Best method to convert to Cheqbook? Cutoff!

We are often asked to if one can completely import or convert their existing QuickBooks or other sets of books into Cheqbook.  We don't do that (we tested it, but it was just too problematic!).  We do import customers, items, and vendors though.

If you're planning a transition what we suggest instead is the tried and true method for converting from one software accounting system to another, the cutoff method.

The basic principle is that you pick a date, keep your books in your old system until that date, then enter your closing balances into your new system and start using it from there.

However in practice it's more complicated than that (of course!).  Each step requires careful planning and execution so that you don't get a mess, and there's one very tricky part (more on that later).  Let's walk you through it.

First, pick a date.  Not just any date, you should pick a date when you normally close books.  The best date is usually then end of your business year (usually a calendar year but that can vary).  That way your tax and other reporting doesn't require you add activity from two different sources.

Second, sometime before that cutoff date, establish your Cheqbook account and add your linked bank accounts.  We use Intuit as our trusted data provider and while they connect to some 18,000 banks some of them don't work so reliably.  This is especially true of smaller regional banks.  Test your connection for a month or so and make sure you're getting good data reliably.  Not a bad idea to test Cheqbook during this period and decide if it works right for your small business.

Third, close your books on your old system, paying particular attention to reconciling and perfecting the amounts reported on your balance sheet.  Get professional help with this as necessary.

Fourth, enter the closing balance sheet entries as beginning entries in Cheqbook, using for example December 31st, not January 1st.

Fifth, you need to delete almost all the Cheqbook transactions downloaded prior to January 1st (presuming that's the cutoff date).  Why?  Well they've already been accounted for in your old software. 

Sixth (and the tricky part!) you have to carefully reconcile the transactions that hadn't cleared the bank as of December 31st.  You'll find them usually in the first few weeks of activity in January, but they could have cleared much later.  These transactions have already been reduced from your 12/31 balance you entered, so when they clear in January they put the bank balance out of whack.  Look at your 12/31 bank reconciliation from the old system and identify the uncleared transactions, then find them all in Cheqbook.  

When you find them you can do one of two things:

1. delete them, because they're already reflected in the beginning bank balance.

2. do a more complicated reconciliation that involves dating them into December (the date they have in the old books), and adjusting the bank balance you entered in steps three and four above.  This may be the only way if some of those checks haven't cleared - you may have to manually enter them as uncleared checks and wait for them to download from the bank and match.

If you're using method 1 above you'll have to wait until they've all cleared the bank to do a bank reconciliation to test whether this worked.  If you're using method 2 you can do a reconciliation immediately.

This is an easy everyday task for a professional bookkeeper or accountant, but can be challenging for others.  Consider getting professional help.

Good luck!

 

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