As a listed professional advisor or network member on several accounting solutions, I often get requests from businesses to assist them in fixing their current usage of the back office software, setting up a new company file, training the staff on best usage of the software, or, more often how to integrate with add-ons. Most recently it was a new start-up that sells surf and skate gear (sometimes it can even involve an industry that is part of my pura vida). In this case, the lead came from Intuit’s professional advisory network.

The principles, funny enough, were both retired CPAs from one of the Big 5 accounting firms. One had even worked overseas in the same country as I, managing their outsourcing division. So along with having a mutual love of surfing, we were both familiar with the world of outsourcing and virtual work. However, neither of these accounting professionals had worked on anything close to resembling bookkeeping software, hence the need for help.

There were several things already in play that were going to determine best options. They were already tied into a website with a shopping cart and inventory tracking system. They had scouted out their bank to provide merchant services and were considering QuickBooks desktop, as that is the one name with which they were most familiar. All things appeared as if they had already made a decision and they just wanted confirmation on their choices. So first thing to find out was how did they envision all of this working together? Seamlessly, of course, with all things working in unison to give them a single click view of their operations. Ah, the dream of us all!

So now reality comes in. First, they had Mac laptops, so if they wanted QuickBooks desktop, they would need the Mac version. Well, they both wanted access, but passing the desktop files back and forth would not be seamless. They had no idea about Intuit’s merchant services and did not like the fact that they would need to download and then input merchant transactions if they did not use Intuit’s merchant services. Their shopping cart could integrate with QuickBooks Windows’s desktop and online versions if they used a third party integrator. While looking at the integration options, they saw Xero and asked how that would work. We spent some time going through the steps of how it would work using Xero versus QuickBooks desktop versus QBO. During these discussions, one partner was just concerned that she be provided detailed step-by-step procedures based on the final decision. The other was diagramming all the steps and links to each piece of his back office puzzle. He was actually drawing out the workflow. It became evident that they wanted lots of detail. Not surprising since they were accountants, but as retired people that wanted to surf often and deal with the least amount of data entry as possible with as few as possible steps to get the ultimate overall view of their new company.

They spoke with the bank that was offering their merchant services and realized that the Intuit Merchant Services would be the better option if they went with QuickBooks. We discussed using QuickBooks Desktop, which they preferred as opposed to QBO. Using the ASP model, they could continue to use their Airbook and still share a QuickBooks desktop file in the cloud. Or they could just go with QBO. If they went with Xero, their bank merchant services would work via a third party integration tool. Xero lacked deep inventory, but the online web vendor had very good inventory management tool. I spoke with the integrators to get the steps needed to perform the transfer of data. We drilled into the inventory management tools, as well as lack thereof, in two accounting packages. Everything revolved around the least number of steps for the most data and getting over their fear of SaaS applications. Final decision: QBO Plus with Intuit Merchant Services and OneSaaS integration tool. This methodology would provide them the most control, with the least manual entry, and the fastest place to review all work. They never once asked how to click here or there. That comes later.

This was a four-hour review of their options only, taking place over an entire week. Consulting fees were set in advance. If they grow enough, I will get the monthly bookkeeping, which I will hand off to my bookkeeping team. Any additional technology integration questions are billable, and I have a great referral as they are quite happy with results.