My favorite part of accounting trade shows is visiting the vendor exhibition to find new products. Let’s take a look at some interesting accounting products and services that I came across at Accountex USA 2017, which took place in Boston September 6-8. These are products that are new (at least, to me) or that have recently undergone a major update.
Nothing beats getting a chance to talk face-to-face with representatives of companies, being able to see what new products are available, or what has changed in products I’m familiar with. I’ve picked a few products to highlight here, and I’m just going to give you a quick idea of why I think these products and services are interesting. These are not in-depth reviews, and I have not done a detailed evaluation of any of them (yet). I’m not listing every company that caught my eye, I’m just picking a few that intrigued me the most. I’m leaving out a lot of great companies that exhibited at the show — many that I’ve known for years — because I’m focusing on new products and features.
Below each of these products, I’ve listed other solution providers that feature similar capabilities to the solution I’m highlighting here — and that also exhibited at Accountex USA 2017. For a comprehensive list of providers in a wide range of accounting technology categories — including those featured here — download the latest version of the Accountex Accounting Technology Ecosystem, which lists over 700 vendors in 30 categories.
Veem is used primarily to handle international transfers of funds efficiently and at a very low cost. If you are a small to medium sized business and you have international customers or vendors, this is a service to investigate.
International payments are usually handled with wire transfers. Major corporations have whole departments set up just to manage these kinds of transactions, but smaller businesses don’t have that luxury. Often when you make or receive a wire transfer, those funds will go through a series of banks, and at each stage someone is taking a fee. Those fees will add up fast, easily costing you 5% to 10% of the transaction (or more). It can be very frustrating!
If you work with Veem you don’t have to worry about all of that, they handle the transaction for you. The cost is going to be a low fee of 1.9% for international transfers! That is an amazingly low fee. How about domestic transfers? At this time, the fee is 0%!
Veem integrates with Xero and QuickBooks Online, although I have not investigated the details of those integrations yet. The user interface for their payment portal was very clean and simple, and you will know the cost of the transfer up front, rather than after the fact as you often do with bank wire transfers. Veem is authorized in all 50 states in the US as well as in 60 other countries.
If you send a payment to someone, they get an email with a link to the payment portal. One of the features of this service that I really like is that if the recipient of the email doesn’t click on the link to accept the payment, Veem will call them on the phone to follow up. Other similar systems that I’ve looked into will just send another email, and that just doesn’t work.
Scanov is a data capture “engine” for importing bills, invoices, and receipts to QuickBooks Online. You can use a high-speed scanner to upload to the online dashboard or, if you wish, take a photo with your smartphone and email it to their processing server. The Scanov OCR system will scan the document and turn it into the appropriate transaction in your accounting system.
These kind of analog OCR data capture products have been around for some time now, so that raises two questions:
- Why would I need a “scanning” product when all of our online accounting systems are supposed to be connected, so that data flows from one system to another electronically? I have to admit, I’ve been waiting for this aspect of the “digital revolution” to arrive, and dang it, we still aren’t there. Getting disparate systems to talk with each other can still be a chore. Also, I still deal with a lot of paper these days, as do many of my clients. So, many businesses find that they still need this kind of OCR/paper scanning system to automate their data entry.
- What is special about Scanov compared to other OCR/scanning systems I’ve seen? The main feature that catches my eye here is the speed of the system. With other systems I’ve worked with, you have to wait too long to see the results of the scan, which is inconvenient. I want to see the results right away, so that I can check it for accuracy and know that the process is complete. One of Scanov’s big advantages is that their system will show you the results very quickly, faster than any system I’ve seen before. Also, from what I understand, there is no setup fee for a new transaction template. Other systems I’ve worked with will charge you a significant fee to set up a template for a bill or invoice from a source they haven’t worked with before.
For accounting professionals, Scanov provides you with a single sign-on dashboard that lets you manage all of your client’s documents easily.
Circulus is an online Accounts Payable management system that shows great promise. If you have clients who need to manage their payment workflow, this is a product that you should consider. It has a very intuitive user interface. The product works with both QuickBooks Desktop and QuickBooks Online. Users can implement anything from a simple enter-and-pay function, to a more complicated payments workflow with role-based permissions and multiple levels of approvals.
There are several well-known systems available that handle similar tasks, but sometimes their process is complicated to understand and hard to manage. From what I’ve seen so far, the Circulus small business AP system will be easier to work with. I’m going to spend more time investigating this in detail.
There is a monthly fee based on the number of users, and then a per-transaction fee of $0.45 per ACH payment or $1.39 for payment by check. Circulus offers a 30-day free trial that includes your first 30 payments at no charge.
If you sign up as an accountant partner you can use the system to pay your payables for no monthly fee (I’m not sure about the per-transaction fee), with the idea that this gives you the ability to get to know the system and recommend it to your clients. This includes an accountant’s portal that you can use to manage your Circulus clients. The client can allow you just to view information, or you can be an integral part of the approval workflow if they wish. For the Circulus fees, you can set it up to have the client paying their fee directly to Circulus, or you can bill the client yourself. For information, click here.
Suntico is a business analytics reporting tool/dashboard that builds on Microsoft Power BI to provide insights to your Sage 50 company (and coming soon, QuickBooks Enterprise). The user interface is very clean and it provides excellent graphic and tabular reports based on your data. They have a wide range of reports built in, and you can create your own. I was very impressed with the quality of the presentation of information. This product makes sense for firms with 10 to 100 employees.
This is an online product, so you don’t have to go through a complicated desktop installation like other analytics products that work with these desktop accounting systems. Not having to deal with installing SQL Server or get into the complications of connecting your desktop data with Microsoft Power BI is a major advantage over other products.
The Accountex Report has written about the advantages — the need — for quality business analytics. It is a function that many businesses just haven’t taken the time to implement. Implementing a simple-to-use analytics system is an important service that an accounting professional can provide to his or her clients. Suntico looks like a good option for Sage 50 users, and I’ll be interested to look into it in more detail when they support QuickBooks Enterprise.