How QuickBooks Chart of Accounts Templates Reduce COA Struggles

Cassidy Jakovickas

May 15, 2024

Why do the most profitable, scalable firms invest in process standardization? Simple. These firms understand the value of compounding effort. Rather than starting from zero in each project, templates and standard operating procedures help us work more efficiently with each iteration. Over the last year, my team and I have spent hundreds of hours standardizing internal processes at MBS Accountancy. We wanted to review and reset our foundation before we started focusing on growth again.  

I’m excited about the progress we’ve made so far, which is providing capacity for tackling key projects like standardizing client QuickBooks Online (QBO) files and client charts of accounts (COAs). For our COA standardization project, we plan to use the new Chart of Accounts (COA) templates available in QuickBooks Online Accountant (QBOA) which will enable us to:

  • Use pre-made product and service-based chart of accounts templates: QuickBooks provides default templates that you can quickly set up to get projects off the ground without missing critical account details. You can find a list of Chart of Accounts templates here, which include templates for 32 types of industries.
  • Create custom COA templates: Accountants can create COA templates by importing from a spreadsheet or creating templates from scratch. You can make as many templates from scratch as necessary since usage limits to not apply.Note that templates made from scratch do not apply to usage limits. Also, editing a template does not change any chart of accounts that you’ve already made using that template.
  • Apply templates to new and current clients: After setting up your pre-made or custom COA template, you can apply it to any clients. Just go to your list of COA templates, click “Apply template,” select and save the clients.

How charts of accounts templates help accountants work smarter

An organized COA is the foundation of sound bookkeeping. The COA is one of the first places my team and I go to evaluate clients and investigate problems. Using the COA, we can check on a company’s account balances for financial statements, understand the account and sub-account structure, and get a sense of the overall structure of a company’s books.  

Unfortunately, charts of accounts differ from client to client, which means that setting up a chart of accounts can be time-consuming. In the past, we’ve set up a basic COA and expanded as needed. However, this method leads to inconsistencies since everyone does things a little differently. Another route we’ve taken in the past is to simply use the COA that the client already has in place. But this is a haphazard approach that yields an inconsistent appearance of financial statements for businesses in identical industries.  

Chart of accounts templates bring clarity and consistency to projects

For brand new QuickBooks Online setups, using COA templates will mean we won’t have to think from zero with every new client. Instead, we’ll just select the appropriate template that we’ve built. COA templates will also help us standardize existing client files, which will be helpful during bookkeeping cleanup projects.  

COA templates yield clarity across accounting projects

Many times, we encounter messy charts of accounts with errors like:  

  • Duplicate accounts  
  • Unnecessary or unused accounts  
  • Date-specific account names  
  • Overly specific accounts  
  • Improper use of accounts  
  • Inconsistent COA account numbering  

These and other COA errors are all remedied with a standardized COA structure. As we deploy COA templates for existing and new clients, we’ll be applying a consistent COA taxonomy that will make it easier for our team to generate accurate, consistent financial statements. This, in turn, makes bank rules, accounting process building, and accountant training easier.  

COA maintenance is more consistent with COA templates

In the past, we noticed that COA cleanup projects would often get neglected during periods of rapid growth and extreme busyness. As more immediate needs took priority, COA cleanup would routinely be kicked to the backburner or stashed in a “future projects” bucket to do someday. Introducing QuickBooks Online COA templates into our firm will allow us to easily apply a consistent structure to existing client files, which is far more efficient and less labor-intensive than manually configuring them.

COA templates can be used to increase your value

Organizing the chart of accounts is often part of bookkeeping cleanup projects. With COA templates, we’ll be able to easily apply a standardized structure to client charts of accounts. This will decrease the time-to-completion for our bookkeeping cleanup projects.  

COA templates are merely the tip of the iceberg  

There are three apps that form the core of our client-facing software and that I believe give MBS Accountancy firm unlimited growth potential:  

  • ProConnect Tax Online (PTO): We use PTO to automate our tax workflows and connect our tax work for clients to their books.  
  • QuickBooks Online: We currently have 90% of our clients on QuickBooks Online. Combining the close integration between QBO and PTO with the new COA templates will make mapping client books to tax projects much easier.  
  • Intuit Link: We use Intuit Link to send tax organizers to clients and use its PTO integration to automate many tasks like W2 input.  

In the early days of our firm, we decided to invest in products like QBO and PTO because they enabled us to be efficient and productive as we worked on client projects. The latest COA templates are just part of Intuit’s latest improvements to QuickBooks Online. There are other updates that were discussed on the Firm of the Future blog here, including revenue recognition updates, QuickBooks Solopreneur, forecasting improvements, and more.  

You can stay informed about the latest updates to QuickBooks and other Intuit products using the following sources:  

COA templates support our goal of smart and scalable processes  

As we’ve worked on standardizing workflows in our firm, I’ve come to appreciate the clarity and mental freedom that accompanies SOP creation. Instead of reinventing the wheel each time we perform a task, we’re able to offload some of the mental workload using templates and Looms. With COA templates, I see the same principle playing out. Instead of spending time on manual COA setup, we’re now able to easily and efficiently create a standardized structure that is consistent yet customizable for our clients. It’s just one more way we’re becoming a smarter, more scalable firm.

Helpful resources from QuickBooks about COA templates

If you’re as excited as we are about using COA templates, you can try it now with a product tour. Other helpful resources include tutorials on creating COA templates from a template and creating custom COA templates, as well as a list of 12 recent QuickBooks updates.