Seth DavidBy now, hopefully, you’re aware that if you’re looking for apps that work with QuickBooks® Online (QBO), you visit There are a ton of apps that serve many different purposes. Some are competing and some overlap with one another, but all have varying strengths and weaknesses.

How do you know when it’s time to visit and find a solution? One simple answer is when a client asks for something that QBO will not do by itself. Going a step further, why doesn’t QBO do everything my client wants or needs? It’s about the right tools for the right job.

QBO is a general accounting product. It has come a long way, and new features are always rolling out. When you start servicing clients in a particular industry, you are likely going to want to look into using apps that are built specifically for that industry. These industry specific apps are likely going to do a more thorough job of supporting the client’s needs. These apps work as a complement to QBO.

There are also general use apps that help automate the accounting cycle. An automated accounting cycle is more efficient. By the way, this is why you need to stop charging by the hour. The more efficient you get, the less money you make by the hour. On a flat rate price, the more efficient you get, the more your effective hourly rate skyrockets.

Running your practice more efficiently means you get to focus on more analysis. This raises the value of your stock by a substantial margin, in your client’s eyes. When you increase your efficiency, you can take on more clients, and add more to the bottom line of your practice.

The apps will help you add efficiencies to your business. When you find you are taking on clients in a particular industry, the best thing to do is get out in front of the clients’ needs. Start searching for the industries you serve and research apps that make sense. You can also ask about which apps are best for a particular industry on any number of forums, including my own called “Between Wall and Main Strategy Forum.”

Let’s say you are focusing on inventory-based companies. Then, you search for “Inventory” and you’ll get a lot of solutions. One of the ones that has my attention these days is Dear Inventory. I love the interface. It’s nice and clean, and that’s important. When an app has a good interface, it’s likely that it is going to be (relatively) easy to use.

When is it Time to Start Researching Apps?

As mentioned above, there are some general use apps you’re going to want to use with most of, if not all, your clients. The apps can also be based on the decision to serve a certain industry.

Another time to begin researching new apps is when you recognize a bottleneck in your workflow. That’s a good sign that some kind of tool may be needed to help create or increase the needed efficiency.

Let’s say your client has important job costing needs, they’re in the construction industry and they’re a larger regional company. Getting them from QuickBooks Desktop to QBO may become the most important strategy for their workflow. This way, multiple people in multiple locations can access the data. Sure, you can put the desktop version in a hosted solution, but that gets expensive once you have three or more users.

The problem with putting a construction company into QBO was the lack of job costing infrastructure. Sure, there are workarounds, but they’re not ideal. They’re workarounds.

Here are some apps that work with QBO to maximize the experience:

Knowify. Enter Knowify. Now, you have to get your construction companies into QBO. With Knowify in the mix, you not only have what you need to handle the most complex job costing needs, but I would also argue that it’s better than anything available to you in desktop. Keeping your contractors in desktop is actually costing you money now because of what you’re giving up by not moving to QBO with Knowify.

Avalara. Ecommerce? Sales Tax? Use Avalara. Spend the money to have them handle the entire collection and filing process. I promise you, you do not want to spend the time doing this. Your time is so much better spent elsewhere.

Expensify. Are you spending any time reimbursing employees or subcontractors for expenses? Add Expensify to your ecosystem. You’ll thank me for this one, for sure, especially if you’re doing it with spreadsheets now.

Listen to Your Clients

By taking the cotton out of your ears and putting it in your mouth, you can discover many things that your clients need! The right apps can often solve these problems. Let’s say you have a client who loves numbers. Imagine that? They want CFO style analytics so that they can set goals and track progress. Finagraph to the rescue!

Finagraph. Your clients don’t know to ask for finagraph. They are going to ask for things in a much more general way. Your job is to get familiar with the apps that will help you solve your clients’ problems and reach their goals.

Awareness is an important skill. We don’t think of it as a skill, but it’s actually the most important one. Try this on for size … next time you’re in a Zoom call, or on the phone with a client, ask them this question: “Are you experiencing any friction in your processes?” They may ask you to clarify what you mean. “Is there anything happening in your day to day that leaves you feeling like there must be a better way?”

I bet most clients will answer yes, and have at least one thing, if not more, that they can use an app for.

I had the opportunity to interview Gary Vaynerchuk a few years back. I recently listened to, and published, the interview. In it, Gary reminded me that the BEST place to go for research, inspiration and ideas is the client!

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