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Thoughts on Hubdoc

Aug 29th 2016
Owner FitBooks Pro
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Last month I shared some thoughts on using ReceiptBank, and in June I discussed FileThisPro. This month, I will discuss HubDoc, which is an interesting combination of the other two apps. According to HubDoc’s website, “Hubdoc  helps companies say goodbye to data entry.

It automatically converts receipts, bills, invoices and statements into data they can use, exportable to great account software, like Xero, QuickBooks Online, Freshbooks, Sage One, Intacct, and Bill.com.“ Like ReceiptBank, Hubdoc uses optical character recognition (OCR) to read receipts and create transactions that will export to Xero or QBO, creating a Match in the bank feeds. I’m going to describe how Hubdoc works with QuickBooks Online, but I assume the process is similar to Xero. I have not worked with Hubdoc integration to other programs.

Here’s how it works: 
1.  If you are a bookkeeper or accounting firm, you set up your own profile, and then you can start inviting clients. Your account is free if you are a bookkeeping or accounting firm - you are only billed for each client account you create. 

2.    Once you login, you click on “My Hubdoc” to see your list of accounts, or add a new client account. 

3.    Once you invite a new client, they receive an email notification, and, like ReceiptBank, you receive a custom Hubdoc email address to provide to them (more on that below).

4.    Like FileThis, once the client accepts their invitation and creates a User ID and Password, they can start adding bank and major vendor accounts to their Hubdoc portal. They select the names of their financial institution(s) or vendors (Comcast, Verizon, etc.), enter their credentials, answer the challenge questions (if any), and Hubdoc starts fetching their documents. The client never has to provide you with their banking credentials.

5.    Next, as the bookkeeper or accountant, you configure the client’s Hubdoc account to sync with their accounting software. 

6.    The client then starts uploading their receipts and Bills to Hubdoc. Like ReceiptBank, there are several ways to get their documents into Hubdoc, such as the phone app, which utilizes your phone’s camera; drag and drop documents into the web-based app; or email docs to your private Inbox using the custom email provided. 

7.    Fetched bank statements and bills appear in a folder on the client’s portal called “Bills & Statements.” Hubdoc creates a parent folder for each financial institution or vendor, and a sub-folder for each account - checking, savings, credit card, etc. 

8.    Hubdoc automatically creates folders for Automated Accounts (those it is configured to fetch) and Manual Accounts (for manually uploaded documents). Fetched bills/statements or receipts and manually uploaded documents appear in a tab called “Review.” This is your work queue of expenses or bills/statements ready to be reviewed and posted. Once you post your docs in Hubdoc, they will automatically sync to your accounting software. In QBO, for example, like ReceiptBank, they will arrive in the Bank Feed as a Match, with a copy of the receipt attached to the transaction. 

Like ReceiptBank, for receipts/bills/statements, Hubdoc’s OCR pre-fills some of the document details, such as the Vendor name, date, dollar amount. All you have to do is eyeball that information for accuracy by comparing it to an image of the receipt on the same screen in which you are working. Next you select the correct choice for the other fields, add the Customer if applicable, and the Tracking Class as appropriate, and a Description or Memo, if desired.  However, I find the OCR does not prefill as many fields as ReceiptBank does.

Some firms are using Hubdoc to fetch documents, and then forward them to Bill.com, Box, Sharefile, SmartVault, etc.  Like ReceiptBank, Hubdoc can get smart, too – you can pre-configure certain vendor’s documents to Auto-sync to Xero, Sage One or QBO.

For example, if a vendor’s expenses will always post to the same account, such as Chevron will always be Auto:Fuel expense, you can configure the vendor to auto-sync and pre-select the Publish To, Account, Vendor, Payment Type, Payment Account Code, Class, Description, Customer, and Billable fields.

You can also check if a Bill is on Autopay and configure the appropriate fields – a nice touch. Hubdoc also offers email alerts, “Send me an email when a new document is retrieved” or “Send me an email 5 days before a bill is due,” which really leverages the power of OCR. 

You can process Bills in Hubdoc too. Let Hubdoc fetch it, or if you already have a .pdf version,  drag and drop it to Hubdoc, or email it to your unique Hubdoc email address. Configure the doc to sync as a Bill, and off it goes to your accounting software. You can set rules to auto-sync bills, achieving truely zero-entry syncing.

As mentioned in the ReceiptBank article, you must keep in mind the OCR takes some time process, so when you upload a receipt, it may not be immediately available to post – it can take several hours. I try to make sure to complete all my manual uploads by close of business, that way, the queue is ready to work next morning.

You have more questions, right? Read on...

Questions:

Does Hubdoc really reduce manual data entry?
Yes, it does, but there is some initial prep work involved. When you first get started, you have to sync Hubdoc to your accounting software so it will pull in your Chart of Accounts, Vendors and Customers. After you start processing docs, your best move is to take the time to set edit your accounts if you want to leverage the “auto-sync,” zero-entry transaction processing for applicable vendors. 

