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.

QuickBooks

Credit Card Security Standards And QuickBooks®

If you process or store credit card information within your QuickBooks® file you must have secure passwords for your users.  This is to ensure that you are in compliance with Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards (DSS).

QuickBooks® facilitates this compliance; however, there are additional steps outside of QuickBooks® you and your business will need to perform in order to be in compliance with these security standards.

The PCI requirements are as follows:

  1. Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data
  2. Do not use vendor supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters
  3. Protect cardholder data
  4. Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks
  5. Use and regularly update antivirus software
  6. Develop and maintain secure systems and applications
  7. Restrict access to cardholder data by business need-to-know
  8. Assign a Unique ID to each person with computer access
  9. Restrict physical access to cardholder data
  10. Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data
  11. Regularly test security systems and processes
  12. Maintain a policy that addresses information security.

Functionality in QuickBooks® will assist you with item 3 above by implementing the QuickBooks® Complex Password Requirements feature and number 10 can be achieved by using the QuickBooks® Credit Card Audit Trail.  The other 10 requirements will require actions from you in order to be completed outside of QuickBooks®.  If you have questions about these requirements please feel free to contact us.  We will be happy to assist you in any way possible.