QuickBooks is a great solution for the accounting needs of many small businesses. And many of the add-on software solutions provide feature enhancements not available in QuickBooks. In addition to superior functionality, the top notch integration is why we have chosen to use Legrand CRM and SourceLink. Both have saved us time and money while providing access quickly that we would not have had otherwise. But what happens when the best solution for a specific issue does not have a QuickBooks interface so the two systems can talk to each other or don’t do so in the way you want? That was exactly our situation with our newsletter delivery software and our eCommerce shopping cart.
We chose solutions based on our needs, then dealt with the integration as a second step. Here are some specifics to get you thinking about your specific situation.
Newsletter subscribers to Legrand CRM – we have a form on our web site which automatically subscribes people to our newsletter and sends an autoresponder message to them immediately. The software we use is AutoResponder Plus 3 which is the best for this function for a variety of reasons, including that the messages come from our IP address. To back up the data base we had to export the data, then log in through the ftp connection and download it. We then wanted that information to be updated into our Legrand CRM data base so when we had correspondence with someone we knew if they were a subscriber or not and how long they had been a subscriber. The people who chose to unsubscribe were also important so we can comply with the CAN-SPAM laws and not inadvertantly send them unwanted correspondence. Having all of this information integrated into our contact management software was important for back up purposes as well as customer support. We worked with a couple of computer programmers who automated the entire process so it does not require any intervention from us: 1) as anyone makes a purchase through our store, they are automatically subscribed to the newsletter as a special bonus without the need to fill out the form and 2) Legrand is updated each night for all the new subscribers and unsubscribes.
X-Cart sales to QuickBooks – After several different shopping carts for our web site, we decided on x-cart. The reason is that is has an open source so we can have multiple types of products and functionality that we require to automate our business. We won’t go into all the automation that this software has provided to us as sales are made through our web site, but feel free to contact us if you want to learn more about that. Although it has QuickBooks integration using an iif format, we wanted more complete information into our QuickBooks data base. For this reason we worked with several computer programmers who were able to create a csv file in x-cart with the information we needed, automatically export it and create a new file of just what transactions needed to be imported, then automatically import those transactions in QuickBooks using the e-mail address as the primary key for matching customers. It will even add the customer, item and/or class if it is not already in the system.
X-cart forms to Legrand CRM – this last piece really shows the power of looking at what is taking your time to manage manually and see if there is a way to automate the process, or at least part of it. Our web site includes several forms, a generic contact us (i.e. potential sales opportunity as well as other reasons for contact); ask the expert (for questions being submitted to the newsletter); and a special KB help form (included for the members of our knowledge base who are looking for an answer and have not found it). The former now is now automatically imported into Legrand CRM every 15 minutes so we can respond via e-mail and track the status without needing to set up the company, contact, and opportunity or customer service issue. This has saved countless hours of cutting and pasting or re-typing information. Now we can more effectively track what is happening and make sure that the correspondence does not get overlooked.
How we can help:
If you or your clients need to have system integration consulting to discover how you might improve efficiency and really put your computer and technology to work for you, contact us to discuss how we can help.
As a consultant we will help you to determine what specifically needs to be done. We will then either do the research and coordinate the project on your behalf, or put you in touch with the programmers where, armed with the work we did together you can obtain pricing and work out the logistics. Individual integration pieces such as those described above are typically in the $400-$1,000 range for the custom work. When you look at the time that is saved with the automation, our experience has been that you are money ahead within 6 months of the implementation.
The timing really depends on the scope of work. Individual integration pieces such as what we described here may take a week or less. We are working with a client currently that are implementing x-cart as well as the newsletter, Legrand CRM and QuickBooks integration, so from start to finish it will be 4-6 weeks. With another client, they are implementing x-cart but they are starting from scratch since they do not currently have a web site, then we will work on the QuickBooks integration piece so theirs will take 6-8 weeks to be completed.
What the Client Needs to Know:
The time you spend on the front end being as complete as possible about what you want to happen, where the information comes from, how it should be processed, etc will reduce the developer and/or custom programmers time for doing needs analysis. Our approach is typically, tell me how you would do it manually, then we can see where we can automate. Include any “rules” that handle the exceptions.