Thursday, November 6, 2014

Lettuce Be Friends! QuickBooks Online To Get Inventory Overhaul?

When I think of Lettuce, it must mean that I am trying to lose some weight. In the case of QuickBooks Online, this could be the harbinger of a significant improvement in the product with enhanced inventory tracking, taking the weight off of many businesses that could benefit from using QBO, but can't make the switch because of necessary functions.

Lettuce refers to an app that was previously available as an add-on to QBO but is no longer available due to the recent acquisition by Intuit. Since I am always interested in inventory solutions that integrate with QBO, I tested Lettuce in a trial a few months ago. My first impression was that it lacked some very key features, such as syncing products bi-directionally between it and QBO and any kind of vendor management for the purchasing of inventory, such as purchase orders and receiving. 

I also thought it was pretty expensive, being in the middle between SOS Inventory (for Basic Inventory) and Exact Online in terms of cost, but not providing as many features as either of them. When I was in the trial, there was a "ghost" link to features that weren't even in the version I was using, such as circled on the right. I think all that will change now that Intuit has taken the reigns. I just HOPE that they do it right: it should be simple to use yet provide the most important functions of inventory:

  • Purchase Orders (already in QBO)
  • Receiving
  • Bills, Checks, Credit Cards, etc. (to add inventory without having to do any of the steps above)
  • SALES ORDERS!: this one is currently missing in QBO and it is much needed.
  • Converting Sales Orders to Purchase Orders
  • Groups (and maybe Assemblies)
  • Inventory Adjustments (as a separate transaction so that any COGS account can be chosen and a value changed)
  • Packing Slips and Pick Lists
  • Custom fields or tracking for Serial Numbers, Multi-Warehouse, Bin Locations, Barcodes
  • Inventory Transfers (between locations)
  • Unit of Measure
And this list could go on. But I would imagine they would leave out manufacturing and the complex nature of Bill of Materials, work orders, and perhaps even assemblies since these are more "Enterprise-Level" functions. 

I am very excited about what may come of this news and would be happy to provide any input or feedback as to the course of its development. Now, if Intuit would just acquire Avalara, then we would be all set. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

QuickBooks Online Recurring Transactions

I - Love - This.

I can create a recurring invoice that is automatically emailed to a customer with the option to either pay by credit card OR bank transfer or both. You can also check the option to include any unbilled charges so that you never have to worry about forgetting to bill your customers for your hard-earned work. 

QuickBooks Online. A Win-Win. Why are you still stuck in your QuickBooks for Desktop prison? Set your data free!

Friday, October 31, 2014

QuickBooks Online Keyboard Shortcuts

CTL + ALT + ?

In QuickBooks Online, this keyboard combination will bring up a list of keyboard shortcuts.

Monday, October 20, 2014

QuickBooks Online Mobile App Fave: Saving Expenses

What I love about QuickBooks Online is the companion mobile app, which is free from both the Android and Apple stores. I work in the Google ecosystem, so I will be talking about the Android app in this example.

One of my favorite functions is recording expenses. This is a great little feature for those on the run racking up charges for things like meals, gas, office supplies, or whatever while out of the office. I can't tell you how many clients I meet with where the bookkeeper complains about the owner not providing receipts for expenses. 

No more excuses. Entering an expense is intuitive and uses language in questions that are easy to understand. And the best part is being able to attach a photo of a receipt, or anything else for that matter, for free! Yes, free attachments. This is functionality usually seen in 3rd party apps that you have to pay for.

You just click on the camera icon.

And Select Source. This means that you are not only limited to taking a picture, but you can select an existing file from from your photos, Dropbox, etc.
And then just snap your receipt. 

And for those that want that extra backup capability of saving receipts, I have turned on Auto Backup in my Google+ settings so that every photo that I take gets backed up into the cloud.

