Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Running the EasyStep Interview

After you install the QuickBooks program, the installation program may start QuickBooks automatically and then start the EasyStep Interview. You can also start the EasyStep Interview by starting the QuickBooks program the same way you start any program — by choosing the File ð New Company command.

The Big Welcome

The Welcome screen of the EasyStep Interview appears when you choose the New Company command. The screen provides some general information about setting up a new company within QuickBooks. The screen also provides links — such as the link you can click to get help from a QuickBooks certified advisor. (QuickBooks advisors, by the way, are people who have taken a test about QuickBooks and paid $500 to Intuit to get a copy of QuickBooks and be listed on the QuickBooks Web site as a QuickBooks advisor.) You probably want to read through this screen's information, but when you're ready to begin, click the Start Interview button.

Figure 1: The EasyStep Interview window showing the Welcome message


The EasyStep Interview walks you through a bunch of screens full of information. To move to the next screen, you click the Next button. To move to the previous screen, you click the Prev button. If you get discouraged and want to give up, you can click the Leave button. But try not to get discouraged.

Supplying Company Information

The first few screens of the EasyStep Interview collect several important pieces of general information about your business, including your company name and the firm's legal name, your company address, your federal tax ID number, the first month in the fiscal year (typically January), the type of income tax form that your firm uses to report to the IRS, and the industry or type of company that you are operating (retail, service, and so forth), as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: The first screen of the EasyStep Interview collects general company information

After collecting this general company information, QuickBooks creates the company data file that stores your firm's financial information. QuickBooks suggests a default name or a QuickBooks data file based on the company name (see Figure 3). All you need to do is accept the suggested name and the suggested folder location (unless you want to save the data file into the My Documents folder, which isn't a bad idea).

Figure 3: The Save As dialog box

Customizing QuickBooks

After QuickBooks collects the general company information mentioned in the preceding paragraphs, the EasyStep Interview asks you some very specific questions about how you run your business so it can set the QuickBooks preferences. Preferences, in effect, turn on or off various accounting features within QuickBooks, thereby controlling how QuickBooks works and looks. Here are the sorts of questions that the EasyStep Interview asks to set the QuickBooks preferences:

  • Does your firm maintain inventory?

  • Do you want to track the inventory that you buy and sell?

  • Do you collect sales tax from your customers?

  • When do you sell items?

  • What invoice format do you want to use to bill customers?

  • Do you want to use sales orders to track customer orders and backorders?

  • Do you want to use QuickBooks to help with your employee payroll?

  • Do you want to prepare written or verbal estimates for your customers?

  • Do you ever prepare more than one invoice for an estimate (if you want to do progress billing or partial billing)?

  • Would you like to track the time that you or your employees spend on jobs or projects for customers?

  • Do you want to use classes to further segregate income and expense, assets, liabilities, and owner's equity data?

  • How do you want to handle bills and payments (enter the checks directly, or enter the bills first and the payments later)?

  • How often do you want to see your Reminder List?

  • Do you prefer to view reports on an accrual or cash basis?

Setting Your Start Date

Perhaps the key decision that you make in setting up any accounting system is the day on which you begin using your new system. This is called the conversion date. Typically, you want to begin using an accounting system on either the first day of the year or the first day of a new month. Accordingly, one other big question the interview asks you is about the conversion date. You're prompted to identify the start date by using the dialog box shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4: This EasyStep Interview dialog box lets you select the start date


The easiest time to start using a new accounting system is at the beginning of the year. The reason? You get to enter a simpler trial balance. At the start of the year, for example, you enter only asset, liability, and owner's equity account balances.

At any other time, you also enter year-to-date income and year-to-date expense account balances. Typically, you have this year-to-date income and expense information available only at the start of the month. For this reason, the only other feasible start date that you can pick is the start of a month.

In this case, you get year-to-date income amounts through the end of the previous month from your previous accounting system. For example, if you've been using Peachtree, get year-to-date income and expense amounts from Peachtree.

After you provide the start date, you've accomplished three stages of the interview: You've supplied the basic company information, you've identified most of your accounting preferences, and you've identified the date on which you want to start using QuickBooks. You're almost done.


If you click the Leave button, QuickBooks leaves you in the QuickBooks program, ready to get to work. However, the EasyStep Interview process isn't lost forever; to get back into the interview, just open the file you were in the process of setting up. When you do, the EasyStep Interview restarts.

Adding Bank Accounts

During the EasyStep interview, you're asked about any bank accounts you use in your business, as shown in Figure 5. You just name the bank accounts.

Figure 5: The EasyStep Interview collects information about your bank account(s)

Reviewing the Suggested Chart of Accounts

At the very end of the EasyStep Interview, based on the information that you supply about your type of industry and the tax return form that you file with the IRS, QuickBooks suggests a starting set of accounts — accountants call it a chart of accounts. These accounts are the categories that you use to track your income, expenses, assets, and owner's equity. Figure 6 shows the screen that the EasyStep Interview displays for showing you these accounts.

Figure 6: The EasyStep Interview screen shows you its recommended income and expense accounts

The accounts that QuickBooks marks with a check, as the screen explains, are the recommended accounts. And if you don't do anything else, these checked accounts are the ones you'll use (at least to start) within QuickBooks. However, you can remove a suggested account by clicking the check mark. QuickBooks removes the check mark and that means the account won't be part of the final chart of accounts. You can also click an account to add a check mark and have the account included on the starting chart of accounts.


You can click the Restore Recommendations button at the bottom of the list to return to the initial, recommended chart of accounts (if you made changes you later decide you don't want).

When the suggested chart of accounts looks okay to you, click Next. It's fine to just accept what QuickBooks suggests because you can later change the chart of accounts.

Looking at the QuickBooks Learning Center window

After you finish with the EasyStep Interview, QuickBooks displays the QuickBooks Learning Center window, as shown in Figure 7. This window provides clickable hyperlinks that you can use to view tutorials that provide a "big picture" overview of how you work with QuickBooks. There's good stuff here, so if you're new to QuickBooks, go ahead: poke around. After you finish poking, click the Begin Using QuickBooks button and the QuickBooks program window comes into full view. Now, finally, you can begin to enter accounting data into QuickBooks. Whew.

Figure 7: The QuickBooks Learning Center window

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