Cloud Accounting Small Business

Hubdoc Review

The way that the data entry works in certain fields is also frustrating. For example, with the Account Code field, you need to type in the numbered code instead of the account name. Say I have an account like 6050 – Meals, I have to type in 6050 to narrow down my account choice, rather than being able to type in “meals” and being able to find the account. This means I generally have to scroll through a long list of accounts, which drives me a bit nuts.

Adding new contacts is not as smooth as in other systems. With other software, I can type in a new contact name, and if the contact doesn’t exist, it’ll provide me with an “Add Contact” option. With Hubdoc I need to find the +Add Vendor option and first select that. It’s an extra step that’s not necessary.

The biggest issue I find is that in order to publish the document to your accounting software, a contact needs to be chosen. Even if Hubdoc has successfully extracted a Vendor name (see above screenshot), the Contact field still needs filling out. That’s because Hubdoc has its own vendor list that is separate from your contacts list in your accounting software. I can’t really see any good reason that these two lists can’t be combined, like I’ve seen with competing software.

This is actually a bigger problem than having to double up on the work of choosing a contact. For certain vendors, like taxis or restaurants, I don’t think you really need to record the individual vendor names in Hubdoc or your accounting software. The advantage of not typing in one-off vendor names is that you can use a generic vendor name, like Restaurant, which already has defaults associated with it. So, instead of having to fill out a whole host of information for each new vendor, I can simply choose a generic name and not have to do that repetitive work. Plus, since you have the receipt, you already have the vendor name if you really want to know it.

Another problem with how the Vendor and Contact fields works is that you have to go into Account Settings in order to set up a default tax code to associate with it. For those in the U.S. this isn’t an issue, since you don’t need to record taxes spent on purchases. But for those of us with value added taxes (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK), this is a necessary evil. While I can’t speak for other countries, in Canada we have varying tax rates, which means we really do need to pay attention to this field.

So yes, you can go into Account Settings and choose the default configurations for contacts. For example, this is what it looks like to set up publishing options to Xero.

eShipper

I like that you can do this, but I find the view is not the most conducive to quickly entering data. I’d much prefer a list or table view of contacts, which would let you configure the options more easily and in less clicks.

One task Hubdoc can’t perform is to identify the payment method, like whether it was paid for by my VISA ending in 4622 or my Mastercard ending in 8373. In any company that has multiple credit cards in play and employees/owners who are prone to paying with cash, this is a crucial data point that needs to be entered,

One last point I’d like to make about dealing with documents is that there’s no merging or splitting documents that I can see, nor any duplicate detection. This means that if I have a credit card receipt scanned in separately from the regular receipt, the system won’t let me combine them, and because it doesn’t detect duplicates, there’s a very real chance it gets entered twice.

While Hubdoc is great at gathering documents, I feel it’s not nearly as strong when it comes to categorizing them. While it does an OK job, the data extracted will still need human attention. A quite simple example is that I often found dates were entered wrong (come on world, let’s all just go with YYYY-MM-DD)!

Integrations

Something that Hubdoc has done well is integrate with a multitude of other software.

Accounting Integrations

Because of the large amount of integrations, Hubdoc really can be a great tool for gathering docs and then sending them off to other places, whether it be cloud storage or AR/AP tools like Bill.com.

Conclusion

Gathering documents is Hubdoc’s competitive advantage and it does that quite well. It’s all the rest that I’m not so hot about.

Let me start with data extraction. I don’t know what the exact magic number for accuracy is, but I’m just going to go ahead and say it’s 90%. Hubdoc doesn’t get that high for me, and it still takes a bit of time for me to go through the docs and correct them. It’s little things like being able to pick out the right vendor name, choosing the correct date format, or identifying the payment source.

Beyond data extraction, I don’t enjoy the data entry process in Hubdoc. There are too many fields that are left blank that could be filled out through some better rules and data organization. On top of that, using the fields themselves was not fun. When it comes to data entry, if you can’t easily use your keyboard to move between all the fields and quickly make your choices, the software needs work.