And of course, this all syncs automagically and becomes available immediately in the web-based version of QuickBooks Online.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

QuickBooks Online Update: September 26, 2014

As expected, Intuit is moving full steam ahead with regular improvements to the QuickBooks Online platform. It's only a matter of time when the amount of features exceed those of QuickBooks for Desktop, especially if they do have new updates every 4 weeks or so. 

(1) This latest round includes bank feed rules. While QBO does a very good job of trying to automatically suggest matches, now you can have full control of what is supposed to go where and how. 

(2) Another new feature is a Send Later check box for transactions. I used this feature all the time in the desktop product, so this is a welcome addition. 

(3) You can now customize and preview statements including being able to include and edit the email subject and body before sending. Although infrequent, I had to do this several weeks ago and was kind of surprised when it just sent without any kind of setup, so this is now in line with how emailing invoices work. Nice.

(4) QuickBooks Labs is a new link under Chart of Accounts from the gear icon (settings). It came and went and now it's back again. I've added the Auto Complete plugin and it's pretty cool.

(5) And my last favorite, although there are other improvements, is being able to enter the exact amount for a receive payment that automatically checks the invoice for the same amount. 

So, this round exemplifies the much appreciated updates that revolve around control and automation

Friday, September 5, 2014

Salesforce for QuickBooks to be Discontinued: Need an Alternative?

Intuit has recently announced that it will be discontinuing Salesforce for QuickBooks subscriptions as of December 3, 2014. You can transfer your subscription to before then but then you will also need to find a new intergration provider. 

Looking for something better? Check out Method CRM! It is the best way to sync your CRM with QuickBooks and is fully customizable. Contact us to sign up for a free trial and we can customize it according to your business needs.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Intuit Upgrades QuickBooks Payments for Credit Card Processing

Intuit is now going to make it even easier to see and understand the fees associated with QuickBooks Payments, also formerly known as Intuit Merchant Services. Currently, when a credit card payment is deposited to a bank account, you will see a corresponding fee with "BANKCARD DES:DISCOUNT" in the memo. This fee will only be the percentage of the payment as if was a swiped, qualified card, for example. It is not until at the end of month when the credit card statement is generated that any remaining amounts are deducted as one lump "monthly" fee for all payments that are subject to higher percentages, such as mid-qualified and nonqualified corporate and reward cards. This has always been confusing because a) the end of the month total fee gets confused with any set monthly fee just for processing credit cards, depending on the plan and b) you have to wait until the monthly statement to see what the actual % rates and associated fees for only the total payments per discount rate were.

This will all change soon:

  1. You will see new category descriptions for amounts posted to your bank statement.

    Intuit Deposit - All deposits for your payments.
    Intuit Tran Fee - All transaction fees for payments you accept.
    Intuit Account Fee - Any debit or credit to your account related to account fees.
  2. All transaction fees during the month will reflect the actual percentage amounts of your payments as they are posted. There will be no more adjustments at the end of the month.
  3. A simpler, easy-to-read monthly statement. I haven't seen an example of this yet, but I sure hope it will no longer have that faded, courier font like it was produced from a typewriter.
  4. A new number for all voice authorizations: 888-301-3246. I've never had to do a voice authorization so I don't know how this compares to before.
  5. Customer credit card statements will show your business name starting with IN * for payments charged to their credit card.
I always thought that Intuit statements were clearer than other credit card payment processors, who I believe make it very difficult for merchants to compare rates, especially when they tack on so many little fees here and there. And with this upgrade, Intuit will be even more transparent. With the added convenience of being able to process and view credit card payments immediately and have them batched automatically and deposited in QuickBooks, this is just one more reason why I always recommend QuickBooks Payments to my clients.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The NEW QuickBooks Online vs. QuickBooks for Windows (Desktop)

I can't believe it has only been just over a year since my post reviewing QuickBooks for Desktop vs. QuickBooks Online vs. Xero and so much has changed! Since then, I have abandoned Outlook, which I had said I would never give up, and migrated my email to Google Apps so that I could take advantage of Method CRM's Gmail Gadget and Google Calendar Sync. I am so glad I did because now I am more productive and organized than before, not to mention I have discovered the many benefits of being more cloud-based, such as having my emails and appointments syncing across all devices. 

