Intuit has released the QuickBooks 2014 R3 update for the U.S. version of QuickBooks. This is available as a manual update from the Intuit support web site. I expect that this will be pushed out as an automatic update a week later. Hold on to your hat – this is the first “maintenance” release for the 2014 product, and there are a LOT of changes and bug fixes here, as I expected.
I’ve tried to highlight the “new features” and “enhancements” up front, for the most part, since this is a part of your decision to go to QuickBooks 2014. I list the bug fixes nearer the end (hopefully fewer of you are interested in that part).
Wait, “R3”? What happened to “R2”? Typically, Intuit sets aside the R2 designation in case there is a big, major disaster in the R1 release that is discovered after it comes out, while R3 is already being developed. They don’t want to have to push out a quick fix based on the R3 version that is under development.
Changes to the User Interface
When Intuit changed the user interface for QuickBooks in the 2013 release, one of the complaints related to the size of the scroll bars on windows. I was one of the people complaining – the scroll bars were too narrow to hit easily using a mouse. With the 2014 R3 release scroll bars are wider, which is a nice improvement. Are the wide ENOUGH? We’ll see what people think. The increase is about 4 pixels. In addition, although it is hard to demonstrate, they increased the “minimum size” for the scroll bar elevator – so if you have a very large list it won’t shrink as small as it would have in prior versions.
Here is a screen shot of a portion of the customer center in the R1 release for comparison.
And here is the same window in the R3 release.
There are a couple of other fine-tuning changes in the user interface, some of which are hard to notice even if you have R1 and R3 open side by side:
- In bills and checks, the background pattern is a bit darker.
- In bills and checks the border around the bill/check is a bit darker and wider.
- In many if not all transaction windows, if you look at the detail table at the bottom of the form, the line that separates the columns is no longer a strong black line, it is a soft gray.
- The editable fields on QuickBooks windows are made a little darker for better contrast and visibility.
Changes to QuickBooks Attached Documents
This is mainly a user interface change, a VERY nice improvement in the Attach icon that you see in transaction windows. Let’s use an invoice as an example.
Here is my invoice, with no attachments. You see the plain paper-clip icon.
In the R1 release (and in prior years), if you add an attachment to this transaction using the QuickBooks Attached Documents feature, the icon would change – I’ve never liked this muddy, unclear icon.
With the R3 release Intuit has finally made this icon useful – not only is it clearer that there ARE attachments, you are also told how many. Very nice!
Changes to Send Forms (Email)
There were a number of significant changes to how QuickBooks handles email in the R1 release, and with R3 Intuit continues to refine the feature.
In the Send window, you can now double-click on an attachment to open it. This is also available in the Send Batch Email window.
In the Sent Email tab of the Customer Center there are several changes:
- Statements now show on the list.
- Two columns were added, Sent By and Email Template. These are very welcome changes.
There also are a few minor changes to the window appearance to be consistent with the overall theme for the program. For example, in the Send window, the spell check button is an icon instead of text, things like that.
There are some email-related changes in the Income Tracker feature as well.
Changes to Income Tracker
The Income Tracker is one of the major additions in QuickBooks 2014 which I really like. With R3, there are a number of improvements to this feature.
There has been a general cleanup of navigation issues, such as the order of the fields if you use the Tab key.
One nice change is that if you filter the display (by either clicking on the colored icon at the top, or by using the filter dropdown list options) you will see the total of the listed transactions in the lower right corner.
In the lower left corner of the Income Tracker there is a Batch Actions menu/button. The R3 release adds a new option here that I find VERY useful, Batch Email.
If you select this option, a window opens that will include all of the transactions you selected (with the exception of statement charges and journal entries, which cannot be sent by email). The program will sort the transactions by Customer:Job and will send one consolidated email with all of the transactions for that Customer:Job.
Note that in the Email tab in the Customer Center you will see the notation “Batch Email” by emails sent this way.
One thing that I have NOT tested at this time is to see what happens if one of the email addresses has attachments that add up to be larger than the attachment limit (2 MB for webmail, 10 MB for Outlook).
I’m slightly disappointed that this consolidation feature isn’t also available in the File/Send Forms function, although I’ll guess that it may show up there in a future release.