Beyond categorizing, it’s the organization of the documents that just doesn’t sit right with me. My ideal solution would be a spreadsheet/table view. The list views allows more data to be seen at once and thus speeds up and makes the process of parsing through the data much better. Not only that, it would allow one to manipulate many transactions all at once. For example, let’s say I wanted to merge three documents together. Select them all and merge. What if I noticed there were five Amazon transactions that would be all coded the same? Let me select all five and do it all at once.

Now some software gets away with not having robust batch transaction functionality by offering strong auto-categorization and rules. For example, QuickBooks Online will see how you categorize a transaction for a vendor, and automatically apply those settings to all outstanding transactions. Other software, like AutoEntry, will ask you whether you want to apply the categorization to the other outstanding transactions from the same vendor.

Finding the doc I’m looking for in Hubdoc is not the ideal experience. The search is too finicky and general for me to completely trust it. You only get a single box with no advanced search tools (like being able to narrow down by type or date). On a positive note, I do like how there is a folder-like structure for documents. I find this especially useful when looking for bank statements. You’re also able to use tags, but since you can’t batch set tags, have them as defaults, or enter them using the regular input fields, I’ve found using them is more trouble than it’s worth.

I’ve been using Hubdoc for nearly two years now and I must admit that it’s been a great aid in gathering docs. But what I still haven’t come to trust the software to do is to easily push that information over to my accounting software. Currently it takes too much time for the benefit. I’ve found I’m much better off letting the accounting software categorize transactions based off of the bank feed, and then when I find a transaction from a new vendor, or for a large amount of money, I’ll go into Hubdoc and find that document so that I can download it and attach it to the transaction in my accounting software.

Hubdoc has all the information it needs to make a fantastic product, but the execution needs some more work. If you’re looking for an easy way to collect documents from clients, then yeah, Hubdoc is a great way to go. But if you’re looking for a solution that can push documents to your accounting software, there is other software that currently does this better.


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About the author

Greg Lam

Greg Lam is a passionate small business guy who loves technology and automation. He holds a BBA from Simon Fraser University, Canada. He's a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Certified Xero Partner, and Kashoo MVP. His business interests are focused on online accounting and how it can be used to streamline and automate a company’s accounting processes. He currently lives in Tokyo, Japan.

Greg operates the Small Biz Doer website, an "Entrepreneur's Guide to Small Biz Bookkeeping." He is the author of Online Accounting Software: Finding the Right Match, published by The Sleeter Group.

Connect with Greg on Twitter, Google Plus, YouTube, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

11 Comments

    • That’s probably due to the fact that I changed the tax code to accommodate some local tax rules. Normally Hubdoc will extract the proper numbers from the receipt.

  • Should check out Hubdoc’s latest release. It addresses some of the issues highlighted in this review: more control over taxes extracted, ability to split invoices and enter inventory details, improved search in input cells such as vendors… did I miss anything?

      • Good point Greg! We are definitely are trying to get better all the time :). Really appreciate the work you’re doing “sorting clouds” too. Part of our go-to reading list

  • Love your review, but a few quibbles:

    “If you’re looking for an easy way to collect documents from clients, then yeah, Hubdoc is a great way to go.”

    I’m willing to judge it on this part alone. Is there anything out there better for automatically downloading statements? You’ve used it for 2 years, so I’m guessing not?

    “But if you’re looking for a solution that can push documents to your accounting software, there is other software that currently does this better.”

    Fair enough, but:
    1. Do they download statements automatically, because if not, it’s a bit of apples vs oranges, isn’t it?
    2. What other software. Adding that type of statement as the closing line with no elaboration just frustrates your readers :-).

    Thanks

    • Hey Dave. I’m not aware of any other software doing the fetching part. As far as extracting data and pushing transactions to Xero or QBO, they are a couple options: Receipt Bank is the one I have used in the past and it’s great, though with Hubdoc’s latest releases, there may not be much signifocant difference anymore.

    • Hi David, I understand what you’re saying. For fetching statements, I don’t know of any software that does it, although there could be. The the thing is, not everyone needs or wants their documents fetched. Like Fabien mentions, there is Receipt Bank that does a great job of pushing documents to your accounting software. It doesn’t fetch documents, but it does a good job of extracting data from digital documents.

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