important announcement for all ProOnGo customers

ProOnGo Blog

Posts are primarily about QuickBooks, Xero, expense reports, and other topics useful to small business owners, CPAs, and ProAdvisors.

 


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5 QuickBooks Compatibility Improvements that Delight

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

When we introduced our QuickBooks compatibility a few years ago, we started with a deep focus on the data flows between ProOnGo and QuickBooks. Nothing is more important to us than the sanctity of your accounting data, and that meant taking a microscope with us as we focused on every field and entity that flows between ProOnGo and QuickBooks. That attention to detail led to a mountain of appreciation from data architects, API folks, IT professionals, and CPAs.

However, during that effort, sometimes it took a few tries to get your feedback into our user interface while we refined the ways in which you configure, send, or review the data headed to QuickBooks. You know, the user interface that caters to humans, not hard drives, memory, and network infrastructure.

This post is our shot at bringing you up-to-speed on some of the subtle UI improvements that have been added recently as we’ve increased our focus on what real, live, everyday users tell us about their needs and experiences.

1. QuickBooks Reimbursements – Making Read-Only

Imagine that you send a set of expenses to QuickBooks as a check or vendor bill to reimburse an employee for out-of-pocket expenses. The moment that you issue that reimbursement, the expense allocations and other details become an important financial record that should almost certainly not be modified thereafter. Sure, there’s an occasional correction after-the-fact, but once the financial transaction has been made — the payout to the employee — you’ll be hard pressed to think of any legitimate reason to add/remove line items, change the amounts, or other fundamental details.

QuickBooks Compatibility & Reimbursed Expense Protection
QuickBooks Compatibility & Reimbursed Expense Protection

That’s why expenses in the Reimbursed state generally should not be modified in ProOnGo, and they now have a “lock” hover if your mouse is suspiciously close to doing an edit-in-place on the expense.

Sure, we’ve always had reactive popups and error messages that catch you in your tracks if you try to modify a reimbursed expense, but now we have this “gentler and kinder” proactive hint that reminds you that the expense is read-only and strongly encourages you to use our QuickBooks compatibility correctly.


2. QuickBooks Reimbursements – One-Click Preview

Ever get into a situation where your employees suddenly file dozens of expense reimbursement requests, and it reminds you to catch up on these and other recent expenses? Us to. When it happens, it’s nice to have a running tally of how many expenses you need to send to QuickBooks, and you’ve long had our “yellow bar notification” that keeps you informed about that. However, it occurred to us that when you see that notification, more often than not you want a one-click way to preview the list of expenses that need to be sent over. Now, you’ve got just that – click on the blue-circle magnifying glass embedded into the text of the notification:

QuickBooks Compatibility &  One-Click Preview
QuickBooks Compatibility & One-Click Preview

When you click on that magnifying glass, you get a list of the expenses that will be included in your next send-to-QuickBooks. Your QuickBooks compatibility is now easier than ever to understand.


3. QuickBooks Compatibility Settings – Deep and Broad

The day that our QuickBooks settings page reached the equivalent of five full screen heights, we realized that an unwieldy settings page means settings that are too intimidating to touch. We needed to do a better job of making the settings much easier to understand and use. Done! Check out our new “left nav” style that breaks up QuickBooks compatibility settings into logical, easy to understand groups:

Reimbursed Expense Protection
Reimbursed Expense Protection

We hope you’ll agree that this is an easier and far less cumbersome way to navigate the deep and wide range of QuickBooks compatibility scenarios that we support.


4. Easy Edits in a Data Rich Environment

There’s nothing worse than staring at a user interface that looks and feels like a data grid. If we wanted to use Excel 97, we’d use Excel 97. The problem with data grids is that they tend to be functional but hard on the eyes. Check out our new, subtle UI cues that make it easy to see what row you are currently hovering over, and therefore what row you can edit-in-place if you want to click to edit:

Easy Edits in a Data Rich Environment
Easy Edits in a Data Rich Environment


5. Receipts Where & When You Want

Most of our users want to forward in their receipt images to Receipt Reader, have them turned into data fields for a QuickBooks import, and then basically not think about the receipt ever again. Good call, that’s the way it should be!

