Custom Transaction Numbers in QuickBooks

Learn why Novi AMS does not support custom transaction numbers and why we strongly recommend against using them.

Pete Zimek, CAE avatar
Written by Pete Zimek, CAE
Updated over a week ago

The Novi AMS team strongly recommends that an association avoid enabling custom transaction numbers in QuickBooks.

This article covers:

Why Novi Recommends Turning Off Custom Transaction Numbers

Default Setting

By default, QuickBooks automatically handles creating and tracking transaction numbers. When a new transaction is created, QuickBooks looks for the last transaction number and simply adds one. When left to work, this system ensures that all of your transaction numbers are in sequence and that there are no duplicates.

Enabling Custom Transaction Numbers

When custom transaction numbers are engaged, the user is telling QuickBooks that they have their own system that they'd like to follow. When a new transaction is created, QuickBooks will still follow the process of looking for the last transaction number and adding one. However, there is lots of room for errors that can lead to the duplication of transaction numbers, often when you don't expect it.

If you are manually creating a few transactions inside of QuickBooks, then perhaps it wouldn't be that hard to track a custom methodology for numbering invoices. I've seen some people add an initial to an invoice number to indicate who created it. I've also seen people add the year at the beginning. Some might include an internal code to show which department generated it.

This system could work in the case where only a few transactions are being created, but my question is whether the process is even necessary? I would strongly suggest that you ask yourself the business question of what you're trying to accomplish by using custom transaction numbers. Remember that the QuickBooks transaction log already logs the person who created the transaction. And the invoice itself will have a date with the year listed. The invoice can also have a department added to it. This is one of those areas where you could be causing lots of extra work for very little marginal gain.

Transaction Numbers & Novi

When Novi is added to the mix, the important thing to remember is that our system can create hundreds or even thousands of transactions very quickly. When we create those invoices, we are going to rely on QuickBooks to assign a transaction number, and the number that they are going to provide will be the very last transaction number plus one. If your custom transaction numbers are out of sync to start with, imagine having a couple thousand dues invoices with invoice numbers that were used in 2006. We've even seen situations where the invoice numbers are blank.

Custom Transaction Numbers Are No Longer Needed

Before the days of QuickBooks Online and Novi AMS, custom transaction numbers served a purpose. Especially in cases where a number of people or departments were creating invoices or sales receipts, bookkeepers and accountants needed a way to track who did what.

Today, both QuickBooks Online and Novi AMS have robust audit logs that track all of this information and more. If the goal is to track the staff member who created a transaction, what year it was created, or what department it was created for - all of that can be done automatically and with much greater accuracy than trying to keep track of custom transaction numbers.

How To Turn Off Custom Transaction Numbers

We're excited you decided to take our advice! Now what? The biggest issue you should be concerned with is what number QuickBooks will use for your very next transaction. 

According to QuickBooks, below are the steps to disable custom transaction numbers:

Next, we'd recommend creating a test invoice.

Is the invoice number high enough to ensure that future transactions won't duplicate existing numbers? If it is, then you should be set.

If it's not, you'll need to do the following to set a new baseline transaction number:

  • Manually create one last invoice number to set a new baseline (it may even help to create a couple)

  • Use something general, like 2000

  • Once that is done, turn off custom transaction numbers (see steps above) and let QuickBooks take it from there

What if QuickBooks Online overrides this setting?

QuickBooks made an update to their transaction templates that can cause custom transaction numbers to accidentally turn on, even after admins have turned this setting off. As a general rule, we don’t build features that override your QuickBooks settings. In this case, we have made an exception.

If enabled, Novi automatically assigns sequential numbers to prevent transactions without numbers.

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