Lately, there has been a rash of questions about a perceived bug in QuickBooks in several different discussion forums – how QuickBooks is not saving Notes on inventory parts. Fortunately, that isn’t what is really happening – rather than being a situation where data is lost it is just a case of poor design. Your Notes are there, you just have to find them!
QuickBooks Item Notes in the Beginning
The “beginning” wasn’t that long ago. When Intuit released QuickBooks 2012, one of the features that I was happy that they added was a “Note” capability for items in the item list. We had these for other lists before this, but not for the item list.
If you edit an item in QuickBooks 2012 you see the Notes button, and if you click this you can add or edit a note for any item type in the item list.
If you have Premier or Enterprise you also can see the note in the new Inventory Center (not available in Pro).
It is important to point out that in this version, you can only add one Note to an Item. Also, unfortunately, I’m not aware of any place that you can see this item note OTHER than these two windows. It isn’t available in a report, it isn’t available through any add-on programs (since Intuit didn’t make Item Notes available in the programming interface).
There was a problem with this feature in earlier versions of QuickBooks 2012, where notes might disappear (and other related issues), which was fixed in the QuickBooks 2012 R9 release.
The key point here, though, is that you can edit an existing item and click the Note button, and see your existing Note.
Multiple Item Notes in 2013 – Oops
Now we get to the problem. In the QuickBooks 2013 R3 release Intuit improved the Item Notes feature to allow you to have multiple notes per inventory item and inventory assembly. A “Notes” tab was added to the Inventory Center, and from there you could see and manage the Item Notes.
This, however, introduces a problem. Back in the Item List, if I click the Notes button, existing notes for some item types won’t show. It works fine for all items EXCEPT for inventory parts and inventory assemblies – the two types that can now have multiple notes. If you edit an inventory part item that has notes (like the one that I show above), nothing shows in the notes window.
Many users of QuickBooks are complaining in various user forums that their notes are gone, because it does make sense that you should be able to see a Note when you click the Notes button. They aren’t gone, you just have to look someplace else to find them – the Inventory Center.
This is very poor design:
- People expect to see their Notes when they click that button in the Edit Item window.
- If you click on the button for any OTHER item type, such as non-inventory parts, you DO see your Note. You can have only one Note, but you can see it. This again leads people to think that there is a bug for inventory parts.
- You can only see inventory part and inventory assembly items in the Inventory Center – so you have to flip back and forth between the Inventory Center and Item List if you are looking for your Notes for all item types. You can’t see them all from one place.
- There is no inventory report that I’ve found that lets you see Notes.
- The QuickBooks SDK (the programming interface that you have to use to get to the widest range of QuickBooks data at this time) does not have a field for Item Notes, so no third-party reporting add-on product can be used to get a list of Item Notes.
- If you are using QuickBooks Pro there is no way to see your Item Notes because the Inventory Center isn’t available to Pro.
One complication for Premier users is that many aren’t aware that there IS an Inventory Center. In Enterprise it is fairly obvious – there is an Inventory menu and Inventory Center is at the top. For Premier users you have to look in Vendors, then Inventory Activities to find Inventory Center. A bit more buried.
Fixed in QuickBooks 2014?
Sadly, no, QuickBooks 2014 hasn’t changed this. Well, actually, they did (I think that this is a new change in QB 2014) – the Notes button is now New Note. The label was changed to hopefully make it more obvious (just for inventory part and inventory assembly items), but the functionality wasn’t changed.