How to Determine Which Apps Your Clients Need

QuickBooks® Online (QBO) is a great accounting platform to use, not only because it is cloud-based, but also because of the extensive ecosystem available to expand the functionality, while reducing data entry and improving efficiency. QBO has an open and free API that allows third-party programmers to create applications that can read and/or write data in and out of QBO.

Our challenge is to determine which apps are needed for our clients – and it is a challenge!  With more than 400 apps listed on apps.com, how do you choose?

In order to know what problems you are looking to solve, complete a needs assessment with your client to determine the pain points and inefficiencies.

  1. Go to apps.com. Intuit® thoroughly vets the apps listed there. You may find apps elsewhere, but it’s good to have the assurance that the apps have been reviewed, tested and work with QBO.
  2. The search begins. When you open up apps.com, you will see What’s Trending, What’s New, Top Rated and Featured apps, but apps.com allows you to refine your search further. There’s a search box at the top of the page where you can search for keywords. You can also search for apps by category, arranged by business function, such as accounts receivable, CRM, marketing, time tracking and many other categories. You can also search by industry. There are main industry categories such as project and schedule, and within them, sub categories, including time tracking and scheduling appointments.
  3. When you find an app that seems appropriate, read the reviews. Fellow practitioners post reviews, as well as end users. However, don’t just sign up based on the reviews. Here are some best practices.

One way to test is to connect the app to live QBO data. Before connecting an app, sign up for an app called SafetyNet by Jobber. It is a backup utility for QBO. At the time of this writing, this app is free. Once you have SafetyNet, do a backup of your QBO, then connect the app and try it out. Most apps have a free trial, so it makes it easy to try before you buy. If you don’t like it, restore your backup from SafetyNet and disconnect the app.

Note that you probably don’t want to be putting in real transactions, because when you restore the backup, you will have to re-input those transactions. SafetyNet isn’t perfect, but it’s the best we have right now. Here’s a link to an article written by William Murphy from Insightful Accountant about SafetyNet.

If you’re leery about connecting an app to a live file, you could sign up for a QBO 30-day free trial and test it. You’ll want to have transactions in QBO, so you could convert a desktop sample file (or real file) or enter a few transactions and sync the app to the trial.

Many ProAdvisors® actually sign up for a QBO subscription just to test apps. Yes, you’ll be paying for that subscription, but with wholesale billing (50% off for life of subscription), you can minimize that cost. Testing this way allows you to connect without having to always sign up for a free trial and convert a sample file so that you have data to play with. When you’re done testing the app, just disconnect it.

As part of the Intuit Developer Program and the ProAdvisor program, Intuit has named certain app partners. You can find out more about them and what they offer in your ProAdvisor portal. When you log in, look under Software and Discounts, and then click on “Special offers on apps.” The current app partners are Hubdoc, Fathom, Receipt Bank, Bill.com and TSheets. There are also offers from other apps listed there.

One last note: Don’t feel like you need to be an expert in all apps. Look for other ProAdvisors who may specialize in the area you are looking, or the app that you are looking at.

Happy hunting!