When I learned that it was possible to re-import my QuickBooks for Desktop (QBD) data into QuickBooks Online (QBO), I was excited to take another look and test out the new QBO after learning about its cool features while doing the new QuickBooks Online certification. I have been actively using QBO in tandem with my desktop version, Enterprise Solutions Accountant 14.0. I know, I know...I always consult against doing any kind of duplicate data entry, but this is a great exercise to compare the two using live processes. And this is definitely what I would recommend anyone to do so that you can really see the difference, if you are concerned about switching.

One of the biggest pushbacks I hear from other ProAdvisors is that it is so much faster completing tasks in QBD. That would certainly be true if you don't actively use QBO. But once you know where everything is and learn all the shortcuts and tips, it is really fast! Of course, it helps to have a fast broadband connection. And instead of always talking about what QBD can do that QBO can't, I have some quick notes on the cool features in QBO that are not in QBD. This is an ever-changing list as Intuit is constanting updating QBO, unlike QBD that only gets major upgrades once per year, as their latest QBO update was just a couple of days ago. And I am probably missing some other features, so please feel free to add to this list:

  • Ability to show Discount and/or Deposit by the total on the invoice.
  • Automatically create and email invoices to customers.
  • Track when customer views emailed invoice; by not attaching invoice as PDF, customer has to click on link to view invoice.
  • Audit Log shows history of transaction and list changes with visual representations (changes in Orange) with date & time.
  • Audit History on each transaction.
  • Scrolling activities in Accountant area.
  • Create expenses to any source account on the fly.
  • Ability to put billable rate on single time activity which also shows total dollar amount to be billed.
  • Creating invoice for a customer shows all unbilled time and expenses conveniently on the right, which can be quickly added.
  • Unlimited time tracking users for employees and subcontractors.
  • Bank Feeds update automatically.
  • 1099 filing included free with Plus.
  • Free attachments to transactions in Plus.
  • Help is not a pop up but rather a frame within the browser.
  • Import transactions from Square.
  • Refund Receipts instead of Credit Memos that then have to be refunded (extra step).
  • Reconcile reports saved automatically and shows date of when it was reconciled.
  • Ability to see changes in any reconciliation and fix by clicking on the amount or undo reconciliation and re-enter deleted transaction and then reconciliation (Accountant only). Undo resets ALL the reconciliations (you don't have to undo each one going back).
  • Reports: Exceptions to Closing Date with visual changes & Recent transactions.
  • Multiple A/R or A/P on Journal Entries.
  • FIFO inventory.
  • Clicking "map" for a contact goes into Google maps tab directly.
  • Overdue invoices in mobile app.
  • Check written instead of bill payment, if reconciled already, can easily convert check to bill payment by adding bill.
  • Can click on old uncleared checks within the reconciliation report to void.
  • Online Invoicing included free (without payments).
  • Customer can add a message and an attachment to the invoice viewed in the portal. Viewing the invoice in QBO shows all the history with date/time.
  • Likewise, you can post a message to the invoice that the customer will receive via email.
  • With QuickBooks Payments account, payments, deposits, and fees are recorded automatically.
  • Write off invoices using Account instead of Item.

Friday, August 15, 2014

QuickBooks Connect Conference: Accountants, Small Businesses, Entrepreneurs, and Developers Take QuickBooks Online to the Next Level

Today is the last day to register with early bird pricing of only $169 for the Conference pass and $369 for the Conference pass + QuickBooks Deep Dive event for Intuit's QuickBooks Connect conference in San Jose, California from October 21st - October 23rd. This will be a unique opportunity for accountants, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and developers to all be in the same place together in the expanding ecosystem of QuickBooks Online.

For the Accountant, the latest news is the offering of Advanced QuickBooks Online Certification Training, only available at this event with the opportunity to take the exam and be certified before its official release on November 5th.

