I use Intuit Payments as my merchant services provider, and I only accept ACH from my clients. For those on fixed fee monthly billing with a signed payment authorization form, I have QuickBooks Online (QBO) set up to a) create their invoice and send it, b) charge the ACH account on file, and c) receive the payment and make the deposit.
All those steps are “hands free” – QBO does the work for me, which I think is awesome. Less awesome is how long it takes for me to receive my money from Intuit. I’ve had several months over the past year where my invoices went out on the first of the month, but the funds were not received in my bank account until the 10th of the month. That’s too long a wait for my taste, so I decided to look at some of the third party Accounts Receivable apps, and I selected Invoice Sherpa as a good looking app to test. Spoiler alert: the results are mixed.
Here’s How it Works
- You create an Invoice Sherpa account; a free trial is available. If you are a bookkeeper/accountant, you can sign up for a free account with a client Dashboard.
- Setup your company info and add your logo.
- Enable payment processing. This involves setting up a merchant services account with their preferred provider, Global One.
- Connect your accounting software (QBO, Xero, etc.).
- Start configuring payment reminder parameters and email messages content.
- Your account starts in Pause mode until you have verified all your settings, after which you switch it to Active mode.
- Create your invoices in QBO. They then sync to Invoice Sherpa, which takes over the A/R functionality, such as when to process payment for authorized customers, the ability to manually process payments, and the automated sending of past due reminders.
Note: Invoice Sherpa also offers an Accounts Payable feature, which I will not be discussing in this article.
You can schedule a demo and an implementation call with an account manager. My experience with my account manager was spotty. Sometimes she replied to email inquiries same-day; other times, it took her 24-48 hours to respond, and some emails received no response. The support team appears to be much more responsive.
My setup experience was less than stellar. I started working on it around February 25th, hoping I could use Invoice Sherpa to process invoices on March 1st, but it was a no can do situation. I had to submit a credit application to Global One (that part only took a few minutes), but then Global One had to perform a credit check, and my credit report is locked at all 3 credit reporting agencies due to stolen Social Security number episode several years back. So I had to temporarily lift the credit freeze before Global One could process my application. This whole process took more than 5 days, so I was unable to use Invoice Sherpa the first month. I assume the acceptance process will work more quickly for most applicants.
Next, I had an implementation phone call with my account manager, who walked me through the settings options, all the while asking me pertinent questions about my invoicing process. At the end of that call, we kept my account in Pause mode until my Global One account was approved. However, due to various delays (described below), I did not Activate my account until April. By that time, I had forgotten most of what my account manager had taught me during the implementation. I used Invoice Sherpa for the first time with my April 30 and May 1 invoice batches.
Things I Like
- Payments for the invoices I sent on May 1 arrived in my bank on May 4. That is much faster than Intuit Payments!
- Series of A/R reminders: I like the ability to customize by client when reminders will be sent, and how they are worded.
- One click payment processing: For my few clients who are still on hourly billing, their invoice amount varies each month, but I still have a signed ACH authorization form for payment. I can launch Invoice Sherpa and in one click tell the system to process an ACH payment for their most recent invoice.
Things I'm Not Crazy About
- Customer List Import: The initial sync with QBO pulled over all my Customers, including Inactive ones I have not worked with for years. For some strange reason, it also pulled in several Vendors. I had to work with Support to provide a list of the Inactive Customers and Vendors I wanted removed, which took over a week to straighten out. Today when I look at my Customer list, I see some of the Vendors we removed are back, so the developers clearly have more work to do in this area.
- Customer List: The list itself can be sorted A-Z, or Z-A, but only by First Name. There is no option to display by Company Name, which is how I prefer to view my client list. I would like to see more sort choices. I also noticed that some of the emails to my customers are going to Last Name in the Invoice Sherpa-generated emails (“Dear Smith, your invoice is attached”), which seems to be another glitch.
- Recurring Payments Setup: This process is cumbersome. To add a recurring payment Customer, you literally have to type in all the Customer information manually – it is not available from the Customer data which resides elsewhere in the program. And if you need to Edit an existing recurring payment, you have to start completely from scratch – there is no way to change just one element of the data (like correcting any typos made during the manual entry). I would like to see future releases allow you to select existing Customers from a drop-down, so that all I have to add is the ACH or credit card data.
- What’s more, when I selected the ACH “Add” button, the button was not working, even after logging out/logging back in, and trying a different browser. I submitted a support ticket, and the issue took over a week for the developers to resolve.
