As the marketplace of QuickBooks add-ons continues to grow, the quantity and quality of independent developers is blossoming. Not only do we see new products coming to market each month, but several products are now in their third, fourth or even fifth version. Many of these products are also hooking to QuickBooks competitors, as well.
The success of the QuickBooks “ecosystem” is benefiting everyone from small business owners, to accountants and consul tants, to software companies, and Intuit. Each of these stakeholders is benefiting by the increased breadth and depth of the solutions, and by the fact that both risks and profits are shared by millions of companies who participate in the ecosystem. The future looks bright for continued growth even as we see huge technology changes on the horizon. With the explosive growth of the online world, and with the Windows Vista conversion, software companies are racing to both “webify” their applications and upgrade them for Vista compatibility.
At The Sleeter Group, we continually study the marketplace of add-on solutions. And for several years now, we’ve spotlighted those best-of-breed products that we refer to as “awesome add-ons.” Before awarding the “awesome” label, we dig deeply into each product to ask all the hard questions we think consultants and business owners will eventually ask.
In order to qualify for our list, the product and/or service must be developed and sold by a company with a reputation for outstanding customer support, and the product must have the following attributes:
- Show superior design, implementation and features;
- Integrate with QuickBooks using best practices of the QuickBooks SDK programming guidelines;
- Use appropriate transaction types and field population for recording data into QuickBooks so as to preserve and/or enhance the standard reporting features in QuickBooks; and
- Conform to good accounting principles and operating standards.
Acctivate! – Advanced Inventory & Distribution Management
Pricing: $2,995 for 3 users for base system. Add-on modules range from $795 to $895 per module.
Target Customers: Acctivate! is targeted to wholesalers, distributors and light-assembly companies with complex inventory management requirements.
Acctivate! provides comprehensive tools for managing inventory-intensive businesses that are happy with QuickBooks, but need better control of purchasing, selling, inventory control, and customer relationship management. This all-in-one system is for wholesalers, distributors and light-assembly companies that handle large data sets with thousands of items in inventory, thousands of customers, and multiple locations. The product is very mature, owing to the company’s 25-year history of working with customers to perfect its system. Based on Microsoft’s SQL server, it is scalable for the growing company. The product integrates well with QuickBooks and completely takes over the inventory management, purchasing, sales, invoicing and vendor bills. It uses QuickBooks for all of the general ledger, payroll, bill paying, and banking functions.
Acctivate! provides shopping cart integration; EDI (electronic data interchange between trading partners); CRM; location management; serialized inventory; lot numbering; shipping modules that interface to UPS, FedEx, etc.; scheduling; service billing; and credit card integration with the QuickBooks Merchant Account Solutions. In addition to the LAN-based software, Acctivate! has Windows Mobile Applications for Order Management, Warehouse Management and Route Management.
Adagio FX – Professional Financial Statements and Data Analysis tools
Softrak Systems, Inc
Pricing: $199 for Standard edition; $475 for Pro edition
Target Customers: Adagio FX is a tool for accountants who need to present professional financial statements.
The next third-year winner is Adagio FX from Softrak Systems. This financial statement design and presentation tool is truly awesome. Unlike most generic report writing tools, Adagio FX “understands” how financial statements should be formatted, plus it allows accountants to customize reports in just about any way imaginable.
Adagio FX integrates directly with QuickBooks and several other accounting software products. It provides flexible tools that allow you to create presentable financial statements and detailed analysis reports based on the underlying general ledger data. The tool provides all the power and flexibility of a spreadsheet to create whatever format is needed for presentation. You can easily change titles, column data, date range and level of detail. Rows and columns can be marked “hide when printed” to store comments or notes to the statements. You can drilldown from an amount in the statement all the way to the posted transaction detail to confirm entries. You can also export your completed statements to Excel. Adagio FX supports Adagio Ledger, QuickBooks, Accpac and Simply Accounting.
BillQuick – Time and Billing Done Right
Pricing: Desktop: $495 for 2 users (Basic) & $895 for 5 users (Pro); Web Suite Pro: $675 for 5 users
Target Customers: BillQuick is good for professional service companies that track time and expenses and bill for their services in a variety of ways: hourly, fixed, percentage complete, recurring, etc. It is most appropriate for architects, engineers, accounting professionals, consultants and attorneys.
A three-time winner of the “Awesome” label is BillQuick from BQE Software. I have studied this company for several years now, and, in my opinion, BQE is a perfect example of what success means in the small business accounting marketplace. By focusing on top-quality product development, sales, marketing and support, BQE has become one of the leaders in the market. Not only do they push the technology envelope, they have developed a high-class, customer-focused company, and they invest heavily in research and development efforts to ensure their long-term success.
