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March 12, 2012

QuickBooks to Cloud: Stop the Pain

Posted by Lindy Antonelli

working late_QuickBooks to CloudWhen your business has outgrown the entry-level accounting system QuickBooks, you will be experiencing one or more points of pain that might include:  excessive use of Excel spreadsheets, lack of required reports, frequent mistakes and the need for constant proofing. Each of these issues requires time, sometimes overtime, and possibly additional staffing.

One of the surest signs that you are ready to graduate from QuickBooks…

is that you have to dump everything to Excel to see what is going on in your company. When you were just starting out, it was enough to see the balance in the checkbook-style ledger. That told you whether you could pay your bills for the month.

Time goes by, there’s money in the bank, your business is expanding. Congratulations! But now you may have to work late pulling reports together manually for board meetings, building or updating spreadsheets because QuickBooks does not have the reports you need. The Directors want to see the relationship between cashflow and operations. Profitability comparisons across divisions. What-if analyses of the options before the Board. In short, visibility into the business. You pray that QuickBooks doesn’t crash as you export the data.

Problems with reporting and audit-ability (they go hand in hand) are the two most common trouble spots for small to mid-size businesses that have outgrown their initial system. The more you have to do in Excel outside your core accounting system (QuickBooks or any other), the more common they are.

Spreadsheets are silos of information. The data they contain is static as soon as you export it from QuickBooks. Every time you touch the data – to refresh the inputs, to modify a formula, to add a row – it may introduce an error. The chances of error increase if there are multiple touch-points in your organizations for processing or reporting the data.

All of these pain points cost you time that could be better spent elsewhere. Maintaining a spreadsheet farm may even mean that you have to hire additional staff. Still, the greatest danger associated with spreadsheets it that there come to be multiple versions of “the truth.”  The report you create tonight may circulate through the organization and become a template that different departments or divisions modify for their own purposes. Everyone is creating one-off versions of reports that don’t tie off, but everyone believes his own version of the truth and acts accordingly. Some refresh their data regularly; some don’t get the memo.  The parable of the Tower of Babel comes to mind here when I think of the results.

The pain points that develop where QuickBooks no longer fits your organization are also pointers to the way out.  Let’s return to that idea in the next post.

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