Skip to main content
All CollectionsAccounting and PayrollPayroll
Payroll Setup for QuickBooks Desktop
Payroll Setup for QuickBooks Desktop

Learn how to set up Quickbooks Desktop and Aspire to start exporting your payroll!

Aspire Software avatar
Written by Aspire Software
Updated over a week ago

Table of Contents


This article will walk you step by step on what needs to be set up within QuickBooks Desktop and Aspire in order to start exporting your payroll!

Initial Setup within QuickBooks Desktop

Begin by setting up QuickBooks Desktop to ensure that when you export your Payroll from Aspire is smooth, with no issues!

  • Log into your QuickBooks Desktop account.

  • Then, go to the New Customer tab and add a new Customer called Aspire System.

    • You'll need to make sure that Aspire System is entered into the Customer Name and Company Name field!

Next, review your employee set up:

  • Go into each employee record in QuickBooks Desktop to check that every employee you will be exporting hours for in Aspire has an Account No. (Employee ID) assigned to them.

  • Click Employees and then Employee Center.

⚠️ If using Account Numbers for Vendors, make sure an employee number in QuickBooks is not the same as a Vendor account number.

  • The Employee ID box is located for each employee’s record on the Additional Info tab.

  • In Aspire, we label this field as the Employee Number.

  • Make sure that the employees that will be exported from Aspire to QuickBooks Desktop do not have a Class assigned to them in QuickBooks on their Payroll Info Tab.

  • While in the Payroll Info tab of your employee, select the checkbox at the bottom left called Use time data to create paychecks for all employees that will have hours exported from Aspire.

  • From the top toolbar, select Edit to open your Preferences tab.

  • Then, choose Time & Expenses then select the Company Preferences tab.

  • If the box Mark all time entries as billable is checked under the Time Tracking section, uncheck the box and click OK.

  • While you are in Preferences, choose Payroll & Employees and then the Company Preferences tab.

  • Confirm the boxes for Job Costing, Class and Item Tracking for paycheck expenses are checked. Next, on the Assign one class per row line item, make sure Earnings Item is chosen. Click OK.

  • To make sure your hours are processed in decimal format instead of minutes, click on General, and then Company Preferences. Make sure the Decimal option is selected and click OK.

Setting Up Time Reporting

In Aspire, we need to check that the settings are correct for how your company will use Aspire for your payroll export and everything related to successful Payroll Processing.

The first step is to configure your Time Reporting settings in Administration.

  • Go to Settings and then Administration in the blue tool bar.

  • Select Configuration.

  • Then click on the Time Reporting tab. Check the boxes that apply to your company and how employees report their time. Each field and checkbox is described below. 👇

  • Break Time – If crews are required to take a lunch during the work day fill in the Break Time field with the required time. This will show on the Time Entry screen.

    • You would configure this in decimal format, a good example is for a half hour break, enter .50 or if you provide an hour lunch, enter 1.00

  • First Day of Week – Choose the first day of your payroll workweek.

  • Round Clock in/out times to the nearest 15 minutesCheck this box if you want an employee’s clock in/out time to round up or down to the nearest 15 minutes. If the employee’s clock is between 8:00 and 8:07 the clock rounds back to 8:00 exactly, anything after 8:07 means it will round up to 8:15.

  • Payroll Export Format – There are many options to choose from in the dropdown menu. Choose the QuickBooks Desktop option.

  • After all changes have been made, click the Save icon.

Creating and Verifying Branch and Division Codes in QuickBooks Desktop

All Aspire Branch Codes and Division Codes must match QuickBooks Desktop classes exactly. There is a limit of six characters on these two codes.

📌 Note: No branch code or class is needed if your company only has one branch. If you will not be adding branch codes, you will still need to review division codes, but you can skip to the Division section.

  • In QuickBooks Desktop, review the codes used for branches and divisions. This is what it should look like in QuickBooks Desktop:

Adding Branch Codes to Your Branches in Aspire

📌 Note: No branch code is needed if your company only has one branch.

  • Go to the Settings and then Administration in the left blue side menu.

  • To verify the Branch Codes used in Aspire match, select Organization and click on a Branch from your list of Branches.

  • Review the Branch Code column.

If the Branch Codes have not been set up, click into your existing Branches to add them. If you haven't set up your Branches click the New icon in Branches to create a new Branch Code.