The BillQuick Family of Time and Billing software is the most comprehensive set of time and billing tools on the market today. From BillQuick Lite, to the BillQuick Desktop version, to BillQuick Mobile, to the BillQuick Web Suite, this product line can handle virtually every aspect of the time and billing function. All of the products work together so you can mix and match the tools to work with any organizational structure.
Features include appointment scheduling integrated with Outlook, project management, time tracking, job costing, web-based time entry, retainer tracking, electronic and paper-based invoicing, flexible reporting and analysis, and complete, smartly designed integration with QuickBooks. This product is simply the best choice for professionals. BillQuick integrates with Quick Books, Microsoft Office Accounting, Microsoft Outlook, Peachtree, and MYOB. It is also compatible with Windows Vista.
Cabinet NG – CNG Books – Automated Electronic Document Management
Cabinet NG, Inc.
Pricing: $995 per user
Target Customers: Cabinet NG’s products are targeted to small to mid-sized businesses that desire a comprehensive paperless document storage and retrieval system.
CNG-Books is a fantastic paperless document management solution for larger clients, as well as for accounting firms that provide outsourced accounting services. This product streamlines QuickBooks data entry by providing a single point of entry interface that allows you to enter Quick Books transaction data and file the scanned document image simultaneously. CNG-Books stores electronic versions of vendor bills, customer payments, and credit card receipts in a wide variety of formats, including PDF, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, text, and several scanned image formats. CNG- Books also links electronic documents to existing transactions and vendor or customer records. This allows instant access to supporting documents directly from within QuickBooks.
This product is especially suited for clients who want to improve the efficiency of data entry in high-volume transaction environments.
Fishbowl Inventory – Inventory Solutions for Wholesalers, Distributors, & Light Manufacturers
Pricing: $1,795 single user, $5,795 5-user
Target Customers: Fishbowl is targeted to companies with inventory needs that are not met by QuickBooks alone, including mid-range distributors, wholesalers and small manufacturing firms.
Fishbowl continues to impress us in nearly every area. They’ve built a substantial company with dedicated development, support, marketing and sales, and they’ve continued to improve their product. This year, Fishbowl and The Sleeter Group teamed up to develop a VAR channel to provide professional, localized sales and support for their growing customer base. We did this because we see that Fishbowl takes the entire business process design and implementation into account when designing solutions, and they’ve consistently delivered great solutions for their customers.
Fishbowl Inventory is a comprehen sive inventory solution that integrates tightly with QuickBooks. It takes over the entire item-level inventory process so customers no longer have the constraints of the QuickBooks item list. Inventory-intensive companies need much more tracking capabilities than can be achieved with the Quick Books item list. However, even though Fishbowl takes over the entire inventory tracking process, it synchronizes all financial transactions with QuickBooks so that the accounting reports are kept current as business transactions occur.
The new version 5, released in July 2007, supports FIFO, LIFO and Standard Costing methods in addition to average cost. These new valuation methods resolved some very important functions for some customers. In addition, Fishbowl supports multiple locations, provides serialized inventory, lot tracking, revision levels, and expiration date tracking. The program provides extensive bill of materials definitions, unit of measure conversions, and complete purchase and sales order management.
InsynQ (e-Accounting) CPAASP
InsynQ Online Accounting Solutions
Pricing: Entry-level QuickBooks hosting is $54.95 per user per month. Advanced application hosting service starts at $64.95 per user per month. Custom hosting environments start at $399 per month for 10 users.
Target Customers: InsynQ e-Accounting services are targeted to accounting professionals and their clients who wish to have secure remote access to business applications and data.
InsynQ paved the road to adoption of online accounting applications by being one of the first Application Service Providers (ASPs). The company has been offering hosted accounting and business applications for over 10 years and is one of only two companies licensed by Intuit to host QuickBooks. InsynQ offers application hosting for all QuickBooks versions, including Pro, Premier and Enterprise edition. In addition, InsynQ is also licensed to host Microsoft products, ACT! from Sage, and a number of other applications.
Features of the Virtual Desktop service include the ability to have a variety of applications hosted, providing the integration and functionality you get when running those applications in a native Windows environment. Accountants, bookkeepers and their clients are all able to work online simultaneously, whether they run Windows, Linux or Mac OS. InsynQ offers a broad range of hosting services for accounting, productivity, time & billing, tax preparation, messaging, document management, and other line-of-business and specialty applications. Optional services include e-mail filtering and virus scanning, data encryption solutions, and Internet-based file sharing and backup.
Legrand CRM 5.0 – Customer Relationship Management for Small Businesses
Pricing: $490 single user, down to $370 per user for multi-user bundles
Target Customers: Legrand CRM is for small businesses that need to track their customer activities.