For Small Businesses: learn strategies for hiring the right employee, following regulations, and connecting with customers via social media.

For Entrepreneurs: gain insight on starting a business, getting funding, and mentoring with business experts.

For Developers: learn how to build and market your own app using the powerful Intuit Partner Platform and talk to small business owners and accountants to learn what they crave in an app.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Should I Use My Credit Card Overseas? Credit Card vs. Amex Prepaid vs. Travelex

That is a good question. Of course, it depends. There are a number of credit cards out there that offer no foreign transactions fees, the normal 3% per transaction fee that most credit cards levy. Discover is one of them; however, it is not widely accepted around the world. I would have considered it for my recent trip to Paris if it could be used there, which it can't. Then I learned about the American Express Prepaid Card, which doesn't have any fees. I tested this card out by loading a small amount of money from my bank account. Unfortunately, it took 5 business days in order for me to see the amount on the AMEX card! This is way too long to wait for funds, especially for a 10-day trip. The other disadvantage was that most merchants don't accept AMEX due to their higher merchant fees.

My next major issue involved convenience and security. Europe is way beyond the U.S. in regards to credit card security, as the Chip-and-PIN technology is ubiquitous there. This is not to be confused with the Chip and Signature technology now included in many U.S. credit cards. The Chip-and-PIN technology doesn't require any signature at all, as credit card transactions are processed reading the chip and having you enter a unique pin. This is the only way to process some transactions in Europe, such as at kiosques at train stations, toll booths, etc. Since I planned on taking the train from the airport upon my arrival and purchasing Metro tickets, I really wanted this type of credit card, as my whole goal is to avoid carrying any large amounts of cash. 

That was when I discovered the Travelex Cash Passport Prepaid Mastercard, and boy was I happy I did! Not only could I load the card in Euros but it comes with Chip-and-PIN technology. And it is so quick and easy to load the card: all I had to do was go to their Reload site, enter how much I want, and then use my own bank's debit card to process the transfer. The best part of all was that funds became available almost immediately! This was so convenient when I was in Paris and wanted to add more funds before my card ran out, which happened pretty quickly since I ended up using this card for everything. I never had to use cash, as even taxis accepted it. And forget about waiting in line. Since other tourists had no luck with their cards at the kiosques for the train and buying tickets at the Louvre, they would leave frustrated only to cut my wait short so that I could use my card with no issues at all. Another advantage was that all restaurants had hand held card readers, so my card never left my sight as the servers would bring the reader to my table, insert my card, I would enter my pin, and it would print a receipt. Talk about secure (not having to see a stranger walk away with your card like in the U.S.)! And speaking of, it was so easy to Log In and view my remaining balance, including recent authorizations, and they have a tricky secure way of confirming your login by confirming only certain digits of your password. On a final note, while there are no foreign transactions fees or other transaction fees, you will be subject to Travelex's exchange rate at the time of the conversion when adding new funds. Of course, this varies according to currency exchange fluctuations and I tend to think that the rate may be a little higher with Travelex, but let me tell, for the cost of convenience and security, it is totally worth it! I will definitely use this card when I return to Europe in the near future. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Want to Get 50% Discount Off QuickBooks Online Forever?

No coupon needed, not a limited time offer, not just for six months, but for the life of your subscription!

If you already have an account, just add me as your accountant. Click on the "Your Account" gear icon in the top-right corner of the screen and select "Manage Users." Then click on the "Invite Accountant" button and fill out my information.

Or just contact me. If you don't have an account yet, let's talk about setting one up for you.