However, if your expense list contains a mix of expenses created manually vs. with receipt reader vs. with bank sync, you’ll soon forget which ones have receipts attached already and which ones are still “to do”. So, our thumbnails that appear upon hover, will help keep you sane:

Thumbnails - There when you want
Thumbnails – There when you want

The problem? Originally we set up these hover thumbnails in a way that might conceivably get “in the way” if you were using edit-in-place on that expense row. Problem solved! Now we hover just a few pixels down-and-to-the-right, to make sure that the hovered receipt thumbnail stays well out of the way of your edit-in-place. And, while we were working on it, we improved the speed of the receipt thumbnail appearance by a factor of 3x. Enjoy!


Stay Tuned!

That’s it for now, but keep the feedback coming, and we’ll keep working to make our QuickBooks compatibility natural, intuitive, and hassle-free.



Credit Card Sync – The Past May Predict The Future

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

Credit card sync has become one of our most popular features over the past few months. Perhaps it’s the fact that we support sync with 18,500+ financial institutions. Perhaps it’s the fact that we let you auto-categorize those transactions based on the bank’s category information. Perhaps it’s the fact that we let you auto-sync those transactions directly into your QuickBooks credit card register.

Whatever the case, your thirst for credit card transactions in your expense reports, has led us to “go deep” in giving you access to advanced information about the status of your credit card syncs.


Credit Card Sync Advanced Status

If you’ve set up a credit card sync, and you’ve received a notification that there is an error syncing with your financial institution, don’t dispair. There are a lot of moving parts in the equation: your financial institution’s server might be temporarily unavailable, you may have changed your credentials without updating ProOnGo, or there might be a temporary loss of connectivity somewhere between ProOnGo and your financial institution. Most of the time, it’s nothing that requires your action, but in some cases (like if you change your credentials), it does require a moment of work from you.

Anytime you need to make a change to an existing credit card sync, the place to start is Settings → Credit Cards, and then click on the button that has a “gear” on it:

Credit Card Sync - Advanced Info
Credit Card Sync – Advanced Info

Then, if you want to see the precise nitty gritty details about every time that we’ve attempted to sync transactions, click on the “History” button:

Credit Card Sync - Advanced Options
Credit Card Sync – Advanced Options

You are hot on the trail of seeing the outcome of every attempt that we’ve made to connect with your bank, either successfully or unsuccessfully, with a detailed message about each attempt.


Credit Card Sync History

Usually, once you are looking at the history screen, the results are self explanatory. For example, in the below case, the error message indicates that I need to re-connect to QuickBooks in order for my bank’s transactions to flow through to my QuickBooks credit card register:

Credit Card Sync - History
Credit Card Sync – History

And, odds are good that if you see the same error message numerous times in a row, that the past may predict the future: the error message will probably keep occurring until you take some corrective action. Need help with any particular error message? Let us know so that we can (a) help, and (b) improve the error message to make it more intuitive.


QuickBooks Credit Card Charges – We do splits!

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

In your QuickBooks credit card charges, you’ve no doubt seen that QuickBooks lets you do splits. Conceptually, splits are for granular cost allocation. Even if you don’t create *additional* splits, you still technically have a transaction that has a split (just one). The standard example of a credit card charge where splits matter most, is a charge for a hotel stay where there was a room fee, room service, and perhaps other distinct charges like dry cleaning.

It’s been interesting to see how the world of QuickBooks add-ons react to the fact that QuickBooks has splits. Accountants, to whom splits and thus cost allocation are intuitive, would be surprised to find some add-ons that ignore the concept of splits. Non-accountants, to whom splits are not necessarily intuitive, might be surprised or confused by splits — whether shown in QuickBooks itself or in a QuickBooks add-on.

So, what’s a 3rd party app like ProOnGo Expense to do?

Credit Card Charges – Balancing the Need for Splits

We’ve got a lot of power users who simply would not sleep as well at night if we didn’t expose splits in our UI somehow. However, we needed to do it in a very friendly way that also “works” for folks that generally want to ignore the underlying accounting reasons for splits.

So, what did we do? We created a UI, especially in our Corporate Card Expenses subtab, where splits are shown but there are subtle UI cues that make it clear which fields are to be edited in the parent (e.g. Vendor) vs splits (e.g., Customer:Job):

QuickBooks Credit Card Charges with Splits
QuickBooks Credit Card Charges with Splits

Try to hover over a child cell, for a field that is parent-only, and you won’t get the familiar “edit-in-place” hover. Instead, you’ll see an indicator that says “—see parent—”. Conversely, the same holds true for hovering over a parent row and moving your mouse over a cell that is only editable in the split (you’ll get “—see child—”).

