Technology & Innovation

How to tell if your business has outgrown QuickBooks

In this article, we explore how to manage the growth of your business by embracing technology with Sage Intacct.

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For small business owners, growth can be a double-edged sword. Your business is growing, but your systems and processes may be holding you back. You want to embrace technology, but you’re not sure where to start.

As you grow you need financial management software that leverages automation, delivers powerful business insights, and closes the books faster. The result: you and your staff have more time to focus on the things that really matter, like productivity, expansion, efficiencies, and innovation.

Sage recently hosted a webcast with an expert in streamlining systems for small-to-medium size businesses.  President and Founder of Actium Consulting Inc., Anna Abbruzzese is both a Sage Certified Trainer and a QuickBooks ProAdvisor who runs a successful accounting and bookkeeping practice. As a business and software consultant, she works with clients on both platforms and so is intimately familiar with the capabilities of both.

Her conversation with small business consultant Roger Pierce is summarized below.

View the webcast to find out more about modernizing and streamline your business

Watch now
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Sign 1

Manual Processes are slowing you down 

If you’ve ever had to copy and paste data from one spreadsheet into another, you understand the pain. Moving data from one software application to another is a huge time-waster — and it also opens a greater chance of error.

“I try to avoid spreadsheets in my own business and for clients,” says Abbruzzese. “It just takes one wrong click, one formula error, somebody deleting a cell in your spreadsheet, etc., that can throw the whole thing out. We see that the manual processes just create unhappy staff, too, and unhappy managers.”

A solution Abbruzzese brings to her clients involves automated and paperless workflows.

“We love automation,” she says. “Once you really get into it, it’s amazing. It can really transform your business.”

Pierce points out the biggest benefit to eliminating wasted time: “Then you have more time to think ahead” — and therefore more time to work on strategic work and growing your business.

View the webcast to find out more about the telltale signs your business has outgrown QuickBooks.

Sign 2

Billing is inflexible and can’t scale

It used to be that you’d set a price and forget it. That was the old standard pricing model. But modern pricing — with tactics such as usage-based or project-based pricing — requires a sophisticated billing system that is customizable and flexible.

“We used to have standard pricing even in my own business, and we no longer do,” says Abbruzzese. “It’s all customer-focused and project-based. And we have clients too that have multiple pricing models. They could have usage billing, or even tiered billing.”

On the webcast, Pierce asks: “You mentioned that growth can be limited because you can’t seize opportunities. Do you mean that because the billing isn’t flexible, an opportunity might be missed out on?”

Abbruzzese responds: “Definitely. If we don’t have all those opportunities in front of us, it’s difficult to make the decisions. We see clients digging through emails, walking around the office — they may be trying to get into a Zoom meeting or a Teams meeting — having to ask: ‘What did you quote this customer? And do we have a tier for that, or is it based on this? What did we base it on and how do we set that up? And can we make a note of that in QuickBooks, so that if they do change or if they hit the next tier or usage, then it switches to this price? Do we have a price locked in?’ It happens all the time — and by the time you get to that point, the opportunity may have moved on.”

Visit our Sage Intacct vs Quickbooks Resource Page to access tailored resources for growing businesses

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Sign 3

Information in silos impacts financial visibility

Because integrating systems like QuickBooks with other key applications is difficult, most organizations end up creating multiple, disconnected systems. With data in silos, other team members in other departments can’t use this data to inform decision making.

“This is a daily an issue for us, especially on the bookkeeping side,” says Abbruzzese. “And it really came to a head during COVID because of many businesses suddenly went online and suddenly started to do E-commerce, yet their E-commerce sites wouldn’t integrate with their accounting system, especially if it was a small business system.”

Abbruzzese points out that there are some well-known systems, like Square and Shopify, that do not integrate smoothly with QuickBooks. Whereas Sage Intacct’s open API makes it easy, giving you wide visibility of your entire financial landscape.

“Most of our Sage Intacct implementations involved some sort of integration — because no accounting system can do everything,” she says. “There are always the E-commerce solutions on a CRM or maybe somebody has their own built SQLs proprietary database that they want to keep, that they’re dead set on not changing that. We can integrate that easily into Sage Intacct.”

Watch the full webcast here and read on for a summary of key points.

