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Profitable Projects in QuickBooks Online

Posted by Lance Wilkins Posted on May 17 2018

While the appearance of the “item list” in QuickBooks Online is very different from QuickBooks desktop, the functionality is quite similar. Items are often referred to as Products and Services in QBO.

Here is a screenshot of the Products and Services list in the QBO sample file:

Looks different. But, if you notice the Type column, you’ll find some of the same terminology. For instance, what shows in the graphic are Service type items. There are also Non-Inventory type and Inventory type items. And the functions are basically the same. Inventory items track quantity and cost on hand. Non-Inventory type items do not.

Let’s look at the setup window for a new item.

Again, while the appearance of the setup window for a new item, or product and service, is different from desktop, the functionality is there, plus a couple of extras.

Note that in the upper right part of the window you can add a picture to your item. This is particularly useful when selling products and a double-check that the right part has been selected is needed.

The top arrow in the screenshot points to the field Category. This is unique to QBO. You can group together your items on the product and service list into categories to make them easier to find.

Sales information fields are pretty much the same as desktop. There’s also the ability to mark the item as taxable or not and the ability to add an expense account to use this item in expense transactions like bills and checks, as well as the more common usage on invoices and sales receipts for sales to customers.

Just like desktop, you can create expenses and post them to a particular customer or project (job).

The screenshot above shows a bill for some sprinkler system components that are purchased from Hicks Hardware and charged to the Side Lot landscape install project for Amy’s Bird Sanctuary.

Job cost reporting is not as strong in QBO as in desktop. But if your needs are relatively simple as far as tracking job or project costs, QBO can handle that. In the example above, an expense account is used to post the expense rather than an item. If you read the post on tracking job/project expenses in desktop, you may remember that the use of items in this type of transaction was very important. In QBO, not so much, although that is also a symptom of weaker job reporting in QBO.

Expenses recorded to a project and marked as billable are available for invoicing to that customer or project.       

When an invoice is started for a customer or project that has billable time or expenses in the system, the right-hand panel you see in the screenshot above opens. Simply select the items you want on this invoice and click the add link circled in the graphic.


One last reminder. For more complex job costing requirements, QBO alone is probably not a good solution. There are third party programs that will integrate with QBO making it a much stronger solution in these instances.

For simple tracking of time and expenses for something like a repair service, QBO probably has the features you need.