QuickBooks Credit Card Charges with Splits
QuickBooks Credit Card Charges with Splits

Our belief is that this UI will strike the right balance of revealing/supporting splits, while letting non-accountants use the app without having to think too much about what a split is or why it matters.

QuickBooks Credit Card Charges with Splits
QuickBooks Credit Card Charges with Splits


Adding Splits

When you want to add additional splits to a credit card charge, just open the charge in the expense editor by clicking on the mouse-pointer icon at the left edge of the expense list, and you’ll see a way to “Create” and “Remove” splits (more UI improvements coming on that soon, too).

QuickBooks Users, We’re Here For You

If you’ve gotten this far, it’s probably obvious that we care deeply about making sure that we provide you with an incredibly strong QuickBooks sync capability. So, keep pushing us — let us know what additional things we can do to make your QuickBooks expense reporting painless!

Credit Card Receipts vs. Out-of-Pocket Receipts

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Your credit card receipts and out-of-pocket receipts are both important to your company’s financial records. If you are an employee, your manager has probably had the occasion to remind you of this, when your expense report is overdue. If you are a company owner, your CPA has probably had the occasion to remind you of this, at tax time. And, if you are a CPA representing your client in an audit… well, lets not go there.

Credit Card Receipts vs. Out-of-Pocket Receipts in QuickBooks

When it comes to tracking expenses in QuickBooks, QuickBooks thinks of your company card expenses in a very different way than your out-of-pocket expenses. To understand why these two types of expenses are very different from an accounting perspective, just follow the money trail.

For a company card expense, an employee purchases a good or service using their company card, then the card provider includes the transaction on a monthly statement, and the company is responsible for paying off the monthly statement via a check or ACH transfer to the credit card provider. Hopefully somewhere along the line the employee submits the credit card receipts to justify the transactions.

In contrast, for an out-of-pocket expense, an employee purchases a good or service using a personal payment method of their choice (lets assume cash), then tells the company about the expense and provides supporting documentation, and the company issues a check or ACH transfer to the employee to reimburse them for the expense.

Not much similarity in terms of the money trail, right? That explains why the accounting for these two types of expenses are very different.

Credit Card Expenses in QuickBooks

If your company uses QuickBooks, your credit card expenses are almost certainly syncing into dedicated credit card registers in QuickBooks, using Online Banking. Or perhaps you have ProOnGo syncing the transactions from your financial institution and relaying them into a QuickBooks credit card register.

Either way, the point is, the transactions are arriving in QuickBooks automatically and all that is left to do is to categorize the transaction and to keep track of the credit card receipts that go with it. Presuming you have ProOnGo’s 2-way credit card sync set up with QuickBooks, you can just forward your receipt images in to the email address shown in the bottom-right corner of your Corporate Card Expenses subtab:

Emailing In Credit Card Receipts
Emailing In Credit Card Receipts

We’ll then “match up” the receipt to the correct credit card transaction in your expense list, without you having to manually search for the transaction.

Credit Card Receipts vs. Out-of-Pocket Receipts

In comparison, Out-of-Pocket receipts are a very different situation. For out-of-pocket expenses, QuickBooks has no means by which to retrieve the transaction automatically on your behalf. After all, perhaps you made the purchase with cash, perhaps a personal check, or perhaps with a personal credit card. It would be a very bad idea to sync a personal credit card into QuickBooks — your company file would soon be inundated with personal transactions that have no business being in your company’s accounting data.

So, suffice it to say, QuickBooks isn’t going to magically “know about” your out-of-pocket expenses. However, you can still file your expenses just by forwarding in a receipt — this time look for the email address in the bottom-right of the Out-of-Pocket expenses tab:

Emailing In Out-of-Pocket Receipts
Emailing In Out-of-Pocket Receipts

When you forward receipts in to that address, an entirely fresh/new transaction will be created in ProOnGo, with the merchant name, date, and amount filled out – ready for you to submit to your manager, who will then approve the transaction and send it to QuickBooks. If you are both the submitter and the manager (i.e. if you are the company owner submitting your own expenses), then you can both submit + approve, or turn on auto-approval for yourself.

Either Way, Send in Those Receipts!

Bottom line: whether you use a company card, or do out-of-pocket expenses, or use both… well, no matter your situation, there is a way to forward your receipts in to ProOnGo and to have your expense information tracked correctly.