General Journal Entries
General Journal Entries will now show in the Income Tracker, and you can set a “type” filter to show just those. These will be excluded if you do a batch email.
From what I can tell this will only show GJE’s that are made to Accounts Receivable. I don’t know what the use case is for this, so I can’t evaluate the need.
Changes to Client Collaborator
I’ve discussed the Client Collaborator before, a feature that lets the accountant open “conversations” about specific transactions in a client’s file. Not many people are using this yet, since it is a new feature and only works if both the client and the accountant have QuickBooks 2014. We’ll see more people using this when we get into tax season, I believe.
There are a number of changes in this feature in R3:
- A bug is fixed where you would see a 404 error if you tried to open a second instance of the conversation list.
- You can no longer use this feature from a “sample company file”.
- The “access points” (menu options, icons) will be visible by default in all Accountant editions.
- The “chat” icon in the upper right now has a dropdown menu, where before it was just an icon with no menu.
- The list of supported transactions has been significantly increased. In R1 there was only support for Check, Bill, Credit Card Charge and Item Receipt transactions. The list is now expanded to include:
- Bill payment Check
- Bill payment Credit Card
- General Journal Entry
- Sales tax payment
- Item Receipt
- Purchase Order
- Sales Order
- Sales receipt
- Statement charge
- Receive Payment
- Credit memo
- Credit Card Refund
- Payroll Liability check
- Liability Adjustment
- YTD adjustment
- Build assembly
- Inventory Adjustment
Changes to Bank Feeds
QuickBooks 2014 introduced some significant changes to Bank Feeds (formerly called online banking), and the R3 release continues to expand upon the new feature.
One side note – I was running into a serious bug in the system when trying to add a new rule to the rule list, with R3. Odd crashes, strange error messages. The source of the problem ended up being that I had some vendors in the vendor list that had some non-printable characters in the vendor name (from an import done to test something else), once I removed the bad information the problem went away. This is a known problem in online banking / bank feeds (see this Intuit KB article), but you should get an error message that links to the KB article rather than the very arcane XML error message I was receiving in R3.
- The Bank Feed Center should start faster with R3 (I don’t notice a big difference, but I have a small amount of data there).
- If you open the Rules List when you have more than 1000 rules, R3 should open much faster.
- There are performance improvements when you edit, save and delete rules.
- There should be performance improvements when you open the transaction list
- A “take no action” rule is automatically created that will tell the program to leave the payee and account blank if the description contains “Check” or “ATM” or “ACH”.
- You now have an option to edit or ignore auto-created rules.
- You can now bulk-delete rules.
- The “renamed” flag is updated even for transactions for non-vendors.
- There is a single warning message for “Greater than X day” and “Older than X day” transactions during Bulk Add.
- There is an option do display and hide the Memo on the transaction list.
- There are new combo boxes for Payee in the transaction list and rule edit window that will help improve performance.
- There is a “Finish Later” button in the transaction list, something that existed in QuickBooks 2013 but was left out of QuickBooks 2014 R1.
- You can set the default Sync to be “Download per FI” (FI = Financial Institution) on Overview for all Direct Connect connections.
- There are a number of user interface fixes that are listed. To be honest, many of these are VERY subtle changes and in some cases I have a hard time seeing that Intuit is referring to. I’m listing what they told me about, whether I can actually prove a change or not…
- There is a Sync All icon on the Overview screen.
- The Transaction List status bar, filters, grid and so forth have been changed to match the Income Tracker format.
- The Direct Connect windows have been updated to the new user interface style.
- There are changes in the rule list window to match UI changes in other transaction windows.
Changes to Enterprise Job Costing Reports
A new filter option has been added to several of the job costing reports in QuickBooks Enterprise, filter Name by Active Status.
This is available for:
- Profit & Loss by Job
- Job Profitability Summary
- Job WIP Summary
- Job Estimates VS Actuals Summary
- Committed Cost by Job
Advanced Pricing Changes
Advanced Pricing is an added-charge subscription feature that works with QuickBooks Enterprise to provide you with additional options for setting pricing rules. There are a few improvements in the R3 release:
- When creating a price rule, one of the criteria you can use to qualify a price rule is the “item type”. R3 expands the list of types that can be selected by adding Other Charge items.
