QuickBooks

QuickBooks 2015 Advanced Reporting

Written by Charlie Russell

Reporting isn’t really the strong point in QuickBooks Desktop. While QuickBooks has advanced in other areas over the years, the capabilities of the reporting feature just aren’t very well developed. To address this, Intuit is releasing an Advanced Reporting feature for QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions. This is a very flexible but somewhat complicated to use reporting function that will copy your database into a separate data store and let you generate all kinds of wonderful reports and graphs.

Significantly, Advanced Reporting is included in QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions at no additional charge! This is surprising because the other “Advanced” features (Advanced Inventory, Advanced Pricing) have been separately priced subscription add-ons, and I thought that Intuit would do the same thing with Advanced Reporting. Nope – they surprised me. All you need to do is use a current version of QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions and maintain a current Full Service Plan, and you can get Advanced Reporting.

The Case for QuickBooks 2015 Advanced Reporting

Why do you need this? As I mentioned, the basic reporting feature in QuickBooks is very limited and under developed. Try generating a commission report that pulls information from multiple tables, such as the customer, invoices, and invoice payments. Try filtering an inventory stock status by item report by a value in a custom field. Heck, try making just about any significant change to any of the inventory reports! There are hundreds of examples of what you cannot do with the basic reporting capabilities of QuickBooks.

What could we do to get around this? Until now you could:

  • Export your reports to Excel and modify them there. David Ringstrom has an excellent series of articles on how to work with QuickBooks reports and Excel, but there are limitations on what you can do with this approach.
  • Extract data with ODBC and create your own reports. Enterprise actually has two different ODBC drivers, but these require programming skills and the QuickBooks data tables that they expose are poorly organized.
  •  Use an add-on product to generate reports such as QQube (my favorite reporting tool), which reorganizes the QuickBooks data into a more logical format than you see in ODBC, or perhaps something like Biztools Analytics.
  • Hire a reporting expert (such as FreedUp dataOptics) who will use any or all of these tools to create a customized report for you, so that you don’t have to learn how to use these complicated tools.

Intuit decided that good reporting services are a basic need of an advanced product like QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions, so they developed Advanced Reporting and are including it as a feature – as long as you keep your full service plan subscription current.

A Quick Look at Advanced Reporting

Update 9/24/2014: Since this article was published, Intuit has released an update to the program. Some of the screens, particularly the list of reports, have been changed from what I show here.

This won’t be a detailed analysis of the product – that is something that is going to take a long time. I’ll just give you a quick peek.

You will find the program under the Reports menu.

QuickBooks 2015 Advanced Reporting menu

The first time you select this option you have to be in multi-user mode. Then you will get this setup screen:

Advanced Reporting setup

Advanced Reporting creates its own separate database, outside of the QuickBooks database itself. All of the data in your current file is going to be copied over to the new separate reporting database as a part of the initial setup. I had a fairly small test file, this took less than five minutes. I don’t know how long it is going to take for a very large QuickBooks company file.

Some implications of this approach:

  • You will need more space on your file system to hold this duplicate copy of the data.
  • This is a “snapshot” of your data – that means that any changes you make (transactions added, lists changed, etc.) after this point will not show up in the reporting system unless you do an additional “sync” with the reporting database.
  • By extracting the data Intuit can reorganize it and rename it so that it makes more sense. The internal structure of the QuickBooks database, and the names for fields, is crazy (as users of the “custom reporting” ODBC feature know).
  • By having the reporting data in a separate database you don’t impact the performance of QuickBooks itself (other than when syncing data), so you don’t slow down other QuickBooks users when generating complicated reports.
  • Note that since this is a read-only sync you don’t have to worry about making a backup of this data.
  • And, since it is in a separate database, it doesn’t increase the sized of your QBW file.

After installation (you don’t have to do anything further but wait, so this is very simple) you get the main window as shown below. There are two tabs, My Custom Reports will start off blank as that is where you get a list of any report definitions that you create and save. Report Templates shows a number of existing reports that Intuit has created for you.