QuickBooks Employee List – Easy Expense Reports for All

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Your QuickBooks Employee list is probably one of the most up-to-date aspects of your QuickBooks data. Why would we say that? Because you’ve almost certainly had to keep it up-to-date as part of your recurring payroll processes, or to keep your records straight about which employees billed time to which clients, or perhaps just to have a safe keeping spot for your records of employee addresses and other metadata. (if you don’t have any of those three needs, we’re surprised)

So, when it comes to setting up ProOnGo Expense for expense reporting, we make it very easy for you to rely on your QuickBooks Employee List when deciding who to invite to file expense reports.

QuickBooks Employee List – Using in ProOnGo

If you’ve done any setup in ProOnGo yet, you’ve probably discovered the Employees tab. That’s the place to invite employees to submit their expenses for your approval (and therefore for you to send to QuickBooks). But wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to manually cross-reference your ProOnGo Employees Tab with your QuickBooks Employee List? We agree. So, we do it for you.

We fetch your QuickBooks Employee List and look at the email addresses therein. If there are any entries in your QuickBooks Employee List that you have not yet invited to file expenses, we show suggestions right below your employee table, making it easy for you to add the remaining employees to ProOnGo:

QuickBooks Employee List Appears in ProOnGo
QuickBooks Employee List Appears in ProOnGo

Bear in mind that because ProOnGo sends invitations via email address, we only make suggestions for employees for whom you have configured an email address in your QuickBooks Employee List. However, it’s increasingly likely that you are doing that by habit anyway.

Easy Invitations to Your Team

If you click on the little “+” button to the left of any of the suggestions, we show you our standard “invitation email”, which you can customize to your liking:

QuickBooks Employee List - Inviting Employees
QuickBooks Employee List – Inviting Employees

If you make any changes to the email invitation, we’ll hang on to your changes for the next time you invite an employee. So, feel free to customize it to say something that makes sense for your particular company or situation. One of the more popular customizations so far is to say something like the following (we’re paraphrasing of course)… “Hey, we’re going to try out ProOnGo – please click through and file a few expenses, and let me know what you think!”

A customized invitation is more likely to result in your employees taking action, because they’ll be able to tell that it’s a request from you, the boss. As opposed to being just “yet another automailer”.

File Away!

You’ll know you’ve successfully invited the employee, when you see them added to your employee list:

QuickBooks Employee List - File Away!
QuickBooks Employee List – File Away!

A pro tip is to keep an eye out for yellow triangles in your employee list. Those appear when a user had already created a pre-existing account by the time you invited them. In that situation, the employee gets a special automailer explaining the situation, and explaining that you want to merge them into the companywide account.

That’s It!

If you’ve read this far, you know we’re serious about our QuickBooks integration. We want to be 100% certain that the effort you put into maintaining your QuickBooks Employee List makes it easier for you to set up your expense reporting processes. We’re always open to suggestions if you think of anything more that we could be doing to make it even easier.

QuickBooks Credit Card Register to Excel Expense Report with Ease

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

QuickBooks Credit Card Register to ExcelA QuickBooks credit card register is exactly the right place for your company card expenses to land — but what about those times where you want to take a look at the data in a customized Excel template? You know, the times where you want to drill down with a pivot table, create a time-series chart of certain expenses, or apply some formula-based magic to do a custom audit? We’ll show you how.

QuickBooks Credit Card Register: Grant Access

Before we can help you with just about anything related to QuickBooks, you need to go to Settings → QuickBooks, click on “Connect to QuickBooks”, and follow the authentication steps.

Connect ProOnGo to QuickBooks
Connect ProOnGo to QuickBooks

By the way, one of the helpful things about using apps from Intuit App Center is that Intuit is the gatekeeper for your data — so you can turn on/off access to any app, any time, on Intuit App Center.

QuickBooks Credit Card Register: Delegating Cards

Once you’ve connected ProOnGo to QuickBooks, if you want to head down the path of running some fancy Excel reports based on your credit card registers, start by going to Settings → QuickBooks and syncing one or more of your credit card registers into one or more usernames in your account. For now, just set up the sync destination for the particular credit card registers that you want to include in your customized report.

Delegate a QuickBooks Credit Card Register
Delegate a QuickBooks Credit Card Register

You’ll have to wait a few minutes after setting up this configuration, because it’s entirely possible that your settings will cause us to retrieve hundreds or thousands of credit card transactions, and that’s not quite instantaneous yet.

