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Invoice Extensibility with QuickBooks®, Microsoft® Access and QODBC

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Annaliese Dell
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QuickBooks® has a great invoice interface that we were happy with for a while but that changed in 2001 through no fault of Intuit®.

Our industry's unit names are dictated by RUS: the Rural Utilities Services division of USDA. Contracts contain unit names, quantities and prices. However:

1.  customers do not always use the same names as RUS nor the same names as other customers
2.  engineers do not always use RUS names or customer names on work plans
3.  foremen often use field terms that do not match either RUS, contract, customer or engineer

We are bound by contract to use the unit names in the contract.

Data entry technicians were responsible for cross-referencing. This was accomplished from:

1.  memorization
2.  manual cross-referencing


To add to the confusion, RUS changed their unit names in 2001. Not all customers adopted the new names and some of the customers adoped some of the new names but not all of them.

Relying on the data entry technician was no longer an option.

Using QODBC , a new invoice entry program was developed in Microsoft® Access that:


   1.  allows cross-referencing at unit-entry time and on-the-fly

   2.  calculates quantities by a user-input multiplier on-the-fly (Used for wire which is entered on the work plan as a number of feet that must be multiplied by the number of wires in a span.)

   3.  verbally warns the user of possible errors using typical error scenario algorithms

   4.  automatically fills in repeated fields for user defined groups (Used for pole numbers because they typically have several to a dozen units per pole. This helps reduce errors since the user only enters the pole number once and the program repeats this pole number for each unit until the user inputs a new pole number for the next pole.)

   5.  reduces data entry error by allowing user to visually follow the engineer's work plan as the database reads the data out loud back to the user, allowing the user to confirm entries before exporting them into QuickBooks®


This extensibility through QODBC and Microsoft® Access have reduced data entry time and user input error.

One advantage of integrating QuickBooks® with Microsoft® Access is that the units, prices, totals and invoices remain in QuickBooks®, keeping all bookkeeping entries in one application. The database is simply a tool for creating invoices faster, easier and specific to company/industry needs.

Think about your invoicing. Is there a capability QuickBooks® does not provide that you would like to add? If you do not know Visual Basic, you might consider hiring a student or database specialist to create an industry specific invoice program for you.

You may not have the funds to hire a programmer to create an application for your company. However, you may know enough Visual Basic to write your own program in Microsoft® Access using QODBC. To learn more about QODBC have a look at their website : http://www.qodbc.com/qodbc.htm

If your company or industry has special needs, you may decide to do-it-yourself as I did and have a customized invoice system while still keeping all your invoice data in QuickBooks®.
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