When it comes to bookkeeping tools today, probably the one thing that comes to mind first is QuickBooks. It has been around for so long that it has become synonymous with small business accounting. I have been using the software since 1995. I have seen a number of changes through the years, but for the most part it has stayed the same. The changes for the most part have been good, and the parts that have stayed the same have worked so well they didn’t need much improvement.
In recent years, Intuit has put a lot of time and money into QuickBooks Online, and it really seems to be paying off. Not just for Intuit, but for business owners, bookkeepers and accountants. The biggest advantage by far in my opinion is that it is in the cloud and can be worked on simultaneously by multiple users in multiple locations. I still prefer to work with the desktop edition when possible, but more and more clients are beginning to use the online version. It has made my job much easier when working for clients who need access to their company files on a regular basis. And it is great at tax time; we simply invite the CPA as an accountant user and they can do the taxes and make adjusting journal entries all without sending a backup file.
As great as QuickBooks is, there are a number of other online solutions. There are now more good options. One solution I have found useful for my bookkeeping service is Zoho Invoice and Zoho Books. I started with the invoice product, but after about a year, upgraded to Zoho Books so that I could download my business checking transactions. I have found it to be perfect for what I need, and it is refreshing to use something other than an Intuit product. There are also products such as Xero (which at this point I have never used, but hear good things about) and Freshbooks which I have used and found to be useful as well.
What other tools do I use as a bookkeeper?
- My smartphone
- Email program
- Auto Entry
- CSV to QBO
I don’t think much needs to be said about a computer these days. It is much easier to use than a smartphone or tablet in my bookkeeping since I have a lot of typing to do on a daily basis. And things are just so much easier to see.
My smartphone comes in handy because if I want to get out of the office for a while, I can still send and receive emails and text messages. I like to respond to client emails and texts as soon as possible. I have found that they really appreciate quick response times even if they don’t expect me to do anything about it right away. It just means they know I have received their message and will get to it as soon as possible.
I use Windows 10 and have found the Your Phone app to be very useful. By downloading a phone companion app from Microsoft to my Android smartphone, I can send and receive texts on my computer. I can type text messages fairly quickly directly on my phone, but my eyesight isn’t as good as it used to be and texting on the computer saves me time and frustration.
For email I use Mozilla’s Thunderbird. It is a good alternative to MS Outlook. In Thunderbird, I have my email, calendar, and tasks all in one place so I don’t have to switch back and forth between apps. I also prefer to work on these from my desktop computer program and not the cloud. My email, calendar and tasks all sync to the cloud, but again, for me it is just easier to work from the computer since I am already using it for QuickBooks and Zoho Books. Because everything syncs to the cloud, I get reminders on my smartphone. Reminders have been a real life saver for me and I make a point of putting tasks and appointments in the calendar or task list right away so I don’t forget.
More than once in the past year when taking on new clients, I have done 18 months to four years of bookkeeping in less than a month. The four years of bookkeeping my wife and I typed manually into QuickBooks online. That was a lot of work! I wasn’t able to get the QBO file for importing into QuickBooks or an excel spreadsheet. That was all before I discovered services like AutoEntry. You can scan bank statements and upload them to your account with AutoEntry. Usually within a day they have scanned the statements with OCR technology and you have a fully functional QBO file at your fingertips. And once you set up rules in the software, the process gets even faster. I recently was able to do one years worth of data entry in about 2 hours. That was nice!
CSV to QBO
If you have a client whose bank does not make QBO files available, there is a very affordable computer program called CSV to QBO by Propersoft. It will convert a CSV file from a bank download into a QBO file in a matter of seconds. No longer do you have to spend any time formatting your CSV spreadsheet to be imported into QuickBooks.
QuickBooks Online Banking Center Rules
This one has really saved my fingers. If you take the time to set up rules for each new transaction your import into QuickBooks Desktop or Online, the easier the import will be. This has been around for some time, but until I took the time to learn it and create rules, I was still typing everything in manually. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend you take the time to learn it. You still need to double check things after importing transactions and reconciling, but it will give you more time to do that.
Even Better than AutoEntry or CSV to QBO is when you clients link their bank account to QuickBooks for automatic import into QuickBooks Online. You can set each rule to automatically import into the checking register without having to review them in the banking center.
Yes, I still use a printer even though I have most documents in electronic format. My main use for the printer is to print bank and credit card statements for reconciling. I have used PDF readers while reconciling statements, put I prefer a hard copy so I can keep track of where I am a little better. And of course that means my last bookkeeping tool is a shredder!