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by Heather Satterley

transform-iconWhen managing a business, it is so important to find the right tools and make the most of your resources. I am a wholehearted believer in the “work smarter, not harder” ideology; in fact, it drives almost everything I do in life – both personally and professionally. If I can streamline a process to make more time for the things in life that I enjoy, I feel more grounded and satisfied. One of the ways that we are improving our processes at Orefice & Caliri is by moving clients from QuickBooks Desktop (QBDT) to QuickBooks Online (QBO). By doing so, we are able to spend less time exchanging files and correcting bookkeeping errors, and more time focusing on what really matters to our clients.

I have always used workspace customization and Memorized Transactions and Memorized Reports in QBDT to help simplify our clients’ experience and minimize the potential for errors and confusion, but with QBO, I am able to further this through the use of Bank Rules, Recurring Transactions and automatic email distribution using Grouped Reports.  Our clients appreciate this approach to workflow, as they are busy managing their own business and can get a little clammy when I start talking about changing things up. So, I have created a strategy for helping my clients transition from their familiar world of QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online.

Explain the Benefits (or Why QBO is Better than Chocolate)

I’m just going to assume that everyone likes chocolate here and I’d like for you to do the same; otherwise, my analogy isn’t going to fly.

The first step to transition is to start a conversation with the client. While some desktop clients are proactive with wanting to move online, for others, I usually test the waters during times when there’s a “real-life” business situation that they can relate to, before I have a full on discussion about migration. For example, if they have trouble sending me a QBDT file or using our remote desktop software during a support session, I will point out that if we were using QBO, we wouldn’t be dealing with any of these issues. Or, if they are complaining about how long their workflow is taking, I usually dive in by explaining how combining the automation features in QBO (Bank Feeds, Bank Rules and Recurring Transactions) can streamline my client’s bookkeeping so that it literally takes 10 minutes a day in some cases. Sweet! I look for opportunities when working with my QBDT clients to insert ways that QBO can make working together easier and more efficient.

Once they indicate an interest (this can be immediate, or can take a bit longer with some clients), I direct my clients to the QBO Test Drive Company so that they can poke around in QBO to get the feel of the program. I also give them a high level tour and show them some of my favorite features, such as the ability to automate report distribution using Grouped Custom Reports.

Tip: To learn more about these awesome features, click here.

Do the Work for 60 Days

Once I’ve have converted a client to from QBDT to QBO, I typically process at least 60 days of transactions. Now, I don’t mean that I actually spend 60 days doing the work; I mean that I create transactions and add or match them to the Bank Feeds in QBO. Sixty days usually gives me enough transactional data to set up the appropriate automation tools. By taking the reins first, and customizing QBO for my client based on the needs of their business, this makes it much easier for desktop clients to adjust and become familiar with QBO. For the purposes of this article, I’ll discuss how I use the two most common automation tools in QBO: Recurring Transactions and Bank Rules.

Recurring Transactions
The in-product conversion tool in QBDT is super easy to use and brings in existing Memorized Transactions as Recurring Transactions in QBO. I use Recurring Transactions to both automate transactions and also as templates for common (and sometimes tricky) transactions that clients use frequently. Once converted, the setup must be completed by editing the details about the transaction schedule and making sure that the form style (for sales transactions) looks the way you want it to.

Bank Rules

Bank Rules allow you to dictate how Bank Feed Transactions are categorized. You set the criteria to look for in the imported Bank Feed transaction, and tell QBO which fields to populate with specific data, such as Account and Name. You can even get fancy with Bank Rules by setting and/or criteria. I can tell QBO to look for the word “Office Store” in the bank memo field, and also look at the amount: If the amount is greater than $500, categorize it to a Fixed Asset account. I can make another Bank Rule to categorize a transaction from the same it to Office Supplies Expense if it is less than $500.


Document the Workflow

This is super important. Really. I document the workflow as I process the 60 days of transactions. This helps to clarify steps, find any inefficiencies and build a workflow guide for clients. I provide a written procedure manual for most clients that documents their workflows, step by step. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does need to clearly outline what you expect them to do. I use the “Training for Your Clients” documents found in the ProAdvisor portal as a template, and customize as needed. I keep it as simple as possible by only including instructions for workflows that apply to my client. Providing a written manual reduces the amount of follow up training needed, and gives the client increased confidence in what they need to do.


Customize Chrome, or Download the QBO App

Customizing our client’s workspace in QBO is a big part of the service I provide. Best practices include creating a new Chrome person, and then adding bookmarks for each screen in our client’s workflow. You can further simplify by listing each bookmark in order of operations.


You can also leverage the QuickBooks Windows or Mac App, which provides many familiar desktop-like benefits, such as keyboard shortcuts and multiple windows. You can learn more in this article. The apps are available for both you and your clients.

Training – Keep it Simple but Thorough

I typically break up training sessions based on workflow and keep them to under two hours to avoid overwhelming the client and help them retain what they are learning. Multiple sessions also give me a chance to follow up on previous training. I try to stay focused on what they need to know to get the job done.

Training is also a great time to create the reports your client needs. By creating the reports with your client, they learn how to customize the reports themselves. Once I have created reports and Saved Customizations, the reports are added to the “My Custom Reports” tab in the Report Center, where I can schedule them to be automatically generated and emailed to the client or other parties at regular intervals – a huge benefit of QBO compared to desktop.

Keep Tabs on Your Client using QuickBooks Online Accountant (QBOA)

QBOA is chock-full of tools that I use to collaborate with our clients. I pay special attention to the Client List after implementation to make sure that things are going well. If the number of unaccepted transactions is growing day by day, this could indicate that the client is overwhelmed. The Client List also shows if the Bank Feed download has failed. I frequently check accounts, such as Undeposited Funds, A/R and A/P, for unusual balances to make sure the client is completing the workflows properly.


The more clients I convert to QBO from QBDT, the easier it is to manage our own workflow and stay on top of our clients. I love having one central place to access our clients’ data, and instead of spending time exchanging files and setting up remote access, I am spending more time helping our clients who use QBO to improve their own business strategies.