit has suffered two such outages in a one month period.

Instead of signing up for online services, sitting back and relying on “the other guy” to give you access to your data 24/7 we would encourage you to have a backup plan.  Let’s take a look at some things you can do to ensure that your business doesn’t come to a screeching halt when an unforeseen outage does inevitably occur.

In reviewing many of the forums, twitter and other community sites it seems that Payroll and Credit Card Processing are the largest areas of complaint when someone like Intuit has an outage.  So, what can you do to make sure employees are paid and you are able to collect payments from your customers during a time such as this?

Payroll

Use the IRS site to help calculate pay-checks manually.  Publication 15 – Employer’s Tax Guide, or Circular E, is the tool you’re looking for, you can download Publication 15 here, or you can use a free paycheck calculator such as the one available from Paycheck Manager.  You can then cut checks manually and enter them into QuickBooks® later.

If you are using Assisted Payroll you are going to want to call them to determine them how you should handle your payroll.  They may be able to assist you with processing your payroll over the phone, during the outage.

  • Intuit Online Payroll – 800-624-1465
  • Intuit Complete Payroll – 888-236-4282
  • QuickBooks® Assisted Payroll – 888-712-9702
  • QuickBooks® Do-It-Yourself Payroll – 800-624-2106

Credit Card Processing

Collect the customer’s credit card information (card number, name on card, expiration date, billing zip code and CID are all good things to have) and process the card at a later date.  You can always call the credit card company to verify funds are available.  Yes this takes longer than normal, but you’re still able to conduct business.

  • Vista & MasterCard 800-228-1122
  • AMEX 800-528-2121
  • Discover 800-347-1111

Another option is to sign up for a PayPal account.  You don’t have to use it if you don’t need it and you only pay when you do use it; so there’s no disadvantage to having it there as a backup plan.

We never know when an issue is going to rear its ugly head and for that reason we should have a backup plan in place, ready to implement at all times.  It is extremely frustrating when one of your providers goes down, Intuit for example, but what if your own internet connection, phone system or power goes out?  How are you going to conduct business then?  It could happen to any of us and we need to be prepared.

Think about these things and begin putting a plan together today.  Please feel free to contact us if you need any assistance in developing your “Plan B”, we are here to help!  Make sure that you aren’t one of the businesses turning away sales because you weren’t prepared the next time you see a message informing you that service is currently unavailable.

Consulting, QuickBooks

The Importance Of Good Hardware

Recently we had a client contact us for telephone support when they were unable to connect to their QuickBooks® 2008 Pro File.  We spent some time chasing a few error codes, but it didn’t take long for us to realize we were running in circles.  Taking a moment to sit back and think about the situation, we asked a few more questions about the hardware the client was using.  It came to light that the client was using a rather old, slow system; not only as a QuickBooks® workstation, but also as a QuickBooks® server.  As a temporary solution we had them move the QuickBooks® Company File to another machine, this way the file could now be opened at least.  However, our ultimate recommendation was that they purchase a new machine.  By the end of the next day they had a new Windows 7 based machine that was much faster than their previous machine, to say the least.

When this job was finally done, the company file was on the new machine, everything was networked, and the speed was awesome!  Not bad for a file that couldn’t be opened at all the day before.

Consulting, QuickBooks

Database Maintenance, What Is It?

One of our services we have recently received questions on is our Database Maintenance Service.  What exactly does that process consists of?  While we don’t want to give away all of our secrets, here is a basic overview…

The process begins either by filling out our online form or giving us a call.  Once we have some basic information  and a basic idea of the problems you are facing, we will then provide you with our initial assessment.  Depending upon the severity of any database problems, we will point out where your weaknesses are and how we and/or you could fix them.

Once the more immediate concerns are addressed, we will then make recommendations on what can be done in order to get things with your QuickBooks® database running with the speed and efficiency you would expect.

Upgrades can be a key solution that you might be in need of in order to get your file moving faster and more efficiently for you.  As an Intuit Solution Provider, we have the ability to purchase Intuit software at better rates than most individuals.

We do have other processes we can use to help you, which we will recommend on an as-needed basis for each individual client.

Finally, if necessary, we will work with you to get your Database split, which will allow you to start a new file with as much data in it as you would like; however, we have not had to turn to this measure in order to help a client get moving more effectively as of yet.

In a nutshell, that is what Database Maintenance is.  If you have any further questions, feel free to contact us.

Consulting

Custom Reporting And QuickBase®

Here at Alembic we pride ourselves on our ability to create custom reports for a wide range of products; and we have just added another tool to our arsenal, QuickBase®.  QuickBase® is a great product but is lacking quite a bit when it comes to attractive, printable reports.  The ability to create online databases quickly and easily is great.  However, a majority of the time we are creating databases from which we need to provide visually appealing output from.

With the use of the QuickBase ODBC driver we can link to your QuickBase® data and create reports using Crystal Reports.  We can also use the driver to access QuickBase® data directly from applications like MS Access, MS Excel, MS Word and more.

If you find yourself in the need for such services please contact us today to see how we assist you.