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How to Use Integrations to Enhance Your Tech Stack

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We've talked about how to get the right product when you need new tech, but what if you just want to enhance the tech stack you currently have rather than scrapping it entirely? Sharrin Fuller of Glass Wallet talks about how she makes decisions and uses integrations and plug-ins to run her firm more effectively and make her life easier.

Aug 11th 2022
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I probably don’t have to explain the panic that ensues when you realize that you may have "outgrown" your accounting software. The time and effort we as accounting professionals have invested in these platforms cannot be weighed or measured. They're basically the core of our accounting lives. When I am at a conference perusing the vendor area and see a new accounting platform pop up, it gives me anxiety. Thankfully, our clients trust us implicitly and will use whatever we prefer/recommend instead of always wanting to hop to the newest and greatest option on the market, regardless of whether we use it or not. 

That being said, from time to time, we do have clients or needs that just seem to outweigh the capability of our software. For me, I know that receivables and inventory are always huge issues with client growth. While our software boasts that it can handle all the robust tasks we require, as the end user, we know it doesn't hold up.

So, what do we do in these situations?

There are a few options to consider. Maybe you move the client to a more robust platform, like Netsuite. In my opinion, however, unless you are a large corporation and have several people to run the software, it's best to stick with your start-up software (ie- QBO, Xero) for as long as possible and utilize plug-ins and integrations rather than making wholesale changes. 

We are in a day and age where companies have learned to play nice (for the most part), at least in the fintech space. They have realized that they are stronger together and don’t need to be built to stand alone. Quickbooks and Xero are a main connector to new outside platforms. Even though QBO offers inventory, it will still integrate with and speak to other inventory software. Because of this, we are not limited to the functionality of our accounting platforms. We can now find something we enjoy working with and just connect it. 

A few of my favorite connectors are Payables, Payroll and Payment Processing. This isn't to say there's anything wrong with the billpay function of QBO, I just rely on the approval process and the OCR that payable systems offer. The approval process really takes away the liability of paying something we should not have for a client. When you are full service, you typically handle these types of tasks and want to be sure that you are covered on all ends. The OCR functions of the payable systems just keep getting better, to the point where I don't even have to manually enter any information at all, just approve it. It will also read the due date and set to itself to "pay" by that date automatically if you want it to. The, the data just is just recorded straight into QBO. No double entry, just accurate records. Payables used to be a source of annoyance and you needed an entire person to handle them, but that's not the case now.

Another connector that I enjoy is my payment processing program. We try to utilize software that has more than one function when at all possible, if it makes sense. Sometimes, there are three separate platforms that are amazing in comparison to one platform that performs all three functions. That is usually a matter of personal opinion and has a lot to do with specific needs and UI (user interface) preferences. Our payment processing software is also where our proposals and engagements are created. When someone signs a new client engagement, they also enter their payment info and we set it up as a recurring payment for the upcoming term. This software then integrates into QBO and updates my AR. The "invoicing" is now a one and done for the next 12 months. At the end of the month, I just check to be sure all of my payments were captured and my AR in my platform is at $0. Then, I compare it to the AR report in my QBO. Unless we invoice something manually as a one-time fee, they always match. Now, there's no need to hire an employee just for AR!

Even in this day and age of technology and automation, these plug-ins and integrations can be overwhelming for some. There are so many options out there. It is important to get demos & take advantage of trial periods. If you are a DIYer, then it’s likely you will want to set this up all on your own. If that’s not your cup of tea, there are companies out there that specialize in making sure your integrations completely flow. It is typically a one-time setup, but then you always have them there as support if something stops working or you want to add in another platform. These companies are usually well versed with Zapier as well, so just because there is not an obvious connection to your software, does not mean that one cannot be created. Zapier is a gift from the fintech gods. 

My advice-: Know what you are looking for. What are you spending the most time on? What do you dread the most? Get rid of that first by finding a better solution, one that will likely have some sort of automation attached to it. Then, start sniffing around for the solution that fits best with your needs. Tackle one new plug in at a time. Eventually, we will all get to the point where robots will handle everything and we just get to watch Netflix until it is time to review our work.

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