How secure is Hubdoc?
According to the Hubdoc website, the site “is built with multiple layers of security” including login security, encryption, third party verification, data center security and “Read-Only” data separation. Of course, it is still up to you to create a strong login password, and not to allow users to share passwords. 

Where are my documents stored?
They are in the cloud. Also, each Hubdoc transaction sent to QBO includes the document image as an Attachment. 

Can I get my docs off of Hubdoc?
Yes, there is a Download option displayed when viewing each document. I did not find an option to select multiple documents to download at once, although it may exist. For many financial institutions, Hubdoc downloads the .CSV of the monthly transactions, which is invaluable for batch data entry.

What if I cancel my Hubdoc subscription, or the client cancels theirs?
Subscriptions are on a month-to-month basis; there is no contract. You can downgrade a client’s account if they are no longer active. The account will disappear from your dashboard, you will no longer be billed for it, and it will no longer fetch documents, but the client should be able to access all docs stored prior to the downgrade, using their own login. 

How much does it cost?
You can try Hubdoc for free, without providing a credit card, and the fee is $20 per month thereafter. Firms also get their own account for free, but I imagine you are expected to eventually sign up a client account as well. 

Do clients really use it?
I find there is much initial excitement to use it, but it is up to you to help the client maintain their enthusiasm for manually uploading receipts and other docs which Hubdoc cannot automatically fetch. It is a good idea to periodically remind clients how much time Hubdoc saves, and how it is building a digital archive of their business documents.

If you provide solid up-front training, and help your clients get into the habit of using the Hubdoc mobile app or other upload options on a daily or regular basis, then the system works best.

How often do you really use it?
I mostly use Hubdoc to fetch client’s statements and vendor bills/statements. I use it less for receipt/bill/statement processing into QBO.

How is the tech support?
Hubdoc offers email and chat support, and a toll free number. 

Things I Love About Hubdoc

  • When Hubdoc fetches statements, depending upon the bank it sometimes fetches multiple years of statements. One of my client’s banks with Chase, and Hubdoc fetched statements going back to 2008. This can be invaluable if you are doing a large data entry project for a client who has lost their paper bank statements. 
  • Unlike FileThis, Hubdoc also fetches the .CSV data for bank statements, which can be real time savers for batch data entry.
  • Most lovely, for some financial institutions, Hubdoc also fetches copies of checks and deposits! The image of a deposited check, or a check written, can be a real life saver when doing transaction processing for a client who has faulty record keeping. This is a feature  which FileThis does not support. 
  • While Hubdoc creates its own folders when setting up a new bank account, you can rename the folders it creates, and manually add additional folders. I use this feature for the instances where Hubdoc has fetched multiple years of statements – I create a subfolder for each year. 
  • The free mobile phone app is easy to use.  Unfortunately, the iPad app is one of those which is always sideways - it will not rotate if you rotate the pad. Interestingly enough, the receipts which appear sideways in the web-based login have the correct orientation in the app, but the app itself is still sideways. The iPad app, however, does offer some basic account management, which is a nice feature.
  • Like ReceiptBank, if you have one credit card account with two cardholders, and each cardholder has an individual card number, you can easily publish their transactions to the same credit card register in QBO. This actually works better than the way QBO itself handles this scenario (QBO doesn’t handle it).
  • The OCR is correct most of the time; I rarely have to make corrections to the data. 
  • All documents sent to Hubdoc are saved in the cloud, creating a truly paperless record of your firm’s or your client’s documents.