  • Add your Branch Code.

  • Click the Save icon in the upper right of the Branch Code window.

  • Repeat these steps for the branches you'll be using during payroll until all Branch Codes are entered.

🧠 Remember the following when filling Branch Code box:

  • Branch Codes are required when you have Multiple Branches in QuickBooks Desktop.

  • The Branch Code will be used to export/import into your Accounting System or Payroll Service.

  • Branch Codes have a six character limit!

  • For QuickBooks with Multiple Branches: If you do not want to change the Branch or Division to 6 characters or less, create additional Branches for payroll export purposes only

Reviewing and Adding Division Codes in Aspire

⚠️ All companies should use division codes that exactly match your QuickBooks Desktop classes! In QuickBooks Desktop, Divisions are called Classes. Divisions are sub-classes of the Branch if you have more than one branch.

  • To verify the Division Codes used in Aspire, click Settings in the blue toolbar, and then select Administration.

  • Select the Application tab and click on Lists.

  • Select Division from the drop down list.

  • Set up your Division Codes by selecting a Division from your list.

  • Once you select your division, add your Division Code which should exactly match your Class code in QuickBooks Desktop.

  • Enter in a Worker's Comp Name - Does not import into QuickBooks Desktop!

After adding in your Division Code and Worker's Comp Name, click the Save icon in the Division window.

  • Your Division Codes will be displayed now when reviewing this section to confirm that you have successfully added them.

Creating Locality Codes

Localities are additional city or county taxes withheld from an employee's paycheck based on where they live or where they work. This is not your federal or state taxes.

If you do not have different payroll holdings based on locality, skip to the next section. This is only necessary if you have different payroll holdings based on the locality where the employee works.

📌 Note: Localities do not export to QuickBooks Desktop. Locality amounts need to be manually added to QuickBooks Desktop. Amounts can be obtained by creating an Hours Pivot Report in Aspire.

To set up your locality code:

  • Click the Settings button in the blue side menu. Then, go to Administration.

  • Select Application, and click on the Lists tab.

  • Select Locality from the drop down list.

  • Click New to set up a new Locality and Locality Code.

Enter information in the following boxes:

  • Locality Name – This is where you name your City or Municipality.

  • Local Code – Put the code name here and place up to 6 characters for the best description of the Locality.

  • Active – This should be on when first creating a new locality. Click the slider again if needing to inactivate.

  • After all information is entered, click the Save icon.

Creating Pay Codes

Next, we'll create Pay Codes. Creating Pay Codes are necessary to build Pay Schedules for employees in Aspire and determine how time is calculated and tracked.

⚠️ You should at least have a Default Pay Code and a Default OT Pay Code set up for your employees.

  • To set up your Pay Codes in Aspire, click the Settings button in the blue side menu.

  • Then, go to Administration.

  • Once in Administration, click Application and go to Lists.

  • In the dropdown, select Pay Code.

  • You will then see the Pay Code List.

  • Select New in the upper right to add a new Pay Code.

Enter information in the following boxes:

  • Pay Code Name - This is where you add the Pay Code name.

  • Pay Code - This is where the actual Pay Code is entered.

    • We recommend that you use an A prefix for your Pay Code to identify it is coming from Aspire to QuickBooks Desktop.

      • For example: A-HR, A-OT

If you add a completely new Pay Code in Aspire not in QuickBooks Desktop:

  • You will need to add a matching Payroll Item in QuickBooks Desktop. QuickBooks Desktop allows up to ten characters.

  • Before adding the new Payroll Item code in QuickBooks Desktop, you'll need to create a new Other Current Liability account called Accrued Payroll Holding.

    • When adding the new Payroll Items, map each one to the new Accrued Payroll Holding Account. After payroll is processed, you will create a journal entry to expense the labor. This will be covered later in Expensing Payroll for Quickbooks Desktop.

⚠️ If there is a Pay Code exported to QuickBooks for a payroll item that isn’t attached to an employee, that employee will be paid $0 for those hours.

  • Premium Dollars - This is the premium amount the employee is paid, in addition to their base pay.

    • In QuickBooks, if a premium dollar amount is paid to an employee, a new payroll item will have to be added in QuickBooks with the full amount the employee will be paid. (Base rate plus premium rate).

