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Explaining How to Automate QuickBooks

As businesses grow, so does the number of repetitive tasks they need to handle daily. Many of them revolve around accounting, and plenty of QuickBooks users would love to automate at least some of them. Luckily, with the number of available integrations and the features inside QuickBooks, it’s a fairly easy task.

In this article, we share how to automate QuickBooks workflows and demonstrate a popular scenario streamlining QuickBooks reporting.

The benefits of automation in QuickBooks

There are plenty of reasons why businesses love automating their accounting processes:

  • It saves them time. There are many dull, repetitive tasks in each accounting process – issuing and sending invoices, adding new entries to the system, generating reports, etc. No one really loves performing them, but they need to be done, one way or another. Automating such processes effectively saves you a lot of time – the time you can spend on more meaningful tasks.
  • It reduces the risk of human error. Manually entering the data, we inevitably make mistakes sometimes. Mistyping someone’s name could lead to some unpleasant situations in the future. Mistakenly adding an extra zero could cause quite a stir until the root cause is discovered. Automations, when configured properly, don’t make such mistakes and can save you plenty of hassle down the line.
  • It makes businesses more efficient. Various processes within companies require moving tasks from one person to another or even across departments. Tasks get blocked when someone goes on vacation or is simply overloaded. Automated QuickBooks workflows can streamline many such processes, remove unnecessary human involvement, automate the needed checks, and, as a result, improve the speed at which tasks are delivered.

How to automate QuickBooks?

There are certainly many things you could automate in your QuickBooks workflows. To find the right ones, try the following steps:

  • Look for repetitive tasks that take a lot of your time. It could be responding to emails, scanning through invoices, or going through lengthy approval processes.
  • Break down the process into smaller steps. Think about which of them could be automated and what the ideal workflow would look like.
  • Look for a suitable solution in the QuickBooks apps directory (to automate QuickBooks Online) or directly on the web if you use other QB editions. Perhaps the automation you have in mind is already built into QuickBooks? Once you find what you were looking for, test it out and see if it can handle the workflow you had in mind. 
  • Set up the chosen automation in QuickBooks and test it out on some dummy data. Consider various edge cases. Take as much time as you need to make sure it works as expected.
  • Finally, implement the automated workflow and continue monitoring how it performs.

As you begin to automate QuickBooks, it’s important to figure out which processes actually make sense to be automated. Unsurprisingly, not all of them should be. 

For example, solving customer problems and the communication around them should probably remain in human hands. Automating them too, you risk misunderstanding the problem and giving a customer a poor experience. However, even that can be streamlined to some extent. It could mean, for example, loading all the client data from different apps into a QuickBooks interface or automatically suggesting the most common resolutions. 

We’ll discuss many other automation ideas in the following chapters.

The popular automated QuickBooks workflows

There are two most common ways to automate QuickBooks – via built-in features inside the platform and via third-party tools built for automation purposes. The former is perhaps more straightforward, and some of these automations you may already be using without even knowing it. Third-party integrations open up new features not available on the QuickBooks platforms and are often easy to integrate. 

Whether you want to automate QuickBooks Online or any other edition, there’s plenty you can achieve. 

Here are some common QuickBooks workflows to streamline business processes.

Accounts payable automation in QuickBooks

Accounts payable often referred to as AP, is about what you owe to others. No one likes getting their money long past a deadline or not getting it at all due to faulty processes. Things like complex payment approval processes can also ruin a promising relationship.

When it comes to account payables, here are the areas that make the most sense to be automated, at least to some extent:

  • Invoice approval process (e.g., automate necessary checks)
  • Payment release process (release in bulk, from a single interface)
  • Gathering invoices (auto-labeling, grouping, scheduling payments)
  • Extracting information from invoices automatically

If you wish to automate QuickBooks Online, you’ll find the ability to extract invoice data available already in your interface. Check this video to see how QBO extracts data from the uploaded bills.

What about the external integrations? Here are some of the top-rated options:

  • ApprovalMax takes charge of the payment approval process and makes sure all bills are paid on time.
  • Lightyear automates data extractions and also smoothes the approval process.
  • Beanworks automates each step of the AP workflows, reduces errors, and helps with compliance.

Accounts receivable automation in QuickBooks

Account receivables (AR) are what others owe to you. It’s the source of revenue for your business so, obviously, you want it to be paid on time. However, often paying such bills isn’t that straightforward for your stakeholders. Simultaneously, following up on overdue payments takes your precious time and is a bit frustrating too. Quickbooks workflow automations strive to address that for you.

Here are some common ways to automate QuickBooks account receivables:

  • Invoice reminders (automated, personalized emails, follow-ups sent at the right intervals)
  • Simplifying payments (sharing links for quick payments, accepting various payment methods)
  • Automated invoice generation and delivery

As you try to automate QuickBooks Online, many applications can be of tremendous help:

  • Invoice Sherpa 2.0 automates invoice reminders and enables adding payment links directly in an email.
  • Upflow offers automated tracking of unpaid invoices and allows for easier involvement of a business team.
  • ConnectBooster automated invoice delivery and allows for setting up auto-payments for recurring invoices.

