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App Watch on Avalara, LivePlan and FreshBooks

Sep 20th 2016
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The non-advertiser supported or endorsed accounting application vendor column is Back! This week we’re going to take a look at Avalara’s new national bookkeeper association relationship; features from LivePlan; and a makeover from FreshBooks.

As ever, we’ll also add in our own two cents about what we believe is important about the aforementioned news and what it could potentially mean to you, the accounting professional.

So let’s go…

News: Avalara Partners with ICBUSA

Cloud-based tax compliance company Avalara is now in a partnership with ICBUSA, the U.S. affiliate of the ICBGlobal, the largest membership organization of bookkeepers in the world.

As part of the new relationship, ICBUSA members now have access to Avalara’s resources for bookkeeping and other accounting professionals, including: a repository of sales tax-specific white papers, articles, training videos, and more; products and services designed for bookkeepers to use in serving clients’ sales tax management needs, and in building their practice; a directory of state and local tax experts by region; discounts on Avalara products and services; and the ability to interact with other accounting, sales tax professionals and Avalara experts online through Avalara’s community forum.

Views: Much like third-party add-on relationships with core accounting and bookkeeping products, linking up with national and international industry organizations has also become a key component for growth and significance in the world of accounting technology. Of note, Intuit and Xero have respective partnerships with the ICB and now Avalara, which has been working with accountants and bookkeepers on its own, has moved itself forward. Now, do all bookkeepers deal with tax issues? No, they don’t but that doesn’t mean this relationship is invaluable, far from it. Avalara wants to showcase the amount of resources it does have for bookkeepers and how they can better serve their own clients by helping them with state and local tax issues, among other things. The name of the game for all accountants and bookkeepers these days is service and the value of that service and this deal appears to fit right in with that trend.

News: New Forecasting Features Added to LivePlan

Palo Alto Software, makers of LivePlan small business planning and financial management software, have added “What If” scenario forecasting features to the flagship product, among other additions. LivePlan now also has seven additional metrics to its Benchmarking feature. The new Benchmarks are designed to allow users to compare productivity metrics like monthly revenue per employee, monthly net profit per employee, as well as spending metrics like percentage of revenue spent on marketing, to similar businesses within a user's industry. Small business owners can create a strategic forecast, iterate on that forecast with “What If” scenarios, and then see how their financials stack up against industry standards.

Views: So while LivePlan is geared towards giving small business owners more insight into areas of their business that need the most improvement, the underlying theme here is that accounting professionals that work with these clients also have a key role to play in their clients’ success. These days, having the right metrics, benchmarking tools…what have you, are going to be the difference-maker in the value you add to the relationship with your clients. This isn’t to say LivePlan is for every accountant or business, but in general any tool that is going to give you and your business clients greater insights into their own financial and strategic decision making can’t be a bad thing, can it?

News: FreshBooks Releases Redesigned Product

Cloud-based invoicing and expensing solution FreshBooks has released a redesign, specifically with self-employed professionals and their teams in mind. The new FreshBooks features include reimagined invoice creation with options for customization, due dates, and the ability to communicate with clients directly on an invoice; project management, with a single place to share files and communicate with clients; the ability to manage multiple businesses; and redesigned mobile apps for iOS and Android.

FreshBooks is also expanding its ecosystem of integrations to cover a broader range of complementary products, and is proud to have the support of key companies at launch such as Google Apps, GoDaddy and Apple.

Views: As part of its own admission and promotion, “unlike competing products, the new FreshBooks was designed for business owners, not accountants, ensuring the product is so easy to use that self-employed professionals can run their businesses without ever having to learn accounting.” Now, does this mean it is of no importance to you, the accounting professional? Absolutely not. After all, who is checking those books at the end of the month? Who is ensuring data was entered correctly? Who is ultimately advising your self-employed clients on what tools they should use to better run their books and their business as a whole? Case rested.

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