Advanced Reporting main report list

Here’s the rest of the report list (as it stands now), including a “start from scratch” option.

Report template list

You can modify an existing report or “roll your own”.

Working with Reports

Let’s take a look at the “inventory stock status by item” built in report to see what options we have. Clicking on the report name in the template list will open that report in an editor window.

Advanced Reporting editor window

I do find it a bit annoying that you can’t (as far as I’ve found so far) “scale” the report to fit in the window, so that I can see the entire report (or, at least the width of the report) without scrolling.


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About the author

Charlie Russell

Charlie Russell has been involved with the small business software industry since the mid 70's, and remembers releasing his first commercial accounting software product when you had an 8-bit microcomputer with one 8 inch floppy disk drive. He has a special interest in inventory and manufacturing software for small businesses. Charlie is a Certified Advanced QuickBooks ProAdvisor with additional certifications for QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Enterprise, as well as being a Xero Certified Partner. Charlie started blogging about QuickBooks in 2008 (Practical QuickBooks) and has been the managing editor and primary writer for the Sleeter Report since 2011. Charlie can be reached at charlie@ccrsoftware.com

Visit his CCRSoftware web site for information about his QuickBooks add-on products. He is also the author of the California Wildflower Hikes blog.

42 Comments

  • Finally! I hope that this extended capability will be brought into the QB desktop versions, making this resource available to most of my clients. If QBO would more reporting capabilities like this, QBO would be a winner.

    Quick note: When I saw you at the Scaling New Heights Conference in San Antonio, I was suddenly too intimidated to tell you in person that you are my hero! Thanks for all the ‘tire kicking’ you do!

    Leslie

    • Leslie, “intimidated”? I must work on not scowling all the time.

      I’m not sure what you mean about hoping that this will be brought into the “QB desktop versions” – this is a feature of at least one of the desktop versions, Enterprise. You won’t see this brought into Pro or Premier, I’m sure. This particular product won’t be brought into QBO either, as it isn’t web technology (but something else could be done there).

  • So is this supposed to be available in ProAdvisor copies of QBES and usable on Sample files? All I’m seeing is “Learn about Advanced Reporting.”

    • Wayne, if you are a regular (and current) ProAdvisor, or subscriber to QuickBooks Accountant Plus, this feature has to be turned on in your account. Mine was turned on as a part of the beta test. I’m going to speculate that at this time, Intuit has to go through all the eligible accounts and turn the feature on. This has happened in the past with other similar features – and it often takes some time to get everyone’s entitlement enabled. However, that is speculation on my part – I’ve asked the Product Manager about this and will come back with a comment when I hear from them.

    • Wayne, I got confirmation from Intuit. They are working to get the “entitlement” for this feature enabled in ProAdvisor accounts (as well as for end users who have a full service plan) but that conversion hasn’t happened yet. I believe that if you call ProAdvisor customer service they should be able to enable the feature in your account, although I can’t promise that. Otherwise, wait a bit while they get this resolved.

      Happens every year…

  • Ok, Charlie you got my attention. My head is also swimming on this one. I wish I could bribe you to help my client and come visit her office. But in the mean time I will read thru your examples and hope to help her with these reports. I will try calling ProAdvisor Customer service to enable this for my account. I really need to learn this stuff.
    Thanks

    • Sorry if I’m causing you problems, Rebecca! Keep in mind, though, that with Advanced Reporting:
      1) It isn’t available to your clients, yet
      2) Personally, even when it is available, I don’t recommend converting customers to it until we find out if there are any hidden issues. R1 releases are generally problematical.
      3) I am not ready to endorse Advanced Reporting ready for use by a client – it is still too raw in my opinion, at this point.

      But it is worth looking at for solutions down the road…

  • Thanks for the comments and great article, Charlie. I have a client currently using QQube and CCRQBOM, and I’m hoping some of the new 2015 features will help them!

