Part 3: Cleaning Up Item and Service Lists
If you’ve been using QuickBooks software for some time, you may have accumulated List Items that are no longer useful. Tidying up your Item and Service Lists can be done a number of ways. I will lead you through the simple methods and then touch on the more involved methods.
First, as with any list, if an item has not been used at all then it can be deleted. This is true of the following item types: Service, Other Charge, Payment, Non-Inventory, Group, or Discount. If an Inventory or Assembly item has not been used AND has zero quantity on hand, then it can be deleted as well. To do this, in the Item and Service List, highlight the item you wish to delete and either right-click and choose “Delete Item” or pull down the drop-down “Edit” menu and choose “Deleted Item”.
As with other lists, if an item is no longer needed, but has been used in a transaction in the past, then it cannot be deleted and instead must be deactivated. (QuickBooks will tell you this when you try to delete an item that has transaction history.) To deactivate an item, in the Items & Services List, highlight the item you wish to deactivate and either right-click and choose “Make Item Inactive” or pull down the drop-down “Edit” menu and choose “Make Item Inactive”. Inactive Items can be seen by choosing to “Show Inactive Items” on the pull-up “Item” menu in the lower left corner of the Items & Services List screen.
Items and Services can be merged. Again, as with other lists in QuickBooks, if you have duplicate items you can merge the two items together and the transaction history for both items will become one list under the remaining item. Certain prerequisites apply: the two items must both be the same type (Service, Inventory, Other Charge, etc.), neither must be a sub-item of another (release the check mark for “sub-item of” before merging) OR both must be sub-items of the same item. Inventory Items can be merged, even with quantities on hand.
Remember that when you merge two items (A & B) in order to save B, A must have the same item number as B and A’s information (cost/accounts/sell price) will be lost. B, as the receiving item, will dominate and retain its information. Once they are merged, however, the item information (cost/accounts/sell price) can be updated as necessary. To merge two items, highlight the item A and double-click to edit the item. Change the Item Name/Number to match that of B exactly then Save & Close. QuickBooks will ask if you want to merge the item and you can say “Yes”.
Plan and Organize Your List
A couple of things I like to do to keep my item list streamlined is to use sub-items, and to think through the coding of Item Name/Numbers. Your goal should be to make looking up an item as easy as possible so as you set up (or clean up) your list, think about the way that you and your staff think about your list of items and services. For instance, in a promotional products company, you may want to group your items by type such as T-Shirts, Pens, Mugs, Novelties, etc. so that when you are creating a Sales Order for a client, you can type “Pens” and be in the list of pen products. I would set up a Non-Inventory Item for “Pens” that I would never use, and as I buy and sell pens for customers, I would add them as Non-Inventory Items that are sub-accounts of “Pens”.
Item and Service Lists often need some clean-up as far as the General Ledger Accounts to which they are assigned (Cost of Goods Sold, Income and Inventory). An easy way to see if your items are assigned correctly to your Chart of Accounts, is to go to your Item and Service List and choose the “View” drop-down menu and choose “Customize Columns”. A pop-up window will show up with a list of possible fields on the left and those that are currently displayed on the right. Delete unwanted fields and make sure the following fields are chosen: Name, Description, Type, Account, COGS Account, and Asset Account. Click on “OK” once the list on the right side is correct. Scroll through the list and find any items that are incorrectly assigned to a General Ledger Account. You can double-click on an item, fix its assignation and then click “OK” to correct your list. Note: QuickBooks will ask if you want to reassign past transactions to this new account or if you just want to assign purchases/sales of this item to this new account going forward. (Really, really helpful is you are cleaning up messy financial reports!)
Update Groups of Items at Once
These are the simple methods for cleaning up your Item and Service List. If you want to work with your list and update whole groups of items at once (pricing, g/l account, etc.) then you can use “Add/Edit Multiple Items”. In the Item and Service List, pull-down the “Edit” drop-down menu and click on “Add/Edit Multiple Items”. This screen allows you to edit your items by type: Service, Non-Inventory, Inventory, and Assembly. You can also narrow the list of item by using a Custom Filter by Item No. or Preferred Vendor (say if your vendor’s pricing list arrives for a mass update).
In this screen, once again you can customize the columns to show you only those columns that need to be updated. You can also “Copy Down” any value that needs to be applied to all of the following items. So, for instance, if you have decided that a group of items should be sub-items of “Pens”, you can choose “Pens” from your item list in the “Sub item of” column and then right-click on “Pens” and choose “Copy Down”. “Pens” will now be the master item for all the following items in your list. Once you Save Changes, the editions will be applied to your Items & Services List.
There a lot of ways that you can map and import Microsoft Excel and comma-delimited lists into QuickBooks Items and Services, Customers and Vendors lists using the “Add/Edit Multiple Items” screen. (Try using a sample company to experiment with this tool before using it on your real data.)