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Stephan C. Brown is the President/CEO of the Commemorative Air Force

Should Units switch to Quickbooks?

QuickbooksBlogOften when CAF Headquarters staff implements a new standard for CAF units/members, whether a uniform change or new operations’ regulation; change is met with some push back.  Last year, the accounting department made the decision that some CAF Units needed to use QuickBooks, preferably QuickBooks Online for unit’s bookkeeping.

The decision by the staff was made with a lot of consideration. Unit Finance Coordinators for years have audited unit’s financials and the task of getting the right financial information in the format needed, proved to be an issue. The staff also is aware that this change meant importing a significant amount of data and having to learn new software. As expected, making the announcement at the 2014 Wing Staff Conference was met with a few groans and complaints.

Recently the Unit Finance Coordinator April Robinson received an email, which confirmed that the switch is beneficial, even more so than was expected.

Steve Brown, CAF President

(Please share the letter below with all CAF Unit finance officers.)

Dear April,

Should CAF units argue/fight against going to Quickbooks Online?

As Finance Officer for the West Texas Wing, I kept our financial data on my personal laptop using Quicken.  After a few months learning curve, I found that while a bit more cumbersome than basic Excel spreadsheets, it was very good for reports needed by the Wing but I really didn’t want to have to switch to QuickBooks whether online or not as Headquarters was recommending.  I didn’t want to have to learn new software and didn’t see the benefit to the wing to have to pay a monthly fee. 

After a year or two of fighting against QuickBooks, a dear friend and fellow CAF marshaller passed away suddenly.  In the midst of all that pain and sorrow, we realized that he had sole access to our detachment’s website.  Getting access to our website was a major hassle and took several months.  That made me realize that if anything happened to me or to my laptop, the wing’s finances would be useless.  Yes, I had a full system back-up but even with that, no one else had the passwords needed to access the data and they would also have had to install Quicken on their own computer.  With these arguments, the wing staff agreed to switch to the QuickBooks Online option offered thru CAF Headquarters. 

I personally don’t like QuickBooks as well as I did Quicken – there are some differences that make it somewhat more cumbersome – but I do like the fact that I don’t have to send reports to Headquarters because they have direct access to the records and can run whatever reports they need without me having to do anything except keep it updated and uploading my bank statements.  This Headquarters’ access also allows them to correct records that were not done right according to normal accounting/bookkeeping procedures.

Last week, the hard drive on my laptop crashed so I took it to the computer repair store.  After four days and 18 virus cleanups, they were able to get back the majority of the drive and files and my external back-up drive brought back what bits and pieces were missing.  All I could think was this would have been a disaster if I was still using single-user Quicken rather than QuickBooks Online.  Because I do have online access, I was able to make updates to the financials via my work computer, so even with not having my own computer, I was able to continue to keep everything up to date.

Currently, the monthly subscription to QuickBooks Online via CAF Headquarters is just under $15 a month.  Which is a very insignificant price to pay for the relief of not worrying about losing access or important financial data.  Consider it insurance for your units’ financial records…

CAF Col Kathy Mizell

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