From Patrick Bonnaure, founder of ProLedge Bookkeeping Services
Whenever one of our bookkeepers has his/her initial meeting with a new client, the topic of how we will access the client’s QuickBooks file is on the agenda. There are many options depending on the client’s needs and setup, including:
One option that is frequently on the table is to have our bookkeepers log remotely into the client’s PC or Mac using tools such as LogMeIn or GoToMyPC. Those work great under certain circumstances, but they come with significant drawbacks and it is important to understand them.
But first, a quick primer on what these tools are. LogMeIn and GoToMyPC are only two of many such tools that allow Computer A to take control of another Computer B remotely. You install software on Computer B that will allow Computer A to log into Computer B and see an image of Computer B on Computer A’s screen. Computer A’s mouse and keyboard will now drive Computer B.
The advantage of these options for bookkeeping are clear. Your bookkeeper can now log into your computer remotely, open QuickBooks on your computer and perform the typical bookkeeping tasks. However, there are some very significant drawbacks.
The risk is not that some evil individual will be able to sniff out the data that is being exchanged between the two computers. LogMeIn and GoToMyPC do a very good job at encrypting the data that flows between the two computers. The security issue is much more basic than that. Once you give LogMeIn or GotoMyPC access to the your bookkeeper, you’ve opened up your whole PC or Mac to the bookkeeper. Your bookkeeper might be the most honest person in the world, it is still not recommended to allow any 3rd party to be able to freely roam your computer. You might have sensitive HR information on this computer for which the mere fact of having opened access to it represents a legal problem.
There are ways around this, but they often get overlooked. For instance, you can create a specific login ID to your computer that restricts access to just QuickBooks and some folders. However, to make this work, you would need to be logged out of the admin login whenever the remote session is initiated. In most business settings, this is not a practical expectation. It is too easy to leave your computer logged in whenever you take a break.
One user at a time
Whenever a LogMeIn or GoToMyPC session starts, the remote computer takes over complete control of your PC. You cannot keep on working on that PC while the bookkeeper is working in QuickBooks. This implies that you either need to coordinate with the bookkeeper windows of time of when you will get off your computer or your need to dedicate a computer just for bookkeeping work (quite an expensive proposition in most cases).
The computer must be on
One very mundane issue that we often encounter when we try to connect to a client’s computer is that the computer is either turned off or has gone into sleep or hibernate mode. If this happens, you need someone who is physically close to the PC to turn it back on. If this is after hour, the window of opportunity for the bookkeeper to work in QuickBooks got wasted.
None of the issues listed above are insurmountable, but they often get overlooked. When it comes to bookkeeping, LogMeIn or GoToMyPC should not be at the top of your list when evaluating options. They are sometimes the only options left, but then, you need to carefully address the security and access issues.