- Quantity discounts have been modified to add a “effective date” feature, as you find in the regular price rules. This is VERY helpful.
QuickBooks File Doctor Integration
The QuickBooks File Doctor is one of the free repair and diagnostic tools that Intuit provides to us (see this article on fixing QuickBooks problems). This tool is aimed primarily at errors that prevent you from opening your QuickBooks company file.
With the R3 release Intuit has integrated the QuickBooks File Doctor (QBFD) with the QuickBooks program so that if an error occurs of the type that QBFD should address, QBFD will automatically be launched and it will attempt to repair any problems that are found. It will also offer (if necessary) an option to upload the file to Intuit Data Services for repair.
I haven’t been able to test this as I don’t have a system setup where one of these kinds of errors would occur. What you SHOULD see, if a startup error occurs, is a window similar to the following. If you click the start button then the diagnosis and repair process should proceed.
When launched this way you won’t have the options to change company file (that makes sense) or the option to select the advanced settings to choose the specific diagnostic type.
Related to this, there is a new option in the File/Utilities menu, Download QuickBooks File Doctor. This simply opens a browser window that takes you to the Intuit support site where you can download a copy of QBFD. You can run this and then have access to the features that the internal version doesn’t offer.
Note that if you are not the Admin User when you start QuickBooks, and an error occurs which invokes QBFD, then some of the diagnostic features may be limited. For example, the network diagnostics portion of the tool will only display the list of errors that need to be corrected in your network setup – since some of those may need to be corrected on another computer.
Here’s a list of the errors that QBFD can resolve (usually the kind of error message that you will see, but sometimes just a note on what is happening):
- DB Maintenance in Progress
- 6130 error: A corruption in the LOCKS table
- Certain kinds of datasync database errors, where a ColumnReorderRequired flag has been turned on in the database
- 6147 error: Duplicate entries in the sysinfo table
- 305 or –301 error: A log corruption
- 82, –305 or –301 error: Database metadata corruption
- 82 or –106 error: White space in the file name
- H202: Firewall error
- -6177,0 error: Incorrect path in the .ND file
- -6123,0 error: Firewall blocking the 8019 or database port
- other -6xxx errors: There are some other errors in this sequence that MIGHT be fixed.
Changes to My Company
As near as I can tell, the main change here is that the My Account link has been added in this window (Company then My Company). This lets you log in to your Intuit account to be able to manage your services and accounts. There could be more here that I haven’t discovered yet.
You can also now see up to 10 subscriptions in the “manage my apps…” section.
Changes in Help
The have a question window in the Help system has been reorganized a bit. In the graphic below, the help window from R1 is on the left, R3 is on the right. These changes are mostly to set up the window so that you don’t have to scroll down to see results.
Changes to Payment Processing
There are several changes to how the payment method is handled differently in Customer Payment and Sales Receipt transactions.
Here is what you would see in a customer payment transaction with the R1 (and prior year) release. The fields that show below and to the right of the payment method will depend on the “Type” of the payment method chosen.
Looking at the same transaction type in the R3 release (similar changes are found in sales receipts) you will see that there is a set of bold new icons, and that the layout of the rest of the window remains consistent between each payment type.
You select the payment type by clicking on the icon, rather than on a dropdown list. The one you have selected will be highlighted in green. The only fields that change is the one under the date, which will have a label for reference # or check #.
If I select Credit Debit then I get a popup window that asks for the detailed information for that payment. The Payment dropdown list will show only the credit card payment types on my Payment Method List.
Click the More icon and you can see payment methods that might not be listed as an icon (I had added the “alternate” options, for example) and the ability to easily add new payment methods.
As it stands, I like some features (having a consistent layout of the fields, for example), but I’m not sure that I’m entirely happy with this. It might be that I don’t fully understand how this is working.
- I cannot see the information about the credit/debit card payment without clicking on the icon – so I can’t easily see what used to be right up front in the older approach.
- I can define multiple payment methods for Cash, Check and e-Check in my payment methods list, but when I click on one of those icons I don’t have an option to select WHICH of those payment methods I want to use? If I click the More button I can select an alternate, and the appropriate icon will turn green, but there is no way to tell which specific method I chose within that type. Not good!