Why not have a Certified QuickBooks Online ProAdvisor be your go to for support? Or do you prefer being on hold?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Google Apps + Method CRM = Marriage Made in the Cloud

I have been using Method CRM and customizing it for my clients for years. It has been (and still continues to be) the best way to sync QuickBooks for Desktop into the cloud. But it also works with QuickBooks Online, which is a great way to compensate for its shortcomings such as its lack of sales orders. I am a big proponent for moving as much as possible into the cloud, and I have done so with every single file stored and cross-platform apps. The main holdouts on my computer are still Quicken, QuickBooks, and TurboTax. For the longest time, I was such a big Microsoft follower, and I still continue to use Word and Excel for certain features and quick functionality. However, it seems like MS was going into the wrong direction and I stopped upgrading by staying with Windows 7 and Office 2010. I just didn't like the flat graphics of their latest Office offerings and we all know what a disaster Windows 8 is. My last holdout until recently was Outlook. I have used it for so many years and I really loved both the Evernote and Method CRM plugins. But it just seemed so "one-way", as I am now spoiled by the Google ecosystem: apps that sync info to and from the cloud to my PC, Android smartphone, Google Glass, and Chromebook. Yes, I took the blue pill and I love it!

I've had a personal Gmail account for as long as I can remember and nothing beats needing only one login for everything Google. But I could never get the same kind of syncing with my business' own email domain. I've heard about Google Apps before, but I was always afraid of "letting go" of controlling my email via Hostgator, which I think is the best web hosting company for features. I decided to take the plunge a couple of months ago and signed up for a free trial. The only hiccup was finding out that I had Google services under my business email that I must have set up a long time ago, which prevented me from transferring the domain. But then I remembered a cool little feature that shows you everything you have with Google. After I had cleaned that up and signed up again, it was a total breeze setting up the domain in Google Apps. It literally took under 30 minutes. Next, with just a few clicks I was able to set up the Gmail Gadget from Marketplace Apps via the Admin console. Since I already have a Method account, it was free. And then instantly I was able to add contacts and activities within my emails. 

And the best part is that if the gadget recognizes an existing contact via their email address, I can easily add an activity, case, or opportunity or view existing activities, transactions, documents, and more; information that was already in QuickBooks and Method now all available within Gmail!

Now, this is where it gets really fun. Within Method, I can track all my activities and work on them later, such as replying to emails, returning phone calls, working on To Do's.

And I don't have to go back into Gmail to reply to emails, as I can send them directly from within Method and it still shows in my Gmail Sent folder. I could go on and on about how much I can accomplish just with this gadget...

...but there is something even more incredible that I have struggled with for years. I have always preferred creating events in my personal Google calendar so that my business appointments showed across my devices, especially my smartphone and Google Glass, which is great for driving navigation. But I couldn't send invites to my clients using my personal email address. And if I created appointments in Outlook, it was such a pain getting it to sync with my Google calendar. I've used an Outlook add-on, which then no longer became available, and then I added it as an internet calendar. But I just hated the dual calendars in Outlook and it was just too clunky, not very seamless. 

Google Apps solved this problem. Now I can create appointments in my Google calendar, send invites, and best of all, it now syncs bidirectionally with my calendar in Method!

An event created in Google now shows up in Method:

And an appointment created in Method... shows up in Google calendar.

And this is where Google really shines: sharing. By sharing my Google Apps calendar with my personal calendar and vice versus, I can now see all my daily events in just one calendar on my mobile devices. The time that this has saved me is amazing! I could still use Outlook, as I have recently learned of the Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook®. But I had already weaned myself off of it with the advantage of having everything I need in multiple tabs in my Chrome browser, not to mention never having to worry about having to back up that pesky Outlook.pst file or transfer it to a new computer. I can totally understand people's reluctance to change, but I can tell you that I have never missed my Outlook. The same will probably be true when I switch to QuickBooks Online, which would be perfect for my business, but I'll save that migration for later.

So, now the details:

You can get started with Google Apps with a 30-day free trial. After that, it is just $5 per month per user with 30GB of storage. They now have a new plan that is $10 per month per user with all the same features plus unlimited storage, Google Vault, and more. But make sure you ask me for a coupon so that you can get a $10 per-user discount for the first year. And then sign up for Method CRM with a 30-day free trial. After that, it is just $25 per month per user or $40 per month per user for their Pro plan, which includes the ability to customize additional fields and tables not in QuickBooks and to add additional free apps such as Method Field Services. And remember: I can provide major discounts on QuickBooks for Desktop and Online (up to 50% for the life of your subscription!), not to mention get all of this stuff set up for you.