Sign 4

Management can’t access and process data to make confident decisions

When you’re constantly performing complex calculations and data manipulation outside your system, frustration is bound to build up. You can’t extract the data you need, so you must cut and paste into another application. Your data is incomplete, too: You might have revenue and expenses, but no insight into operational performance or outcome metrics. Worse, the data is not current.

With a contemporary cloud-based system like Sage Intacct, all data is accessible and can be manipulated as you need. Any type of report can be generated from a customized dashboard.

“Sage Intacct uses what’s called dimensional accounting,” Abbruzzese says on the webcast. “You have your traditional chart of accounts, but then you have different dimensions that you can report on. You can quickly and easily pull information based on those dimensions and you can quickly then move on opportunities. All the custom reporting is also built in, so out of the box so to speak, online, Sage Intacct comes with beautiful dashboards.”

It really takes your business to the next level, Abbruzzese notes. Suddenly you’re looking forward not backward.

Sage Intacct makes it easy to slice and dice data to your specifications.

Learn why growing businesses choose Sage Intacct

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Sign 5

Forecasting is challenging

Forecasting doesn’t happen in a lot of small businesses. “People just don’t have time to do it,” Abbruzzese explains on the webcast. And this is dangerous because, she says: “Cashflow is the number one killer of small businesses.” Not having this information and being able to look at ever-evolving scenarios can leave small businesses vulnerable in the best of times, never mind in these volatile times.

“Most small businesses owners understand their own trade and their own business. They generally understand their margins. However, there are always little things that come up. There could be employee benefits. People forget about something as simple as CPP rates going up and there’s going to be an enhanced CPP premium in the coming years. That’s going to be a huge cost to employers. And sometimes we don’t think about that because most business owners just think about their direct costs.”

Abbruzzese makes this point about the importance of forecasting: “Not knowing your cash position absolutely can lead to overspending.” It can kill a business. Margins can be affected without you even noticing, until it’s too late.

Sign 6 

Some billing is manual, and you can’t easily integrate your quote-to-cash process

If your company or sales team does any manual quoting or manual billing, you’re in danger of overlooking something — or missing out on revenue entirely. Some of Abbruzzese’s clients who use tiered billing and work with QuickBooks end up entering information twice — and more manual labour that can lead to mistakes or omissions.

“In a system like Sage Intacct,” Abbruzzese says, “you can convert a quote to an order to an invoice without retyping it all. And it’s all in one system, you can see it all. You can say, okay, what was our conversion rate? How long did it take us to convert that quote to an invoice to close those deals? Things like that.”

With Sage Intacct, this is an integrated process that flows seamlessly, from quote to contract to billing. “A lot of business owners probably don’t think about all the time wasted in those different steps,” notes Pierce on the webcast.

“Well, yeah, because it’s not their problem,” says Abbruzzese. “They have a salesperson doing the quote, they have somebody in order entry doing the orders, and they have somebody in AR dealing with the invoicing. But think of all that wasted time when those people could be doing something else potentially. Or the time in between where you’re missing out.”

View the webcast to find out more about modernizing and streamline your business

Watch now
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Sign 7

You’re growing too fast – and QuickBooks can’t keep up

In recapping the points above during the webcast, Pierce and Abbruzzese discuss many of the other solutions a modern cloud-based finance system like Sage Intacct can bring to your business.

Some other features that can enhance your business:

  • User control is assignable and highly detailed, down to the transaction level.
  • You can pick and choose modules that make sense for your business, which means you aren’t paying for functionality you don’t need.
  • Customization allows a small business to set up Sage Intacct quickly — with a support team to help you at every stage.

Watch the webcast here for more details and a Q&A with webinar participants.

Final thoughts

In deciding if it’s time to modernize your financial management, there are a lot of things to consider. But the most important thing to ponder is control. Do you have the control — the insights — into the financial performance of your company that you need to make the kinds of transformative decisions that will lead to growth and future success?

“QuickBooks is built for very small and very order-centric businesses,” Abbruzzese says. “But there’s really an inability to scale. Clients get comfortable, they’re afraid of change. Not realizing all these things that are happening in the background: the manual processes, information in different systems. And so, we see the ROI on Sage Intacct very quickly. Where clients can usually get the ROI back on their implementation within a few months.”

In the end, it’s important to remember that change is inevitable, and it can bring remarkable results. You just have to take the first step.

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