Write and Track Your Plan with LivePlan Using QuickBooks Data

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Attention QuickBooks users: No more double data entry required!

LivePlan now lets you integrate with QuickBooks easily, seamlessly, and without any hassle. We have released our integration with the Quickbooks Anywhere API, which means QuickBooks users can now automatically import actual results into your LivePlan Dashboard. To use this new feature, click on your “Dashboard” tab within LivePLan, and then choose QuickBooks as your preference for getting actual results.

You can also watch our webinar about how to compare your business plan to your reality.

If you already use the Dashboard and have actual results, click to update them, and notice the link at the bottom of the window that allows you to connect QuickBooks.

The Quickbooks automation for populating your actual results is a great new feature to help any business using LivePlan automatically track and manage results. If you have built a plan on LivePlan, and you’re using QuickBooks to manage your accounting data, you’re going to love how easy it is to manage your plan, compare your actual results to your plan, and make important adjustments.

Why is comparing your actual results and tracking them against your plan important?

Let’s say you wrote your plan for a specific reason: getting a loan, bringing in a partner, getting a credit line, or maybe even for pitching to investors. You buckled down, and did the hard work to create your plan.  Now you are running your business, right? Full steam ahead. Your plan may even seem “old” or “dated.”  This means you have fallen into the “plan” trap, and are not doing what you should be doing: plannING. Ongoing planning helps you keep your business on track, understand the bigger picture, and steer your business toward the success you imagine in 2, 5, 10 years and beyond.

It’s vital to regularly review your company’s performance across key financial metrics, and use the information to determine if your numbers are good, bad, or neutral. Reviewing your plan tells you what you WANT to happen, looking at your actual results tells you what actually happened, but this information is missing the context to help you determine if your results are good, expected, bad, amazing, or horrendous.

Comparing your planned numbers to your actual results gives you important information that reveals whether your assumptions about your business are on target or totally off. If you’re seeking funding for your business, lenders and  investors will expect to see how well your projections compare to your actuals.

In the image below, you can see an example of a company that has imported actual numbers from QuickBooks into their LivePlan Dashboard. The blue line shows actual numbers, the orange shows planned numbers. This information will allow the business owner to immediately start making decisions, and gathering insight about why her actual results differ from what she planned.

Example: LivePlan Dashboard with Quickbooks data
Note: Connect to QuickBooks is available with QuickBooks for Windows 2009 and later.

Take the month of February 2012. This information provides at a glance evidence that expenses far exceeded projections. The planned spend was $428,000 but the actual spend was $506,000. The ability to compare these numbers quickly provides the owner with a big red flag that should be investigated. Upon further review, the business owner determines that sales were planned to be $510,000, but actually ended up at 603,000. Phew! As in this example, your numbers will always tell you a bigger story, and it’s important to follow that story to gain working knowledge of why your company is hitting or missing goals.

Example: Planned expenses versus actual February 2012
Expenses: Actual Sales February 2012
In this example, it turns out that everything is still good. While expenses were way up, so were sales. Now, the business owner is curious, so she digs even further into the data. It turns out that the pay per click online marketing campaign her marketing manager wanted to do in February paid off. She spent $80,000 more than she had planned, but the return was more than worth it. The business owner was then able to go talk with the marketing manager about opportunities to finesse the pay per click campaign performance to maintain the sales acquisition with a little less spend. Together, they have been working on improving the return on investment for the the pay per click campaign, while continuing to improve monthly sales.

This is the beauty of connecting QuickBooks to your LivePlan account. It provides you with the opportunity to turn to LivePlan not just for creating a business plan, but for day to day business management. As a business owner, you can see your business in comparison to the educated guesswork that you used to create your plan. With this valuable information, you can more effectively analyze your business approach and make important adjustments when necessary. Ultimately, this data will help you decide if you need to make changes to the way you forecast and budget your company’s numbers.

Now, just connect QuickBooks and click the “update” button to so start tracking your actual results on a monthly basis! 

Sabrina Parsons
Sabrina Parsons
Sabrina has served as CEO of Palo Alto Software since 2007. She and her husband, Noah, founded a UK software distribution company in 2001 that was acquired by Palo Alto Software in 2002. Sabrina is a successful Internet expert, having served as Director of Online Marketing at Commtouch, Senior Producer at Epinions, and founder of her own Web consulting company, Lighting Out.
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