Monday, July 7, 2014

QuickBooks Mobile will be discontinued effective July 31, 2014

Unfortunately, Intuit has decided to kill their mobile app for QuickBooks for Windows product. Even though this app was limited in functionality, it was still a great way to quickly look up customers and create invoices when out and about and away from the office. This is just one more indication that Intuit is focusing their resources on the QuickBooks Online product. 

However, due to the short lead time on this announcement, this will cause a lot of headaches for businesses that have already invested and implemented their processes based on it. And now they will scramble to find replacements. 

Fortunately, I have stuck with Method CRM for all my clients' mobile needs. Not only does it have probably the best sync with QuickBooks, but practically all your data and more is available out of the office on any mobile device. 

Contact us to find out how we can get your business back up and running with the best mobile option for QuickBooks.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

QuickBooks 2014 R6 Product Download Buggy: Install From Here Instead

Lesson learned: always keep a download of each version of QuickBooks and its initial release. Even for Enterprise Solutions Full Service Plan subscribers, an installation CD will not be shipped unless you ask for it. Without it and you have to download your version of QuickBooks from Intuit's web site. Not a problem, right? Wrong! After learning on Friday (after installing QBES 14.0 for a client using the product download page) that the R6 patch was pulled by Intuit after a slew of bug reports, my client contacted me to complain of missing inventory, sync problems, and emailing issues. Sure enough, they were on R6. However, it wasn't as easy as just uninstalling and reinstalling QuickBooks, as Intuit still had the R6 version of the entire product release on their download page, even though the R6 patch was removed as both an automatic and manual download. This meant waiting almost 20 minutes for priority Diamond chat support; I can only imagine how long a phone call to any other support line was taking nowadays. Fortunately, I was able to get the link from them to download the R5 version of QuickBooks Enterprise 14.0 and the clean install utility. 

Here are the details to save anybody else time:

  • Uninstall QuickBooks
  • Download  and install your version of QuickBooks 2014:

Remember: Never install a manual patch unless an automatic patch of the same release number is already available. You may want to even wait a few weeks after the automatic patch becomes available, just to be safe.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Travel International Data: Tep Wireless vs. T-Mobile Unlimited Data vs. Verizon Global vs. Telestial

As a small business owner and a geek who also loves to travel internationally, I still want to stay in contact with my clients, even though I usually don't do any work while on vacation. I love all my mobile devices and being always connected is a priority for me, even if just to find the nearest restaurant while in a foreign locale. Over the past the year, I have scoured the internet for reviews and tried solutions to having a data connection in Europe without paying an exorbitant amount.

This all started with a trip to Italy planned way in advance with my family. Being away for 2 weeks, I needed as much data as possible for the lowest cost and best convenience for multiple devices. I found out about Tep Wireless after reading an article on New York Times. For just over a hundred bucks, I booked a WiFi device with unlimited data (kind of a misnomer as there is a cap) to be shipped from London to my home a day or two before I flew out on my trip. Now here's the bad news: I waited until the day before my trip only to not receive any device. When I emailed tep, they basically indicated that my order fell through the cracks and that they, of course, wouldn't be able to ship my device to the US. Instead, they offered to ship it to my location in Italy. Unfortunately, I was going to be staying in a villa in a remote area of Umbria where I didn't even have an address yet, only  GPS coordinates. So I canceled my order. To make matters worse, when I got back, they made it so difficult to get my money back that I ended up disputing the charge with my credit card company.

