The Top QuickBooks Limitations for CFOs and CEOs

The CFO and CEO can tell you a lot about what they’re missing

Making a switch from QuickBooks to an ERP system with more capabilities is a strategic decision. It means changing from an accounting system, to a system that the entire company will run on—from the warehouse to the manufacturing plant to multiple physical and remote work locations, and more—along with the ability to connect customers and suppliers to the system too.

How can you best judge whether to move now, or to wait?

All areas of your business intersect at the desks of the CFO and CEO. So, it makes sense to look at the operational needs that are CFO-specific and CEO-specific, as part of an assessment to determine if the company should remain on QuickBooks or if it’s time to move up—since any problems that are holding the business back will show up at that operational level. Here’s a guide to those assessments.

What QuickBooks limitations look like when you’re the CEO

➤ CEOs want visibility

In our experience, about half of companies that are growing out of QuickBooks are no longer able to tell for sure whether they’re making money or losing money this month. Ouch!

The CEO or owner either can’t get good reports about their daily expenses and revenue, or it takes a huge effort in the company to pull the right data together—which by then is outdated… so was it worth all that effort?

Without good financial data and inventory data, it’s hard to manage growth optimally. The CEO has questions, like, “The P&L shows increased costs. I need more insight into why these costs increased. How can we be smarter in maintaining our cost structure so our bottom line can increase?”

At the hub of this visibility, the CEO needs a dashboard

A dashboard that shows the key numbers unique to the company, that best indicate the health of the business. One that displays always-current data, with an easy ability to click and drill down into any level of detail.

When your organization includes a growing number of entities, business units, warehouses, and markets, the complexity and scale surpass QuickBooks’ capabilities. The CEO needs to quickly slice and dice reports to assess the individual parts as well as the whole, for things like local taxes, regulatory compliance, sales trends and forecasting, product line profitability, and much more, to optimally manage your business.

➤ CEOs want to stop “handling by exception”

At some point, the amount of complexity in a business grows enough that it’s no longer possible to efficiently solve problems by treating things as special cases. It becomes too hard to keep track of what was decided, and to manage the status of the exceptions individually to ensure they get handled consistently and don’t fall through the cracks. Reporting is tougher when the exceptions don’t automatically roll up into the overall totals.

Plus, a lot of those exceptions need the approval of the CEO. It’s a bottleneck and it gets worse as the company grows.

It’s liberating when business rules can be embedded, automated, and tracked by the system, so that most of these decisions don’t require management intervention or approvals.

➤ CEOs want to drive business process changes to support growth

You can reach a point where a bottleneck like a too-small accounting system starts preventing the business from being flexible and scaling up. The CEO or COO is perpetually focused on finding and eliminating business bottlenecks.

Maybe overtime costs are up because your order entry team is working longer hours to process twice as many orders. Maybe accuracy errors are up because your team is doing case/box and quantity/price tracking for item units manually in a spreadsheet, outside of QuickBooks. Maybe your system can no longer give you a clear picture to help prioritize the best opportunities to increase operational inefficiency.

When you’re laser-focused on doing what it takes to respond to your customers, you need a system that can turn on a dime internally, and deploy technology changes without disrupting the business. The CEO wants to drive the changes that will increase the level of customer service you’re providing even as you grow.

Get visibility and flexibility

With the right business system, your CEO and other managers too can see current data in real time, without waiting until the end of the day or week—for payables, receivables, POs, sales orders, expenses, inventory, and whatever else you need to track.

Incorporate new processes easily over time, too, when you want to add new sales channels, or accommodate a special order processing request from a customer, or create a more formal quality management program—or anything else you want. A strong technology partner (that’s us) paired with a flexible system like Acumatica or AccountMate, means your system can always be ready to adapt to what you want it to do next.

How QuickBooks limitations feel when you’re the CFO

➤ CFOs want actionable business data at their fingertips

Flexible Demand Forecasting

A manufacturer of automated welding equipment has Spanish speaking employees at their facility in Mexico, working with English speaking employees from their offices in the U.S. 

We configured their system so each user is presented all menus, screens and reports in their preferred language.

A large plumbing supplies distributor has a long lead-time for delivery of many of their products from international manufacturers, and thus they can’t afford a stock-out.

We overlaid a custom demand-forecasting tool that incorporates historical seasonal demand curves of their critical items.

Real-time KPI updates

It’s a problem if you can no longer give the owner a snapshot of the business without having to explain reporting exceptions, or spending two weeks on it because the data isn’t easy to get.

Accurate cost analysis

It’s a challenge when the more the company grows, the more time you spend figuring out where and why costs are high.

Full insight into inventory

It costs time when QuickBooks plus Excel or paper forms can no longer manage inventory well enough. Yet there’s money tied up in inventory and you need better insight to control costs.

It’s a headache when the system says you have 175 of that SKU but you only have 120 in the bin.  Or when inventory in transit doesn’t show up on reports because it’s not in any warehouse. Or when your inventory assets don’t match your on-hand quantity reports.

Instantly accessible historical data

It’s limiting when you can’t access historical company data easily, or at all, because you have to remove it or archive it when your data file sizes get too large for QuickBooks.

Low-stress audits

It’s serious when you get audited if you can’t produce the reports needed for the auditor.

A few such limitations here and there can be endured. But if growth or increased business complexity continues, these problems seriously limit financial controls and the CFO’s ability to assess what’s going on in the business.

Access information right when you need it

With a flexible, highly capable system, you can get all the numbers and reports you need for analysis in real time, and you can drill down to source documents like an invoice to see where an issue might be. Things like this make it easier to provide recommendations to save money or invest for growth.

Plus, a true ERP system will have strong controls for inventory management, integrating your financial and inventory data for a complete picture of your company in real time.