      • For example: Snow Premium. An employee is paid an additional $5.00 for each hour worked for snow.

  • Premium Percent – This is the premium percent the employee is paid, in addition to their base pay. For example: Overtime. 50% would be entered if you pay Overtime at time and one-half the base rate.

  • Fixed Rate – This is the employee’s fixed rate of pay, regardless of their base rate.

    • For example: Prevailing Wage. If an employee works on a prevailing wage job and is paid $29 per hour instead of their base rate of $18 per hour.

      • The Pay Code would be Prevailing Wage with a fixed rate of $29.

  • Exclude from OT – Check this box if, no matter what the Pay Code is, you will not pay Overtime on this type of pay. For example: Vacation, Holiday, Sick, Overtime

  • OT Pay Code – This is only checked for Overtime Pay Codes that are added as default on an employee’s Pay Schedule.

  • Create Indirect Pay Codes (Vacation, Sick Pay, or Holiday) following the same above steps if:

    • You want QuickBooks Desktop to keep up with any time off still available

    • You are exporting more than 40 hours, the Pay Code will indicate not to pay Overtime for these hours

    • It will then show those specific codes on the employee’s paycheck.

    • For indirect hour pay codes, there will need to be a corresponding service set up! To read how to set up a service, click here.

  • Once all of the necessary fields are filled out, click the Save button.

🔑 Key Takeaways to Remember about Pay Codes:

  • Pay Codes used must match your QuickBooks Desktop Payroll Items.

  • If you have a salary employee that is paid Flex Overtime Hours, the flex overtime pay will be calculated in Aspire at a fixed rate. The actual variance will have to be manually calculated.

  • Salary employees' hours typically are not exported from Aspire into the payroll service or accounting system.

  • If a salary employee is paid overtime, you will need to set that employee up with a Salary-Overtime HOURLY Pay Code. When that automatic OT Pay Code is exported to QuickBooks Desktop, it will automatically calculate the pay based on the Salary-Overtime Hourly Pay Code set up in QuickBooks Desktop.

Creating Pay Schedules

A Pay Schedule specifies how a person is paid (Hourly or Salary) and how their Overtime is calculated. Once Pay Schedules are created, they are assigned to individual employees.

💡 A Pay Schedule in Aspire will also group employees separately on the Weekly Time Review for exporting to your Payroll Service.

  • To set up your Pay Schedules in Aspire, click Settings in the blue tool bar.

  • Then, click Administration.

  • Once in Administration, from the Application tab, go to the Lists tab. In the dropdown, select the Pay Schedule list.

  • You can create new pay schedules, by selecting New.

📌 Note: You should have at least one Pay Schedule set up with the appropriate Pay Codes assigned.

Enter information in the following boxes:

  • Pay Schedule Name - Add the Pay Schedule name.

    • Examples would be: Weekly 40, Hourly, Salary with OT, Salary without OT, Daily 8, etc.

  • Daily Hours Before OT - This is where you would place how many hours you can work in one day before being eligible for Over Time. This usually applies to businesses in California.

  • Weekly Hours Before OT - This is where you would place how many hours you can work in one week before being eligible for Over Time.

  • Minimum Start Time - If you enter a time here, any crew clock-ins prior to this time will be changed to this value. This will affect all employees under that pay schedule. Not usually used for employees who work past midnight, such as snow crews.

  • Default Pay Code - Enter the Pay Code that applies to this Pay Schedule. Examples would be as follows:

    • For Weekly 40 Pay Schedule - Default Pay Code would be Hourly.

    • For Salary with OT Pay Schedule- Default Pay Code would be Salary.

    • For Salary No OT Pay Schedule - Default Pay Code would be Salary No OT.

  • Default OT Pay Code -This is the default OT Pay Code if they get paid Overtime. If they are not paid overtime, you leave it as NONE. Pay Code options listed here would have the box at Pay Code called ‘OT Pay Code’ checked.

  • Active - If you are using the Pay Code, make sure it is marked Active, or the Pay Code will not be available to assign to employees.

📌 Note: You can set up pay schedules for temporary labor if you have the need to track their hours to jobs in Aspire.

  • Once all of the necessary fields are complete, click Save.

Setting up Employees with Payroll in Aspire

Next, you will set up your employees to be ready for Payroll Processing. This step is important to make sure your payroll exports correctly.