Okay, so since I didn't have enough time to order a device from another company, I tried the next best thing. I activated the Global Data plan with my wireless carrier Verizon, which costs $25/month, with the first month including 100mb of data and each additional 100MB of data used costing $25. 100MB is not a lot, especially when I consume up to 2GB on my smartphone each month, but I also stream music and upload all my photos. Therefore, just to be safe, I installed the My Data Manager app for Android to keep track of how much data I was using and what apps were using it. Along with having WiFi at the villa, this was a lifesaver. Of course, I had to turn off any background syncing on all my apps, such as Facebook, Google+ and tweak my email settings. This actually worked out pretty well, but of course, I had to do a lot of work managing and restricting what I normally do. The only issue I had was with my phone's weather widget, which got stuck in some updating loop at the end of the trip and used up 80MB in one night.

After I got back, T-Mobile announced that they would be offering unlimited international data with their plans in the near future. I was intrigued. I had T-Mobile as my carrier in the past before switching to Verizon, and while I hated their customer service, I figured I could just buy a SIM and use this for a short time and then cancel. So a month before my next trip, I bought a SIM and a basic plan online. Since they activated the service even before I inserted the SIM in my phone, I figured I would try it out. Once I had it in my phone and switched networks, I opened up my browser and tried a web page. I was shocked to find out that it took a minute and counting for just Yahoo! to load. I was no longer on 4G and not even on 3G but rather on T-Mobile's Edge network. We are talking slow, 2G speed. At first, I thought it was just the band limitations of my phone. But after researching online, I discovered that T-Mobile's unlimited data in Europe is actually limited to Standard speeds approx. 128 Kbps. OMG, that takes me back to the 90's! That's about twice the speed of dial up! You basically can't do anything with this except wait hours for all your email to get downloaded. I'm glad I was able to test this out before leaving the country as it gave me an opportunity to cancel and ship my SIM back to T-Mobile. I am already back from my trip and I'm still trying to resolve my billing with them as the first agent I talked to never pro-rated my bill and gave me wrong information so it went into collections. I'm surprised this carrier is still in business with such bad customer service.

Fortunately, this experience gave me enough time to make another choice. I have heard of Telestial
before in my past searches, but by searching again, I discovered that they had a great new product, perfect for my needs. They now offer a Data SIM, which allows you to get on a 3G network (if available) in over 50 countries around the world. Keep in mind that this is only a data plan and it doesn't provide any voice or text capability, which I didn't need anyway since I use Google Voice and Voipo. For only $99, you get 1GB of data for 30 days. That's less than 0.10 per MB! What made this even better was their JT TravelApp that allows you to track how much data you have used and even recharge your data if you use up the first 1GB.

I purchased one online and it arrived with no problem, just a simple package with a SIM card and a pocket info card. After inserting the SIM, it was very easy to set up the APN for my phone to recognize the SIM and connect to a network. When I arrived in Spain, I was anxious to see this work and was probably too hasty to connect that I tried to manually connect to each of the Spanish networks available. But perhaps it was just trying to activate at the same time, so once I switched back to automatic network, it was connected to the best available network and I was on the internet with no problem. The same was true when I arrived in France. It connected to a network immediately and I was getting 3G with no problems. Even though I had WiFi in my Paris apartment, it was great to be able to use Google Maps, search for restaurants via TripAdvisor, and check my email or surf the internet all over the city, even in the Metro. I also love their app! It shows you how much data you are using (and in which country), gives you weather info, and even has a currency converter. Overall, my whole experience using this company was excellent. Now, I can relax knowing that my next international trip will be worry free and all I have to do is recharge my existing SIM. Beautiful!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Share and Work on QuickBooks Files Without Networking With Qbox

There are many ways that I have seen my clients use to share their QuickBooks file with an accountant, CPA, or just themselves so that they can have work done in the file in a location other than their primary workplace. Or course, we are talking about QuickBooks for Desktop, which in order to have multiple people work in the same company file simultaneously, you have to have a hard-line network connection with the file hosted on a server (optimal) or have your file hosted in the cloud with a paid subscription. Sometimes, you may just need work done in a QuickBooks file but not necessarily simultaneously with someone else. In this scenario, I have seen clients send backups to their accountants and then just stop working in their file until they get the changes back and then restore the backup (not very optimal). Rarely do I see clients send accountant's copies electronically to their accountants and I haven't seen anyone use the Send General Journal Entries feature that started in the 2013 version of QuickBooks. Maybe theses processes are too complicated or misunderstand for the average user.

