Here’s an interesting option in QuickBooks Accountant and QuickBooks Enterprise Accountant (but not in QuickBooks Bookkeeper) – the ability to send specific General Journal Entries to your client via email or a file download. Note that this is NOT the “accountant’s copy” feature.
PLEASE NOTE that much of this is based on information from an early release candidate of QuickBooks 2013 – it is possible that some features may vary from what is described here. Also, this applies strictly to the U.S. editions of QuickBooks in the Windows environment. The UK and Canadian versions may include some of these features.
When would this be used? The most common situation would be when an accounting professional wants to send an adjustment to a client file without having to go through the Accountant’s Copy exchange process, or exchanging an entire copy of the file. Perhaps you just finished working on the client file (and have given it back to them) and you find that there is one more adjustment to make? This new feature is a simple process for sending General Journal Entries without a lot of fuss and bother.
Are there other ways to do this? Sure!
- You can visit your client’s office and make your changes directly in their system. Not convenient!
- You can give them specific instructions on what change to make themselves. Very risky!
- You can log on to the client’s computer using a remote access product and make the adjustment directly. This has to be done at a time when the client doesn’t need access to their computer!
- You can set the client up on a QuickBooks Hosting service, then you can log in as a user any time. However, QB Hosting isn’t the answer for everyone, and if you are only accessing things a few times a year it might not be the right way to go.
So, let’s take a look at this new feature. Note that this is not available in QuickBooks Professional Bookkeeper.
Sending General Journal Entries
You have a client’s file, you want to make an adjustment, you don’t want to ask them for an Accountant’s Copy of the file because of all the hassles and time that involved (or, you just don’t trust that process). Instead, just make a simple General Journal Entry on your copy of their file.
When you create a General Journal Entry you will notice a new option in the toolbar – Send GJE’s.
Clicking on that button (I’m not clear why this window isn’t an option in the Accountant menu, which would be easier) opens the Send General Journal Entries window. Note the following:
- The date range usually defaults to the prior fiscal year, but you can change it to any period you wish.
- You can select the individual GJE’s to be send at one time.
- You can edit any given GJE by clicking the blue link in the Account column.
- At the bottom of the screen is an option Allow recipient to select which GJEs to post to file. If you un-check this then all of the GJEs will be posted, otherwise the client can pick and choose which to post.
It would be nice if there was an option to filter this to show only Adjusting journal entries, but that may be a small issue.
When you click the Email as Attachment button, you get this window:
The client receives this email with an attachment with a name like “YourCompanyFilename(QuickBooks 13.0 Aug 18, 2012 04 37PM).QBJ”
Uh oh – a bit of a philosophical problem here. We are sending the client an attachment via email and asking them to “open” it? Aren’t we always telling our clients to never open attachments? Well, of course, it is OK for a client to open attachments from ME, right? I wouldn’t recommend using this feature, but that is up to you.
Fortunately, there is an alternate method, the Save as File button. This will save the QBJ file to a folder of your choice, so then you can use your client portal (you have one, right?) or a file transfer service rather than sending it as an email attachment. I wish that this was the default method!
Receiving These General Journal Entries
Now let’s look at what goes on at the receiving end. The user gets this email with an attachment, or receives the file that you send to them by another means. They are told to “Open” it. How? I looked in vain for a menu option in QuickBooks that would let me open it, or import it, or receive it. Something? Nope, no option. It’s a simple thing, really – just double-click on the QBJ file. This will open QuickBooks, and you’ll get a window that lets you add the General Journal Entries as shown here:
Pretty simple – if the “sender” allowed the “recipient” to select the entries to post then you can check (or un-check) them in the left column. Then you click Add GJEs.
When it is done, you get a simple summary.
Sounds simple! I can see how this may be very useful.
One thing that I was worried about, but they handle reasonably well. What if I try to import this same file two times? If you do, you get a warning – but you are not PREVENTED from double posting.
Another question is what if I try to import this to the wrong company file? In this case, QuickBooks will warn you that this might not be the right file. It WILL allow you to proceed, which it has to. Why? Because sometimes accounting professionals change the name of a company so that they can differentiate between different files.
There are some important things to worry about in this case, though. If you import into a different file, the import file will also add any missing items, names or accounts. You could be adding a new account even if you hadn’t intended to. Plus, there may be some bugs here, if you import this multiple times you may find that the accounts are added EACH time you import, creating duplicate records in that list.This feature was not intended to be used this way, but since they allow it, they should tighten up the process here.
For those of you who care, the QBJ file is a simple text file containing “QBXML” statements. This is the same “language” that SDK based add-on programs use to talk to QuickBooks, and in general it is very safe. That is, it won’t create database corruption and there is good error checking. This is NOT an IIF import, thank goodness.
Here is a portion of a QBJ file so that you can see what is being sent (slightly reformatted for readability):
First Revision Bugs and Issues
Unfortunately, there are some first-revision problems. Let’s see how many of these Intuit agrees are problems, and if they’ll fix them quickly.
- I sure wish that we had a “print” option in the Add General Journal Entries window so that I (the recipient) can print a list of the entries that were posted?
- I really, really wish that their list of instructions in the email recommended that the client make a backup copy first before applying the file. Odds are you won’t get data corruption or problems, but what if you decide you didn’t like the GJEs? You (the client) don’t get a list of what was done, and there is no “undo” option. If I have a backup then I can restore it for an “undo” very simply.
- I don’t like asking a client to “open” an email attachment. Fortunately, the Save As File button is an option. I would rather that this be the default option, though.
- Remember that option that the Sender has to not allow the user to select which GJEs to apply? Well, a slight tweak of the QBJ file can get around that. Here’s a section of this text file that applies to this situation. It is easy to alter.
<CompanyName>CCRSoftware Sample Company SITES</CompanyName>
- In fact, if you think about it, we are sending the client a file that is simple text (well, complicated text) that can be edited in any text editor. I would prefer it if QuickBooks could encrypt this file so it couldn’t be changed. I’m starting to wonder, what are the limits of the QBXML import using this QBJ file? Can someone exploit this to post OTHER kinds of things here? Perhaps I’m being overly concerned? Of course, the user still has to APPROVE the posting, so it isn’t a stealthy way to get things in. But still…
On my computer I have both Enterprise and Premier installed. I would expect that this is not the typical situation for your client. However, on my system, if I “opened” the QBJ file without QuickBooks running first, the QBJ file would start a copy of QuickBooks. Sounds good! Unfortunately, it didn’t always open the right copy of QuickBooks. My sample QBJ file came from Enterprise, opening the QBJ file would start Premier, and give me this somewhat odd error. The instructions here are NOT correct for the situation. OK, my fault, but it could happen.
This feature should be popular to accounting professionals who want to make simple journal entry corrections to client files without going through the hassles of the accountant’s copy process. I’m concerned about security issues, but they can be managed with just a little attention. I haven’t found any big problems that are show stoppers.