QuickBooks Automation? Hospitality Leaders Deserve Better.

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Jesse Ehret

Founder & CEO

automation business processes

The time and cost-saving benefits of automated business processes are well-known, but many hospitality leaders find that the capabilities in QuickBooks fall short of what they expect from modern-day financial software. Learn why switching to a cloud-native financial and enterprise resource planning system is the right move for modern hospitality organizations.

Hospitality leaders know that business-process automation reduces errors and improves accuracy. More accuracy helps cut costs and saves time. But achieving seamless process automation in QuickBooks is a struggle, according to former users of this bookkeeping tool.

A single connected system that integrates easily with other cloud-based systems helps eliminate time-consuming manual processes and takes full advantage of the connectivity and digital features of modern business technology and applications. Introducing automated digital processes for functions such as timesheets, expense claims and billing can quickly improve efficiency, enhance accuracy, cut costs and prevent revenue leakage.  Additionally, integrating with other business applications and cloud-based systems used by vendors and customers allows for the bidirectional sharing of information, so you can easily track and manage all of the transactions that occur daily throughout your organization.

Missing Automation in QuickBooks Slows Down Closing the Books

Manual processes in QuickBooks make for long closes. QuickBooks is designed for companies that need simple bookkeeping and have a single entity. Even with just one business entity, QuickBooks users end up wasting time investigating anomalies and exceptions, performing manual reallocations and reconciling bank statements.

Moreover, QuickBooks can’t give you a single view of shared accounts, customers and vendors across entities. Instead, the finance team is forced to jump from once instance of QuickBooks to another. They manually track areas such as intercompany eliminations, revenue recognition, and allocations and accruals for expenses. Unsurprisingly, this invites errors and leads to even more time spent making corrections. For companies with multiple entities, this lack of automation also makes it impossible to connect with other platforms and trading partners.

If you’re using QuickBooks, all of the following tasks have to be done manually to close the books:

  • Consolidations
  • Currency conversions
  • Intercompany eliminations
  • Revenue recognition
  • Allocations and accruals for expenses
  • Depreciations
  • Amortizations
  • Adjustments

Your hospitality organization’s success depends on the ability to see what’s happening in all areas of the business, especially as operating costs, demand for travel, and market conditions are changing rapidly. Hospitality leaders need a holistic view of everything from bookings to market share, resource capacity and, of course, financial metrics. But business leaders can’t make informed, timely decisions if it takes weeks to assemble, present and analyze that data. The lack of automation in QuickBooks chokes leaders’ abilities to share real-time financial data and make strategic, data-driven decisions.

Missing Capabilities in QuickBooks Slows Down AP

Accounts payable is a relatively straight-forward process. An invoice is received, checked to ensure it’s legitimate and the bill is accurate, perhaps using two- or three-way match, then routed for approvals and payment. The invoice is then marked as paid and archived should it need to be retrieved.

With QuickBooks, invoice capture is a manual process using bill creation. QuickBooks organizes the data so users can see which vendors have been paid, the vendor details, and allows users to pull an AP aging report. But what it doesn’t do is automate the process from the time the invoice comes in until the invoice is archived.

Even though the invoice data is entered in QuickBooks, it’s manually routed for verification and payment, either via email or on paper. The biggest challenges are data entry, invoice-to-payment matching, and solving for lost and duplicate invoices.

When accounts payable processes are automated, invoice approval is faster, there are fewer errors and productivity increases.

Automation also cuts costs. According to Adobe, the average all-in cost of processing a single invoice is about $15. That drops to around $2 when you automate the process.

AP is one of the many processes where QuickBooks falls short on automation. It’s a nice place to view invoices, sales orders, payroll records and the like, but it doesn’t work for a growing company, especially when you want to link the financials to other business applications. No matter how you slice it, manual processes are error-prone and time-consuming, and it makes it difficult to gain an integrated, real-time financial view of a company’s end-to-end processes.

Missing Automation in QuickBooks Hinders Application Integration

Let’s turn to application integration, which is another way you can improve business-process automation. Application integration facilitates efficient processes that require the use of multiple applications. Merging and optimizing data and workflows between multiple software modernizes financial systems and supports agile business operations. This reduces costs, reveals insights and creates greater efficiencies and capabilities as compared with using independent applications.

Many hospitality organizations run core financial and enterprise resource planning software originally developed more than a decade ago for the desktop or data center. Some of these are retrofitted for the cloud, but can’t take full advantage of the scalability, adaptability and robustness of cloud-native architectures. QuickBooks is a perfect example of this, and the online version of QuickBooks delivers significantly less functionality than the desktop version.