As an avid Dropbox user, I tried accessing my QuickBooks file on multiple computers in the past, but this caused headaches such as conflicting copies of the same file. This was probably a result of syncing issues. Now, I just keep my file in there to keep it "backed up" into the cloud, but only access it and use it on one computer. 

Recently, I discovered Qbox. This is a free (using the Basic plan) service that shares your file like Dropbox, but actually locks the QuickBooks file (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files too) when in use so that there aren't any conflicted copies. I tried the whole process from installing on my laptop and opening my existing QuickBooks file and it was a very easy and seamless process. Keep in mind that you still can only have one person open the file and work in it at one time. Once finished, the changes are synced back into the cloud while alerting the other user that the file is currently locked and cannot be used  to make changes. There is also a great feature where you can just open the file in read-only mode so that another user can at least look at stuff but any changes won't be saved. I have super fast Internet and my QuickBooks file size is pretty small, so the syncing didn't take that long. However, it didn't sync as fast as Dropbox, which has a preference to not limit bandwidth, so I am wondering if Qbox has some sort of limit in place. Other than that, I'm pretty impressed with this solution to a problem that has existed for a very long time.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Method CRM: Now Advanced Certified and New & Improved QuickBooks Custom Reports

These are actually two separate announcements but since they happened around the same time and they are somewhat related, I figured I would put them together since they are pretty huge. First off, I am now an Advanced Method Certified Consultant of Method:CRM. I probably should have taken this a long time ago, but at least I was able to garner the experience of some pretty complex customization jobs for my clients up until now. Recently, I implemented a brand new business that is completely mobile using Method. This was a huge project, but well worth the challenge and experience. And after a few years working in Method, my non-profit client has expanded their tracking in Method to other programs within their organization.

A lot of my database experience that has helped me with Method stems from my extensive background in designing custom reports using QuickBooks data. Understanding how data is structured and organized and then being able to put it all together into an understandable format is key to the intelligence of information. I supported the QODBC driver for QuickBooks when I worked at Intuit and then used it ever since I started my business almost 7 years ago creating custom reports for my clients. I thought I was pretty advanced when I found a way to really speed up the syncing of my report applications with QuickBooks. But now, moving forward, I have found a better and even faster way using the Method API. Taking advantage of the best QuickBooks synchronization provided by the Method Sync Engine, getting the reports that you need is only a few button clicks away. It doesn't matter if you are using QuickBooks Pro or QuickBooks Online, and you won't have to purchase a QODBC driver, QQube, or Crystal Reports. And you get introduced to a world-class application called Method:CRM (unless you already use it!).

Monday, April 21, 2014

Import Bank Transactions Easily Into QuickBooks For Free!

For years I have been showing clients how I import .QBO or Web Connect Files downloaded from my bank as .QFX or the file format usually provided free by banking institutions for import into Quicken Financial Software, also known as Web Connect for Quicken 2011 and above. This can be tricky for most people, having to change the downloaded file's extension to .TXT, edit in Notepad by changing the FID and INTU.BID to one that I know works, and then saving the file with the .QBO extension. This can be a real pain having to do this every time you want to import bank transactions but unfortunately, Intuit charges banks for the .QBO file format and thus your bank charges you for this "privilege."

That was until I came across a very cool utility that does all of this in the blink of an eye. It's called QuickBooks Converter and it's free! The only requirements are that you use the Chrome browser, which is the only one that I use unless it's not supported by an application such as certain Intuit websites, and that you use a .QFX file. The added bonus is that is safe and secure, as the file is not converted via any website but rather directly on your computer, so you don't even have to be connected to the Internet for the conversion!