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A Wilmington NC CPA discusses extending QuickBooks functionality with Add-Ons

Wilmington NC CPA QuickBooks trainer and expert

Gary Bode, CPA: if you need a free initial consult on QuickBooks training or setup, please consider calling us for a free initial consult at (910) 399-2705.

Let’s look at extending QuickBooks functionality with integrated Add-Ons, from the perspective of the CPA for Wilmington NC Widgets, our example company.  Add-Ons are third party, non Intuit (QuickBooks parent company) applications designed to address specific needs of QuickBooks users.  Straight out of the box, QuickBooks is generic.  But it has good flexibility and can often be adequately customized to a business through proper setup.  But not even QuickBooks can fully satisfy every need for every business.  QuickBooks advanced versions can themselves be viewed as basic QuickBooks with additional Add-Ons built in.

A Common Scenario

The CPA for Wilmington NC Widgets knows several industry specific, non QuickBooks, software programs exist.  These do everything WNW needs. And, in this case, even the best suited QuickBooks version doesn’t satisfy. Specifically, QuickBooks has limited Inventory capabilities, which is problematic.   But, Wilmington NC Widgets could utilize QuickBooks by purchasing a third party Inventory module designed to integrate with it.  Which way should the CPA go? A complete stand alone program or QuickBooks enhanced with Add-Ons?

“Excel spreadsheets provide powerful, inexpensive, extensions to QuickBooks functionality. Just customize a QuickBooks report and then export it to Excel for further detail work. This can be a cost effective, simple work around for many QuickBooks limitations.”

Gary Bode, CPA: Wilmington NC Accountant and QuickBooks Instructor for Baker College Online

Add-On Examples:

  • Inventory Modules, where more specific tracking and additional valuation techniques are possible. For example, the CPA for Wilmington NC Widgets feels that the FIFO method of inventory valuation better approximates cash flow than using the Average Cost method available in QuickBooks. WNW also stocks hundreds of parts, adds new types of widgets constantly and needs to track specific serial numbers on the machines it re-sells. QuickBooks alone, even extended through Excel, just isn’t adequate, even with compromises.
  • Time Clock data importation. WNW pays weekly and has over 40 hourly employees. Importing info from the time clock directly into QuickBooks saves hours of bookkeeping work per week.
  • Customer Relations modules. Note that QuickBooks has good customer management tools right out of the box, including fields that can be individually customized. It is unreasonable to expect a strict accounting or bookkeeping package to do much more.

Pre QuickBooks Add-On Decision Considerations

Plenty of considerations, besides cost, should be factored in before the decision to purchase an Add-On is made:

  • Is there really an issue? Bells and whistles are sometimes just bells and whistles.
  • There may be a more advanced version of QuickBooks that already addresses the problem.
  • Sometimes problems can be turned into minor inconveniences by internal QuickBooks work arounds. Most bookkeeping and accounting applications require work arounds to some degree. QuickBooks already integrates well with Excel. Often an acceptable solution involves customizing a QuickBooks report, exporting it into Excel and massaging it there. Wilmington NC Widgets’ CPA already keeps extensive amounts of auxiliary data in Excel and just combines it with QuickBooks aggregated data for multiple purposes.
  • There may be an industry specific software program that is a better solution to QuickBooks and Add-Ons. What is the cost differential. How long will the stand alone program’s manufacturer last in a cut throat market.
  • Data accessibility for managerial decisions should be a primary consideration in the accounting software decision.

QuickBooks is pervasive in the marketplace, and the owners of, and CPA for Wilmington NC Widgets already had experience using it.  Learning new software is intimidating.  They decided the managerial advantage they would get from being able to access QuickBooks themselves, comfortably, was worth using an Inventory related Add-On.  QuickBooks is famous for its user friendliness after all.  Software support is another.  While QuickBooks support can be frustrating, it is good value for the cost.  Local expertise can alleviate support issues.  The actual cost differential between QuickBooks based solutions and other software is usually not a relevant issue when viewed in the long term.

Actual QuickBooks Add-On Considerations

Two main considerations for evaluating QuickBooks Add-Ons exist after the decision to go this route is made:

  • Add-On specifics like relevant functionality support and cost.
  • Integration with QuickBooks. Older Add-Ons used IIF, basically a simple Intuit list format.  Sometimes getting info into QuickBooks via IIF was complicated and even incomplete.  Newer applications use Intuit’s developer platform, SDK.  But of course newer isn’t always perfect either.

The decision to use QuickBooks should be an informed one. From a strict accountant’s viewpoint, the CPA for Wilmington NC Widgets probably would have used an industry specific software package that had its own integrated Inventory, Time Clock and Customer Management modules.  But even with a complex business like WNW, the appropriate version of QuickBooks, auxiliary data kept in Excel spreadsheets and an Inventory Add-On makes this a “6.5 of one, 5.5 of the other” type of decision.  QuickBooks is famous for its user friendliness which can translate into actually using the company’s financial parameters for managerial purposes, a tremendous business advantage.

If you would like a free initial consult with us, please phone (910) 399-2705.

We do our bookkeeping and accounting in QuickBooks.  We’re a Wilmington NC CPA firm, but serve a broader geographical base.  We work back tax cases, offer IRS representation, and provide expert business tax preparation.  Please read some of our posts to gauge our proactive attitude and expertse.

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