Cloud Accounting Small Business

Current Roundup: Document Management for Accounting Pros

Accounting Storage

While all the software discussed in this article is document management in one way or another, I’ve giving this type the accounting storage term, as these software are more designed to manage and store your documents than they are to extract information from them. They are specifically made for accounting professionals as a way to both capture and organize files from multiple clients. Safety is also a concern, so access rights is a usual feature.

All make it easy to get files in, whether through email, scanner, mobile device, or computer.

Within this niche, I feel there’s a traditional approach and a new approach. For example, SmartVault would be the traditional approach, with file folders and even a folder sync with your computer, like what you see with Dropbox. This means that whatever is in your SmartVault can also be found in your computer. On top of that, it can link files directly to software like QuickBooks Online and Xero through its browser plugin. It’s important to note that these are links, as the files themselves aren’t actually residing in QuickBooks Online or Xero, but rather they are pulled up on demand when viewing a transaction while in the accounting software. SmartVault also has a client portal for collecting documents and a version history & recycle bin to make sure that files don’t accidentally get deleted and that you can trace the changes to a document.

The newer approach is found within LedgerDocs and Hubdoc. LedgerDocs uses tags and folders to organize documents and even lets you add a bit of information to the document (such as renaming it and adding a note). The service can publish documents to QuickBooks Online, but since it doesn’t automatically extract data, I would recommend other software if this is your intended use. Its strength is that it has an advanced search and good batch categorization capabilities, which means if you’re an organized filer, you should be able to easily retrieve your documents. Its primary purpose is to make it easy to collect documents from clients, and as such it even has a scheduled reminder you can send asking for them. It also support many file types, so it’s a more general file storage solution than others.

Hubdoc is the most modern take on online document management. Its main strength is that it has created its own feeds to online accounts, which pulls not only cell phone or utility bills automatically, but also PDFs and CSV of your bank statements from your online banking (super handy for reconciliations)! Unlike the others, it automatically extracts data and is designed to be able to post the transactions to accounting software and even accounts payable/receivable software like Bill.com. Where it doesn’t do so well is in its organization, batch categorization, and search. While there are tags, it’s not as simple as other software to apply them. There is no batch categorization, and there’s only a single view mode available (LedgerDocs has both thumbnail and list options). Search is quite limited and there’s no advanced functionality. Lastly, publishing documents to accounting software sometimes requires double entry of data, as the connection between HubDocs’ lists and your accounting software is not strong.

While each individual solution generally makes it easy to collect documents, each has its own unique ways to organize and push them out to your accounting software or business apps, with all doing a so-so job at it. If you’re really looking to push documents to your accounting software, you’re better off with expense or receipt management software.

Summary:

  • Designed for accountants and bookkeepers
  • Some have ability to fetch documents
  • Some have integrations with accounting software and other business apps
  • Search is not as good as general storage solutions
  • Ability to add additional data is not as strong as other niches

Expense Management

These services are very focused on collecting out-of-pocket expenses that employees would be accumulating. As such, they have approval processes and the ability to create expense reports. They also have the capability to track mileage and can mark expenses as billable for the purpose of billing out to clients.

Tallie has gone a bit further and has bank feeds, so that you can match receipts to your business bank or credit card. This is the only document management software that I’ve come across that has a bank feed feature that pulls in transactions.

While they can collect receipts paid for with business funds, their strength really is in capturing receipts paid for with non-business funds. The whole workflow is generally set up for that purpose.

The software also doesn’t really deal with accounts payable or receivable, so it’s not a place to put those types of documents. If you’re looking for that, you’d be better off with something like Bill.com or Entryless.

Summary:

  • Track mileage
  • Track reimbursable expenses
  • Not always an easy way to distinguish between company funds vs. personal funds
  • Doesn’t really deal with accounts receivable or payable
  • Not as useful for company paid receipts, as it can often duplicate data
  • Approval process

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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.

1 Comment

  • Thanks for the well-rounded article. I too long for a more comprehensive and unified solution with all the elements you mention. I previously assumed that some online company had already accomplished most of this, but have found that none have. I’ll be waiting for one that does.

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