Column: Successful Small Business Consulting
From the November 2011 Issue
At The Sleeter Group, we believe that success in small business relies heavily on developing efficient business processes. Successful business owners are constantly seeking better accounting software, more efficient sales and customer tracking systems, better product fulfillment systems, and better vendor management systems. And accountants are always striving to keep up with the latest solutions in the marketplace so they can make the best recommendations. Each year, we research the marketplace of accounting software and hardware solutions to identify and recognize the companies and products who deliver “awesome” value.
This year, our seven-member committee of judges participated in evaluations of nearly 30 products in the market. This panel of experts is comprised of the most experienced accounting experts in the world who bring a broad set of skills to software and hardware product evaluations. The committee includes Bonnie Nagayama, CPA, Mario Nowogrodzki, CPA.CITP, Jennifer Katrulya, CPA, Greg LaFollette, CPA.CITP, Randy Johnston, Charlie Russell, and Doug Sleeter, founder of The Sleeter Group.
In order to qualify for an Awesome Add-on award, the product and/or service must be developed and sold by a solid company with a reputation for outstanding customer support, and the product must have the following attributes:
- Must be fully released and shipping in the United States by August 1, 2011.
- Although it is not a requirement that the product integrates directly with accounting data, if it does integrate it must use the best practices for integration in addition to using the latest integration technologies as appropriate in the view of the evaluation committee.
- Must conform to good accounting principles and operating standards.
- Should use appropriate transaction types and field population for recording data into QuickBooks and/or other accounting software packages so as to preserve and/or enhance the standard reporting features.
Awesome Add-ons for 2012
Pricing: Bill.com Receivables is a $5/month upgrade on top of a Bill.com Payable account. ePayments received are $0.49/payment. There is no charge for accepting credit card payments; however, credit card merchant fees may apply.
Target Customers: Bill.com Receivables is for any business that sends invoices to customers and wants to offer their customers the option to pay electronically, via an online portal. It is also the perfect solution for small and mid-sized accounting firms both for their own use as well as for performing client bookkeeping services.
This SaaS product is a perfect example of how the Web is revolutionizing small business. By allowing businesses to manage the entire accounts receivable process in the cloud, Bill.com has taken a giant step forward. In addition to sending electronic invoices and e-reminders, you can receive payments via ACH or credit card, and your customers can access their own portal (for free) to see their invoicing and payment history. And of course, it integrates seamlessly with QuickBooks, Sage Peachtree, Intacct and NetSuite.
Fujitsu Computer Products of America, Inc.
Pricing: S1100: $199; S1300: $295; S1500(M): $495
Target Customers: Consultants, CPAs and accounting professionals looking for a way to reduce paper and easily digitize documents.
Our committee was very impressed with the overall function and ease of use of the ScanSnap line of scanners. The pricing is great, the push-to-scan button is effortless, and the integration with software products such as SmartVault makes this a very well-targeted solution for the accounting profession.
The ScanSnap one-button document scanners are a fast and easy way for accountants to digitize any type of paper, including client documents, tax forms, expense report receipts and more. Models include both mobile and desktop devices. The S1500 scans up to 20 pages per minute in color, grayscale, or black and white at an uncompromising 300 dpi resolution. With 50- and 10-page automatic document feeders (ADF), the S1500 & S1300 capture both sides of each page in a single pass. ScanSnap scanners automatically recognize the size of each document, detect and correct for skew, and show images in their proper orientation with blank pages removed. With an easy mouse click, documents can be saved, emailed or e-faxed to clients as well as directly uploaded to client portals or Cloud-based document repositories … not to mention converted to Word or Excel files, enabling content to be edited.
ShareFile for Accountants
Pricing: Starts at $29.95/month (2 users, 5GB storage, 5GB bandwidth)
Target Customers: Accounting firms of any size that need to securely transfer files that are either too large or too confidential to send by e-mail. Whether you are dealing with large QuickBooks files, sensitive Excel spreadsheets or tax estimate vouchers that contain social security numbers, ShareFile can help you communicate with your clients securely, professionally and easily.
Our committee simply loves ShareFile. By specifically targeting the file transfer and secure data sharing needs of accountants and their clients, ShareFile has developed a winning, easy-to-use tool for the profession. This product is a must-have in your client support toolkit.
ShareFile for Accountants was specifically designed for tax and accounting professionals to securely exchange confidential documents and large business files. Accounting firms can make documents available to clients through ShareFile’s encrypted, password-protected, custom-branded client portal or securely through email with ShareFile’s Microsoft Outlook Plug-in. ShareFile’s client portal allows you to create online folders that allow clients to see only those folders where specific access is granted.
Bill & Pay
Skyhill Software, Inc.
Pricing: $16.95 per month, $0.55 per payment transaction
Target Customers: All businesses that want to streamline their Accounts Receivable processes and who are looking for a robust online payment solution.
This SaaS product really helps businesses reduce costs and increase cash flow by automating the A/R collections process. Bill & Pay automatically uploads invoices from QuickBooks, Sage Peachtree, Great Plains and other accounting software into a Web portal where they can be tracked and managed. An “Easy Invoice” feature allows you to create your own invoices without using any accounting software. You can send e-reminders for open or late invoices, accept online payments by credit card or via ACH, and it integrates with several merchant accounts (including Intuit Merchant Solutions). So it doesn’t require extra steps for batching deposits into the bank account. This is a great product at a very low price.
