Understand Quickbooks online/desktop, online security, use cases, and more with Crystalynn Shelton, a certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor

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Quickbooks, the accounting software package developed and marketed by Intuit is targeted towards small and medium-sized businesses. It offers on-premises accounting applications and cloud-based versions that can undertake remote access capabilities like remote payroll assistance and outsourcing, electronic payment functions, online banking, and reconciliation, mapping features, and more.

To know more about Quickbooks’ latest features and its learning curve for beginners, we did a quick interview with Crystalynn Shelton, a certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor and author of the book ‘Mastering QuickBooks 2020’. With more than 10 years of experience in Quickbooks, Shelton says Quickbooks is not only user-friendly but also cost-effective. Further, when asked about her views on QuickBooks online, Shelton points out that its live unlimited technical support is one of its main features 

On Quickbooks, its benefits and use cases

What are some of the advantages of Quickbooks that sets it apart from its competitors? 

QuickBooks has a number of advantages that set them apart from its competitors. First, it is affordable for most small businesses. Whether you purchase an Online subscription (starting at $20/month) or a desktop product (starting at a one-time fee of $199), there is something for every budget. Another benefit of using QuickBooks is the program is very user-friendly. Most small business owners purchase the software and are able to set it up without having an IT person on staff. 

In addition, there are a number of training videos, an extensive help menu within the program not to mention live tech support if you need it. Because QuickBooks is the most widely used accounting software program used by small businesses, most accountants and CPAs are familiar with the program. Some of these folks are certified ProAdvisors (like myself). They can offer consulting, training, and even bookkeeping services to small business owners who use QuickBooks.


Can you elaborate on how small businesses can take benefit from Quickbooks? Also, how does Quickbooks simplifies tasks for them? 

While there are numerous reasons why small businesses decide to use QuickBooks, there are five that tend to be the most common reasons: small businesses who can’t afford to hire a bookkeeper, small businesses who have outgrown the use of Excel spreadsheets and need a more sophisticated way to track income and expenses, small businesses who need financial statements in order to apply for a line of credit or business loan, small businesses whose tax professional will no longer accept a shoebox of receipts to file taxes.

QuickBooks simplifies bookkeeping by allowing you to track all aspects of the business in one place: accounts payable, accounts receivable, income, and expenses. It uses simple language such as “people who owe you” (aka accounts receivable) or “what you owe to others” (aka accounts payable) to help business owners without prior bookkeeping knowledge comprehend the program. QuickBooks allows you to accept credit card payments from customers so you can get paid faster and easily reconcile payments to open invoices. Not to mention you can reduce (if not eliminate) manual data entry by connecting all of your business bank and credit card accounts to QBO. 

Can you elaborate on how your book ‘Mastering QuickBooks 2020’ will prepare bookkeepers and accounting students in learning the ropes of QuickBooks? Also, how does the learning curve look like for users who have no bookkeeping knowledge and no experience with QuickBooks?

This book was written with the assumption that the reader has no experience or knowledge of bookkeeping. We use simple language to explain how QuickBooks works and we have also provided screenshots to support the concepts being taught. 

Chapter 1 includes a section that covers bookkeeping basics which will help non-accountants gain a better understanding of the terminology used in the field of accounting as well as QuickBooks. This information will help aspiring accountants build on their existing bookkeeping knowledge. 

In addition, we have included the behind the scenes debits and credits for certain transactions to help accounting students prepare for the CPA exam or other academic tests.

Shelton’s views on QuickBooks Online and Desktop

What are your thoughts on QuickBooks Online and Quickbooks Desktop? What are the benefits of cloud accounting over Desktop? Do factors such as the size of an organization, or its maturity matter in choosing between the online and the desktop version?

There are several benefits of using cloud accounting software over the desktop. Cloud accounting software allows you to manage your business from any device with an internet connection; whereas desktop limits you to a desktop computer. With cloud accounting software like QuickBooks Online, you can give anyone access to your QuickBooks data without them having to travel to your office. Cloud accounting software includes automatic real-time updates of your data. Unlike desktop software, you don’t have to worry about backing up your data with Online; its automatically done for you. Finally, QuickBooks Online includes unlimited live technical support. This is an invaluable feature for small business owners who are managing their own books and need the ability to get help when they need it.

The size of an organization, structure, and length of time in business can definitely impact whether a business should choose QuickBooks Online or desktop. As a QuickBooks ProAdvisor, one of the first things I do is conduct an assessment to determine what the needs of my clients are. This involves documenting the details of their current processes (i.e. invoicing customers, paying bills, managing inventory, etc.) 

Once I have this information, I am able to determine whether QuickBooks desktop is right or if QuickBooks Online is the best fit. If both products are ideal, I provide my clients with the downsides (if any) of going with one product over the other. This gives my clients all of the information they need to make an informed decision.

On how Quickbook secures online data

How does Quickbooks help in securing payments? How does QuickBooks keep online data safe?

To secure payments, intuit transmits, support, protect, and access all cardholder information in compliance with the Payment Card Industry’s (PCI) data security standards. Additional security precautions Intuit has implemented are as follows:

  • All data between Intuit servers and their customers is encrypted with at least 128-bit TLS, and all copies of daily backup data are encrypted with 256-bit AES encryption.
  • Data is kept secure with multiple servers housed in Tier-3 data centers that have strict access controls and real-time video monitoring of the data center.
  • All servers are hardened Linux installations, which are monitored in real-time and kept up-to-date with security patches.

Can you suggest some best practices (at least five) that will help Quickbook aspirants in saving time and becoming a Quickbook pro?

There are several ways you can save time and become proficient in QuickBooks Online. First, I recommend that you use QuickBooks on a daily basis. The more hands-on experience with QuickBooks, the more proficient you will become. Second, take the time to properly set up your QuickBooks account before you start entering transactions. 

In Chapter 2, we provide you with a detailed checklist which includes what information you need to setup QuickBooks. By taking the time to set up customers, vendors, the chart of accounts, and your products and services upfront, the less time you will spend having to do it later on when you are trying to enter data. Third, all aspiring bookkeepers and accountants should get certified in QuickBooks Online. Certification is offered through Intuit and it is free. 

As a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, you get access to product discounts, marketing materials to promote bookkeeping services to prospective clients, a certification badge and designation you can put on business cards, websites and email signature lines. 

Fourth, utilize keyboard shortcuts. They will save you time as you navigate the program. We have included a list of QBO keyboard shortcuts in the appendix of this book. Finally, connect as many bank and credit card accounts as you can to QBO. By doing so, you will reduce the amount of manual data entry required which will help you to keep your books up-to-date.

If you want to learn how to build the perfect budget, simplify tax return preparation, manage inventory, track job costs, generate income statements and financial reports, check out Crystalynn’s book ‘Mastering QuickBooks 2020’. This book will work for a small business owner, bookkeeper, or accounting student who wants to learn how to make the most of QuickBooks Online.

About the author

Crystalynn Shelton is a licensed Certified Public Accountant, a certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor and has been certified in QuickBooks for more than 10 years. Crystalynn is currently a staff writer for Fit Small Business and an Adjunct Instructor at UCLA Extension where she teaches accounting, bookkeeping and QuickBooks to hundreds of small business owners and accounting students each year. Her previous experience includes working at Intuit (QuickBooks) as a Sr. Learning Specialist. 

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