  • We maintain our QBE data on a “server”. Where exactly does Advanced Reporting create the second set of data? On the “server” somewhere in where the QBE data resides? Or does it create the reporting data on each of the users’ desktop computers for those that require it?

    • I don’t expect QBAR to be able to do all that you can do in QQube for a long time. If ever.

      It is still very early for QBAR and it isn’t reliable (crashes on my test system often), nor do they have all the database objects and files set up yet. And there needs to be a lot more instructional materials written for it. It is going to take time for it to catch up.

      Then, too, QQube is advancing, it isn’t a stationary product, so they will be adding things as well. And, QQube works with Pro and Premier as well, not just Enterprise.

      I’m not yet convinced that the QBAR system is going to be able to do as good a job as QQube, but I will admit that I haven’t spent enough time with it.

      On the other hand, QBAR is free for people who already have a full service plan. That gives it a bit of an advantage.

      Generally, I find that when Intuit releases a feature like this it tends to be a lighter weight feature than what you will find with add-on products. You generally can do more with addons. We’ll see that with the “Insight” dashboard feature as well. These features don’t compete with the addons, usually – instead they “validate” the concept to users, expose users to the ideas, and then when they find that they need something more comprehensive they are ready to look at add-on products.

  • I had purchased Enterprise 2015 for my client, specifically for it’s Advanced Reporting and Advanced Pricing capabilities. We had decided to wait util the first of the year to launch it. However, I found out after spending 6 hours working with Support on Friday that, because we had at one time activated the Advanced Pricing, the Advanced Reporting will not work. It sounds like it is a known issue based on the information provided to me by Intuit, but I could not find this actually stated anywhere, not even in the support articles on Intuit. And nobody at Intuit could tell me whether or not this is an issue they are actively trying to resolve.

    Am I overreacting to think that this is a big deal? The advanced reporting module was one of the big reasons we decided to move forward with the upgrade. And now it won’t work? And I had to spend many, many hours of my time to find that out, even though it is a known issue?

      • Charlie,

        Thank you very much for this information. My client’s business has expanded significantly in the last couple of years, and the custom Access reports we have been using up until now to get the data we need no longer fit the bill without a lot of additional tweaking. That’s why I was so intrigued with the Advanced Reporting. I’ll look into this to see if it may be a good solution for us.

        • Hi Lori, thanks for your post. I am the Product Manager at Intuit working on Advanced Reporting. The incompatibility between Advanced Pricing and Advanced Reporting was resolved relatively quickly. Please make sure your client is on the latest version of QuickBooks Enterprise (v15, R5) and if there are still issues please reach out to us. Our team is hunting down all issues and fixing them as fast as possible.

          Thank you!

          • Thanks for the comment, Joseph. My apologies for not verifying if this was still an issue. I know that Intuit has a fairly rapid update cycle for this product, so issues like this are being dealt with quickly.

          • Joseph,

            I literally spent 6 hours working with support to resolve the issue, including:

            Making sure the software was the latest version
            Testing out the issue on two different machines
            Testing out the issue on both our company file as well as a QB sample company file
            Uninstalling QuickBooks, doing a Clean Installation and reinstalling QuickBooks
            Verifying and Rebuilding our data file (although since the issue was replicated using a QB Sample company file, this was probably not necessary)

            Both the final tech I worked with on Friday, as well as the online support person I contacted this past Monday (Carlo, quoted below) said it was still an issue. At this point I’d like to have $500 of my subscription refunded so I can purchase a standalone solution such as Qqube.

            “Carlo: at 9:09:09
            I am sorry to hear that your advanced reporting module is not working. Yes, you are correct.
            Advanced reporting will not work along side with advanced pricing.”

