The QuickBooks Online Ecosystem and How Apps Help My Practice

I frequently hear the term “Online Ecosystem,” so I decided to do some research to learn what it is – and what I found was interesting.

I wanted to make sure I understood the term correctly. First, I Googled it and was surprised to find a few different definitions, including Silicon Valley’s Entrepreneurial ecosystem definition:  “a complex network or interconnected system.“

I love that definition because it perfectly describes how QuickBooks® Online (QBO) interacts with other cloud-based software (apps) to become one interconnected system. After all, the majority of the apps available for QBO work so seamlessly that it is as if it is just one big program.

As an accounting professional, how do you figure out what is available to connect to QBO to make it even better than QuickBooks Desktop?

I first started adding apps when I realized I needed to make things easier for my staff and myself. I sat down and did an analysis of the steps we take in the office daily by looking at the overall practice and identifying our needs. At a high level, we needed to:

  • Track workflows, view job status and keep our client data centralized.
  • Keep track of client and office documents.
  • Be able to communicate and collaborate with our clients better.
  • Improve on bookkeeping basics; what can we do about the clients that are taking so much more time than others, and why?
  • Find a better way to pay bills.

We also needed a better way to keep track of my staff’s time so that I can bill my clients, and I also wanted to know how much my staff is not working on clients. As we all know, we need to be billable! I also want to be comfortable working with apps in my practice so that I can feel comfortable referring the apps to my clients, especially those with specific needs, such as inventory and job costing.

At the Intuit® App Center, I can find what I need in categories, such as Document Management, Estimating and Bidding, Reporting, and other areas, and the App Center shows me apps that are “trending ,” which tells me they are useful. As I briefly mentioned earlier, I wouldn’t suggest jumping into suggesting apps for your clients before you are comfortable using them yourself. Once you can learn how they work and move around in them freely, you can start by referring one client. Help them onboard to the app, with the help of the app developer if necessary, and see how that goes.

Then, work the apps into conversations with other clients and mention how helpful they have been to you and your other clients. Soon, you will have numerous clients on an app that solves a problem, or simply makes their jobs easier.

Some of the specific apps I work with are T-Sheets Time Tracking and Bill.com, and we are in the process of adding Aero Workflow to our list of apps. Let’s take a brief look at T-Sheets and how it helps in my practice.

T-sheets is a timesheet and scheduling app for fast, easy, and complete payroll and billing. It is web-based and built mostly for payroll; however, it has great invoicing and labor costing functionality, and also allows for scheduling your employees’ upcoming time.

As an accounting firm using T-Sheets, I am able to see what my employees are working on and how long they have been on the clock. We can adjust their time at any time, even if they are currently working. With instant access to their timesheets at any time, we can go in as often as we like to make sure their time appears reasonable and accurate.

When I sync T-Sheets with QBO, I not only have timesheets to pay my employees with, but I also have the information that I need to invoice my clients. No double entry is needed for either task.

Next time, we can look at some client case studies to see which apps they are using and loving!