- Payments: All my payments arrived in my Checking register as separate payments, and are not grouped into a batch to match my bank statement, which makes bank reconciliation a bear. I looked, and this was a setting error on my part – now all payments will go into Undeposited Funds, and I can group them to match the batches. This is an important choice, which I feel should have been brought to my attention during the implementation setup.
- Support Center Portal: Something is seriously messed up with the Help links. The top of the page has a lovely “Help Me With Invoice Sherpa ” button, which seems to be context-sensitive depending upon what page you are on. Clicking the button creates a pop-up with some links, one of which reads, “Visit our help center for more answers.” That link takes you to a support center database powered by Freshdesk, which leaves the Invoice Sherpa page you are on, instead of opening in a new tab (I wish they would fix that). The support center page has a Login link which doesn’t accept your Invoice Sherpa login credentials, and when I try to create login credentials with my email address, it says that “email has already been taken.” So it is a big frustrating loop. I can still access overviews and videos, but I see no way to check the status of my support cases, or view closed cases. I hope the Support portal experience can be improved in future releases.
- Since I had problems with the portal, I called the toll free Customer Service number. The system informed me all reps are busy, and I was directed to leave a voicemail and wait for a return call. My call was returned in under 2 hours, which is reasonable.
First Batch of Invoices
The first batch which went out had mixed results. The invoices for which I had recurring payments set up worked well. QBO sent the invoices, Invoice Sherpa processed the payments, and I received a “Payment Received” email from Invoice Sherpa and another one from Global Pay, so two emails per invoice. What I did not receive was a copy of each invoice which went out. I thought this was a settings error on my part, but when I asked Support about it, they said they had a known problem with the invoice copies not being sent, which they have subsequently fixed. This particular problem created more work for me: since I am the bookkeeper for all my clients, I need to enter my own Invoices into each of my client’s books as a Bill, and then save a copy of each Bill with their permanent records. My clients received a .pdf attachment of their Bill, but since I did not, I had to return to my own QBO file and manually download .pdfs of each Invoice sent, which meant more time spent on my part.
I had another glitch with one of my clients who closed her business checking account on April 30. Invoice Sherpa processed this client’s ACH for 2 separate invoices (one dated April 30, one dated May 1), marked the invoices as Paid in QBO, and added the dollars to the total batch for the day. Global Pay then ‘realized’ the account was closed, and debited the same amount from my business checking account, to reimburse themselves – totally reasonable. Since the Invoices remained marked as Paid in QBO, I had to manually delete the payments in QBO, then manually sync the file to Invoice Sherpa, so they would be marked as Unpaid there as well, at which point I could manually click a button to process payment. Bottom line: the manual sync worked for one invoice, but not the other (who knows why?), so I had to contact Support for them to fix it. More lost time on my part.
Global Pay seems to be new to the merchant services business. It is a separate website which you login to, to view your batch data. I had trouble reconciling my batch totals due to the returned ACH payments noted above. When I spoke to a Global Pay support rep, he could not figure out the reports either. Plus their website has no way to filter batch data by day, by week, etc. They have a lot of work to do on their end to make the reporting section acceptable.
When I sent a list of questions to my account manager regarding questions I had about fixed fee clients who pay manually, fixed fee clients who pay via ACH, hourly clients who pay manually, and hourly clients who pay via ACH, she seemed overhwhelmed by the questions, and basically never responded. I still have some questions about how it all works, as the system is still new to me.
I manually created a few invoices in QBO mid-month, but did not send them right away. This seemed to confuse Invoice Sherpa, such that when I did send the invoices, they went to the client without a payment link, and I had to call Support to straighten it out. More time spent, well, you get the picture.
As you can see, there are more things I’m not crazy about than I like with this app; mostly I like that I received my funds twice as fast compared to Intuit Payments. Based on my experiences, I would have guessed this product is less than 12 months old, but I’m told that it has been around longer. I will give it one more try to see if my next batch of invoices runs more smoothly. I often wonder if I’m the only user who experiences these problems, or if I’m just the only user who complains about them? Bottom line: Invoice Sherpa offers some nice features not available in QBO for A/R automation, but the product would benefit from improvements to the user experience, and fixes of troublesome glitches.
Jody Linick is an AIPB Certified Bookkeeper and a QuickBooks® Certified Pro Advisor. Her company, FitBooks Pro (formerly called Linick Consulting), specializes in remote bookkeeping services using hosted QuickBooks and QuickBooks Online. You can find her series of Blog posts here.