Every business has employees who are con stantly in touch with prospects, customers, vendors and partners. And if the employees work smart, they keep a database of the contacts. The problem is that most small businesses use simple tools like Outlook or some thing similar, and each employee keeps his or her own contacts separately from all the other employees with no sharing of data across the organization. So a common question any employee might have is this: “When was the last time anyone in our company dealt with this customer, and what was it about?” And of course, that’s hard to answer when each employee has his or her own notes in their own database. Legrand solves this problem well, and it provides hundreds of features that are great for QuickBooks users.
Legrand CRM is intended to be the central repository for all customer data, not just names and addresses. You can track phone calls, meetings, notes, documents, e-mails, sales opportunities, marketing campaigns, customer service jobs and sales histories. Nearly every customer contact or activity can be tracked in Legrand CRM and shared with every member of the team. In addition, Legrand CRM includes group calendaring/scheduling, Outlook integration, automated processing of website leads, Vista compliance and tight two- way integration with QuickBooks (Pro, Premier or Enterprise Edition - 2003 or higher). The bi-directional transfer of information between QuickBooks and Legrand CRM eliminates double-entry and provides real-time access to a customer’s key financial summaries. Most importantly, this occurs while preventing non-authorized users from gaining direct access to sensitive accounting information.
MISys Small Business Manufacturing (SBM) Software
Pricing: $1,500 and up, depending on modules purchased. Yearly maintenance fees apply.
Target Customers: MISys SBM is a manufacturing inventory control system designed to fit the needs of small to medium-sized manufacturing firms.
MISys SBM consists of several modules, including Basic Inventory Control (with multi-level bills of material and revision control); Advanced Purchasing; Advanced Production; Bin Tracking; and Material Requirement Planning (MRP). MISys SBM is a complete, rules-based system with shop floor control, serial/lot tracking, bar-coding, and master production scheduling. In addition to providing all of the needed inventory valuation methods (LIFO, FIFO, Average Cost, Standard Costing), the system includes all the features most small to medium-sized manufacturers will need.
The most significant feature is the MRP module, which allows creation of a “master production schedule” with built-in alerts and forward-looking planning for purchasing and production. This tool allows even small manufacturers to manage“just-in-time (JIT)” material procurement and automate purchasing and production schedules.
MISys SBM has extensive integration with QuickBooks. It automatically updates QuickBooks inventory, vendor bills, and sales transactions as
material is purchased, received, manufactured and sold.
PayCycle – Online Payroll Service
Pricing: $24.99 to $42.99/month direct to end users; accountant’s pay $14.99 per client (first 5 employees).
Target Customers: PayCycle is targeted to accountants who need a back-office solution for their payroll services, and to business owners who want a powerful, low-cost online payroll solution.
Founded in 1999, PayCycle was one of the pioneer companies in the online applications business. With eight years of continual product improvement, PayCycle has become the price/value leader in the online payroll services market.
In addition to providing a complete payroll solution for employers who want to do their own payroll using an online solution, PayCycle also provides accountants with a branded service that allows them to act as the payroll service provider for their clients.
This impressive online payroll solution includes everything you need to automatically manage client payroll, from paychecks to W-2s, for an all-inclusive price of $14.99 per client (first 5 employees) per month.
The company has more than 50,000 customers and is well-known in the industry for making client payroll easy and profitable for accounting professionals. In addition to selling payroll services directly to small businesses, PayCycle provides back-end services that allow accountants to provide web-based branded payroll service solutions. PayCycle also sells it offering online through other reseller channels including financial services firms. Pay Cycle integrates with QuickBooks (using *.IIF importing) and QuickBooks Online Edition.
PDG Software, Inc.
Pricing: $999 lifetime license for v4; not hosted; no monthly fees.
Target Customers: PDG Commerce is an e-commerce software solution for larger enterprise e-commerce merchants.
A good web storefront solution must provide easy-to-use, flexible design tools; robust integration with the accounting; and a full range of features for marketing, merchandising, credit card handling, security, shipping and inventory control. PDG Commerce scores high on all these areas and more. Not only does it provide the most complete feature set we’ve seen for QuickBooks- integrated web stores, it is also one of the most affordable shopping cart solutions on the market.
For $999, you get a lifetime software license, free installation, access to all minor version upgrades, full documentation, access to PDG online forums, and 90 days of premium support.
To quickly design the look and feel of your web storefront, you can customize HTML templates provided with the software or you can design your own templates from scratch. To synchronize your QuickBooks (or QuickBooks Point of Sale) items with your web storefront, PDG Commerce uses the QuickBooks Web Connector to import the entire QuickBooks item list, allowing you to specify which products are available for purchase online. As sales transactions occur online, the Web Connector enters sales directly into QuickBooks and updates the web store with any new items that have been added to QuickBooks. Product images are stored locally in a specified folder, and uploaded as new items are added. This real-time QuickBooks synchronization is exactly the kind of solution consultants want when helping their clients integrate their in-store operation with an online web store.