QuickBooks Credit Card Register: Running a Custom Report

Once you’ve got one or more QuickBooks credit card registers syncing into your account, you’ll find the transactions in Expenses → Corporate Card Expenses. That’s where, for example, you can make edits to any of the transactions and have them sync back into QuickBooks automatically.

However, for the sake of this particular post, what you’ll want to do is set up the Filter button just right so that you’ve focused in on exactly the date range that you want to include in your report.

Then, click the Report button, to send the pile of expenses to an Excel report – most likely a custom Excel report that meets your precise needs:

QuickBooks Credit Card Register - Excel Report
QuickBooks Credit Card Register – Excel Report

If you’ve got a new Excel expense report template that you hadn’t yet uploaded, that you now want to use, just click the “Make a New Report Format” link that you’ll see after you press the Reports button. Your custom report format can be full of magical Excel formulas, pivot tables, tabs with various computations, etc. Pretty much anything you can do in Excel, is fair game for having in an XLSX that you upload as a custom format.

Your Report: Want to tell us the “why”?

One of the most interesting support topics at ProOnGo is when users show us an elaborate scenario that they are fulfilling with a combination of our QuickBooks feature set and our custom Excel exports. Your ingenuity on that front never ceases to amaze us. We love to hear what specific needs you are fulfilling with those features, because that guides our decision making process for how to make these features even better in the future. So, please do share your insights with us early and often.

QuickBooks Credit Card Registers: Online Banking or else

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

QuickBooks Credit Card Registers are best maintained by QuickBooks Online Banking. Online Banking is arguably the most important feature in QuickBooks when it comes to keeping your accounting data up-to-date on a day-to-day basis. Sure, you might need to use ProOnGo to delegate the task of categorizing and adding memos to each of the sync’d credit cards — but at least your starting point is based on transactions that have been sync’d from your financial institution. That should give you a warm fuzzy, to know that you can trust the dates and amounts of the transactions (we’ve literally only seen one situation so far where a bank made an error in what got sent over to QuickBooks).

QuickBooks Credit Card Registers: When online banking is a no-go

You would have to be extraordinarily unlucky to arrive in QuickBooks and find that your financial institution does not correctly connect to Online Banking. There are literally thousands of supported financial institutions. If you are terribly unlucky and find yourself unable to get that connection working, a backup plan might be to go into ProOnGo’s Settings → Credit Cards subtab, and have ProOnGo retrieve the transactions instead. Then, have ProOnGo relay the transactions to QuickBooks.

If you are doubly unlucky, and you can’t get ProOnGo connected to your bank, you are truly in a tough spot — you may have to manually import your credit card transactions into QuickBooks via IIF, CSV, or some other flat file.

Please, please, do not use an IIF

If you are thinking of using an IIF file to import your credit card transactions, please stop in your tracks and throw away that IIF file. We’ve talked on this blog many times about how horrific the cleanup process can be if there is so much as a single character difference in the categories referenced in your IIF file, versus the categories in your QuickBooks file.

CSV Import

A better bet is to use our wizard for importing your credit card CSV transactions into QuickBooks. Follow along with this video to see how it works:

QuickBooks Credit Card Registers importing CSVs
Importing via CSV to QuickBooks Credit Card Registers

This works with both QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Pro (and Premier and Enterprise for that matter).

Set Up Automatic Backups in QuickBooks 2013

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Keep your data! How to set up an automatic backups in QuickBooks 2013:

The fact is – bad things do happen to good people. Man and machine are not perfect and mistakes, even catastrophes happen. One such catastrophe for small businesses are computer crashes.

The business data is the heart and soul of the business, it goes hand in hand in the operation. Loss of data, even if the data is just temporarily inaccessible, can lead to profit loss, hurt your reputation, and even lead to litigation.

Even though most of us business owners know that we need to do regular automatic backups, the fact is that many, if not most, don’t do it. So let’s take a moment how to perform these backups on a regular basis using your QuickBooks 2013:

QuickBooks offers 2 different automatic backups

  1. IDP – Intuit Data Protect (online automatic back-up – subscription based)
  2. Local Backup – automatically backup your data when you close your QuickBooks company  file.

The following will show you how to backup your QuickBooks company file locally and set up a recurring backup, so you can trust that your data is always backed up.

