QB Tax Advisor Accounting

QB Tax Advisor

Importing external business data into QuickBooks Online (QBO) saves significant time and effort compared to manual entry. QBO supports importing customers, vendors, items, accounts, bills, invoices, transactions and more from Excel, CSV or other accounting systems. Follow these key steps to import your data.

Overview of the Import Process

Here is an outline of the data import process in QuickBooks Online:

  • Identify which lists or transactions to import
  • Extract and format source data into import templates
  • Review import settings and field mapping
  • Validate data accuracy via test imports
  • Complete full import into appropriate list area
  • Check for errors or cleanup needed after import
  • Map imported lists/accounts if necessary

Getting help from an accounting firm like QB Tax Advisors ensures a smooth import process.

Identifying Data To Import

First, determine which business data you need to bring into QuickBooks Online such as:

  • Customer contact and sales info
  • Vendor contact and purchasing details
  • Products, services, inventory items
  • Accounts and opening balances
  • Historical transactions like invoices, bills, payments
  • Employee payroll records

Prioritize essential data to import first. You can staged multiple imports over time if needed.

Extracting and Formatting Source Data

Extract a copy of the source data from your original accounting system into an exportable digital format like Excel spreadsheets or CSV files.

The data must be structured into columns matching the import templates. Carefully check for data accuracy and consistency during extraction.

Follow QBO guidelines for correct field types like phone numbers, dates, amounts. Clean up anomalies, typos or duplicate records.

Well-formatted, clean source data transforms easily. Garbage in, garbage out!

Reviewing Settings and Field Mapping

In the QBO import wizard, select the appropriate import template based on the data type like customers, invoices, etc.

Review auto-mapped fields between source and target. Make tweaks so the import maps data into the right QBO fields.

For advanced imports, choose options like merging into existing records, attaching files, or skipping errors to fine-tune the process.

Testing Imports

Run test imports on copies of your data to validate results before actually importing.

Review details closely, check for errors, and confirm data imported correctly into the right places.

Make any corrections needed in formatting or mapping and re-test until satisfied.

Testing prevents importing bad data or having to clean up afterwards. You can also import into sandboxes first.

Executing the Full Import

Once a test verifies the import process works properly, run the import on your full source data to bring it into QuickBooks Online for real.

Imports take some time to complete depending on data size. Imports with hundreds of rows/records may take 15 minutes or more.

Avoid using QBO during an active import process to prevent conflicts. Wait for confirmation that the import succeeded fully.

Checking for Errors

Carefully verify results after the import finishes. Are all records present? Check for blank fields or undefined mappings.

Review QBO’s import results summaries and error reports. Identify any fixes needed for records with problems.

It’s common for some amounts/rows to require cleanup after import. Handle any issues before moving forward.

Mapping Imported Lists and Accounts

If you import existing lists and accounts into QuickBooks Online, take time to map them correctly to QuickBooks’ defaults.

For example, map imported revenue accounts to the default Income accounts in QBO.

Proper mapping ensures transactions post to the appropriate accounts according to QBO’s chart of accounts structure.

Import Tips and Tricks

Follow these tips for a smooth import process:

  • Import into sandboxes or test companies first.
  • Use QBO import templates – don’t create from scratch.
  • Check import record limits based on your QBO plan.
  • Enable automatic mapping to speed up prep time.
  • Adjust date formatting in source data to match QBO.
  • Export backups of imported data for reference.
  • Import in sections if records exceed limits.
  • Expect some cleanup – imports are rarely 100% perfect.

Best Practices for Data Imports

Follow these best practices when importing into QuickBooks Online:

  • Fully close open periods in your old system before importing historical data.
  • Communicate with clients so they don’t create new records during the import process.
  • Review the imported data thoroughly before using in QuickBooks Online.
  • Enter any new transactions in the old system first, then import to avoid duplication.
  • Import customers and vendors before invoices, bills, payments or credit memos.
  • Use Excel or CSV source files – avoid PDFs or proprietary formats.

When to Get Help from an Accountant

Consider getting guidance from an accounting professional like QB Tax Advisor for assistance on large or complex data imports. This includes:

  • Transitioning from a non-QuickBooks desktop system like Peachtree or Sage 50.
  • Converting QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online.
  • Importing thousands of records across multiple lists.
  • Merging companies or large data restructures.

An accountant can manage the entire process smoothly, saving your team time and frustration. Their expertise avoids costly import mistakes.


With the right preparation and process, importing external data into QuickBooks Online can save hours or weeks of tedious manual entry. Use QBO import templates, clean source data, test carefully, validate results, and get help when needed. Importing gives your QBO instance a fast start leveraging existing business information.

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