All-in-one tool for automating accounting data entry

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All-in-one tool for automating accounting data entry

AutoEntry offers some advanced features for automatically processing bills and receipts into Xero, MYOB and other systems.

Cloud accounting software is very cost-effective, providing a better product at lower cost than traditional software, according to AutoEntry founder and CEO Brendan Woods. The problem now is that businesses can spend perhaps ten times more on data entry than they do on software.

That explains why services that largely eliminate the data entry burden are growing in popularity. This starts with bank feeds (now practically a staple feature of accounting software) and includes the receipt and bill capture tools found in the Xero mobile app and in MYOB’s AccountRight and Essentials’ ‘smart bills’ feature, along with more advanced third-party add-ons (such as those described in our Essential tips: 9 methods for reducing that pile of receipts feature).

The advantage of some services in the latter category is that they don't rely solely on OCR - humans are used to check the accuracy of the conversion.

Ireland-based AutoEntry is a relatively recent entry into this market. It was launched 18 months ago in the UK, where it has already attracted 1300 accounting or bookkeeping practices serving some 30,000 businesses.

Locally, the service has been adopted by 100 practices in the last few months, so the company is opening an office in Melbourne.

The workflow is familiar – bills or receipts are photographed using AutoEntry’s mobile app, then behind the scenes the service extracts the data and creates the corresponding accounting records with the image attached as a source document. Alternatively, bills received by email can be forwarded to AutoEntry for processing – most people create mail rules to automate the task, Woods said.

Accountants or bookkeepers can scan multiple documents relating to a particular client into a multi-page PDF file and submit that for processing.

Woods told Business IT that AutoEntry has several points of difference with its competition.

  • It provides deeper integration with the accounting software – it works with MYOB AccountRight, QuickBooks Online, Reckon Desktop/Hosted, Reckon One and Xero. For example, it can match purchase order numbers or to capture line items in full. The latter is especially important for businesses when items used in different jobs appear on one bill.
  • AutoEntry can be used to import invoices that weren't generated in the accounting system. While that may seem strange requirement to most of us, there are situations where this is an everyday requirement. One example, he said, is a hotel that produces guest invoices within its hospitality software.
  • In situations where bank feeds are not available, AutoEntry can process bank and credit card statements. Woods pointed out that this can also be useful when changing from one accounting system to another – if file conversion isn't available, this is a simple way of preserving the ability to look back through the records.
  • It doesn't matter if a supplier's logo appears in place of its name – AutoEntry has mechanisms including human verification in place to cope.
  • Accountants and bookkeepers can buy a single pool of AutoEntry credits that they can use as needed across their clients – there's no requirement for each client to be a separate subscriber.

Prices start at $17 for 50 ‘credits’, falling to $135 for 500. Processing a bill, invoice or receipt costs one credit, or two if line items are extracted. Bank and credit card statements cost three credits per page.

The value proposition is largely about the volume of documents being processed. “The more documents a business is receiving... the more they are going to get out of AutoEntry,” said Woods.

Most customers are accountants or bookkeepers, because small business owners generally don't know that this type of service is available, he said.

Different practices see different advantages in using AutoEntry, Woods explained. Some use it to become more competitive, while others see it as a way to scale their business – by removing data entry, the current staff are able to handle more clients.

“We're trying to get to hands-free accounting.”

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