Things I’m Not Crazy About in Hubdoc

  • Hubdoc regularly displays receipts I have uploaded via the phone app in Landscape instead of Portrait. I then must use the “Rotate” button to correct the orientation. This is time consuming, as I have to rotate some with three clicks to achieve the desired result, and it takes 3-4 seconds for each rotation.
  • When reviewing a doc, there is a “Details” section which includes the fields: Document Type, Vendor, Invoice Number, Date and Due Date. The Document Type defaults to “Invoice,” where in my workload, nine out of ten docs are Receipts. I wish I could change the default, to avoid the extra click. When I mentioned this to a Hubdoc rep, I was told that field is for internal use only and doesn’t affect the receipt’s status in QB. If that is the case, why have the field at all? I always take the time to correct the field, as I don’t like posting incorrect data.
  • The next section when reviewing a doc is “Amount” which includes the fields: Currency, Total Amount, and Paid Status (Paid or Unpaid). Since it defaults to “Invoice” in the Details section, it defaults to “Unpaid” in the Amount section. I would prefer to have my docs default to “Paid” since 90% of my manually uploaded docs are paid receipts.
  • The next section is called “Configure” where the fields are: Publish To (Bill or Purchase), Account, Vendor, Tracking Class, Description (free form field), Customer, Billable, and Term. You can see where I am going with this; here the “Publish To” defaults to Bill, so I am constantly changing it to “Purchase” – which reveals more posting options which I need (see below). This is a lot of annoying extra clicking for me. 
  • Once I’ve changed a document to “Receipt,” “Paid,” and “Purchase,” new fields appear, such as the Payment Type field. This is were you tell Hubdoc to post the receipt to your credit card register, or bank account register (if the purchase was by debit card). Here I find Hubdoc does not work as well as ReceiptBank. The RB OCR sees the last 4 digits of the card which made the purchase, and pre-enters that field for you. In Hubdoc, I have to click the drop down and select the account manually, which again is more work/ more clicking for me. 
  • It also seems to me that Hubdoc is less smart at remembering which Vendor goes to which account; this is easier to configure in RB, and works better there. There is an option to “Autosync” and to “Save configuration” in this section, which I will admit I have yet to use, partially because I am concerned that if I save a configuration with a certain Class or Account, that choice may not necessarily apply the next time I make a purchase from that vendor, and I don’t want to post data incorrectly. 
  • Like ReceiptBank, when Hubdoc  initially pulls in the Chart of Accounts, it lists the accounts in alphabetical order, not in Chart of Accounts (CoA) order, including for Sub Accounts. As bookkeeping and accounting professionals, we are used to seeing the CoA in a standard order, which is almost never alphabetical order. This causes confusion if your CoA has similarly-named accounts, such as Building:Repairs & Maintenance and Equipment:Repairs & Maintenance. You will see two “Repairs & Maintenance” in the account list, and will not know if it is for Building or Equipment; you have to randomly choose one, and fix it in QB later if you picked wrong. I understand this is less of an issue for Xero users, as Xero does not allow sub-accounts, but the alphabetical order complaint still applies.
  • Also like ReceiptBank, when Hubdoc pulls in Lists from QB, it brings in all List items, including Inactive ones. I’m seeing accounts or Vendor names I haven’t worked with in years. I wish Hubdoc offered an option to “Exclude Inactive” when importing lists. 
  • Posting receipts in Hubdoc takes long, much longer than ReceipBank. Sometimes, I’ve had to wait 15-20 seconds for a receipt to post, which is unreasonably long. If you try to move on to the next receipt, while waiting for previous receipt to finish processing, once it’s finally done, it hops ahead to the next receipt, taking you out of whatever receipt you had decided to work on next while waiting. I find this frustrating. 

Closing comments
It is nice that Hubdoc combines many of the features of ReceiptBank and FileThisPro in one place, for one fee. Hubdoc has both more and less features than ReceiptBank + FileThis, so you’ll have to decide carefully which is the best option for your various clients.  Hubdoc has more features regarding integration with other software/apps which I have not explored or described. If you’ve discovered something I have not mentioned, please share a comment.  Thanks!

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Replies (6)

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By jamiemcdonald
Aug 31st 2016 00:35

Hi Jody - Jamie McDonald, co-founder of Hubdoc here. Awesome overview on how Hubdoc can work for your practice. You have some really smart product insights on how we can work to eliminate silly, wasted clicks. I have asked our product lead to get in touch with you to discuss.

One correction, you can download an entire client Hubdoc to a zip file. Just go to All Documents and click the down arrow to the right of the folder. Select Download All Files and a zip file will be downloaded to your desktop with all the files in that Hubdoc account.

Thanks for taking the time to use our app and to give us the feedback on how to improve it. We love working with smart accountants and bookkeepers to drive automation and efficiency.

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Replying to jamiemcdonald:
Jody Linick
By Jody Linick
Sep 20th 2016 05:39

Hi Jamie, thanks for the tip on how to download an entire folder; very useful!

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By dan
Aug 31st 2016 19:36

Hi Jody,

Dan here - I lead product at Hubdoc. Ditto what Jamie said: excellent and thoughtful overview of what we do well and what we can get better at. Appreciate you taking the time to take us for a spin and think about how we could improve the product.

I have flagged the improvements you suggested for discussion at our next product roadmap meeting. Keep the good ideas coming!

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Replying to dan:
Jody Linick
By Jody Linick
Sep 20th 2016 05:40

Hi Dan, Thanks for your note. Always good to know that developers are listening - users truly appreciate that!

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By Ira
Dec 5th 2016 08:56

Hi Jody,
Thank you for your great article. I’ve used similar solutions - getmyinvoices.com. It fetches invoices from portals like Google Adwords or Facebook and you email. This service has reduced our man-hours and costs considerably. But my favorite feature is that it allows to scan invoices with a smartphone, just take picture of your invoice and upload it. So glad I found it!

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By Maurice
Nov 8th 2017 05:42

Great Article Jody. For us at Ledgersync it's all about accessing the client's financial data and serving up that data to the Accountant/Bookkeeper in a one stop shop portal. We truly believe that by taking the client out of the monthly equation, we can save the accountant over 50% in time and costs.

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