How to setup QuickBooks to automatically protect data locally

Follow these instructions to have QuickBooks back up your company file daily or on specific days and times. You can schedule an automatic backup to a network drive, USB flash drive, or Zip disk.

Important: For a scheduled automatc backup to take place, the computer you use to run QuickBooks must be on, but the company file you want to back up cannot be in use. Be sure to schedule your automatic backups accordingly.

 

First, browse to File->Back Up Company->Create Local Backup to open the backup wizard.

 

Click Options to set your backup defaults (such as where you want to save your local backup) and then click OK. The backup defaults you set when you click Options are for manual and automatic backups only. You will set your options for scheduled backups in the steps that follow.


Select Next, then make sure to select ‘Only schedule future backups” and then click Next.

Under “Back Up On a Schedule” click New.

 

If you don’t want to keep a lot of backups so you can conserve space on your hard drive, click the checkbox to limit the number of backups and enter a number in the field provided. For example, if you choose to keep three backups, QuickBooks deletes the earliest backup when it goes to save the fourth backup. If you don’t specify a number, QuickBooks saves all of your backups.

 

Next, enter a Description for your scheduled backup. This name appears in your list of scheduled backups so you can easily find it later. The description is mainly used by bookkeepers that have multiple company files. Then, click Browse to select the folder where you want to store your backup copies. This can be on a network drive or on portable storage media such as a USB flash drive or Zip disk.

Then, you’ll select the time, weekly frequency, and day(s) for the backup to take place. For example, if you want to run your backups daily, select every day of the week and run the task every “1″ week.

After you’ve set the frequency, click Store Password and enter the requested Windows login information. QuickBooks requires the Windows login information so it can run the scheduled backup. If you don’t enter login information for the backup location you selected, the backup fails due to a Windows permission failure.

Click OK to return to the previous window. The backup appears in the list in the Backup on a schedule section of the window. Click Finish to close the wizard.

Note: Scheduled backups will automatically include the date and time the backup was created in the file name. The date and time stamps are necessary for QuickBooks to manage the number of scheduled backups to retain on the system.

Weekly Timesheets Are Getting Easier By The Minute

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

One of my favorite parts of working at ProOnGo is the commitment to continuous improvement, and the positive way that impacts the team, our partners, and especially our customers.  Recently I particularly noticed this in our work on our user interface for weekly timesheets, but that’s just one small example. What’s important about this example, though, is that it’s in an area of the product that at the outset you might think of as ‘boring’ or at least ‘not innovative’. Weekly timesheets have the connotation of being an age-old tradition that no one likes, and that no one is willing to improve. Not true. We’re super interested in improving it (that’s why, for one thing, we added import from Google Calendar a couple months ago).

Anyway, we’re truly interested in making your weekly timesheets as pleasant as possible, and when I found a screenshot from November 2011 showing our original format, I just couldn’t resist posting the “old” and the “new” formats for the sake of comparison.

Weekly Timesheets at their Inception

When we first created weekly timesheets, it was specifically by the request of a customer who had dozens of employees who needed to file QuickBooks timesheets, and at the time there was a change in product offerings from Intuit that led the customer to go out looking for a 3rd party solution (us!). Here’s what we pulled together in literally a few days of rapid development, to get that customer up and running:

Weekly Timesheets UI, circa November 2011
Weekly Timesheets UI as of November 2011

That was “good enough” to get our first few weekly timesheet clients up-and-running, especially those that were in a race to get QuickBooks timesheets filed via us as a 3rd party app. However, at it’s initial launch, it was missing a lot of bells and whistles.

Weekly Timesheets in March 2013

Fast forward to today, and our weekly timesheet UI has improved in numerous ways. First, see for yourself:

Weekly Timesheets UI, circa March 2013
Weekly Timesheets UI as of March 2013

Did you notice how much more pleasant, let alone functional, it looks?

  • We turned the “Submit” button green after realizing that employees filing their timesheets are often “on the run” to get out the door for the day, and this visual cue made it measurably more likely that they’d press the right button after filling out their timesheet.
  • We went to great lengths to de-clutter the UI surrounding the timesheet. There were too many stray words and UI elements surrounding the original timesheet format.
  • We added a running total just below the timesheet rows, so that employees can easily see whether they are rocketing towards their 40 hours (or whatever the expectation may be).
  • We added inline editing of a per-row memo, which of course is crucial for the manager that ends up approving it and sending to QuickBooks, and then for the CPA that ends up doing various audits on the QuickBooks timesheets over on the QuickBooks Pro, Online, Enterprise, or Premier end.
  • We added a subtab bar below the tabs, to give context to the fact that Weekly Timesheets are just one of many types of time and expense capabilities that we offer
  • Beyond support for Customers, Jobs, and Items, we added support for billable/non-billable, classes, and payroll items. The latter two aren’t pictured in this screenshot, but it’s just a matter of turning them on in settings.

