5 Ways You're Coping with Quickbooks in a Project Business

We frequently run across project-based organizations that think they’re running their financials in Quickbooks. But after we ask some questions and talk to key people, we have a surprise to report back to the owners: their core accounting system is actually Microsoft Excel!

While Quickbooks is made for general small business, it can be really hard to make it fit the specific one you care about: yours. And if your business or nonprofit is project-oriented, it’s extra hard. So, you deal with it by developing coping mechanisms, aka workarounds, aka spreadsheets.

Here are 5 ways you might be coping with Quickbooks as a project-based organization:

  1. Create the project invoices your customers need but Quickbooks can’t produce by using Microsoft Excel – or maybe Word, if you’re a glutton for punishment. At least Excel can add up the total, but Word and Excel have about equal use in automating the accounting, which is to say, none. Then enter the invoice all over again into Quickbooks so that you can track sales and accounts receivable. Hope that the totals come out the same as what you sent the customer.

  2. Work around the Quickbooks reporting function that isn’t what you need by pulling two or three different reports, plus getting some other data from your sales system and project management software. Then cobble together reports in Microsoft Excel that you’re reasonably sure are close to what you have in your books – unless there’s a bad formula on the second sheet. Congratulations! You’ve got this process down to just a couple of hours a week. On average. Most of the time.

  3. Collect expense reports from your employees and subcontractors in Microsoft Excel too. If Excel is good for invoicing, it must be great for expenses! Remind everybody to save their receipts and scan them in and email them; then go through with your ten-key and make sure the totals match. Email everybody who apparently can’t add; tell them to fix their reports.

  4. Collect timesheets from employees and subcontractors. You could do this with a time-reporting software, but then there are adjustments that need to be made and, what the heck, you could do that with Excel too. Then get those numbers into Quickbooks as quickly as you can, so you can start on the invoicing cycle again.

  5. Opening a second office? Just get them another copy of Quickbooks! Set it up the same as the one you already have and export the reporting from each into Excel and make a new workbook to add them together. This should only take another few hours a month, except when there are ad hoc reports or one office added an account and the other didn’t.

These are only a few examples. Quickbooks companies who run things on a project basis often have to do much of the critical work in Excel. A lot of tasks that could be automated are getting done manually, often by highly skilled and experienced folks who could be doing higher-value work for the organization. The Extraordinary Organization makes better use of those people by configuring a true project accounting system – with integrated time and expense reporting – to operate the way that business should, instead of conforming the business to fit the Quickbooks model. In other words, spend your time on your strategy instead of just coping with Excel.

Tell us about your experience coping with Quickbooks or request a quote for our solutions. Register for a webinar to learn more about how Intacct Projects can give you a smarter way to do project billing.