Cloud Accounting Small Business

Current Roundup: Document Management for Accounting Pros

Two-way sync between apps

When you’re connecting any of the apps to your accounting software, they mostly don’t sync data both ways. It’s generally pushing transactions from the document management app to the accounting software, and not the other way around. Some software can sync the lists used for accounts, contacts, taxes, and tracking categories, but again, sometimes the data only flows one way, from the accounting software to the app. Tallie is a bit of an exception, as it can sync those lists both ways — if you add a contact or account in Tallie, it will push that to your accounting software.

What this means is that you really have to be aware of the flow of the data and to enter it in the right software first. If you’re adding a new account, you usually need to do this in your accounting software first and then make sure it syncs to the app.

Another issue with synchronization occurs when updating transactions. Once you push a transaction from receipt management software to your accounting software, any further changes to the transaction won’t be synced. So if you update the transaction in the receipt management software, it won’t change the transaction in your accounting software, and if you edit the transaction in your accounting software, the change won’t be reflected in your receipt management software.

Adding data

How much data you can add about a file really depends on the software you’re using. Receipt Management software is the best at collecting data, whereas the general storage and document management solutions aren’t so great. What kind of data am I talking about? Things like contact names, account codes/categories, taxes used, tracking categories, notes, and so on.

Search

I find the general storage category is usually the best at search since they’re from big companies, while many of the other vendors seem to treat search as an afterthought. When the search is poor, the only solution is to add as much information as you’re able to to the document and to organize it as best you can.

Duplicate files

This is one of the biggest issues I have with all the software. Often I find my documents live in at least two locations, like my email inbox and my receipt management software, or my dropbox folder and my accounting management software. I try to cut down on duplicates as much as possible, but it seems an impossible task. For each type of document, I generally try to find a location to be the master one. So receipts would be in one software, financial docs in another, general business documents in yet another one, and so on. I like how Dropbox integrates with many services and can see a day where that would perhaps act as the master spot for it all, but it doesn’t work out for all my needs at the moment.

Bank feed vs. document OCR

This is my big issue with any of the services that I use for receipt management. The bank feed contains lots of crucial information (that is nearly 100% accurate), as it knows the following:

  • Bank/Credit card account used
  • Amount
  • Date
  • Contact name (somewhat so, because often the names are shortened and they can be different for companies that DBA)

With that bank feed information, it’s generally enough to categorize a good majority of receipts. With OCR, you might think it wouldn’t be that hard to use it to extract the amount and date information from documents, and then be able to match a receipt to a bank feed transaction. However, I still haven’t seen this done in a good way. I don’t know whether it’ll be accounting software themselves that add this capability, or if it’ll come from a receipt management app, but it seems inevitable that these two data sets would be combined to cut down on manual data entry and verification. Tallie does have this capability, but it’s still not as smooth and smart as I’d like to see.

Conclusion

As a reviewer, it’s kind of exciting to have all these different solutions, as there’s so much to analyze. As a business owner, however, I really wish there was a better all-in-one solution.

Like many of my reviews, my ultimate advice is to figure out what your business needs are, list them, and then test out the software that seems to fit those needs best. I can almost guarantee that no software will tick off all the boxes, but hopefully you can get most of them checked off, and find workarounds for the tasks that it can’t do out of the box.

I find that the various document management solutions are still very much evolving everyday, which brings me hope that it will get better and easier in the coming years. Among the most promising areas are artificial intelligence (AI) and Big Data. I’ve seen companies talk about these capabilities, and if what they’re working on pans out as they like to promote, I can see it come into great use for many of the document management needs.


Save pagePDF pageEmail pagePrint page

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.

Leave a Comment