PDG Commerce also integrates with MYOB. It supports over 15 payment gateways for real-time payment processing. The product handles gift
certificates, discount coupon codes, multiple shipping locations, UPS and USPS labeling, UPS Worldship integration, affiliate tracking, digital delivery (downloadable products), and several security features to ensure protection of customer data.
QuickBooks Point of Sale
Pricing: $799.95 Basic, $1,049.95 Pro, $1,399.95 Multi-store
Target Customers: QuickBooks Point of Sale is best for small retail stores that use QuickBooks to manage their finances.
Everyone knows that cash registers are mission critical for retailers. But until recently, most small businesses could not afford the costs of implementing a full Point of Sale (POS) system that provides real-time inventory management and integration with the rest of the business operation. So most small retailers have been getting by with simple electronic cash registers that simply ring up sales and provide a daily z-report that must be manually entered into the accounting system. This lack of integration can be a huge problem for even the small retailer. Consider the task of tracking inventory in a typical small sporting goods or clothing store.
Even small stores can have 10,000 or more items in stock, all that need to be ordered, received, priced, labeled, put on sale, rung up at the cash register, and finally reordered again. Tracking inventory in these small stores without a real-time inventory system is the most time-consuming task for the business. And of course, having too much or too little inventory is extremely costly.
Intuit has been working on this problem for several years now with QuickBooks Point of Sale (QBPOS), and version 7 is definitely an Awesome QuickBooks Add-on. QBPOS has a real-time, departmentalized inventory management (multi-store available), merchandising tools, pricing and margin management tools, reports, and superior integration with QuickBooks Financial software.
The product is sold as software-only, or with an optional hardware bundle that includes the cash drawer, receipt printer, bar- code scanner and credit card reader.
Over 75,000 customers use QBPOS, and there are hundreds of consultants in the field who focus entirely on selling, installing and supporting the product.
TrueCommerce Transaction Manager – EDI Integration for QuickBooks
Pricing: $795 and up
Target Customers: TrueCommerce Transaction Manager is for businesses that need to use Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) for purchasing and invoicing with their business trading partners.
EDI is a set of ANSI standards for sending and receiving elec tronic financial transactions. It is an entrenched technology, known for being costly and complicated for a small business to set up and administer. Many larger companies such as Wal-Mart require their suppliers to accept EDI purchase orders and other transactions, so this requirement leaves the small business suppliers no choice in the matter. They must implement an EDI solution or forego many business opportunities. TrueCommerce set out to simplify and cost reduce the EDI process for small business owners (most of whom use QuickBooks), and they’ve hit a home run with Transaction Manager.
Transaction Manager enables the sending and receiving of EDI transactions with a trading partner via an electronic private gateway (TC.Net). Transactions travel electronically between partners and are processed with an e-mail-like software product on a local PC. Transaction Manager translates incoming EDI transactions into a traditional purchase order format. The purchase order may be viewed on-screen, printed to paper, and/or exported to the user’s accounting system where it creates a Sales Order to be fulfilled. When invoices are created in the accounting system, Transaction Manager can translate those invoices into EDI transactions, which are sent electronically to the trading partner.
TrueCommerce integrates with QuickBooks, Fishbowl Inventory, Acctivate, Peachtree, MAS 90/200/500, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Micro soft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics SL, and SAP Business One.
UniResMan – Hospitality Industry Reservation Systems
Pricing: $100 to $400 per room, depending on modules added.
Target Customers: Small hotels, resorts, motels, villas, and apartments with between 20 and 300 rooms.
Another first-year winner is the UniResMan product, which focuses on the hotel industry. It might seem at first that this is a small niche market, but the hospitalityindustry is quite large and growing steadily. The smaller hotels and motels often use QuickBooks, but until UniResMan entered the market, there was no integrated software solution for running the reservations and booking (front office) part of the hotel.
UniResMan is a full-featured Hotel Property Management System. UniResMan manages all res ervation scheduling, deposits, check-ins, check-outs, guest folios, payments, housekeeping, maintenance and reporting. It handles multiple properties and links to CRM systems to track repeat guests. The integration with QuickBooks provides automatic entries into the General Ledger for all revenue and payment transactions. It creates invoices for corporate accounts and bills for paying agent commissions.
UniResMan integrates with QuickBooks, Sage Accpac, Adagio Ledger and Sage Simply Accounting, as well as with many other CRM, POS and hotel software products.