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Do you want your A/P clerk having access to your payroll records? Or your billing clerk having access to your profit and loss statements? Maybe so, but maybe not.

If not, then you can configure your QuickBooks company so that each user has access only to the information they need.

Set this up through the top menu: Company / Set Up Users and Passwords / Set Up Users. Click Add User or Edit User, depending on whether they are already existing users. Then you’ll see this screen:

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You see that control can be broken down between data entry, transaction printing, and reporting. Select the functions that your user needs access to. You can also click (or not) on the checkbox giving the user access to customer credit card numbers.

This level of control in QuickBooks is great — it introduces accounting controls to your use of the software, and potentially reduces the risk of fraud and error.

You can set up controls for these areas in QuickBooks:

Sales and A/R
* Purchases and A/P
* Checking and Credit Cards
* Inventory
* Time Tracking
* Payroll and Employees
* Sensitive Accounting Activities (like journal entries and online banking)
* Sensitive Financial Reporting

This is an important accounting control. If you open this capability to a user, they will be able to delete or change previously entered transactions. Limiting this capability to only staff that truly need it could help lower the possibility of bookkeeping crime in your office, because it makes it harder for users to cover their tracks if they are making entries they don’t want others to see.

Also, you can prevent users from making changes to the books after the close date. Your accountant will really like it if you restrict that.

There are news stories coming out all the time about embezzlement and fraud taking place in offices where QuickBooks or other accounting software is used. Want to lower the chance of it happening to you? Just limit your employees’ access in QuickBooks to the functions they need to do their jobs.

User Permissions: What Is Possible, Impossible to Restrict

QuickBooks permissions let you permit — or restrict — your users’ activities in QuickBooks. If you have more than a couple of employees’ who use QuickBooks, you probably take advantage of this feature.

When I posted “How to Restrict User Access in QuickBooks” a few years ago, it elicited scores of questions and comments. My thanks go out to all those commenters. Here’s a summary of those comments and answers:

What is possible to restrict in QuickBooks?

Access by module (Sales, Payroll, etc.)
Reporting
Ability to change or delete existing transactions
Access to especially sensitive information like bank accounts, customer credit cards
Access to financial reports

What is impossible to restrict in QuickBooks?

ame-based access (e.g. you can’t allow transaction entry or reporting for some customers / jobs / employees / vendors / sales reps, while restricting others)
Changing other users’ entries, but allowing you to change your own entries
Access to only selected reports (as opposed to whole categories of reports)
Access based on payroll group, weekly vs. bi-weekly, for example
Date-based access (e.g. running reports or viewing transactions only data before or after a certain date)
Account-type access (e.g. able to view P&L accounts but not BS accounts)
Viewing of the item list
Access to bank accounts without access to paychecks
Field-level access, e.g. disallowing a sales rep from changing the sales rep field, or disallowing access to inventory cost while retaining access to QOH
Allowing the entry or reconciliation of some bank accounts or credit cards, but not others
Entering a transaction without being able to see the previous entries also
There are many examples of restrictions that are possible in Enterprise edition but not in Pro or Premier editions. Here are a few differences that came out of the comments.

What is possible to restrict in Enterprise, but impossible to restrict in Pro or Premier:

Preventing the viewing the Employee Center’s list of employees
Allowing access to estimates without also giving access to other sales/receivables functions
Allowing access to payments without also giving access to invoicing
Allowing creation of purchase orders but no other A/P entries
Creating classes
View-only mode for non-financial reports, without also giving the ability to enter transactions (e.g. you can’t keep access to A/R reports without also giving access to A/R transactions)

How to Change User Permissions in Quickbooks

QuickBooks applications support multiple users. The administrator can access any file and perform any function, but you can customize permissions for other users to limit their actions. For example, all employees in your small business probably need access to the QuickBooks Time Tracking tool to log their work hours. Fewer employees need to access inventory management sheets and fewer still need access to customers’ personal information or credit card numbers. Restricting user permissions helps limit errors and keeps your company’s information secure.

Setting Up User Access in QuickBooks

Will multiple employees be working with your QuickBooks company file? You’ll need to define their permission levels.

If you ever did your bookkeeping manually, you probably didn’t allow every employee to see every sales form and account register and payroll stub. Most likely, you established a system that allowed staff to work only with information that related to their jobs. Even so, there may have been times when, for example, someone pulled the wrong file folder or was sent a report that he or she shouldn’t have seen.

QuickBooks helps prevent this by setting virtual boundaries. You can specify which features of the software can be accessed by employees who work with your accounting data. Each employee receives a unique user name and password that unlocks only the areas he or she should be visiting.

Here’s how you as the Administrator can define these roles. Open the Company menu and select Set Up Users and Passwords | Set Up Users. The User List window opens. You should see yourself signed up as the Admin. Click Add User and enter a User Name and Password for the employee you’re adding. Confirm the Password and check the box in front of Add this user to my QuickBooks license. Click Next.

Note: You can have as many as five people working in your QuickBooks company file at the same time, depending on how many user licenses you’ve purchased. Not sure? Press F2 and look in the upper left corner. If you need more than five user licenses, talk to us about upgrading to QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions.

In the next window that opens (see above screen), you’ll be given three options. Probably you’ll most often select the second option, which lets you specify the screens this user can see and what he or she can do there. The first- All areas of QuickBooks-would seldom be granted. And the third allows us to come in and do whatever tasks have been outlined in our work relationship (troubleshooting, monitoring, creating and analyzing reports, etc.).

Click the button in front of Selected areas of QuickBooks and then Next. You’ll see the first in a series of screens that deal with the software’s functional areas: Sales and Accounts Receivable, Purchases and Accounts Payable, Checking and Credit Cards, Inventory, Time Tracking, Payroll and Employees, Sensitive Accounting Activities (funds transfers, online banking, etc.), Sensitive Financial Reporting, and Changing or Deleting Transactions.

The Sales and Accounts Receivable screen is a good example. You can see the options offered in the above image. By clicking on the buttons pictured, you’re giving this employee permission to both create and print transactions. Below these options, you’ll be able to keep him or her from seeing customers’ credit card numbers in their entirety by clicking in the small box. When you’re finished, click Next.

Keep clicking Next and proceed through the rest of the screens. Your choices will be similar on each. But be sure to read all of the descriptive text very carefully. Keep in mind the importance of confidentiality issues and security as you go along.

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The ninth screen, Changing or Deleting Transactions, deserves special attention. First, should this employee be able to change or delete transactions in his or her assigned area(s)? Even though you trusted these employees to work with finances when you hired them, consider this question carefully. Depending on the volume of transactions processed every day, you may want to reserve this ability for yourself.

We may or may not have established and password-protected a Closing Date for your company file. This is the date when the books for a specific time frame have been “closed,” meaning that transactions should not be entered, added, or deleted prior to it. We can talk with you about the pros and cons of such an action.

Here and on every other screen in this multi-step wizard, you can always click the Back button if you want to return to a previous window. When you’re finished, you’ll see a screen like the one in the above image that summarizes the choices you have just made.

If you’re feeling any uncertainty or confusion about the whole issue of access rights, we’ll be happy to go over your options with you. These are important decisions. You’ll want to stress to your employees that restricting their permissions does not signal a lack of your trust in them. Rather, QuickBooks provides these tools to protect everyone who uses the software as well as any external individuals and companies that might be affected.