Pricing: $425 single-user version, $895 multi-user version (2-users), $195 per additional user
Target Customers: Small businesses that need to develop complex reports and/or “dashboards” that cannot be created with QuickBooks alone. Helps companies develop data analytics, and helps multi-company operations or franchises develop cross-entity reporting.
When we looked at QQube for the first time, it opened our minds to the possibilities for mining QuickBooks data like never before. This is a VERY powerful tool for accountants. What impressed us the most was that QQube is so deeply “aware” of how data is stored in QuickBooks, what the relationships are between different data types, and how it can free us to create pretty much any report imaginable. There is a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it you’ll be amazed at how much you can do with this tool. And think of the new revenue you can generate by providing analytics and mentoring services with QQube. This is a game changer.
QQube is a data extraction technology tool that allows you to drag and drop information into Excel, SAP Crystal Reports, or any desktop/Cloud business intelligence tool of your choice. QQube enables you to create reports or analysis in minutes because it eliminates the need to know tables and relationships, deal with ODBC drivers, wrestle with unrecognized field names, or endure hours of reverse engineering and trial by error.
In addition to the above winners, we were very impressed with two other products and will be looking closely at them in the months and years to come.
Pricing: Starts at $375 for 50 certificates, plus $249/year
Target Customers: Any size business with customers qualified for exemption from paying sales tax. Typical industries include manufacturing, technology, education, wholesalers and retailers, although hospitality customers are growing. The target customer can be an e-commerce, wholesale, distribution or retail company using any accounting, ERP, retail POS or e-commerce software.
When we saw this product, several members of the committee immediately said, “Wow, where has this been all my life?” It’s a great idea and Avalara has done a fabulous job of building it. There are still several features to build and more integration with accounting systems to come, but we thought this product definitely warranted a close look.
AvaTax Certs limits your audit exposure on non-taxed transactions with end-to-end certificate lifecycle management. It integrates with ERP, e-commerce and POS systems to digitally create, process and store customer exemption certificates for easy access, renewal and reporting. An online, rule-based wizard automates the paperless collection of certificates and ensures you only collect valid certificates. All collected certificates are stored digitally in a central database to speed tax-exempt transaction processing and to simplify audit preparation and defense.
Websites for Accountants
Target Customers: Accounting Firms
If you don’t already have a website, or even if you do and you’re frustrated with the cost and hassles of building, updating and improving its look, then you should really look at eMochila. It’s inexpensive with very powerful tools to help you quickly build a professional-looking, full-featured website in just a few hours — less if you know what you want, but more if you want to really get creative. The key is that this is a very powerful online tool that doesn’t require any programming or technical skill.
These are full-featured websites for accounting firms, complete with client portals, monthly newsletters, financial calculators, search engine optimization, company blog with social media integration, and more. Month-to-month contracts allow accounting firms of all sizes the luxury of having a website that would normally cost tens of thousands of dollars to develop independently.
Previous winners of the Awesome Add-on award include:
- Acctivate! (www.acctivate.com)
- AccuPOS - Attitude Positive (www.accupos.com)
- Adagio FX (www.softrak.com)
- AutoReporter (www.bqe.com)
- AvaTax Connect (www.avalara.com)
- Autofy (www.propelware.com)
- bMobile Route Software
- BDTS (www.bdts.us)
- BigTime Time and Billing (www.Edisonsattic.com)
- BillQuick (www.bqe.com)
- Bill.com (www.bill.com)
- CNG-Books and CNG-SAFE (www.cabinetng.com)
- Corecon 4.0 (www.corecon.com)
- Corrigo Worktrack Service Management (www.corrigo.com)
- Count Me In (www.countmeinllc.com)
- Data Flow Manager (www.atandra.com)
- DataMover (www.personable.com)
- Data Transfer Utility by Karl Irvin (www.q2q.us)
- DepositNow! (www.depositnow.com)
- Expensewatch (www.expensewatch.com)
- Fishbowl Inventory (www.fishbowlinventory.com)
- GiftWorks (www.missionresearch.com)
- InsynQ (e-Accounting) CPAASP (www.cpaasp.com)
- Intuit Statement Writer
- Legrand CRM (www.legrandcrm.com)
- Method Integration (www.methodintegration.com)
- MISys SBM (www.misysinc.com)
- MISys SBM – Shop Floor Control (www.misysinc.com)
- Netfira Connect (www.netfira.com)
- PayCycle (www.paycycle.com) – Now Intuit Online Payroll
- PDG Commerce (www.pdgsoft.com)
- ProfitCents (www.profitcents.com)
- QODBC Driver (www.qodbc.com)
- QuickBooks Point of Sale (www.intuit.com)
- Qvinci Financial Dashboard (www.qvinci.com)
- ReportWiz from DGR software (www.dgrsoftware.com)
- Results CRM (www.results-software.com)
- Right Networks ASP (www.rightnetworks.com)
- ShareFile (www.sharefile.com)
- ShipGear (www.v-technologies.com/shipgear_home.htm)
- SmartVault (www.smartvault.com)
- SourceLink (www.personable.com)
- Sunburst Certified Payroll Solution (www.sunburstsoftwaresolutions.com)
- TrueCommerce Transaction Manager (www.truecommerce.com)
- UniResMan (www.uniresman.com)
- ViewMyPaycheck (www.viewmypaycheck.com)
- Virtual Time+Expense (www.virtualsoftware.net)
- WebKPI (www.webkpi.com)
- WorkTrack Service Management by Corrigo (www.corrigo.com)
- XpandedReports (www.xpandedreports.com)