Estimate to Purchase Order Blues
In QuickBooks it’s possible to create an Estimate and then from the Estimate create a Purchase Order, Sales Order, Invoice or even a letter – but there are some drawbacks to these features as noted in the question below, submitted by a reader.
Hello, I have just upgraded from Pro 2009 to Premier Contractor 2012. I did this so I could turn Estimates into Purchase Orders. I spent an hour on the phone with Intuit yesterday to have them say, “oh, it can’t do that”. So I am scouring the internet for someone that can help me.
When you choose to create a PO from select items, the selection screen has no line descriptions. We don’t have item codes for everything we sell, that is never going to happen. So there is a list of items on the left that could be 5 pages long, with no way to tell them apart other than counting. This opens up a world of mistakes.
I have flirted with the idea of making vendor specific item codes. I will get major push back from the designers with this work around though. Is there a way to customize that selection screen between estimate and PO? Thanks, Benjamin
Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to customize the selection screen that appears when you go to create a Purchase Order or a Progress Invoice from an Estimate to include the line item descriptions and it certainly would be a nice feature.
Because we can’t change the way that QuickBooks does things, let’s take a look at the things we can change or work with and that’s your Item List. While I agree that it’s not practical to have an item code for absolutely everything that you sell; creating vendor specific codes really isn’t much better – especially if those vendor specific codes would create havoc with your designers.
After looking at your website, here are some suggestions that may help:
- Make your item names/numbers descriptive, yet generic enough that they can be used over multiple projects – when an item has a generic enough name you can then have an item for everything that you sell – for example curtain rods would be a generic item name and when you pull the item into an Estimate you could then add more detail about color, style, length, etc.
- Utilize the QuickBooks Group Item feature, giving the group item name the vendor name and then pulling in the items that you usually purchase from that vendor. Group Items can hold up to 20 permanent items and you can insert more items within the group once you’ve pulled it into an Estimate – you can also delete items that don’t pertain to this specific project.
- Create items that represent the rooms to act as a separator or divider or call-out; for example Master Bath, Living Room, Kitchen, etc.
I did the books for an Interior Designer a long time ago and it was more challenging that doing books for a contractor! But I was able to take the methodologies from the construction industry where work is often done in phases or cost codes and was able to apply that to her business.
I would recommend that you make a copy of your QuickBooks data file, name it test and when you open it immediately go to the Company menu -> Company Information and change the Company Name to Test as well, that way you’ll be able to tell when you are in your working file and when you are in the test file. Make some of the changes to the Item List and draft some sample estimates and run a few Purchase Orders and see what happens. I’m betting that you can come up with something that ends up being pretty efficient.
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