- Being a picky person, I wish they could be consistent. Is it e-Check, E-Check or eCheck (different spellings that I found in different places in the program).
I’m going to make some guesses, as there are some aspects of this that I can’t test. If you are connected to an Intuit payment processing system, I think that these icons are going to work in a different way. I’ve seen some screen shots that show different options and more detailed popups when you click some of the payment method icons if an Intuit payment solution is enabled. I haven’t been able to test that at this time (hopefully soon).
Single Payments Account
Single Payments Account is a feature that you can use to sign up for payments within QuickBooks and get a single account that will provide you with the ability to process credit card payments, eCheck payments, and use Intuit GoPayment. You can then receive payments through the Receive Payments or Sales Receipt transactions. This is tied in with the new payment method icons I show above.
At the time that I’m writing this article I can’t fully review the feature. I hope to have a more detailed explanation of this in a future article.
The full power of this new layout will probably show when you have this kind of account set up. However, many users won’t want to use an Intuit account for this, and it looks like the new icon layout isn’t working as well as it should for that situation.
Bug Fixes and Other Changes
In addition to what I’ve already listed, here are a few other random bug fixes and feature changes in the QuickBooks 2014 R3 release. Please note that I have NOT tested all of these myself. There are a lot more changes/fixes in this release than I list here, but Intuit hasn’t explained what they are.
- In the Contractor Edition, the Direct Deposit for Vendors button no longer overlaps the “Work Comp Expires” field under the Additional Info tab of the Edit Vendor window.
- When viewing a previously save weekly timesheet the time entries will remain in the originally entered order.
- The Committed Cost report can now be filtered for one job.
- The Customer Price List Report items will now show on the report even if their price goes negative.
- Payment Receipts will no longer show up on the send forms queue – this was a problem since there wasn’t an email later box to control this behavior.
- The Account column can no longer be removed when customizing purchase forms, since it is required.
- If you enabled “use BOM cost” and the BOM contained inventory parts with 5 decimal places in the cost the cost will now display correctly.
- A problem has been fixed that caused batch emailed invoices to include a Winmail.dat attachment instead of a PDF file.
- Users who can create and memorize reports will no longer be restricted from viewing those reports.
- The “recommended memory alert” will not display when available system memory is less than 2 GB.
- Shipping Manager will no longer display the error “PackageSpecialServicesRequested – Invalid codCollectionAmount in Requested Package 1 [ship:6617]” when attempting to ship packages using FedEx.
- Using Advanced Inventory Lot Tracking, creating a “lot adjustment” will now correctly change the lot count.
- The Customer Price List report will now show the base rate instead of the calculated price when the item’s rate is percentage.
- The Automatically build required subassemblies check box (Enterprise) will no longer disappear if a customized template is selected.
- When you remove an item from the Bill of Materials a blank line will no longer be left in the list.
- The Markup field on the Add/Edit Multiple List Entries window will now calculate based on the global preferences when a new service item or new non-inventory part is added.
- When an estimate form includes the Markup column, the cost will now appear instead of the sales price.
- You can now print multiple copies of bar codes.
QuickBooks 2014 reworked the user interface in the payroll center – the R3 release refines that a bit more:
- The tables in the payroll center can be sorted by clicking on the column headings.
- The toolbar at the top of the Payroll Center has a number of new buttons for the various tabs, adding new options.
- There are “notification icons” for overdue items that need to be completed.
- A bug was fixed that would cause QuickBooks to close unexpectedly when you were creating a large number of paychecks.
- A bug was fixed that would cause QuickBooks to close unexpectedly when you were printing or viewing a large number of paychecks.
- Paychecks created by Assisted Payroll subscribers that are not marked for Direct Deposit will now have the status To Send in the Recent Payrolls table of the Payroll Center.
- Paychecks marked “To Be Printed” and that are sent for Direct Deposit will default to having the option “Lock Net Pay” selected.
- A Status column has been added to the Create Paychecks table in the Payroll Center.
- You can now QuickZoom on entries in the Recent Payroll table by clicking on the Net Pay amount. The result is a Paycheck Detail report that shows each paycheck for the selected payroll.
