Custom Fields integration with QuickBooks Online Advanced and LeanLaw
Have you heard the news? LeanLaw, the time and billing solution for attorneys and QuickBooks® Online Advanced integration, just got more robust. Intuit® has opened the API for Custom Fields for LeanLaw to push data directly into the accounting platform.
“APIs allow developers to save time by taking advantage of a platform’s implementation to do the nitty-gritty work. This helps reduce the number of code developers need to create, and also helps create more consistency across apps for the same platform. APIs can control access to hardware and software resources.”
With this open API or application programming interface, we can create Custom Fields that can be used for more advanced reporting and data insights. That’s the very high-level view we, as accountants, have been requesting.
The new Custom Fields
Here are some FAQs that help break down how the new Custom Fields feature helps you:
Q: I realize this is brand new. How many of these unique Custom Fields are there with the open API?
A: With the new API, all Custom Fields in sales forms will be available.
Q: Can the new API custom field be used for vendor transactions?
A: No. Presently, the open API is only available for customer transactions. LeanLaw is a time and billing software, so it’s all about the income side of accounting.
Q: Will Intuit be opening the API to the other versions of QuickBooks?
A: No. This is an “only in QuickBooks Online Advanced” feature. It’s designed to work with high-level reporting inside the product. This is not a feature inside of QuickBooks Essentials or Plus.
Q: How is this different from what is in place now?
A: The current kind of custom field is restricted to text only. The power is behind the ability to use all types of Custom Fields, such as the drop-down list and the number type.
Q: What is the benefit of this new integration?
A: Here are some of the benefits:
- Supported entities and transactions: QuickBooks Online Advanced customers will be able to bring in data from LeanLaw to QuickBooks Online in customer entity & sales form (e.g., invoice, estimate) transaction type Custom Fields. For other QuickBooks Online plans, only the latter is supported.
- Field mapping: LeanLaw provides a custom field mapping experience, where customers will be able to select which QuickBooks Online custom field(s) they want to map to their LeanLaw field(s) in QuickBooks Online Advanced.
- Data type: Extend supported data types for importing data into QuickBooks Online, including string/text, number, date, and drop-down.
- Limits: QuickBooks Online Advanced customers will be able to import up to 12 LeanLaw fields into QuickBooks Online Custom Fields. For other QuickBooks Online plans, the limit would be three.
Use cases for law firms
I work with a variety of law firms with different practice areas. This new feature has got my wheels spinning! Below are just a few examples of how you can use these fields and some examples of the reports you can now create in QuickBooks.
Responsible attorney: Throughout all of my legal clients, the most frequently asked question I am asked is, “How can I track the revenues based on the responsible attorney?” Here is where the drop-down list is powerful – because there’s no more misspellings or multiple written names where the data is not exactly precise, there’s less cleanup.
Below is a detailed report. It now shows the invoice list by the responsible attorney. You can filter out an accounts receivable detail report by the responsible attorney.
Practice area: Many firms have multiple practice areas. Using a drop-down field in this manner will allow you to see which area or service is the most profitable.
Once I connect the LeanLaw custom field to the QuickBooks field, it creates a way to designate a practice area on an invoice. Here is a report by invoice and by practice area.
What makes this so incredible is the flexibility in the ability to customize QuickBooks Online Advanced to the specific law type for my clients.
I have a client who is a worker’s compensation insurance attorney. In that case, they may be required by the insurance company to have additional fields or information on an invoice that’s generally only for this type of law practice. If these fields are missing, they do not get the claim paid.
Date of injury: Imagine that you can tell your client, “Yes, I can add the date of injury custom field to your invoice.” Then, you create this date type field. You can enter it in LeanLaw during the setup of the matter. When you set this up, you choose whether this field shows on the invoice externally as client-facing, or internally for the law office only.
Statute of limitations date: This date field can be used for a personal injury attorney with the date of the injury and the statute of limitations date. Why is this effective? I can create a report out of QuickBooks for the attorney and filter it by the statute date and sort the matters by date. Set the report to be sent weekly to the attorney by using the automatic reports in QuickBooks.
These are just a few of the ways you can implement these robust Custom Fields. Get creative with it.
While brainstorming this new feature with my cohort, Matthew Fulton, he came up with a great one. What if you’re a criminal attorney and you could track the opposing counsel? Such a report could help a firm evaluate their win ratio, and even its profitability by opposing counsel. Yes, the possibilities are infinite.
That type of creativity is where you can advise your client and dazzle your customer with these unique fields. Have a conversation to see what the client wants and do your magic with this new Custom Field feature. I can’t think of another reason why LeanLaw and QuickBooks Online Advanced is the perfect pairing for your attorney-client and law firm.