If you’re running on-premise or retrofitted online software, it’s worth noting that a lot has changed in the hospitality industry.

  • Most travel companies, contractors, and vendors now conduct business entirely online, requiring robust systems to capture and process bookings, manage pricing, track payments, handle cancellations and protect against fraud and cybercrime.
  • Loyalty programs, upselling, and add-ons are becoming more commonplace for travelers. This has massive implications on functions that include accounting, billing, data processing and financial reporting. Few legacy application developers can easily accommodate these types of flexible and adaptive business models. Certainly not QuickBooks.
  • Data analytics increasingly govern rapid decision-making, requiring businesses to shift from batch to real-time processing and to make it simple to share data between transactional and analytical applications.
  • New privacy protection regulations require more stringent approaches to data governance, protection and reporting. The General Data Protection Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act are two examples, as are the pending federal American Data Privacy and Protection Act and another 29 pending pieces of state legislation in the US.

With these changes in mind, it’s more important than ever for hospitality leaders to integrate their core business applications, lest they are surpassed by competitors and regarded as out-of-date.

Signs You’re Outgrowing QuickBooks

What are some of the signs you’ve outgrown QuickBooks automation?

  • You have multiple entities. With QuickBooks, each entity requires its own instance of QuickBooks, so there is no chance that you can streamline business process to improve productivity, especially if you have three or more entities. Recently, a former QuickBooks user in a company with 80 entities said she spent 20% of her day just logging in and out of QuickBooks.
  • Your chart of accounts is growing.  As you add new accounts, there are workflows associated with each, and QuickBooks will not let you automate these.
  • You’re finding errors and spending a lot of time correcting these, or worse, these errors went undiscovered for a while and ended up being major problems.
  • Your team spends a week or more on each purchase order approval or invoice.
  • You’re spending too much time printing, signing, mailing and reconciling checks to vendors, or you’re processing more than 200 invoices per month.
  • Your bank reconciliations are so tedious and time-consuming that you only do them once a month (or even less frequently), and you go weeks or longer without knowing your cash position.

If your organization faces complexities such as decentralized payables, inter-entity transactions, multiple currencies, and global consolidations, it’s time to look at a different solution. Eliminating manual effort can help you close the books 25% – 70% faster and concentrate on growth.  Look for a cloud-native platform that can provide the following:

  • Faster closes with multiple-entity consolidations
    • Journaled consolidations for granular visibility with eliminations and currency impacts so you can easily make post-consolidation adjustments
    • Automated intercompany eliminations at the point of consolidation
    • Real-time reporting to view interim summary figures at any time
  • Currency conversions
    • Accurate, automated exchange rates for currency conversions and revaluations that stay up-to-date, even as rates change, and automatically balance your inter-entity transaction entries across entities with multiple base currencies
    • ASC 830/FAS-52 compliance with creating cumulative translation adjustments
  • Set up and maintenance for additional entities
    • Set up new entities with configurable rules for inter-entity transactions, bank accounts, etc.
    • Flexible definitions so new entities inherit your existing lists, process definitions, and charts of accounts, or configure new entities with unique definitions

Some Final Thoughts on Automation

You can replace manual processes with automation to:

  • Increase operational efficiency
  • Improve document organization
  • Permit user-based access, from anywhere, at any time
  • Interface with vendors without digging through emails
  • Define and automate key financial processes
  • Improve security with role-based access & audit trails that capture why decisions were made
  • Gain real-time visibility
  • Easily slice and dice datasets without exporting to Excel and compare metrics over time
  • Speed up entity/location consolidations
  • Automate calculation of performance metrics
  • View performance and outcomes across systems through integration

That said, automation isn’t something you just turn on. You have to look at your processes today and map out how these work, then see if there are any areas for improvement. If there’s a step in a manual process that’s causing a bottleneck, replicating that step in an automated process may not solve the problem. And just because you can automate something doesn’t always mean that you should. A broken process automated creates automation that simply fails faster.

Business-process automation is an essential part of business enablement and digital transformation.  Fit-for-purpose automated workflows, coupled with real-time business analytics and seamless integration across systems, locations and entities are critical to business success.

Automate end-to-end financial processes with Sage Intacct

With a cloud-native accounting and enterprise resource planning solution like Sage Intacct, hospitality leaders can break through barriers to growth and provide their teams with robust tools for collaboration, data processing, analysis, and reporting. Contact Ximplifi, a Certified Sage Business Partner, and work with our team of industry-trained accountants to develop a best-in-class technology stack, streamline your business processes, and achieve your goals.

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