26 Oct Integration Consulting
There are two types of Integration Consulting Services we offer:
We support many add-ons due to the increase in efficiency and functionality enhancements when working with QuickBooks. Some are tools that provide a specific function, others are complete software packages that serve as a front end method for capturing data that is then integrated into the QuickBooks file, and still others extract the information from QuickBooks to accomplish specific client needs.
With more than 400 add-on products, we cannot be an expert in all of them, but we do have a good working knowledge of many. In addition, we know where to look for others. With our extensive use and testing of many different add-ons we know how they should work, and can provide guidance on evaluating if a specific add-on is the right decision. 30-60 minutes of consulting time is an inexpensive way to get a second opinion before the time and cost of purchasing and implementing an add-on is begun.
This is also true for developers: We have heard time and time again, I am so glad we talked before we actually started the programming and/or Wow, this product is much better (and very different than where we started) based on the feedback, suggestions, and comments we have received from you.
We assist in building out what a client’s entire accounting/operational process looks like by:
QuickBooks has many features that serve the needs of most small businesses adequately. An add-on is appropriate when a feature or report cannot be handled by QuickBooks alone. Some of these solutions are available directly from Intuit, while the majority is provided by third party developers.
- A customized SQL database was used for operational needs to track the rental of equipment for large events. The previous solution was re-entering 7,000 invoices per month manually, which was error prone based on the summary information and sales tax implications for the data that was entered. Instead, we assisted the client in creating an export spreadsheet was then imported into QuickBooks to eliminate the data entry activity so the employees could be utilized for more productive work.
- eCommerce cart was set up to pull orders into Microsoft Access based on a process per QuickBooks. Via a customized Access query, the data was extracted and converted (i.e. normalized based on the customer:job rules, item list, etc.) so it could be imported as sales orders for shipping and inventory tracking purposes.
- Cash registers were required for sales at Farmer’s Market locations. Internet was spotty at best, there were multiple different markets at the same time (which made import and export routines problematic and equipment costs prohibitive), the employees were very low tech, and the fast paced nature of the sales process did not lend itself to other alternatives. The cash registers have a csv export feature, so the reports from each day are exported, opened and then a cut and paste routine into an Excel Macro workbook prepares the file for the import per market. The result is sales by product in QuickBooks for inventory tracking and management reporting.
- Payroll/Bonus Calculation: Transportation employees are paid based on the routes they drive, but labor laws require that their time be tracked for hourly and overtime purposes. Previously there was a complicated manual spreadsheet that was maintained based on manual timecards and signed route paperwork that were submitted. The employees were then paid based on their time with the difference from the route work entered as a bonus. Instead, a time clock was installed so that the time was automatically calculated for regular and overtime then imported into QuickBooks as a time sheet. There was a scanner installed at the dispatch kiosk so as the trucks entered the yard an Excel spreadsheet was created to track the date, employee and route which was subsequently imported as a timesheet. A report was created in XpandedReports to calculate the payroll cost for the time, the flat rate charge for the routes, and the difference for the pay period to automate the process of calculating the bonus amount. The result was a more accurate result which also provided a significant decrease in administrative time.
- Intercompany Activity: Food Connex Cloud (FCC) was implemented due to the requirement for dual unit of measure (tracking product by the count and by the weight that is not supported by QuickBooks) but QuickBooks was being used to track inventory by weight only for another line of business. The solution, export a sales report from FCC and import into QuickBooks as a bill to eliminate the data entry by item for products that were purchased.
- And more! Call us to discuss your integration needs to see how we can help.
To determine when an add-on is needed, first carefully examine the features and functionality of QuickBooks alone. Then determine as specifically as possible what is needed. With a clear understanding of how QuickBooks works, it will make the evaluation of potential add-ons more efficient.
How to Find Appropriate Add-Ons
Due to the many alternatives available, and the fact that most QuickBooks professionals and their clients are not interested in becoming experts in evaluating the alternatives, we have found they appreciate a targeted list of alternatives with Pros and Cons of each as a starting point. From there, it is possible for them to investigate, test, and decide which is the best alternative for them. Other times, they prefer we guide them through that process and the implementation. We are flexible, as in all aspects of our business, to develop an approach that works best for the client. As a starting point, many clients want to use our Add-On Recommendations service to get a starting point for their search.
If you want to start the search yourself, the three most effective methods we have found for discovering appropriate add-on alternatives are: Intuit’s Solutions Marketplace, a general search of the internet, and networking and/or asking for referrals.
Intuit Solutions Marketplace
Intuit maintains a web site of integrated applications where you can search for products based on key words. The list is too extensive to include plus new products are being added all the time. To see the complete listing, visit http://marketplace.intuit.com/default.asp or choose Company > Company Services > Find Integrated Applications from within QuickBooks.
A search of the internet may also provide other alternatives in addition to those registered as part of Intuit’s Developer Network.
Ask for Referrals
Networking and asking for referrals from other consultants, QuickBooks users, industry associations, discussion forums, IDN message boards, etc may also serve to uncover missed gems. Keep in mind those industry specific products that provide an appropriate, cost effective solution may still be better than a QuickBooks specific add-on. It really depends on the results of the needs analysis and what the priority hierarchy is for solving the needs. In addition, there may be a way to work with the industry specific developer (by explaining the market share the QuickBooks enjoys) to help them expand their customers to include QuickBooks users, or a third party developer may be able to develop a bridge program to extract the information from the industry specific add-on and integrate the data into the QuickBooks file. Take the time to thoroughly investigate the relative pros and cons of each scenario prior to making a decision. A chart documenting this will also help the client to understand the trade offs, and potentially eliminate frustration in the long run.
We love working with developers! It is exciting to see products progress and with the extensive experience we have with QuickBooks as well as a working knowledge of developer issues, we have made a dramatic impact on many products. We are quick with suggestions for consideration along with many ideas for future enhancements. Based on the numerous QuickBooks data files we have seen as well as the countless industries our clients represent we bring a unique end user, QuickBooks Professional Advisor, and CPA perspective. Other issues discussed often include marketing, how to effectively reach the target audience, obtaining testimonials, etc.