Cloud Accounting Tech Trends

OneSaas Tackles the Big Bad Data Challenge

Written by Mathew Heggem

When I discuss #AccTech with my accounting colleagues, there are three things that matter above all else: accuracy, security, and usability. These three qualities — accuracy, security, and usability — are critical to any #AccTech platform. So in the world of cloud integration, it was my pleasure to discover that OneSaas was a cut above the rest.

  • Accuracy: Without accuracy, the system has no value. When I was becoming a QuickBooks ProAdvisor early on in my accounting career, I remember reading “garbage in, garbage out” at the beginning of one of the textbooks. Ain’t that the truth? If the software is inaccurate, you might as well throw everything out — the baby, the bathwater, and possibly even the bathtub. Fortunately, #AccTech providers seem to have this one down.
  • Security: After you know that the data is correct, the next concern is security. What good is having high-quality data if the wrong hands can access it? No matter how sleek and efficient the software may be, accountants don’t want to touch it if security isn’t top-notch. And rightfully so: In this ever-increasing ecosystem of cybercrime, a reported 43 percent of small businesses were targeted in 2015. You’d rather not take the chance.
  • Usability: But once you’ve checked off accuracy and security, you want to know that you’ll be able to use that data, too! Can you log in to a dashboard, for example, and easily view critical reports? Is the interface user-friendly and navigable? And can you move the data from one application to another, or do you need to jump through Excel hoops to analyze information?

The Total Waste Management Package

At this year’s #QBConnect, I pulled OneSaas CEO Jeff Perlman aside to learn more about the platform. OneSaasOneSaas functions as a great digital plumbing system for accounting consultants wishing to enter the world of process-mapping and systems integration. But Perlman would likely take umbrage with that description because, he suggests, the phrase “digital plumbing” fails to encapsulate OneSaas’ offerings.

“Digital plumbing assumes you’re providing a pipe to flow something in its exact form from one place to another,” explains Perlman. “What really sets us apart is that we’re transforming accounting. If you take your typical sales data out of any type of shopping cart and put it as-is into accounting, it would be rejected. You will just have moved the problem further through the pipes, but you won’t actually get what you expect out of the faucet.”

To that end, OneSaas was built more like a “waste treatment plant.” “We are taking the data, processing it, and making it what it needs to be when it comes out the other end,” Perlman clarifies. But to understand the brilliance behind OneSaas, let’s go back to the beginning — a story that resonates with the true spirit of entrepreneurship.

From the Chess Board to Digital Plumbing

OneSaas traces its origins to founder Corneliu Tusnea’s passion for games such as chess and backgammon. An avid player, Tusnea turned his hobby into a business by launching an online store and selling unique chess sets and board games. Eventually, he decided to open a physical store — all while working 50-plus hours a week as a security architect for a financial institution.

With data entry eating away at his already limited time, Tusnea began brainstorming a data workflow automation system in 2008. But when he showcased an early version at a startup conference, people discouraged him from continuing. One then-Microsoft employee even told him his vision was great in theory but impossible in reality.

Two years later, that same Microsoft guy dropped to his knees when he saw Tusnea and the OneSaas team at the Tech23 conference in Australia: “You guys are awesome,” he said. “You did it!”

And they had! Tusnea, Perlman, and the OneSaas team succeeded in creating a data workflow automation platform that is now a tool in the accountant’s back pocket to revolutionize the way clients’ data flows.

The OneSaas Difference

Yes, plumbing keeps data moving, but data management is critical to avoiding information clogs. As Perlman notes, OneSaas is ultimately a waste treatment facility in the midst of the plumbing system. It works by recalculating every number, for example, in a POS transaction as soon as it comes in — making it both precise and efficient.

Other systems such as Zapier do a good job of organizing the influx of accounting data. But they don’t ensure that the numbers flowing through the plumbing are accurate, especially as app developers make decisions that could result in rounding errors and miscalculations.

For instance, imagine you have a FreshBooks invoice with two line items. Line one is a service and should not be taxed, while line two is a product and should be taxed. Let’s say you do FreshBooks to Xero accounting via Zapier.

