One of the most important strategic moves made by Intuit recently was opening up the QuickBooks database to software developers. By creating an Application Programming Interface (API), and providing developers with a free Software Developer Kit (SDK), Intuit has opened up its 3 million-user base to software developers. Even a casual programmer using Microsoft Office and Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) can develop an application to read from and write to a QuickBooks data file.
Intuit is even using the SDK to write add-on applications for QuickBooks. For example, the Financial Statement Designer (included with QuickBooks Premier: Accountant Edition 2005) uses the SDK to allow you to create GAAP-formatted financial statements. Developers have flocked to the opportunity. Over 60,000 people have downloaded the free SDK from Intuit's servers (available at http://developer.intuit.com), and there are currently over 350 applications listed on the Intuit referral site (http://marketplace.intuit.com).
Along with several commercial applications that allow you to develop complete solutions around the QuickBooks product is a special group of 'utility-like' add-ons that QuickBooks consultants will find extremely useful.
I call these 'Awesome Add-ons.' What is an Awesome Add-on?
An Awesome Add-on is a QuickBooks add-on that enables a consultant to do his or her job more professionally, efficiently and profitably, and it generally applies horizontally across industry markets. It solves problems not addressed by the QuickBooks program or, in some cases, solves a problem 'better' than QuickBooks does. Awesome Add-ons make consultants look better to their clients, often by allowing us to perform miracles on hopelessly broken data files. Awesome Add-ons make consultants richer (or less poor). These add-ons often automate processes that have been done manually in the past, thus saving time and money.
Awesome Add-ons allow consultants to say, 'Okay,' when we used to say, 'No way.' There are several tasks that we've always wanted to do, but there was just no way to do them. For example, a client once asked me if I could combine two data files together into a single file. Well, with the Data Transfer Utility by Karl Irvin (see below), I can now do this, or at least most of it.
At the recent QuickBooks Consultant's Conference, we awarded our first 11 winners in the Awesome Add-on category. Here is the list along with a brief description of each product.
QDA Systems, Inc.
QDA+ automates the data file analysis engagement. QDA+ automatically interrogates and tests the QuickBooks data file, produces an editable report that details problems and their likely causes, and offers recommendations for correcting the problems. In the interest of full disclosure, I have a financial interest in this company. I think they have a great product that significantly improves the lives of accountants, whether or not they use QuickBooks, so I joined the company.
Remote Accounting Solutions
This add-on provides fast, secure data transfer service between client and consultant. This software/service 'hand-holds' clients through the process of data transfer, allowing the consultant to easily get to the data. It also maintains backups of clients' data. Accountants who use this rave about it.
Data Transfer Utility
Q2Q ' Karl Irvin
The Data Transfer Utility allows QuickBooks users to transfer (merge) list and transaction data from one QuickBooks file to another QuickBooks file. Using simple parameters, the Data Transfer Utility automatically makes the transfer while allowing you to control the process. QuickBooks files are opened and closed by the Data Transfer Utility, and the regular QuickBooks program does not have to be running. This allows you to merge two company files, or you can specify which transactions to copy. It supports all transaction types except payroll and inventory adjustments.
This program creates live links to QuickBooks data using a QuickBooks-like interface from within Microsoft Excel. It is implemented as an Excel add-in that interfaces with the QuickBooks SDK to query QuickBooks data and create live links between Excel spreadsheets and QuickBooks data files.
QDataViewer is a graphical report manager that allows you to view, export and secure reports created with Crystal Reports. You can access QuickBooks data and reports via QODBC to create text and graphical reports that are not available with QuickBooks alone.
If you're familiar with Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) development, you'll love eXcel Books. eXcel Books exposes our easy-to-use coreObjX business objects to VBA in Excel. With this technology, you can easily create applications that have complete access to the QuickBooks application programming interface. This is an ideal way to create commission calculators, order entry screens or custom invoice templates. eXcelBooks' report interface makes it possible to pull report data directly into an existing workbook, preserving your formulas and sheet formatting.
ccImport simplifies credit card purchase transaction entry. As long as your credit card issuer provides Quicken download files, you can import credit card purchase transactions directly into QuickBooks. ccImport lets you select which transactions to post to QuickBooks from the downloaded data file. It also lets you associate QuickBooks vendors with expenses for downloaded transactions. Best of all, it remembers these settings so that, on subsequent imports, vendors and accounts do not need to be selected again.
AutoReporter allows you to automate and schedule QuickBooks reporting. You can set your clients up so that when they turn on their computer, the scheduled reports will be created automatically with the desired filters and formatting. The reports can be sent to the printer and/or delivered to you via e-mail for review, analysis and client monitoring. QuickBooks doesn't even have to be running for the reports to run.
ReportWiz creates and prints State Payroll Tax forms directly from your QuickBooks data. It supports 18 states, and it provides special payroll reports for analyzing payroll. There is no need to upload payroll data, there is no per-EIN software cost, and it works with all versions of QuickBooks. Accountants can provide payroll tax services for multiple clients without even subscribing to any payroll service. It supports ALL versions of QuickBooks, even those prior to 2002 (the first SDK version).
Certified Payroll Solution
Sunburst Software Solutions
The Certified Payroll Solution creates and prints certified payroll reports, prevailing wage reports and statements of compliance reports. It is designed for contractors or subcontractors who perform work on federal or state-funded construction projects that fall under the Federal Davis-Bacon or state-specific prevailing wage laws, and for those who use QuickBooks for their normal accounting and payroll functions.
SalesTax-Pro creates and prints the California Sales Tax Form 401A with Schedules A and T and California Sales Tax Form 401-EZ, all directly from QuickBooks data. With proper QuickBooks data file setup and data entry, this is a true timesaver for consultants with clients in California. More states coming soon.
These Awesome Add-ons provide better data viewing and reporting, better data manipulation, better form creation, and better automation of our consulting engagements. They provide exactly what many of us have needed for a long time, and they really help us solve the tougher QuickBooks client issues.
Note that some of these tools are designed for QuickBooks experts, so if you don't fit that description, contact the developer. Most of the time, they'll have a list of qualified advisors who can help you with the client issue.
Mr. Sleeter is the founder of The Sleeter Group, a national provider of expert-level QuickBooks seminars for accountants. He is the author of several books including McGraw Hill's college textbook series, 'Introduction to QuickBooks Pro.' For more information, call 888-484-5484 or visit www.sleeter.com.