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By Erica Konieczny
June 28, 2016
Since the early 1990s, Intuit QuickBooks has been a mainstay of project accounting in every vertical from retail to construction. Even with the rise of modern cloud-based financial software, QuickBooks has maintained its deep foothold across these industries, due to its clear advantages in areas such as:
Automation: QuickBooks can automate many of the tasks that previously required using pen and paper or punching numbers into a Microsoft Excel sheet. Accordingly, it helps accounting teams avoid common errors during data entry and steer clear of tedious spreadsheet maintenance that does not scale well to multiple projects.
Ease of use: Newer versions such as QuickBooks Online make it easy to access company financials from any Internet-enabled device, so construction contractors can pull up the same information whether they are in an office on a PC or out in the field on a tablet. Plus, there are integrations with numerous cloud-based construction management platforms, including Procore.
Simplicity: While QuickBooks can perform a wide variety of tasks (e.g., making and recording deposits, printing and emailing reports, and streamlining tax compliance), it is still very straightforward to set up, not to mention more manageable than working solely by hand (too error-prone), or replacing your entire financial system (too costly).
Overall, QuickBooks helps construction firms save time and money and ultimately obtain peace of mind, which is essential in light of the particular accounting challenges within their field. More specifically, these businesses routinely face the realities of low margins, complex long-term contracts, and dwindling cash reserves as they encounter evolving industry requirements as well as crunches in project financing.
The Internal Revenue Service even subjects them, as contractors, to the most complex portion of the U.S. tax code introduced since the Tax Reform Act of 1986. This regulation entails enforcement of segments such as IRC 460, which provides guidelines for what methodologies construction contractors may use to report the taxable income on their long-term contracts.
Despite the central, complicated role that accounting plays for contractors in general and construction businesses in particular, it is often siloed from other parts of their organization. Synchronization of project data with company financials is still something of a holy grail sought after by construction teams, as they would stand to greatly benefit from on-the-go access to all project information from a single interface.
With Procore's QuickBooks Connector, both project accountants and on-site crews can access up-to-date numbers for commitments, labor production, and actual costs. These teams can utilize this data to better communicate and work more independently of each other if the need arises––thanks to convenient access from multiple devices.
Here are a few QuickBooks advantages you can't live without:
A construction project can be a very paper-intensive endeavor. Contracts and forms often get passed between offices at different sites, requiring signatures and distribution to various stakeholders. A lot can go wrong, and the process of handling all of this paper means that completing even basic tasks can take days at a time.
QuickBooks already excels at eliminating such processes when it comes to accounting. It does not require handwritten input or intricate spreadsheet formulas, meaning that it's much harder to make a mistake when using QuickBooks than traditional methods.
With QuickBooks directly integrated into your construction project management software, you can go further and do the equivalent of all of your paperwork with just a few clicks. At the same time, the financial integration saves you from having to perform regular dual entry when handling items such as subcontracts and purchase orders.
One of the fundamental limitations of having a siloed finance department is the inability to work in the field with data that is reliably up to date. Due to all the permutations that your numbers might go through as they move from one form or Excel sheet to another, it is always possible (likely, even) that your construction team may get saddled with outdated data.
This is not an issue when working with a QuickBooks-integrated platform. Automatic syncing in real time means that financials are kept consistent all the way from the accounting department to the construction site. Decisions can be made with the confidence, knowing the data they are based on is dependable.
As an added benefit, this constant stream of current information reduces field teams' reliance on accounting. They no longer have to make ad hoc requests for reports thanks to secure access to financial data. Accounting itself also retains control over what data gets pushed to and pulled from QuickBooks.
Sometimes one application is not enough to do everything. You probably don't create slide decks in your email client or illustrate pictures in your calendar app. It takes multiple tools, each one with a specialized set of capabilities.
The combination of construction project management software like Procore with QuickBooks ensures that you are covered for everything from cost codes and types for your projects, to job costing and estimates. Having QuickBooks integrated into your on-site tools means that financials—often the last piece of the puzzle in determining the impact of a project—makes life easier in an increasingly challenging industry.
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