From the Nov. 2006 Issue
Each year, I survey tens if not hundreds of products from independent developers
who add value to the QuickBooks community by solving hard problems faced by
QuickBooks users and consultants. Before awarding the “awesome”
label, I dig deep into each product and ask all the hard questions I think consultants
and business owners will eventually ask. I usually find that the developers
of these products know much more about their target customer set than I do,
so I try to first satisfy myself that they understand enough about how QuickBooks
works, and then I move to their solution and see if they’ve developed
an easy-to-use, quality product that I would recommend to my clients.
I survey products in several vertical markets where QuickBooks may not have
all the needed features, or where clients want customized solutions. Most of
the winners are software products, but several are hardware and software combinations.
The result is my list of “Awesome Add-ons” for 2007. I hope you’ll
look at each of these solutions as you help your clients improve their financial
Fishbowl Inventory — Comprehensive Inventory for Light
Manufacturers, Wholesalers and Distributors
Pricing: $7,995 for 10 users
This application is perhaps the most well-developed inventory solution on
the market, far surpassing QuickBooks’ inventory features and providing
for the mid-range wholesaler, distributor or even small manufacturing firm.
Fishbowl provides a comprehensive inventory solution that integrates tightly
with QuickBooks. It imports all existing customer, vendor, part and quantity
information directly from QuickBooks or other database applications (Excel,
Access, etc.), eliminating hours of manual entry. Fishbowl Inventory can support
multiple locations and integrate those locations into a single QuickBooks company
BillQuick — Time and Billing Done Right
Pricing: $395 for two users (Basic), $795 for five users (Pro)
Simply stated, the BillQuick Time and Billing software is the most comprehensive
time and billing system on the market today. From appointment scheduling integrated
with Outlook, to 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.
Acctivate! — Comprehensive Distribution and Wholesale Management
Pricing: $2,995 for three users for base system. Add-on modules range from $795
to $895 per module.
Acctivate provides comprehensive tools for managing inventory-intensive businesses
who are happy with QuickBooks but need better control of purchasing, selling,
inventory control, and customer relationship management. This all-in-one system
is great for wholesalers, distributors and light-assembly companies, satisfying
the needs of those who 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
their system. Based on Microsoft’s SQL server, it is very scalable and
flexible for the growing company. The product integrates extremely 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.
Legrand — CRM for Small Businesses
Pricing: $350 per user, $1,650 for five users, $3,000 for 10-user license
No matter what business you’re in, most likely you and your office colleagues
are constantly in touch with prospects, customers, vendors, and partners. And
if you’re smart, you keep a database of some type in which you track all
of your contacts. The problem is that (with most small businesses anyway) it
stops right there. Just a database of contacts (address, phone, e-mail, etc.)
stored in MS Outlook or something similar. And usually, each employee keeps
their own contact list, with no sharing of data between employee’s contact
manager databases. So a common question any employee might have is, “When
was the last time anyone in our company dealt with this customer and what was
it about?” Of course, that’s hard to answer because each employee
has their own notes in their own database.
In addition to these basic contact questions, the sales force needs access
to historic sales data and other financial information (balance owed, etc.)
which is usually only available in the accounting system. For example, maybe
you want to do a mailing to all customers who have not purchased in the last
90 days, or perhaps you want to create a list of names and phone numbers for
everyone who is more than 30 days past due on their account. The technology
solution to tracking all this information, centralizing it and controlling access
so that sensitive data is not put at risk, is referred to as a Customer Relationship
Management (CRM) system. With CRMs, you have a complete, corporate-wide solution
for tracking customer (and vendor, partner or whatever) information in a centralized,
secure and controlled way.
For the most part, CRM software companies target their solutions at the fortune
500 companies since the needs in those companies are so well understood. However,
even very small businesses can benefit greatly by implementing CRM systems.
Legrand CRM integrates with QuickBooks (QuickBooks Pro, Premier or Enterprise
Edition – 2003 or higher) using the Legrand Accounting Link. This link
manages a bi-directional transfer of information between the databases, eliminating
double-entry, ensuring the consistency of contact information, and providing
live access to sales histories. Most importantly, this occurs without providing
non-authorized users with direct access to sensitive accounting information.
Giftworks — Nonprofit Donor Management Software
Pricing: $299 per user
GiftWorks by Mission Research is one of the most well-designed applications
I’ve seen in a long time. This product does a great job of providing for
virtually all of the donor-tracking features demanded by nonprofit organizations.
GiftWorks manages donors, fundraising efforts and volunteers through a simple,
well-designed user interface. Designed specifically for small to medium-sized
nonprofit organizations, GiftWorks provides data management capabilities that
are complete and far-reaching. The software meets and exceeds the administration
needs of nonprofit organizations with donor tracking and mail production functionality
and serves the needs of board members by generating insightful donor and donation
reports. The unique “SmartLists” feature of GiftWorks allows customers
to create lists of donors and donations based on sets of data criteria that
the user defines. This feature makes it easy to create quick, automatically
updating mailing lists and custom reports. In the current version of GiftWorks,
the QuickBooks integration uses journal entries only but provides for complete
tracking of all GL activity. Future versions will reportedly add more detailed
integration with QuickBooks.
depositnow! — Automating Check Deposits – Electronically
Pricing: $225 for hardware, plus monthly service fees depending on volume
DepositNow! automates the process of depositing checks from your customers.
