QuickBooks 2009: The Missing Manual
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: October 2008
Pages: 736

QuickBooks 2009 has impressive features, like financial and tax reporting, invoicing, payroll, time and mileage tracking, and online banking. So how do you avoid spending more time learning the software than using it? This Missing Manual takes you beyond QuickBooks' help resources: you not only learn how the program works, but why and when to use specific features. You also get basic accounting advice so that everything makes sense.

QuickBooks can handle many of the financial tasks small companies face. QuickBooks 2009: The Missing Manual helps you handle QuickBooks with easy step-by-step instructions. With this book, you will:

  • Get more out of QuickBooks whether you're a beginner or an old pro.
  • Learn how QuickBooks can help you boost sales, control spending, and save on taxes.
  • Set up and manage your files to fit your company's specific needs.
  • Use QuickBooks reports to evaluate every aspect of your enterprise.
  • Follow the money all the way from customer invoices to year-end tasks.
  • Discover new timesaving features like like better multi-user performance, a homepage dashboard, revamped online banking.
  • Build budgets and plan for the future to make your business more successful.

QuickBooks 2009: The Missing Manual covers only QuickBooks 2009 for Windows.

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By Frank M.

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Comments about oreilly QuickBooks 2009: The Missing Manual:

Like every offering of the missing manual series, this O'Reilly book by Bonnie Biafore serves as a manual that should have been received with the software. The book is written from a business user perspective instead of a functional one which makes it useful for using Quick Books in business situations. Unfortunately, the book is written for the Windows version of QuickBooks Pro and Premier, and the author states that Mac users will not find the book very useful. Although each annual edition of QuickBooks introduces new features and enhancements, users of earlier Windows versions should also find this book helpful.

This book is divided into five parts. Part one, Setting Up QuickBooks, provides step-by-step instructions on how to set up the program to accommodate your organization's needs. Part Two, Bookkeeping, takes the user through all the steps of recording business transactions. Part Three Managing Your Business, covers the features that help the user manage his or her business such as managing the level of inventory and building budgets. Part Four, QuickBooks Power, covers online banking services, configuring preferences to fit your business, integrating QuickBooks with other programs, customizing QuickBooks, and keeping your data secure. Part Five, Appendixes, includes a detailed screen-by-screen installation guideline, a list of help, support and other resources, plus a list of keyboard shortcuts.

QuickBooks is designed to take into account the needs of a wide array of businesses, from service organizations to manufacturers and/or sellers of products, as well as others. Its framework includes various asset, liability, equity, income, and expense accounts into which to enter the components of business transactions. Part One, Setting Up QuickBooks, describes how to create and manage a company file as well how to create accounts, customers, jobs, invoice items, and other lists. For example, Chapter 3 helps the user establish a chart of accounts by using the QuickBooks' EasyStep Interview, importing a pre-defined chart of accounts for a particular industry at no charge from the Internet, or by creating a chart of accounts from scratch. If the importing option is preferred, the manual provides a step-by-step guide on how to import a downloaded pre-defined chart of account file (in an ".iif" format) into a QuickBooks company file.

After the accounts are set up, and before a sales invoice can be recorded, the next step is to provide QuickBooks with the names of the customers . Chapter 4 of the Manual explains how to fill in the customer name fields with customer codes that follow a consistent format so that it is easy to find a particular customer in the drop-down menus, avoid multiple codes for the same customer, and keep the many customers apart. Each customer file contains a significant amount of data: data that is important in creating an invoice, data regarding collecting from the customer, data that is important in satisfying reporting requirements to tax authorities, and data that is important in managing the business. The Manual takes the user through these various input fields, showing how best to enter and maintain the data.

Chapter 5 of The Manual does an excellent job of describing the eleven types of items that QuickBooks uses within its framework, and describes how to name and organize the items before they are used. Because a lot of time can be wasted editing and reworking existing items to fit a new naming scheme, it is important to identify and describe the items correctly from the beginning. Chapter 6 analyzes whether or not to set up lists for a particular business as well as how to create and apply these lists.

Part Two: Bookkeeping, takes the user through all the steps of recording a business transaction, whether it be bills sent to customers, receipts from customers, or other sources such as invoices received from vendors, payments to payees, running payrolls, managing bank accounts, or other bookkeeping tasks. Chapter 8 discusses tracking time and mileage including the three options for tracking time, each of which is fully explained.

Chapter 9 discusses paying for expenses. It includes information on the importance of recording payments correctly. In order to prepare complete financial statements on the accrual basis at any point in time, bills that have been received must be recorded promptly even though they will not be paid until later. This chapter helps the user know how and when to record both the bills received and the subsequent payment of those bills. Because QuickBooks requires the user to follow strict and possibly over-structured procedures in entering the details of bills and payments, getting help from this manual makes it easier to cope with these extra demands. For example, once a bill is recorded, the only way to record its payment is through the Pay Bills Window. This chapter also discusses how to print checks and how to record payments by credit card.

