QuickBooks Advanced Reporting continues to develop in terms of being able to solve real client reporting needs. This is great news for the client and consultant alike. Capturing the data in QuickBooks is important for compliance reasons, but using that data to create reports to help manage the business is where the real power lies.
In my first article, we looked at “What QuickBooks Advanced Reporting Can Do for You” as a way of getting familiar with the product and creating a simple commission report. Then we continued to dive a little deeper in my second article, “QuickBooks Advanced Reporting and Customer Management,” in which we looked at the many different ways to manage sales data for analysis and marketing purposes. Now, with this third article, I’m focusing on a variety of tips and tricks to make it easier to create reports for you and your clients.
Tip #1 – Use the Advanced Reporting Guide as a way to get started. This document was updated in August, 2015. Its 28 pages include information on creating reports as well as several links to QlikView Resources.
Tip #2 – There are more templates available to you than are included in the product itself. There have been additional reports added within Advanced Reporting, however there are (currently 6) alternatives for report templates that you can download and then import into your own instance of Advanced Reporting. These can provide additional starter reports that may more closely fit your needs.
Here are a couple of additional templates to get you started. Click on the link, and then save the *.QVR file. In Advanced Reporting, choose Reports > Import:
Here is another report. Again, click on the link, and then save the *.QVR file, then in Advanced Reporting, choose Reports > Import:
Tip #3 – Advanced Reporting report templates are saved for each company file. As a result, if you have specific templates that you have created or modified, you will need a way to organize them. What I have found works well is to export each report template (make sure the name is something that makes sense to you) and save it in a centralized location so you can easily find it and import the appropriate template when you are working with another company file. This starting point is extremely valuable, especially if you have clients in similar industries or with similar needs. This also means that if you create business management dashboards, you can easily import them for other clients.
Bonus Tip – Remember that using this approach means you can work with a client who is using QuickBooks Pro or Premier and upgrade a copy of the file to QuickBooks Enterprise. This will streamline your work when you are ready to prepare information for your client meeting, since you can use your report templates.
Tip #4 – Intuit Labs Learning Center is a resource that has several training videos. The detailed overview is about 40 minutes. There are several short videos (1-2 minutes) and a longer one (about 12 minutes) on how to “Create the syntax for an expression.” The expectation is that more will be added over time.
Tip #5 – When you are creating a report, use “Save As” often. You can always go back and delete the preliminary saves, but it is much easier to be able to get back to a specific point in the process if you run into trouble. There is no “undo” feature, so if you make a mistake it is a little challenging to edit the report to remove the error.
Tip #6 – Just as a reminder, for Enterprise users, an active Full Service Plan or subscription is required to access the Advanced Reporting feature. Also, the maintenance release schedule for Advanced Reporting features is not tied to the QuickBooks maintenance releases, so you will see improvements about every 6 weeks or so.
Tip #7 – Think about the reports before you begin entering large amounts of data. An understanding of the data structure within QuickBooks is going to be extremely valuable because you need to know the data is organized so that whenever you start to build these reports, you know where to look for it. This also means that you will have some idea about the name of that data. Once you have considered what data you require, it can be quite useful to enter just a few transactions, and then create the reports, at the beginning of the process. For example, should you use list types, custom fields (including the Enterprise specific feature of designating the type of data in the custom field), etc.? The answer may depend on the combination of reports that will be required. By entering a representative sample of transactions, you can ensure that the desired result is effectively achieved. It is much easier to enter test transactions from start to finish, create the reports, review to confirm the desired result, and then go back and do the training, remaining data entry, etc. This approach eliminates much of the inefficiency of editing the transactions afterwards.
Tip #8 – There have been some recent improvements in the way you can manage your data. For example, the Report List now includes a column for industry, which is displayed for the starter reports.
And you can now assign custom reports to a report group. That report group can be used to filter the Report List.
I continue to be encouraged by what we can do with the Advanced Reporting features – and the software continues to improve with each release. While Advanced Reporting does involve a learning curve, the ability to create the business management reports critical to operations and analysis is worth the effort. This process is much more efficient than manipulating QuickBooks reports in Excel each time updated information is required. And with the addition of data fields that are not available in QuickBooks alone, the ability to include complex calculated columns and more, Advanced Reporting fills a need for both accountants and small businesses.