QuickBooks is the undisputed leader in accounting software for small and mid-size entities. Sometimes you encounter a particular situation or function that QuickBooks does not address. In such times, you can solve for most business software functions with QuickBooks 3rd-party add-ons – software tailored to meet virtually every business need. 3rd-party developers provide industry-specific expertise that, together with QuickBooks, can fully meet the needs of small to mid-sized businesses.
What is an Add-On
3rd-party software developers (that is, software developers that are not Intuit) produce applications to solve functions not addressed by QuickBooks. These are called Add-Ons. These software applications integrate with QuickBooks via the application programming interface (API) made available by Intuit, the maker of QuickBooks. An API is a software intermediary that makes it possible for software applications to interact with each other and share data.
By making QuickBooks data available for read/write from/to outside application programs, Intuit allows 3rd-party developers to extend the capabilities of QuickBooks functionality. These add-ons fill needs that QuickBooks does not solve.
When do You Need an Add-On?
For example, QuickBooks Enterprise can have up to 30 simultaneous users in a single company data file. Rarely will there be a need for more than 30 users in the accounting function per se. But if you need non-accounting users such as sales or purchasing to access the system, it may be more applicable to consider an add-on, where those users can access their particular functions without impacting the accounting system (QuickBooks).
Another example of when to step out beyond QuickBooks is when the QuickBooks company data file grows to be very large and you begin to experience performance issues. There may be room for an add-on to alleviate the data requirements of the operation.
Sometimes the reason for considering an add-on is not a technical requirement like users or data size but more functional. If the needs of a business become more complex, it is time for an add-on. Examples include:
- Reports above and beyond what is in QuickBooks, using data contained in QuickBooks
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) that connects with QuickBooks
- Sales Tax calculation and tracking for multiple jurisdictions
- Webstore integration – automatically downloading orders from a shopping cart into QuickBooks
- Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to automatically receive orders into QuickBooks and send out invoices out of QuickBooks, including any related order notifications and shipping documents – EDI is a subject worthy of an entire separate article, but suffice to say that EDI is not a choice but a requirement when selling to “big box” stores, like Wal-Mart, Target, and most supermarket chains.
Complex Inventory Needs
In the same vein of business needs that are more complex, here are even more specific needs that many inventory-centric businesses have:
- Different inventory costing methodology – QuickBooks supports only Average and FIFO Costing
- Landed or added costs – including freight-in and other costs into the cost of inventory received
- Mobile inventory picking or receiving
- Matrix inventory
- Routing and scheduling
- Accumulated manufacturing costs – Work-In-Process (WIP)
- Scheduling and forecasting – Material Resource Planning (MRP)
- Shop floor control in manufacturing
- Substitute vendors and substitute products
Examples of software partners that produce applications that address many of the above complex inventory needs include ACCTivate, Agiliron, MISys Manufacturing, AllOrders by NumberCruncher, Fishbowl Inventory, and InventoryControl by WaspBarcode. Software partners that address some of the other complex needs mentioned above include QQube by Clearify, LegrandCRM, Method Integration, Avalara, CCR Software, Atandra, B2B Gateway, and SPS Commerce.
No matter how much any of the solutions cost, they will pay for themselves in a matter of months or less. This comes directly from clients’ experience.
Over this and the next few months, we will be exploring several of these 3rd-party add-ons in greater depth.
Let’s step out and explore together!