Data retrieval is where accounting software shines. All those bills, checks, and receivables hold information about vendors, clients, products, services, salespeople, and much more. Like what? How about trends in sales and receipts (which are two different things), client slow and busy periods, or vendor price comparisons from year to year? When was the last time you took a good look at how well your business is running?

What information do you wish you could see on some of those accounting reports? Consider this: Other than the financial statements for your accountant and Uncle Sam (typically the balance sheet and profit/loss statement), internal reports do not have to include information about your whole business. Build filters, delete columns, add columns, add some custom calculations for specific reports -- be creative.

Creative reporting is the key to my new column here at Inc.com. We are going to discuss how to create more useful reports using the tools built in to your accounting software, external report writers, such as Crystal or R&R, and even other financial report applications such as ProfitCentsTM. All accounting software, from QuickBooks to Microsoft Dynamics GP, include some level of report customization and most report writers can tap into the accounting data and take over when the built-in tools fall short. Additionally, we will be talking with businesses that are already producing creative reports to learn the whys and hows, and then the results. We are going to cover all types of reports and what your accounting software can really do for you, your managers, salespeople, bookkeeper, and literally everyone in your organization. When everyone is getting the information they need to do their job, they do their job better.

So now it is time to think. Have everyone build a wish list of what they need on a report. Sounds boring, right? Try it. You will be surprised how creative you can be (and how much you are not getting from your current reports). Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • All products that sold more than 100 units during the first quarter of this year
  • All salespeople who wrote more than $50,000 in sales in May
  • How often an inventory item gets reordered and in what quantity
  • What percentage of overall income do the administrative costs represent

The bottom line is that you already have the database, software, and tools to generate more meaningful reports that will assist you in business management and growth. We can help you to utilize them to find out exactly what is in your accounting software.

A few Resources

Report Writers:
Crystal Reports http://www.businessobjects.com
R&R Report Writer http://www.livewarepub.com
 
Accounting Software:
QuickBooks http://www.quickbooks.com
Peachtree http://www.peachtree.com
Cougar Mountain  http://www.cougarmtn.com
Turning Point http://www.redwingsoftware.com
BusinessWorks http://www.sagesoftware.com/businessworks
Microsoft Dynamics GP http://www.microsoft.com/dynamics/default.mspx
ACCPAC http://www.accpac.com
 
Services:
profitcents (Developed by Sageworks) http://www.profitcents.com
Find Accounting Software (A service of CPA Online) http://www.findaccountingsoftware.com