Sage’s move follows the acquisition of Hubdoc by Xero last year. Receipt Bank, which has built a dominant position in the professional accounting channel for this evolving software category, remains an independent organization after receiving $50m in series B backing from Insight Capital in 2017. But commentators are already asking whether Intuit is likely to go shopping for an expenses capture tool of its own.
Like Receipt Bank and Hubdoc, AutoEntry applies artificial intelligence and optical character recognition to scanned document images and smartphone photos to import transaction data into accounting ledgers.
As well as speeding up input, automation reduces mistakes associated with manual data entry. More than 3,000 accounting and bookkeeping practices use AutoEntry, serving a population of 150,000+ businesses, the company said.
Sage vice president of product – accounting Lisa Ewens told AccountingWEB that after Sage reviewed its options to build or buy such capabilities, the search narrowed down to AutoEntry: “We believe it was the best product in terms of depth of functionality and different use cases, with expenses and line-item extraction on invoices and their willingness to work with us on how we can integrate with our connected cloud products.”
With the ability to integrate with Sage’s “connected cloud” (aka desktop) products and Sage Business Cloud Accounting, AutoEntry will give users an opportunity to automate data capture immediately and take advantage of the product’s machine learning tools, which can apply rules to categorise expenses or act on particular invoice line items as they hit the accounting system.
Based in Ireland, AutoEntry had a good working relationship with Sage. As a result of the deal, AutoEntry will gain a channel to Sage’s customer base around the world. AutoEntry CEO and founder Brendan Woods highlighted the potential to integrate with products such as Sage Intacct, but emphasised that AutoEntry is not a bolt-on to any particular product.
“From the outset I was very keen that Sage was on the same page as me in understanding the value of AutoEntry as a practice solution. It’s one that only really works if it works with everything,” he told AccoutingWEB.
“We’ve always believed that if we committed to building the best product, give the best customer support, with fair and transparent pricing, everything else would fall into place. This has been our mantra and it’s not going to change now. We are here to deliver the best solution to all accountants, bookkeepers and business owners, regardless of the accounting products they may use.
“It will remain as its own product. We will make sure we strengthen what we have with Sage, but there will be no neglect of QuickBooks or Xero customers.”
Woods took a few moments to consider the rapidly changing landscape for accounting data capture. Rather than coining new terminology to describe this category of software, he said: “I just like to refer to it as automation. It’ll become a more holistic experience. You’re fetching documents and in some cases AutoEntry will post that straight through to your software. It shouldn’t feel like you’re taking big, disjointed steps. If it feels that way, I would argue that’s not a great user experience.
“There are other inputs to accounting systems like bank feeds. Your system doesn’t start with your bookkeeping software – it’s what takes you from start to finish, the output of financial reports, management accounts and compliance and tax tools. That is your whole system. Don’t think of [the system] as individual products, because if you do, you aren’t using them properly.”
AccountingWEB's Head of Insight has been with the site since 1999 and likes to spend his time studying accountants’ technology habits. When not nerding out, you can find him exploring obscure indie music and searching for the perfect organic sourdough loaf from his base in Brighton, UK.