Chapter 10 covers invoicing _ the act of billing a customer for services performed or for products delivered. The manual explains the difference between invoices, statements and sales receipts and when each is most appropriate. It also explains how to select and use the various versions of invoices provided by QuickBooks. Chapter 11 covers producing statements to customers in lieu of or in addition to sales invoices. Although statements have less detail than an invoice, there are still a number of options that the manual explains and then advises the user to select. Chapter 12, Transaction Timesavers, helps the user with printer setups, and also with searching techniques that will help him or her find specific transactions or items.

Managing accounts receivable is a very important function for many businesses. Chapter 13 examines the features of QuickBooks that include the aging of receivables, customer and job reports, and how to record a payment that doesn't exactly match the invoice amount. The chapter also discusses applying credits, discounts for early payments, prepayments, down payments, finance charges, cash sales, and credit card transactions among other related transactions.

Doing payroll, the topic of Chapter 14, takes the user through the process of deciding whether to do the payroll internally or having an outside payroll service do the major portion of the work, including the advantages and disadvantages of the choices available. It then explains how to set up and maintain the payroll, no matter which choice in processing is selected.

Chapter 15 covers a potpourri of subjects entitled "bank accounts, credit cards and petty cash." The most important section assists the user in reconciling bank accounts. The chapter also helps the user enter transactions in an account register more efficiently, record transfers of funds between accounts, and deal with loans and bounced checks among other matters.

QuickBooks is a package of software that can be used by both accountants and others (called "weekend accountants" by the author) who do not have formal training in bookkeeping and accounting. The author does a good job of speaking to both sets of readers and users. An area of particular difficulty for non-accountants is making journal entries _ the subject of chapter 16. The author explains what general journal entries are and why they are sometimes important and/or essential. Of course, she also gives detailed instructions on how to create general journal entries.

One of the end products of bookkeeping is a set of financial statements. The author, in chapter 17, describes the profit and loss report, the balance sheet, and the statement of cash flows _ what each statement communicates, why each is important, and how they are generated. This is an overview chapter. More detailed instructions on preparing reports are provided in later chapters.

The end of the financial year brings additional demands on the bookkeeper, including year-end financial statements and tax reports. The author describes how QuickBooks can make these jobs easier through its "Year-End Guide." Chapter 18 also includes a helpful discussion on how to prepare the information that will be needed by the outside accountant when one is used. It also discusses how the QuickBooks file can be accessed and reviewed by the outside accountant. The outside accountant often enters suggested changes in a second (accountant's) version that can then be entered into the Company's internal QuickBooks files, at the option of the inside bookkeeper. One of the responsibilities of each Company is to report (using Form 1099) to the Internal Revenue Service on total payments to independent contractors of over $600 during the calendar year. The manual covers how these forms can be prepared in QuickBooks. Chapter 18 closes with a brief review of how to close the books for the year.

Chapters 19, 20 and 21 deal with "Managing Your Business" and cover managing inventory, budgeting and planning, and "Tracking Your Business with Reports." The author does much more than describe what the QuickBooks software can do. She takes the viewpoint of a business consultant and helps the reader understand why the various software features are important to running the business profitably. The author is quite critical of QuickBooks' ability to create budgets. For example, the author points out that "QuickBooks lacks a built-in mechanism for copying an existing budget to a new budget. Similarly, because QuickBooks allows only one budget of each type for the same fiscal year, you can't create what-if budgets within the program to see which one is the best." One of the alternatives is to "export your budgets to a spreadsheet program and make modifications or what-if copies there." The section on reports is quite extensive, helping the user find and use the right report among the many reports that the program makes available. Detailed instructions are also provided on how to modify the content and format of each report.

In Chapter 22, the author includes detailed instructions on how to set up a bank account for online services, with liberal use of computer screens to assist the user. The manual includes an excellent description on how letters and envelopes can be initiated using the QuickBooks database and prepared using Word for mailing to various customers, employees and/or vendors. The chapter on customizing QuickBooks (Chapter 25) primarily helps the user (1) set up the software's Home Page and icon bar for his or her particular business, and (2) create business forms unique to the business by using built-in templates. Chapter 26 includes step-by-step instructions on how to set up the administrator with user name and password, guidelines on the selection of passwords, and adding users (for example, other employees) to the QuickBooks software within the business.

Appendix B provides "Help, Support and Other Resources" for the user needing additional information. The user may also go to http://.missingmanuals.com/feedback, a site provided by the publisher to supplement the full series of missing manual books. The most common references under QuickBooks 2009 are to quickbooks.com and intuit.com.

The author takes 690 pages to give the reader/user a complete description of the extensive features and options available in the QuickBooks 2009 software. She approaches each subject at a relatively elemental level, first orienting the reader to why it is important within the system, and then using both step-by-step instructions and pictures of the screens to take the user through the application. I found her explanations clear and helpful and recommend that a purchaser of the software seriously consider also buying this manual to assist them in using the system.

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