  • Hi there,
    I am interested in the Advance Reporting for Quickbooks Enterprise. It is now enabled on my system. I can’t seem to find any GOOD info on how to use it. I was hoping there would be more templates. I am looking for a work/construction in process template as well as a template for employees wages broke out. Are there anymore templates out there or a book with better examples? Or do you know someone that understands it so we can see what it would cost to have them create the templates for our use? I think this is what I have been waiting for as I see lots of good things with it if I could just figure it out.
    Thanks
    Andrea

    • Andrea,
      I think should be possible to get what you are looking for out of QBAR. We are working with the product and have a pretty good understanding of how it works and we have been able to create some reports for a couple customers. And if for some reason QBAR can’t get the job done we can create a solution using something like the Custom Advanced Reporting feature in Enterprise (Intuit’s first attempt at an advanced reporting solution) to get the job done. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have.
      Thanks,
      Donovan Sachs
      dsachs@acsi-az.com

  • Charlie, I read your article form Sept. 6, 2012 about Advanced inventory database problems. We are currently using 2015 of the advanced inventory and we are having these problems you mentioned in the article from 2012. Is their and update? How do we fix it?

    Lisa

    • Which article was that, exactly, Lisa? There are many different kinds of problems in Advanced Inventory depending on the features you use. I would suggest that you leave a more detailed comment on the article that refers to the issue, rather than on this one which is an unrelated topic.

  • I get the following error when attempting to run Advanced Reporting:

    “Sorry. Advanced Reporting couldn’t update your report. Please try again later”

    I can’t resolve this error despite updating Quickbooks version (and am using Enterprise Solutions 2015 with no version 2014 installed in my machine)

    • I have has some similar issues, especially with the earlier versions, where I had to go into Add and Remove Programs and uninstall Advanced Reporting and then go into QB and launch it and let it reinstall. I even had to go as far as to manually run the installer outside of QB altogether.

    • Hi Wesley,

      Some good advice from Donovan below. I would add making sure that you have updated QuickBooks Enterprise to the latest version (R6P). If you still get the error, you can call our customer support team or reach out to me directly @ joseph_lasee@intuit.com.

      Thanks,

      Joseph Lasee
      Product Manager, Intuit QuickBooks

  • If anyone needs more info on the function of the advanced reporting feature youtube howto videos on qlikview its basically a advanced pivot table function puling data and reorganizing it by what fields you click on after setting your parameters and giving you the pivotal insights of the data.

  • I have been trying to wrap my head around QBAR for the past 2 weeks and have made absolutely no progress. I have read the “manual” and watched the videos but they are not indepth enough to provide enough guidance on how to build your own reports.

    I have asked an Intuit rep. about a reference guide which will give the specifications on the fields in the tables and what they mean as well as the syntax, etc. for building expressions but have not had any meaningful response.

    My colleague has been on the phone with the QBAR team several times and has not gotten any type of reasonable assistance to his report query.

    I have worked with software for over 30 years and find it hard to believe that Intuit would not have something to make a little easier for users, especially sine most users would be more “front-end” based rather than “back-end” and having to get into the nitty-gritty of learning syntax etc. to write reports.

    I would have hoped that QBAR would have morphed into a drag and drop type reporting tool.

    Anyway, if anyone has any information in terms of the “missing manual” for QBAR, I would appreciate it.

    Thanks

    Steve

  • I am looking to hire someone who can create different types of reports for me using the advanced reporting feature in qbks.

  • Does anyone know if there is a comprehensive list of the fields that are in the database and the direct reference to the fields in QuickBooks? I find myself searching through the massive titles in the data fields and can’t quite pinpoint which field name is going to give me the data that I need.

    I specifically need the “cost” for a service item that is imported in the time fields from Tsheets.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated so I can job cost this particular item with the cost in the item field, not the amount that I pay the employee.

  • Can Advanced Reporting create a table for per item fixed price levels (with rows for item numbers and columns for price levels)? We would like to automate the synching of price changes in QuickBooks with other apps, but the per item fixed price levels make that very hard.

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