I don’t want to bore you with the other site-wide style changes, but suffice it to say that we’re hard core about giving you the smoothest most pleasant expense filing experience available, and that certainly includes your weekly timesheets.

Did we miss anything? Anything you need in our Weekly Timesheet UI that we haven’t yet done? Give us a shout and we’ll be happy to help.


Payroll Items & The “Use time data to create paychecks” Checkbox

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

If you’ve arrived at this post, you probably got here by searching for: “payroll item id or name is required for time card employee”. That’s an error related to Payroll Items. It’s one of the most “popular” error messages that we relay through our UI to users syncing to the Intuit Cloud. Why so “popular”? Because the employee setup process in QuickBooks often leads CFOs and business owners to make a rushed decision regarding the manner in which employee time activities are handled. And, for each new employee, that can lead to this error message the first time the employee in question files a timesheet. Let us explain.

The Moment that You Set Up an Employee

Lets start from, well, the beginning. You find yourself in QuickBooks in a rush to enter some transaction related to a new employee. You realize that you never set up the employee in the first place. So, you rush to Employee Center and click "New Employee" and hope to get away with just entering the employee’s first name and last name for now, since you are in a rush.

You navigate away from the Employee Information pane after entering in the employee’s name, and you are hit with your first decision regarding the configuration of the employee in QuickBooks:

QuickBooks Employee Setup - First Question
QuickBooks Employee Setup – First Question

Lets be candid: as a small business owner, when you are in a rush to get to the finish line on one of your many varied tasks, will you actually put thought into what to answer in this popup, or will you just click what looks like the easiest option ("Leave As Is")?

Without rushing to judgment about you in particular, we’ll say that in our experience most small business owners seem to be pressing "Leave As Is" on this popup. That seems natural enough. In all likelihood you added the employee because you were in the middle of some other QuickBooks task when you realized that you had forgotten to enter the employee on their first day — so the whole roundtrip to Employee Center was a detour from what you were doing in the first place.

If you are a clicker of "Leave As Is", chances are very good that you’ll also end up overlooking the other key decisions that are configured in the Employee Info tab, including one that is crucial for determining how the employee’s timesheets are handled, and numerous decisions related to Payroll Items.

Payroll Items & "Leave as Is": Crucial for Timesheets

That "Leave as Is" might work OK for a few days, but sooner or later you’ll probably find yourself helping the employee file their first timesheet in ProOnGo, and it’s possible that you’ll end up hitting an warning like this one when you send the weekly timesheet to QuickBooks:

  • “payroll item id or name is required for time card employee”

Why the error? Because when ProOnGo sends a timesheet to QuickBooks, it’s crucial for QuickBooks to know whether/not the time is intended to flow into the employee’s payroll, or rather whether the timesheet is simply for other recordkeeping purposes (like knowing how much of the employee’s time is billable to each client). So, if your default setup in QuickBooks includes a checkmark in the following spot, QuickBooks will assume that the employee’s timesheets are required to have Payroll Items for each row. And for good reason: you’ve told QuickBooks that the time activities are expected to flow into payroll. That can only mean one thing: you’ll absolutely have to include Payroll Items in each time activity.

Use time data to create paychecks?
Use time data to create paychecks?

It’s fine if you intend to require Payroll Items in each timesheet row (we support that!), but we find that many people accidentally turn “on” the “Use time data to create paychecks?” checkbox in QuickBooks, without realizing that it triggers the consequence that timesheets are required to have Payroll Items for each time activity.

So, if you’ve recently hit the error “payroll item id or name is required for time card employee”, now you know the decision you need to make:

Do you want to include the employee’s time as an input to payroll?

  • If ‘yes’, then that’s terrific, but make sure you also require employees to fill in Payroll Items with each time activity.
  • If ‘no’, then be sure to uncheck the “Use time data to create paychecks?” checkbox in QuickBooks.

Then, you’ll be well on the way to having employees file their timesheets, and an error-free experience when sending those timesheets from ProOnGo to QuickBooks.