QuickBooks Data Analysis – Where to Begin

Data Health is something that we, as those who work with QuickBooks files, need to consider. There are many ramifications, including accurate compliance work, but even more importantly, the perspective that this data provides for business decisions. Data integrity for QuickBooks desktop products is the base line, but I recommend you do a more detailed analysis before you begin your work. This is something that even if you're not doing a lot of the QuickBooks bookkeeping or consulting work, just by virtue of working with these clients, you are in a unique position to add a lot of value to the relationship by understanding what is happening with the file, what things can go wrong, and how you can make sure that that file remains healthy.

My first recommendation is that you systemize and productize this part of your work. The process of data analysis is important for you to know what work needs to be done and is valuable to the client so they have the ability to better understand the work you will need to do. It may even be that you can enlist their help to do some of the work, or at least they will be making a decision to hire you to do the work. As a by-product, information is available for more effective scheduling, the discussion is helpful to reduce non-billable time and write offs, and armed with the knowledge of the specific tasks to complete you can leveraging your staff.

The first thing that I would recommend if you're getting information from your client is to open the file, even if you're not ready to begin the work, or at least have someone in your firm do it. You might even have a list of 4 or 5 things that you like to check making sure the bank recs are done, making sure the balance sheet is in balance, making sure that the retained earnings agrees with what your ending retainer earnings was last year, etc.

These things are all pretty quick, but what's going to happen is you will know immediately if there is a deal breaker for whenever you do get to work on the project. Your clients understand especially during tax season things come in, they get put in the queue. They're going to get done whenever they get done, and that's just the reality of the situation. If they give their data file in February, and, then, on the first of April for an April 15th deadline, you're calling them because you don't have the password to be able to open the file or you've just discovered they haven't done their bank reconciliation work for the whole year. All of those kind of things add a lot of additional stress for you as well as for the client, and it's really not necessary.

Even though you can't do the work right away, I recommend that you at least make sure you can open the file and check a couple of critical things. That will take you 15 minutes at the most. But if there is a problem, you are going to be able to let the client know right away. Armed with that information, they can be working on it, or they can decide they want you to do it. Assuming they want you, that's expanded the scope. If it's going to be additional time that you or your staff need, at least you can plan for that and schedule accordingly. The result is a much better experience for you and for your client.

As I said, the benefit of this approach is client relationship building. They know that they are important to you because you at least looked at their information if there was a problem. Maybe part of your procedure is to shoot them a quick email or have someone on your staff do that to at least say we received your file, we were able to open it, you're in the queue, and we'll be in touch. With this approach you are not making a big commitment, but you do acknowledge that you have this relationship with them and you are moving forward. The analysis process also a great way for the staff to learn a little bit more about QuickBooks. If you have these few things and they're checking them, and they seem to not be done, that is a great training experience because you're going to be able to let your staff see, "Oh, this is how we knew there was a problem, and this is what we do about the problem."

After they've done it a couple of times, they will know how to handle it even without you necessarily getting involved. Then, the last one is your time management. As I mentioned, there's nothing more frustrating than getting ready to sit down and work on a tax return on a Saturday afternoon, trying to get things done with the crunch of deadlines looming down on you, only to find out that there are things wrong with the file or you can't even open the file. That's why I'm suggesting that you check the data when it arrives to make sure that everything is in good shape.

Over the next few weeks we will review some of the specifics for the steps you may want to take when you receive the file, as well as additional suggestions if you want to offer data analysis as a service.

3 years ago by in QuickBooks Tips and Tricks | You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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