Apps that can transform your bookkeeping services

Over the past few years, accounting platforms have become very well developed and more accepted by the accounting industry (Getty Images/Adene Sanchez)

From speeding up time-consuming bookkeeping to helping clients automate their debtor tracking, there is a growing number of fintech solutions available to streamline clients’ (and your own) bookkeeping, tax prep and other business practices.

“Over the past six years, accounting platforms have become very well developed and more accepted by the accounting industry and their clients,” says Obed Maurice, CPA, partner, Avail CPA, a virtual accounting firm in Lethbridge, Alta. “The recognition of the benefits has led to a much bigger app ecosystem. The integration between everything is getting better and better.”

Here is a look at some of the more popular bookkeeping apps on the market, as well as some considerations to keep in mind when making your choices.

NEW TOOLS OF THE TRADE

Bookkeeping was one of the first areas of practice to be automated, says Marc André Paquette, CPA, principal, corporate oversight and governance for CPA Canada. “The value proposition changed businesses completely,” he says.

When identifying tools for his practice, Chad Davis, co-founder of LiveCA LLP and co-host of the Automation Town podcast says, “It’s important to understand what alternatives exist so that you can more effectively decide how they impact you.”

Following are some useful apps that experts say are helping to transform bookkeeping functions:

  • keepers for QuickBooks Online helps accountants organize their bookkeeping process with checklists, client portals and KPI reports. The app allows accountants to add in items such as management reports and tracking of job timelines.
  • Make.com (formerly Integromat) allows accountants to move data between applications in a completely customized way. It extracts important financial information from software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps like Google Sheets, Xero/QBO and Gmail allowing accountants to move data in ways that were previously only available to custom apps and native integrations. “You may not be a developer, but make empowers you to act like one through easy to navigate drag and drop workflow builders,” says Davis.
  • Ploto integrates with QuickBooks Online and Xero to manage day-to-day payments with a high degree of control and transparency. “Pairing that with Helm allows us to easily project and manage a client’s cash flow,” says Maurice.
  • rewind allows accountants to back up, copy and restore their SaaS and cloud data for QuickBooks Online. “If someone creates a lot of transactions or makes lot of errors, Rewind lets you go back to a specific point in time,” explains Davis.
  • Zapier offers functions similar to Make.com, says Davis. “However, it is a more popular option that can get people up and running with automation very quickly. It’s a great place to start.”
  • For eCommerce accounting, A2X for Xero and QuickBooks Online is geared to omnichannel operations selling on Amazon, eBay, Shopify, Walmart or Etsy. It centralizes data, allowing accountants to track payments and credits and other important bookkeeping elements of transactions and push the data to their accounting system. “While there are other players in the market, A2X is quite far ahead of most of them,” says Davis .
  • Loopa cross-border banking platform, allows customers to transact and pay their statements in up to five currencies, eliminating foreign currency exchange fees on statement payments.
  • CliQue Advisor, developed by Avail CPA, helps analyze and monitor client performance in one place. “It can filter clients’ performance by key metrics and target those that are doing well or need help,” explains Maurice.
  • float is another player in the payments space in Canada. It offers a prepaid card solution that integrates with QuickBooks and Xero. Because it’s not credit based, you can put as much as you like into the account. It’s a great tool for bookkeeping as it keeps expenses off personal credit cards and allows a company to spin up virtual cards on demand,” says Davis.
  • clio: This tool, which can be integrated with QuickBooks Online, is useful for accountants working with law firms.

BUYER BEWARE

When considering apps, don’t simply rely on the recommendations of others, cautions Davis. “You really need to understand how that app will affect you, your team and your procedures, including as many pros and cons as you can. There’s nothing quite like trying the tool before you commit, so you find those deal-breakers as quickly as possible.”

“You need to decide what you want as a client experience and accounting firm experience and go backwards,” says Maurice. “There’s a solution for almost anything in the accounting space, so it’s a matter of putting it all together in a way that works for you and your clients.”

Key questions to ask include:

  1. What is your value proposition/How do you define the end user experience?
  2. What level of support do you need?
  3. Do you have an evaluation process in place?
  4. Are the specific apps for client sectors we serve?
  5. Are there grants available? (Maurice recommends that CPAs look at the Government of Canada’s new Digital Adoption Program for small- to medium-sized businesses.)

PAY ATTENTION TO EDUCATION AND SECURITY

Paquette also stresses the importance of education with fintech. “You need to consider learning and training for all types of people, from junior accountants to partners. They will need to know where the information they are looking at is coming from and that it is a tool they can trust.”

The other component to take into account is security, he adds. “With fintech, all processes are in the cloud. That requires a stronger cybersecurity consideration with respect to information flow. Put thought into that when talking to your vendor. A good one will have those answers or put you in contact with someone who does.”

BEST BUSINESS PRACTICES

Make sure to brush up on the new quality management standards that will affect all practitioners. And learn about the top five questions CPAs have about the cloud.

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