  • Go to the Contacts module in the blue side menu.

💡 If you don't already have employees in your system, make sure to create new Contacts first. If you aren't sure how to do this, check out our article about Creating an Employee Contact. If you are creating contacts for field crew members (not crew leaders), check out this article instead!

  • Select your Employee from the Contact Screen.

  • Scroll towards the bottom of the employee's Contact Screen to the Payroll section.

Enter the following information into the boxes:

📌 Note: All employees must have a branch and employee number assigned to them.

  • Pay Schedule - Select the correct Pay Schedule for the employee from the drop down.

  • Employee Number - Employee’s number must match his/her employee number from QuickBooks Desktop.

  • Accounting Sync ID - QuickBooks Desktop will fill in automatically when the sync occurs between Aspire & QuickBooks Desktop.

Adding Pay Rates on the Contact Record

Once the employee's payroll information is entered, pay rates will need to be added for labor to be calculated and job costing to happen in Aspire.

  • Enter your Pay Rates for your employee in the section right below Payroll by clicking the New button. DO NOT delete these when giving future raises or pay rate changes.

  • Next, you'll add information into the Effective Date, Base Rate, Burden % fields to calculate Hourly Cost.

    Enter the following information into the Pay Rate boxes:

  • Effective Date - Enter the date the new rate will take effect.

    • You can back date the effective date on this page to reflect the original effective date for this pay rate.

    • For future new pay rates entered in Aspire, the effective date should be set to the day before the first day of the week of the pay period (which was set back in Administration ➡️ Configuration ➡️ Time Reporting). This will help for accurate reporting!

  • Base Rate - Enter the hourly amount the employee will be receiving.

    • Salaried employees will also have an hourly rate entered here (not a salary rate).

    • DO enter a new Base Rate line when the employee has received an increase in pay.

  • Burden % - Enter the burden % if you are using a burden % in Aspire.

    • This is a percentage (of employee's base pay) that you calculate based on employee costs to the company. Costs may include payroll taxes, company paid insurance, company retirement contributions, bonuses, etc.

  • Hourly Cost - This will automatically populate after the Effective date, Base Rate, and Burden % are correctly filled out.

  • Once everything is filled in, click the green Save icon on the Employee's Contact Screen if not adding Override Pay codes.

🧠 Remember: If an employee's pay rate changes, be sure to create a new pay rate with the new effective date. Never overwrite the history of pay rates used.

Adding Override Pay Codes

If you have an employee who is being paid a rate different than what was setup on the Pay Code List, it can be added to an employee’s contact record. This is called an Override Pay Rate.

Let's look at an example as to when you would use an Override Pay Code. Will use the common example of Fixed Rate.

An employee may make $15/hour during Green season but $18/hour for Snow season.

If your fixed rate for Snow is consistent across all employees, you can set up the Fixed Rate on the Pay Code in Administration. If the fixed rate varies by employee, then you could set it up as an Override Pay code on the employee Contact record.

  • To add an additional (override) pay rate, click on the 3 vertical dots to the right of the current pay rate on the employee's Contact Screen under Pay Rates and select Add Override Pay codes.

  • Under the Pay Code drop down list, choose the Pay Code Override option that you want based on the Pay Codes you have created.

💡 Reminder: If the option you want is not a choice in the dropdown, you will need to go back to Pay Codes in Administration to add it.

  • Next, enter Override Rate or dollar amount.

  • Then, click the Save icon to save your Override Pay Codes.

📌 Note: When a Pay Code is selected for an employee on the Time Entry screen, Aspire will look at the employee’s Override Pay Codes to see if that Pay Code is listed. If it is, the admin can use that rate.

⚠️ Overtime will not automatically calculate on Override Pay Codes. If overtime is to be paid on an Override Pay rate, an Overtime Pay Code must be setup and added here. For example: a pay code of Snow OT with a fixed pay rate of $27.

  • Once finished adding the needed Override Pay Codes on the contact record, click Save on the contact record.

Repeat this process for all needed employees so Payroll can be exported later.

Next Steps for Processing Payroll

After the first full pay period has been completed, you are ready to proceed to the next step: Exporting your Payroll!

However, you will want to make sure these things have been done first:

Did this answer your question?