Using the Check 21 standard, DepositNow! allows you to scan in customer checks
and electronically deposit the funds instantly without going to the bank. In
addition, DepositNow! automates the bookkeeping entries in the accounting software.
DepositNow! launches from within QuickBooks, automatically recognizes the customer
and amount on the check, and applies the payment to the customer’s open
invoice. It also stores an archive of the scanned image of the check at BankServ’s
data center, allowing you to locate images of any check you’ve deposited
within the previous 120 days. Upon request, you can have any check image pulled
from the previous two years. You will save the checks for a couple weeks or
until you receive the bank statement (to guard against technical problems),
but after that you just shred the checks that have been deposited.
ProfitCents — Business Analysis Tools
Pricing: $199 per year for individuals; organizational pricing available directly
This web-based tool converts financial statements into plain language reports
that include graphical analysis, trend and ratio analysis, and industry comparisons.
It’s a full-featured analysis suite that includes analyzers for individuals,
businesses and nonprofits. It provides projection and forecasting, valuation,
benchmarking and analytical procedure documentation.
Adagio FX — Professional Financial Statements and Data Analysis
Softrak Systems Inc
Pricing: $199 for standard edition, $475 for pro edition
Adagio FX is a financial statement presentation tool that integrates directly
with QuickBooks. Flexible tools allow you to create presentable financial statements
and reports from QuickBooks data. This product is aimed at accountants and controllers
who need professional, publishable financial statements as well as detailed
analysis reports based on QuickBooks data. It also supports Accpac and Simply
PayCycle — Online Payroll Service
Pricing: $25 to $42/month direct to end users, Accountants pay $14.99 per client
If you’ve been thinking about adding client payroll services to your
firm, I recommend taking a close look at PayCycle. The 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 per
month. It integrates with QuickBooks and QuickBooks Online Edition, so you don’t
have to enter data twice. PayCycle’s co-founders Rene Lacerte and Martin
Gates, built QuickBooks Payroll functionality before leaving to start PayCycle
in 1999. Since then, the company has added over 20,000 customers and is well-known
in the profession for making client payroll easy and profitable for accounting
AvaTax ST — Web-based Sales Tax Solution Linked to QuickBooks
Pricing: $10 to $500 per month based on transaction volume, $50 to $2,000 activation
AvaTax ST is a hosted Web service that works behind the scenes of QuickBooks
to validate customer addresses, provide a correct sales tax calculation for
each transaction, automatically generate sales tax returns, and provide detailed
sales tax reports. For businesses selling into multiple jurisdictions, this
product provides enterprise-level sales tax automation using TaxWare sales tax
Cabinet NG — Automated Electronic Document Management
Cabinet NG, Inc.
Pricing: $995 per user
CNG-Books is the perfect paperless document management solution for your larger
clients, as well as for accounting firms who provide outsourced accounting services.
This product streamlines QuickBooks data entry and document filing by removing
the paper and improving the speed and efficiency of the data-entry process.
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. It simplifies
data entry by displaying the electronic document and allowing the user to enter
data directly into QuickBooks using simplified data-entry screens. CNG-Books
also allows you to link 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.
SourceLink — Electronic Documents Attached to QuickBooks Forms
Pricing: $189 single-user, $589 for five users, $989 for 10 users
SourceLink is best suited for the smaller business whose needs are focused
on storing electronic documents linked to QuickBooks transactions, and for those
who don’t have other need for data retrieval, data entry, or storage and
retrieval of documents outside of the QuickBooks system. SourceLink is a cost-effective
electronic document management solution, integrated with QuickBooks. It allows
users to link electronic files to their QuickBooks records from within the QuickBooks
application itself. SourceLink lets users instantly store and retrieve financial
records — bills, invoices, customer agreements, etc. — directly
from QuickBooks. SourceLink also lets users attach electronic “sticky
notes” directly to 25 different record types in QuickBooks.
Count Me In — Biometric Timecard Replacement Technology
Count Me In, LLC
Pricing: $299 to $725
Count Me In provides a “biometric” timecard replacement technology.
This hardware/software solution includes a fingerprint reader and keypad that
employees use to report in and out of their work shifts. Count Me In has several
thousand happy customers who use this hardware and software combination to accurately
track employee time. The integration with QuickBooks allows the payroll to be
based on accurate time records without requiring extra data entry from a payroll
clerk or the employees. What’s more, this system virtually eliminates
all problems surrounding timecard accuracy, “buddy punching” (when
a friend punches another friend’s timecard), and addition errors on timesheets.
About QuickBooks Add-ons
In 2003, Intuit released its Application Programming Interface (API), provided
free to developers in a Software Developer Kit (SDK). This SDK opens up the
3 million-plus user base to software developers who add value to QuickBooks
by creating add-on products for QuickBooks. 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 that are bundled with
QuickBooks. For example, the Financial Statement Designer (included with QuickBooks
Premier: Accountant Edition) uses the SDK to allow you to create GAAP-formatted
To search for QuickBooks add-ons, visit the Intuit marketplace site (http://marketplace.intuit.com)
or Mike Block’s independent site located at www.quickbooks-add-ons.com.
For more information about developing add-ons for QuickBooks, visit http://developer.intuit.com.
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.