February 19, 2022
These days, everyone has more to do, more stress and more demands on their time. Whether you’re an accountant, a bookkeeper or a fractional CFO, you have probably felt the pressure. You’re probably looking for automation tools that can make your job easier and increase your productivity.
Fortunately, technology has come to the rescue, and there are more automation tools for financial management and accounting routines than ever before. With the right combination of these tools and platforms, you can shave a big chunk of work out of every day and invest your time in building a strategy.
Let’s take a closer look at three of the best automation tools for closing books and building dashboards.
Zapier is a low code automation tool that allows you to connect a huge number of platforms and tasks together. You can do everything from automating social media posting to setting up accounting task automation from QuickBooks to Google Sheets like posting your invoices or new customers.
However, you can not automatically import your Profit & Loss (P&L), Cash Flow and other reports, which is necessary for many Finance Teams to see the full picture.
If you don’t need to do a lot of automation, there is a forever free plan that allows you 100 “zaps” free per month. However, if you’re a finance professional that works with repetitive tasks every day, you’ll find that gets used up very quickly. There is also a Starter option at $19.99 per month and a Professional option for $49 per month. Both options are based on annual payment.
Its flexibility. You can connect nearly anything to nearly anything quickly and easily. Also, you need to have a knack for beginner-level coding - it’s not easy for a newbie to think through the automation logic. But if you are into it, you will really enjoy it.
Cdata is a “universal data connectivity platform” with 200+ integrations. Its purpose is to help you connect any data sources to anything that might require them. Like Zapier, there is a huge number of possible connectors, but unlike Zapier this is less about task automation and more about information integration. It allows you to access live QuickBooks Desktop data from BI, Analytics, Reporting, ETL, and Custom Apps.
As for financial integrations, CData has an API Server, a lightweight Web application, that runs on your server and produces secure feeds of QuickBooks data for your Google Sheets.
Cdata has “a la carte” pricing, based on different types of connections. So, you choose the items you want, and your pricing is calculated accordingly starting from $3,999 a year.
Accountants, bookkeepers and finance professionals alike often need to access data from a variety of sources. Cdata makes it possible to access it from basically anywhere and to get it in a format that you can use in your software packages and platforms without too much hands-on work required afterwards.
LiveFlow is a Google Sheets add-on that allows you to import and sync QuickBooks Online reports to Google Sheets in real time. The best part? You can connect to multiple QBO accounts and sync them all right in Google Sheets without wasting a second of your time!
You can automate manual data entry for P&L, Cash Flow, Balance Sheet, A/P and A/R Aging, Sales by Product/Customer and other reports. Once connected, LiveFlow makes it easy to create complex real-time reports without having to enter data manually or export it to PDFs to share updates with your clients. Just give them View access to the dashboard you designed and see how happy your clients are since they can see their data flowing without any delay. Moreover, you can drill down into these reports and comment on the transactions without switching to QuickBooks ever again.
LiveFlow offers a free trial for 2 weeks where you will be treated as n onboarded a customer - with a lot of attention and love. The pricing is custom, you can request a quote here.
Compared to Zapier and Cdata, LiveFlow is very much centred around finances and focuses on streamlining and automating reporting functions. So unlike other options, where there is still some data manipulation to be done, LiveFlow offers intuitive functionality without a steep learning curve.
We’ve focused on three of the best tools you can use to automate accounting tasks, but there are others out there. Before you make any decisions though, there’s one thing that should always be at the very top of any comparison list: automation.
There are many great tools out there that don’t integrate easily with QuickBooks or Google Sheets. They might be wonderful at what they do, BUT you will still have to manually export, reformat and import any data and results from those tools. That increases hands-on time, which costs more and will always carry more risk of errors.
In this day and age, when cloud computing is the standard, everything you use should (ideally) integrate with everything else. Ready made APIs and connections get the job done (and you don’t even have to understand how) and allow you to switch seamlessly between one platform and another in seconds.
So, before you look at any other thing, make sure that your choice of time and labour saving software and tools plays nice with all the other things you use to get the job done.
When it comes to financial accounting and management automation, there’s no such thing as too much automation. The more tasks you can speed up, streamline and automate, the more time you will save, the more you will get done and the more accurate your results will be. After all, the less human interference there is, the less likely human errors are to happen.
However, if you are just looking for your first automation tool (and yes, we might be a little bit biased), LiveFlow offers the simplest way to automate purely finance-based functions. You might still add Cdata and Zapier to the mix because they do other things that are undoubtedly useful.
Being able to export data directly from software like QuickBooks to Google Sheets with a truly seamless interface is probably the biggest time saver for accountants, bookkeepers, CFOs and other finance professionals. Give it a try and see the difference!