You may be using FreshBooks (www.freshbooks.com), Business Works (http://na.sage.com/us/sage-businessworks), or some other package. In this book series we're going to refer primarily to QuickBooks since it has such a commanding market share (about 90%).
The most important consideration when you choose a financial tool is its integration with your RMM and PSA - and to a lesser extent your quoting and CRM tools. Ideally, it will integrate with all of these. What does that mean?
Integration means that APIs (application programming interfaces) are used to send data back and forth between various software packages or services. For example, you should manage your managed services contracts in your PSA. But when you send out invoices, they will automatically be entered into QuickBooks so that both tools (PSA and QB) are in synch.
o Standard labor rates, after-hours labor rates, etc.
o Employee Time / Payroll
- Project finances
- CRM Quotes
- CRM Sales
- RMM agents deployed
- All other agents deployed (anti-virus, spam filtering, mobile devices, printers, etc.)
- Anything you need to pay for that needs tracking
- Anything you need to charge for that needs tracking
When a new product or services comes on the market, you will frequently here the question, "Does it integrate with the PSA?" or "Does it integrate with QuickBooks?"
Those questions really have to do with automated tracking and automated billing. If the new product has licensing, I want that licensing to be measured and invoice through my PSA and QuickBooks. The more automatic the better.
Having said all that, there are lots of people who never fully integrate QuickBooks with their other systems. This is particularly true for those with very low volume sales.
All it means when you are not integrated is that you need to track everything in the PSA and RMM and then fill out Excel spreadsheets to report all those things separately. In Volume One, Chapter Twenty we discussed the Managed Services Grid. You will want to keep a grid like this whether you integrate QuickBooks or not.
I you don't integrate, you will need to generate invoice in QuickBooks that match the invoice produced by your PSA. At low volume, this is not a significant amount of labor.
You may also choose to sell products and service without integrating with the PSA or Quoting tool. Again, at low volume this may be easier. But when volume goes up, you'll need to integrate at some point.
The great promise of PSAs has always been reporting. Because you have essentially your entire business connected to that tool, you should be able to get some amazing information out of it. This has been the most disappointing part of the PSA experience for most users. None of them has great reporting. In fact, there are businesses that exist solely to help you get usable information from you PSA.
QuickBooks, however, has some extremely good reporting. It's all financial, of course, but it's exactly what you need. You have to be responsible for entering the data correctly. But once you do that, the reports you can generate are an excellent snapshot of your business from various angles (sales, profit, EBITDA, labor, etc.).