- Direct Deposit paychecks will no longer be shown with a zero dollar amount under the Email History tab.
- The WH1 Form will now properly populate.
- The help link for Advanced Pricing will now work.
- There is a fix for a crash that would occur when editing Quantity Discounts in Advanced Pricing.
- In R1, prices didn’t recalculate for quantity discounts when a transaction date was changed. Now the do.
- Price rounding will now occur correctly when rounding is set to “use the same rounding across all price rules” and “1.00 minus .11” is selected.
- Inactive items will no longer show incorrectly in the Item Prices by Price Rule report.
- All price rules will now show in the Item Prices by Price Rule report.
- If you have a “fixed price rule” and an “amount off price” rule applied to the sales line item a problem was fixed where the price was miscalculated.
- The Item Prices by Price Rule report will now show all subitems properly.
- When using Quantity Discounts, the cost or amount/price will no longer be rounded if you set the preference to “don’t round prices” (see Intuit KB Article SLN76584).
- Price rules notes will now update when editing a saved statement charge.
- The Price Rule List has been expanded to accept 100,000 price rules, up from 10,000.
- The hot key Alt+c will now open the Price Rules list instead of the Company drop-down list.
- QuickBooks will now attach the Intuit PaymentNetwork line to the email and PDF correctly.
- When opening the Item Prices by Price Rule report, QuickBooks will no longer freeze or show a white screen.
- Price Rules will no longer override billing rates assigned to Vendors.
- You are now able to track prices edited or modified by other users when a Price Rule has been applied.
- When different Price Rules are used at the same time (fixed price, percent or amount) the Fixed Price will be used as the default.
- Price rules will now calculate on Estimates.
Enterprise Inventory Center Bug Fixed
Here’s one bug that has been fixed from the R1 release that has been causing problems for people. In the Inventory Center with R1, you either couldn’t see the item name, or it would be truncated:
This particular display bug was fixed in R3:
Bottom Line – Should You Use This Release?
That is always the key question, and it is always a tough one. Is this release reliable? That is hard to tell. I’ve been using it for a short time, but I don’t enter the volume of transactions (or the breadth of type of transactions) that most users will. This release WAS beta tested, but even then the beta testers can’t try every combination of features. It is a guessing game when even a small update comes out, but this is not a small update.
At this point in time, my best guess is:
- If you are already using QuickBooks 2014 R1, I would definitely update to R3. We know that R1 has a lot of bugs, we know that R3 addresses a lot of them. I’m thinking that an R1 user will be better off using R3.
- If you have not upgraded to QuickBooks 2014 yet and you are not using Advanced Inventory, well, that is a tougher decision. I’m not aware of any huge, widespread, universal big problems that tell me that you shouldn’t upgrade. But, that doesn’t mean that it is clean! I’m thinking that if you don’t see a compelling reason to move to the 2014 product, why rush it? This is still a relatively young release, and the R3 update has a lot of changes in it, so I would wait at least a month more to see what kinds of things shake out with OTHER users. My usual recommendation is to wait until January, to put the upgrade off until after you have closed your books for the year, but that does depend on the type of business you have and what your fiscal year is. I tend to be really, really cautious.
- If you have not upgraded to QuickBooks 2014 yet and you ARE using Advanced Inventory I would definitely wait a bit before moving to QuickBooks 2014. There are some reports of some odd things going on with Advanced Inventory, perhaps just with the Lot Number feature, so I am making a stronger recommendation about waiting. I don’t know the nitty-gritty details of the problems that I’ve seen reported, so I’m not sure what is going on. So I’m again being cautious.
- If you haven’t yet subscribed to the new Advanced Pricing feature, which is only available in Enterprise V14, I would still be very cautious about this. It is a new feature, it has only been in use a very short time, and it has a lot of calculations going on. As we see, there are a lot of bug fixes in R3 that relate specifically to this. I’m nervous about relying on it at this point, there may be other issues that will crop up. I like the feature, it is just so very new and so very complicated.
Overall, the product looks good. A better R1/R3 release than normal. There just haven’t been enough users putting in enough hours on this yet for me to have full confidence.