Because the Zapier template only allows mapping to one tax, the tax will be incorrectly applied to all the line items. When an extra tax amount is added, it results in incorrect line items and, thus, an incorrect total that comes in higher than the original FreshBooks invoice.

Perhaps a smarter developer could leverage Zapier’s developer platform to improve the process, though it seems like this issue is backed into the design. Regardless, OneSaas integrated the “treatment” functionality into its product, which is what makes it a powerful preference over other iPaaS tools.

So if you do FreshBooks to Xero accounting via OneSaas, it will recognize that the two line items are a different type. Therefore, it will correctly apply tax to only the product line item, resulting in a correct total and a match to the original FreshBooks invoice.

OneSaas also partners with others in the SMB SaaS ecosystem. However, not just any would-be developer can jump into this partnership and start integrating (at least for now — Perlman notes they are considering more of an open community soon).

Until it opens up that dialogue, OneSaas continues to select key partners in critical business areas — such as e-commerce, POS, and fulfillment — to support integration solutions. And with a collaborative mentality, these partnerships allow OneSaas to create a powerful, deeply integrated connection between one app and another.

The Accounting Profession of the Future

Security is a critical concern for every accounting professional, and OneSaas takes this seriously. Tusnea hasOneSaas a background in security, so the platform is as airtight as one can get. When OneSaas joined Intuit’s ecosystem, for example, it went through rigorous security tests. Afterward, the Cigital consultant who was employed by Intuit to run these security scans told Perlman and his team that they were the first app developer to go through the testing procedure without getting any reds.

Still, many accounting professionals remain skeptical of digital plumbing services. “Getting over people’s fear of anything that’s new is always an obstacle,” Perlman concedes. “It really does require the new generation of tech-savvy people in the accounting firms to walk some of the more traditional people through what’s going on and why it’s beneficial.”

The term “integration” has become something of a buzzword, too, and most people don’t really know what it means. They already have a process for maintaining their numbers, and they don’t want to cede that control to a software platform they don’t understand. It’s wise to be skeptical — but only to a point. Digital plumbing has become a competitive necessity, and companies that rely on outdated data systems will not survive.

“You walk into your traditional accounting firm and see rows and rows of bookkeepers doing manual data entry and probably spending even more time doing data cleanup,” says Perlman. “They’re actually doing two sides of the same job. The manual data entry process consists of taking data from here and re-entering it there. And because they’re human, they’re likely making errors. So when they run reports and see that they don’t balance, they spend the same amount of time again going back and finding their own errors.”

Transitioning to new methods is challenging, but it’s also liberating. Anyone who has ever been stuck doing manual data entry knows that it’s tedious and unrewarding.

OneSaas frees accounting professionals to focus on more stimulating tasks and to connect more meaningfully with their clients. Imagine the things you could do at #ZeroDataEntry. What types of value-added services could you offer when your team isn’t slaving over easily automated processes?

Skepticism and risk-averseness are the qualities that make accounting professionals so good at their jobs. But as technology advances, checking off all the right boxes for us and our clients, it challenges the profession. So put OneSaas in your back pocket, and stay competitive in the shifting accounting industry.

About the author

Mathew Heggem

Dancer-turned-accountant Mathew Heggem is the CEO and co-founder of SUM Innovation, a New York-based accounting management and consulting firm that assesses, designs, implements, and manages accounting solutions for fast-growth startups, international businesses, established and growing businesses, and nonprofits across the U.S. Mathew is also the founder of the #SUMTech Summit and the #AccTech Cooperative meetup group in New York City, which explores the intersection between accounting, technology, and entrepreneurship. In the spirit of entrepreneurial success, Mathew also recently co-founded Neuland Alliance, a transatlantic consortium of specialists dedicated to serving global entrepreneurs in their U.S. expansion. When he’s not in the office or on the road, he’s in the studio as a choreographer for Left Side Labs. But business doesn’t stop in the boardroom, as Mathew’s dance company is currently building ARTSLAB, a six-month Arts Entrepreneurship Incubator Program focused on educating creative entrepreneurs and bridging the gap between business and the arts.

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