Overflow errors seem to have returned to us in QuickBooks 2016 versions. Last week, Insightful Accountant published, with Shannon Tucker’s permission, a blog article he had written (for his own blog) on various problems he has encountered with QuickBooks files upgraded to 2016. One of the issues my firm has been seeing a lot lately, in corrupted 2016 QuickBooks files, involves *overflow* errors, which were not listed in Shannon’s article.
When your QuickBooks file contains one or more overflow errors, the program will display a warning box at the end of Verify, like the one shown below, when these errors are present. Both the warning, and Intuit’s technical support document, elude to the fact that such errors are associated with “balances within your Chart of Accounts.” One thing I can tell you is that errors of this type will NOT be repaired using the QuickBooks Rebuild utility.
QB Overflow Error Warning
I can say, from experience. that we rarely receive files where the overflow errors are associated with the Chart of Accounts, typically they are associated with either the price or cost fields of items in the Item List. On the rare occasion when we do see overflow errors in the Chart of Accounts it is fairly easy to track the culprit. In many instances, Chart of Account overflow errors result from a combination of a ‘miscosted item’ coupled with a high unit-of-measure ratio (having a multiplier effect) and a quantity (typically purchased rather than sold) that is typically some increment of the same UOM multiplier.
Let’s take a moment here to digress from our most recent overflow issues to look at how a Chart of Account *overflow* error situation might occur. In this scenario a QuickBooks user is purchasing 10,000 of Item XYZ which has a unit of measure where 1 purchased represents 10,000 actually available. As an example, let’s take a situation where 5” (in diameter) stainless steel wire rope is purchased as a roll containing 10,000 linear feet. Instead of buying one roll, the user makes the mistake of entering 10,000 (intending it to be feet, but actually it was rolls of 10,000 feet each.). It also happens that the item has been improperly costed because they made a similar mistake when setting-up the cost of the item by recording the price as a per linear foot cost instead of ‘costing the roll’ as a whole at $11,000. When the purchase transaction is made, the multiplication of these factors yields the overflow Inventory Asset.
My point, in going through this Chart of Accounts scenario for an *overflow* error, is to illustrate that it takes not only an almost ridiculous combination errors, even in a few different transactions, to create the overflow value that triggers the QuickBooks warning. Because the causative transaction(s) will have such a high total cost associated with the item’s purchase, that they “should stand out like a hole in the head”; you really shouldn’t have problems finding such overflow causing transactions at all. But if you do, newer versions of QuickBooks have a very sophisticated ‘Search’ feature under the Edit menu; where you can search transactions (typically purchase type transactions) for the word *overflow*. Of course you might have trouble with this search approach if the company sells overflow and blow-out preventers.
As I mentioned though, my firm has had a dozen or so data files submitted for analysis and/or repair with *overflow* errors unlike those we have typically seen in the past. Now I want discuss, without divulging any identification information, one of the most recent of these files. As is typical, after receiving the file, I ran the Verify utility in order to obtain a ‘baseline’ QBWin.log file, before submitting the file to our ‘advanced file analytics’ tool (a kind of ‘super verify’). I also took that opportunity to quickly scan their 18,000+ Item list cost and price fields to see if I could ‘eyeball’ the *overflow* errors manually. I should have known better, right, I mean 18,000 items your eyes ‘black out’ before you can really scan that many tiny numbers. OK, the trick to such a manual scan is to sort the item list by cost field and look for *overflow* at the bottom of the list, then do the same with the price field. Other than a few lengthy decimal place items in the cost field, that might possibly be this generating this error, there really was no indication of overflow errors in either cost or price. So where, oh where, can the overflow be?
You can search the most common QuickBooks lists (or portions thereof) for fields that contain an amount or value that might be causing an *overflow* error; make certain to include the inactive items in the list. A great way to do this involves the use of the ‘Add/Edit Multiple List Entries’ feature found under the Lists menu.
Start by selecting the ‘Inventory Item’ option for All Inventory Items, not just Active Inventory Items. I suggest that you use the customize column feature to remove all but the required columns, and then make certain that ‘cost’ is included for the first inspection. After the list is configured, sort the list by cost, if you have any *overflow* errors they will be at the bottom of the list. By using this list, in contrast to the standard item list you can make changes to correct the corrupted field directly on the list, without having to open the Edit Item window.
Your next step is to repeat this process for ‘price’ rather than cost. If the QuickBooks file contains Inventory Assemblies, I suggest you take the same approach to track down any potential issues.
If you have made any corrections, or cleared any *overflow* errors, I would recommend that you run another Verify utility, at this point, to see if the error(s) have cleared.
While undoubtedly rare, perhaps even more so, than the Chart of Accounts errors, you could potentially encounter a Cost-of-goods Sold or Materials purchase account overflow situation if you had a cost irregularity involving a non-inventory item, so you might want to take the same approach with those items as well, if Verify still reports an *overflow* error.
By now you are probably thinking that “Murph must have found the *overflow* errors in the file he is discussing.” Unfortunately, that wasn’t true, there were none of the errors in the item list ‘cost’ or ‘price’ fields. So again, “where oh where can the *overflow* be?”
Next Thursday, in part two of this mini-series, we will track down the culprit, find out how to identify each of the corrupted data fields, and also learn how to repair these *overflow* errors.