As a small print shop, you need to invest in a lot of technology to ensure quality projects, coordinate resources, and build a reputation. There are certain times when it makes sense to go for the best software and hardware out there for printers and finishing equipment. But we all have technology budgets, so there’s a tendency to opt for the easiest and most affordable option when it comes to bookkeeping and scheduling.
That’s why most print shops (and every other business) start out using QuickBooks to track revenues and expenses and manage their day-to-day transactions. There’s no upfront cost investment and it’s easy to find staff who know how to use it – best of both worlds, right? Although it is considered the largest and most popular bookkeeping software for small and independent businesses around the world, it might surprise you to know that QuickBooks is not a true accounting solution.
That means that as your print shop grows by taking on more jobs and investing in more equipment, QuickBooks will affect your ability to stay agile and work efficiently. While it’s a great beginner option, QuickBooks has limitations when it comes to reporting, inventory, system integrations, large transaction volumes, multiple users, and much more. In this blog post, we’re going to share some tips on how to recognize when your print business has grown beyond QuickBooks and is ready to advance to a more robust accounting and ERP (MIS) system.
QuickBooks is Not a Complete Accounting Solution
People are often surprised to learn that QuickBooks is not actually a complete accounting solution. And it definitely isn’t a complete business management solution. It can cover the basics of getting paid, tracking expenses, and small business accounting, but eventually your little print shop is going to need more functionality.
One of the biggest problems is the fact that QuickBooks generally operates as a standalone system, so it doesn’t connect with your other important systems easily. In the print industry today, printers are using everything from inventory management systems, print estimating software, scheduling and shop floor solutions to efficiently manage their resources and jobs. These disparate, disconnected systems require an exorbitant amount of manual work to operate and consolidate that result in inconsistencies, human error, and unnecessary costs.
Read more about some of these pressing issues facing printers here.
Another problem you will encounter as you continue to use QuickBooks is financial reporting. The reports available in QuickBooks are very limited, and many financial institutions won’t accept QuickBooks reports since they don’t contain enough details. To get a comprehensive report, your accounting team is going to have to spend a lot of time pulling data from all the different software systems you have, then manually analyzing and interpreting it, so you can get a picture of what last week or last month or last year looked like. Chances are good that a comprehensive report of what’s happening right now would be more useful as your business grows.
Having disparate systems for each area of your business also means your staff is spending a good chunk of time duplicating customer or job data from one system to the next and to the next.
How to Find Out if Your Print Business Has Grown Beyond QuickBooks
You may be wondering now if QuickBooks is restricting your possible business growth. To assess your existing systems and find out what’s holding you back, here are some questions to consider:
Do you or your team spend excessive time manually collecting and reconciling data from multiple systems and spreadsheets?
Manual data consolidation from multiple systems and spreadsheets is time-consuming and has a higher potential for mistakes and errors. The risk of human errors in uncontrolled spreadsheets often result in inaccuracies that then permeate into your reporting. Ultimately, you end up making business decisions based on inconsistent data.
Do you struggle to create accurate reports for decision making?
Reporting is critical for making business decisions and seeing reports of what happened in the past can be very useful to help you identify trends, track performance, and compare your business growth to where you were 6 months or a year ago. But without a single system to bring all of your data together and an easy-to-use reporting tool to produce the reports and dashboards you need in real-time; you’re probably making decisions based on hindsight or intuition. When you can’t pull valuable reports in the format you need based on accurate data, you have no visibility into operational performance and you’re left in the dark on where you can make improvements.
Are you planning on expanding your services, growing your employee count, or investing in new printing equipment in the next 6 months?
QuickBooks only allows a limited number of users, so if you have growth plans, you may not be able to provide software access for everyone who needs it. If you’re hiring new staff, there’s also HR records you need to keep track of, and shift scheduling, which QuickBooks can’t do. If you’re investing in new equipment, you’ll probably want to set up a maintenance schedule to ensure your machines are being serviced and repaired on schedule, so they last as long as possible. QuickBooks does not have any functionality for managing equipment or maintenance schedules.
Is scheduling a consistent headache, from staff to machines to inventory orders to shipping?
Print shops often experience bottlenecks in shop floor and production processes, either when only one person knows how to do a specific task, when one machine has a backlog of jobs waiting, or when a machine breaks down and needs maintenance. And then there’s the human element too, when staff may need time off, or you have to train new people. Unfortunately, QuickBooks doesn’t offer capacity planning or scheduling functionality, and its lack of structure makes life harder on your managers. Whether you are currently using Excel spreadsheets or whiteboards to capture job specifics and plan your week, you are most likely having difficulty organizing jobs and meeting customer delivery dates.
Are you looking for a unicorn to balance your inventory and supplies with print job demand, so you don’t have frequent delays related to stock levels?
It’s the age-old tight rope walk of too much stock versus not enough stock. Often you don’t find out that there isn’t enough of a specific paper weight, color, finish, or size until the job has already started. So then you’re stuck waiting on order delivery before you can complete a job. There’s also the extra QA step of ensuring that the finish is consistent if you printed half a job before the paper ran out and then had to finish it later.
If you answered yes to any of those questions, it’s time to consider alternatives to QuickBooks.
What Comes After QuickBooks?
An enterprise resource planning system (ERP) is the solution for all those challenges and more. Sometimes called a management information system (MIS) in the print industry, an ERP (MIS) is designed to streamline your print business and maximize your profit margins. By centralizing your business processes and data in one platform, you are able to easily track jobs, optimize resources, manage financials, and gain an end-to-end view of your print operations.
Not sure if you’re ready to invest in ERP (MIS)? To help you understand the importance of upgrading your business management software to fit your current needs and goals, we developed a whitepaper with 7 of the most common symptoms we see small to mid-sized print shops dealing with as they grow.
In the whitepaper, you will learn:
- Why QuickBooks is such a popular solution
- 7 signs that your business is outgrowing QuickBooks
- What is the best solution beyond QuickBooks
- Tips for transitioning to a new business management system
- How to find the right partner to help you upgrade
Download the whitepaper for a more in-depth analysis of QuickBooks and the path forward, so you can determine if it’s past time for your print shop to switch to an ERP (MIS) or something you need to keep on your radar for the future.