Editor's Note: This is the second of an exclusive four-part series by William Murphy, Insightful Accountant's senior technical editor, on Intuit's product launch for QuickBooks 2017, which is slated for Sept. 19. The piece features some of Murph's own experiences in reviewing a pre-release copy of the software.
As we saw in our first three installments, Intuit has begun the roll-out of QuickBooks 2017, with the formal product launch set for Monday, Sept. 19. Because they have made the information available, we are giving you an inside scoop of the new features, enhancements and changes prior to it hitting various sales channels.
This year’s product enhancements seem to target customers, with the focus on helping small businesses "run their business" with even greater ease. In this part, we will provide a first look at "Minor Features – Major Impact."
Minor Features – Major Impact: "Keep Deposits in Order"
One of the big mistakes QuickBooks users, especially new QuickBooks one, have made over the years involves "undeposited funds," and the failure to follow the QuickBooks workflow associated with receipt of payments and bank deposits.
All too often, users would record payments either in the form of sales receipts or payments against invoices. These amounts would find their way into the undeposited funds account. This way they could be properly grouped with other amounts and deposited to the user's bank account in a manner that matched the actual physical deposit at the bank.
The problem came after users failed to understand the role of undeposited funds and the "Payments to Deposit" window. They would ignore that window and simply re-record the payments as income on the deposit details for the bank deposit.
The result would leave monies in undeposited funds (overstating this asset), while, at the same time, overstating revenues. In some cases, mistakes of this nature could produce tens, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of dollars incorrectly recorded within the user's financial statements. Correcting the mistake sometimes took hours.
New for 2017, QuickBooks will help ensure a user's books are maintained correctly by providing information aimed at reducing the possibility of duplicate entries or erroneous deletions. QuickBooks now will display a numeric badge on the home page on top of the "Record Deposits" icon. This will reflect the number of pending payments that must be deposited.
QB2017 - Payments Badge on Make Deposits
As seen in the above example, when users hover their mouse over the numeric badge, QuickBooks further displays the message "Record the deposit of one or more customer payments to your bank account." This further reinforces the fact that users should follow the QuickBooks workflow and select the appropriate payments from the Payments to Deposit window when making their deposit.
Anything we can do to reduce the number of user errors associated the 'undeposited funds' account and failure to follow the required QuickBooks workflow of taking payments, and recording deposits, is a worthwhile effort. This is a much needed, though long overdue, enhancement to QuickBooks desktop products.
Minor Features – Major Impact: "Track Credit Card Status"
How many times have you wished it was easier to see the "cleared status" of your credit card charges?
You had to open the register or find a copy of the credit card reconciliation report in order to know if charge had been processed. Sometimes, this could even result in unintentional deletes when you thought an uncleared charge actually was a duplicate of a cleared charge.
QuickBooks 2017 now marks your credit card charges cleared, just like the checks in your bank account, when they have been reconciled.
QB2017 Credit Card Cleared Status
It's amazing how a little thing, like adding a 'cleared' checkmark to your credit card transactions can make life so much easier when you are trying to figure out if all of your credit card charges have been accounted for properly.
Minor Features – Major Impact: Multi-user to Single-user Mode Enhancements
Along with some enhancements that permit more features to be used in multi-user mode, including Pay Bills, Creating Invoices from Estimates, Creating Bills from Purchase Orders, Printing Checks and Scanning Checks, QuickBooks 2017 has made it easier to switch to single user mode when required.
QuickBooks administrators no longer have to rely upon the QuickBooks Messenger to coordinate the log-out of users prior to switching into single-user mode from multi-user mode. The program now offers a built-in option with real time chat to logged in users. This new feature will notify users that that they must switch to single-user mode, but also show how long they have to save their work and log-out before you close the Company file for that User.
When the QuickBooks Administrator selects the option to Switch to Single-user Mode from the QuickBooks File menu, the following window is displayed.
QB2017 - SUMU Figure 1
The above window not only displays who's currently logged-in to the Company file (the window on the left), but it also shows the amount of time that users have until the switch to single-user mode occurs. Note: There also is a field to estimate the length of time you need to be in single-user mode. When users select continue, they will receive a message similar to the one shown below.
QB2017 SUMU Figure 2
Users can coordinate the right time to switch using real-time chart to their QuickBooks Administrator. The Administrator then can adjust the "switch time," if appropriate. At the end of the elapsed time period, the QuickBooks Administrator may see a screen that looks like this, if all users have not logged-out.
QB2017 SUMU Figure 3
At this point, QuickBooks administrators can either "Cancel" the switch-over to single-user mode or "Close Company for Users'"who are displayed in the window.
I get calls from users complaining that one of their employees has left work and apparently left QuickBooks open. Even though that caller had QuickBooks Administrator rights they never knew that they could use the QuickBooks Messenger function to actually force a log-off of other QuickBooks users. With this enhanced 'switch to single-user from multi-user' functionality, including messaging and forced log-off, built into QuickBooks for the Administrator, Intuit has streamlined the process and enhanced file safety for all users.
Minor Features – Major Impact: High Resolution Monitor Support
For all of those QuickBooks Techno-types out there, here is a super-geeky topic that will thrill you. QuickBooks users who have attempted to use high resolution devices (2k, 3k, 4k) with QuickBooks have found the user interface unusable, due to miniature icons and windows controls, as well as calendar and home pages that would not properly load (see example below).
With QuickBooks 2017, users with high-resolution devices will discover significant ease and improvements while using all money-in and money-out pages of QuickBooks. Progress is being made on updating the overall look and feel of QuickBooks 2017 for all high-resolution devices.
The QuickBooks Home Page and Icon Bar now will scale-up gracefully on high-resolution devices. Core User Interface controls for tables, calendars, min/max/close and scroll-bars should provide easier use and a "delightful experience."
Hopefully, by the time I can afford a home monitor the size of the new Jumbo-tron at the Oklahoma University Stadium, my QuickBooks desktop will be ready with a user interface that will support auto-resize windows and a full feature set so that my bad eyes and tired fingers can tip-toe-through-the-accounting-toolbox.
So, what other features does QuickBook 2017 have? As you would bet, many are internal, behind-the-scenes, and safety and compliance related. They include things like improved security, EMV compliance, Internet Explorer and Windows Operating System support, Multi-factor authentication, Microsoft .NET 4.6 support, discontinuation of Flash components from QuickBooks desktop, and a variety of compliance enhancements for payments, payroll and taxation.
I'm confident we will cover some of these in detail, as well continue to look at the QuickBooks 2017 products before, during and after the formal release on Sept. 19.
Want more? Register for our QB Talks web seminar on October 12. We offer the same web seminar at 1:00 and 6:00 Eastern time. Click to learn more.