Editorial Manager/US Team Lead
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App Watch on Xero, Intuit and Bill.com

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Jul 12th 2016
Editorial Manager/US Team Lead
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We’re back with another gripping episode of App Watch, the column that shines a spotlight on recent noteworthy happenings in the accounting-related application or service provider world.

This week we have some fairly familiar faces in the Watch as we take a look at a Xero/Microsoft BI integration; improvements to QuickBooks Online; and Bill.com’s bookkeeper program. For those of you unfamiliar with what this column is all about, or simply need a refresher, this is not a paid or otherwise endorsement or formal review of these products and services. It is rather a snapshot of what’s new from them and a bit of insight into what – if anything – it could mean to you, the accounting professional and possibly your clients.

If there are no further questions or comments (and, realistically if there are, please post them below as we do welcome them) let’s dive into what’s happening:

News: Xero Releases Content Pack for Microsoft Power BI

​Xero has released a content pack integration with Microsoft Power BI, which is designed to deliver access to analyze small business data, based on 25 pre-built tiles that surface insights so small businesses and their advisors can make decisions. The Xero content pack serves up key performance indicators like relevant revenue vs. expenses, profit/loss trends, debtor days and return on investment in interactive dashboards. Businesses and advisors can also drill down into specific business metrics like cash position and automatically generate insights. In addition, integrations with Power BI and Office 365 allow users to easily view their Xero data alongside other critical business data, including Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Mailchimp, Insightly, Google Analytics, Zendesk and Stripe.

Views: So whenever the words “big data” or even “business intelligence” crop up, you get two basic reactions from both small businesses and the accountants that advise them: excitement or disillusionment. The fact is, for any accountant looking to actually engage their clients on advisory basis, you need data and you need to be able to understand it, as well as help your client make sense of it. Dashboards are a great start, so is the use of KPIs. Beyond that, you really do want your accounting system to be able to help with the task of showing what really matters to a business, or enough so you can better advise them. At its core, that’s what this integration deal is all about. The more any accounting system, especially at a small business level, can do more than financials and invoice payment and tracking, the more valuable and useful it becomes.

News: Intuit Issues Several Updates to QBO

Intuit has issued its latest enhancements for QuickBooks Online, which include upgrades to inventory tracking, banking features, and how the product handles attachments. Users can now easily see inventory quantity available as they’re entering sales forms, allowing them to see exactly how much stock is on hand as they fill out sales forms. For banking, users have the ability to create rules that automatically accept bank feed transactions into QuickBooks. And now, aside from invoices and expense transactions, users can attach files to customer and vendors to keep track of important financial information. Examples of attachments include 1099 documents, photos, receipts, and contracts.

Views: I’ll be honest, there’s not a ton to say here other that it appears Intuit is following through on the promise for QBO, in that they are making suggested improvements on a monthly or at least in a more timely basis than the desktop product. These latest features are all ones that I’m fairly certain will be welcome by accountants and clients alike, particularly on the banking side. One of the features, at least when it comes to QuickBooks Online Accountant, that I believe is still missing is the batch process issue with QBOA. This is something that they can do in QB desktop and not in QBOA, as of yet.

News: Bill.com Launches New Bookkeeping Accelerator Program 

Business payment platform Bill.com now has a Bookkeeping Accelerator Program, which is open to all Bill.com Accountant Program members. The Program is designed to share best practices, tips and practical advice to help bookkeeping firms enhance productivity, internal controls and client accountability while accelerating the growth of their practice. Judie McCarthy, president of Think Leader Consulting Inc., created and will lead the educational programming which includes webinars and hands-on consulting. The educational content includes monthly webinars such as exploring a deep dive into how to customize Bill.com for maximum efficiency and internal controls, as well as an in-depth look at how to use Bill.com to simplify and automate the receivables process. There will also be Growth Accelerator Consulting Sessions for qualified firms that will examine current client service activities and explore how and where Bill.com can make the biggest impact.

Views: There have been more rumblings of late about bookkeeper outreach and enhancement and it’s interesting the vendor/service-provider community is getting involved. Overall the movement in the bookkeeper community is that they need to undergo a rebrand as many businesses and even other accountants don’t necessarily have the right impression of what they are or do. Perhaps this comes from lack of certification or just good old fashioned positive PR, but we all know that not all bookkeepers are accountants and not all accountants do bookkeeping. The fact that you now have specific programs or partnerships geared towards bookkeepers – most recently from Bill.com and Intuit (via their ICB partnership) could help put a more positive spotlight on them or, at the least, offer some learning or other benefits for their practices. Realistically, in the accounting profession, any time a vendor makes moves to be more of a partner to the industry rather than a technology company is a good thing.

These are just my brief thoughts on the recent goings on in the vendor community, but as ever we would offer limited value if we did not hear from you so, let’s keep the conversation going. Until next time!

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