How to automate QuickBooks reports?

Reporting is also an essential part of every accounting process. QuickBooks offers a dedicated section for reporting where you can customize (to some extent) and export various types of exports. Each such activity requires, however, manual work. If it’s an end-of-the-year you’re fetching, it’s probably fine. If you, however, rely on QuickBooks data on a daily basis, automating Quickbooks reports becomes a must.

Coupler.io  is a very popular app used to automate QuickBooks Online reporting. It works in a very simple way:

  • You decide what to fetch from QuickBooks. It could be raw data (invoices, bills, customers, purchases, vendors, and more) or ready reports (e.g. AP Aging, Balance Sheet, Cash Flow, General Ledger, Vendor Balance, etc).
  • You choose where to export the data. Opt for a QuickBooks export to Excel or choose to fetch the data into a Google spreadsheet. If you prefer to pull the data into a data warehouse, choose a QuickBooks BigQuery integration instead.
  • Lastly, you set up a schedule so that the data is refreshed precisely when you need it to. For example, you could be fetching the latest balance sheet report every day at 8 am.
1 qb export schedule

This QuickBooks automation takes just a few minutes to set up and is available with a free 14-day trial, no credit card is required.

How to automate invoices in QuickBooks?

Handling both incoming and outgoing invoices tends to take a lot of accountants’ time. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are plenty of apps that can simplify the process for you. Some we already mentioned in the earlier chapters on automating AP and AR. Here are a few more to help you with QuickBooks invoice automation:

  • AutoEntry lets you take a photo of a physical invoice and scans its content for you. It then attaches a scanned file to a newly-created record in QuickBooks.
  • EzzyBills also extracts any data from invoices. On top of that, it automatically emails the respective approvers and can even update the inventory based on the extracted data.
  • Coupler.io, mentioned in the previous chapter, automatically exports your list of invoices into Excel, Google Sheets, or BigQuery so you can analyze them, calculate the revenues or expenses, and do a lot more.

Automate QuickBooks Online reporting – example

Let’s now look at a more detailed example of using Coupler.io to automate QuickBooks Online reporting.

Let’s say a few weeks ago you implemented an improved invoice handling process. Now, you want to check how it impacts the payables and receivables. You will use the data exported from QuickBooks to demonstrate how Total AP and Total AR change over time. 

You’ll find both numbers in the Balance Sheet report. Of course, you could access the report directly in QuickBooks but you won’t be able to process that data further there.

To fetch that report, follow these steps:

  • First things first, sign up for a Coupler.io account
  • Click the Add importer button.
  • From the list of sources, pick either QuickBooks or Quickbooks Reports, depending on what it is that you want to export. We’re fetching a Balance Sheet so we’ll pick QuickBooks Reports. As a destination, pick Google Sheets, Excel, or BigQuery.
2 quickbooks reports or raw data
  • Give the importer a name (optional but useful). Then, connect your QuickBooks Online account and authorize Coupler.io to import the data on your behalf.
  • Choose what to import from QuickBooks. We’ll go with the Balance Sheet report. Optionally, you can choose the report period and how the data should be grouped. The former can be very useful, for example, to see the balance sheet for each vendor, customer, or department. We’ll leave both empty, though, as we just want to get the total numbers.
3 quickbooks source setup
  • Next, you can choose some optional settings. We’ll skip them and jump to the destination settings.
  • Here, connect your Google or Microsoft account and authorize the relevant access to your account.
  • Decide also where to import your data using this QuickBooks Online automation. In the case of Google Sheets and Excel, pick a spreadsheet for your import. You can also choose an existing sheet or type in a new name. Coupler.io will create a sheet when the importer runs.
  • We’ll add some more customization here, though. Since we want to analyze the AP/AR totals over time, importing that data over and over again into the same sheet would be overwriting the earlier data. Instead, we want to have a new sheet created every time an importer runs, with the current date. To achieve that, we use a {{today}} macro. Read more about how macros work in Coupler.io.
4 quickbooks destination setup
  • The rest of the fields are optional but it’s useful to set up a schedule. Here, we decide to import the fresh Balance Sheet Monday to Friday, at 7 am. Adjust the schedule settings and hit the Save and Run button.
5 schedule
  • Once the importer has finished running, click the View Results button. You’ll see a fresh Balance Sheet report with the data you need and the sheet name reflecting the current date.
6 balance sheet report
  • Using the extracted data, build a chart in another tab demonstrating how both numbers shape up over time. The chart will update as the new data flows in every day.
7 daily charts

This is just a very basic example of what you can achieve thanks to automated QuickBooks reports. Feel free to explore it yourself and see what works best for you!

QuickBooks automation – recap

As we’ve shown, there are many ways you can automate QuickBooks Online. There are hundreds of available integrations and just as many ways to streamline processes in your organization. The choice comes down to your particular needs.

If automating QuickBooks reports is your priority, see if Coupler.io can help with that. There are dozens of reports available for export as well as lots of raw data. If something you’d like to export is missing or you don’t quite know how to set up a certain workflow, free free to reach out to our support team. We’ll gladly help you with setting this up.

Thanks for your time!

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