Are you developing an app and trying to figure out how to get it noticed in a crowded marketplace? Michael Daly, the CTO of AutoEntry, can help. He’s the next developer in the Intuit Developer Spotlight series, and he (along with a little help from founder Brendan Woods) lays out how he and the AutoEntry team have skyrocketed their app’s popularity.
Doing Their Due Diligence
AutoEntry is an app built on AI and OCR technology. Users can scan, snap, or email a copy of their invoices, receipts, expenses, and statements which AutoEntry then analyzes, creates a digital record, and automatically enters into your accounting solution. Brendan shares the history of AutoEntry in a Firm of the Future post and explains what sets his data entry solution apart from others on the market.
“AutoEntry stands out due to the quality and range of its features,” he writes. “Users can upload expense receipts, adding these to expense reports before posting this information into a user’s QuickBooks account. AutoEntry can capture full line items, including the description, unit price and quantity for each line. AutoEntry can even sync invoices to matching, open purchase orders.”
He also points out AutoEntry’s unique pricing structure. Users pay as they go, using credits (which, if unused, will be rolled into the next month) billed as a monthly subscription. Adding extra clients or employees is not reflected in extra charges and advanced plans work for larger firms with higher volume of documents.
Michael, as one of the founding members of AutoEntry’s parent company OCREX, says he, Brendan, and their team took the time to develop the app with the future in mind—something other developers should be considering when developing their apps.
“When we first designed the solution that would become AutoEntry, we wanted to make it the most agile, intelligent and user-friendly data capture application on the market. This required a lot of research to find out what functionality our target audience would value most. So, we did our due diligence and took our time to get the design and framework of the software right.
“Developing a new solution is a learning curve, and you’re not going to tick every box straight away. But we wanted to build strong technical foundations and a flexible IT architecture, so we could easily make adjustments to the software moving forward; rather than having to recreate certain areas from scratch,” he says.
The development philosophy behind AutoEntry, according to Michael, is understanding how to provide the least complicated implementation possible. “It has served us well, facilitating fast iterative improvements, yet it is inevitable that a growing and constantly evolving product will become large and complex over time. To iterate simplicity back into DevOps, we are gradually moving all systems into the infrastructure as code model.”
AutoEntry’s key benefits to users include having:
- Expense categorizations (such as supplier account and tax codes) ‘remembered’ by AutoEntry so the information doesn’t need to be logged in again
- A digital record of the image created and attached to the transaction in QuickBooks, reducing paper waste
- A deeper level of functionality for accountants and bookkeepers by capturing full line-item detail and matching invoices to purchase orders within QuickBooks
- More time to focus on growing their business and less time focusing on data entry
These are incredibly useful benefits to QuickBooks users, and AutoEntry’s seamless integration with QuickBooks Online has aided and abetted the app’s growth.
The Importance of Integrating with QuickBooks Online and Partnering with Intuit Developer
“Intuit is a market leader and a trusted service provider to thousands of business owners worldwide. Therefore, it was very important for us to integrate AutoEntry into QuickBooks so we could serve these users and gain exposure within this growing ecosystem,” Michael says. “The Intuit Developer platform is an excellent resource for developers, and it provided us with the means we needed to sync AutoEntry to QuickBooks, including access to design and testing tools and SDKs. Having this level of support is why we were able to build such an effective integration with QuickBooks products.”
He and his team have felt the value of the Intuit Developer team’s assistance from day one. “The Intuit Developer team has worked closely with us from the very beginning, and we’ve valued their assistance in helping us launch AutoEntry in the QuickBooks marketplace. The developer toolkit is incredibly functional, and it continues to get enhanced by the Intuit team, to make the process even easier for third parties. Developers are given comprehensive guidelines when building apps, whether they’re using Java, .NET, or PHP, and they’re able to test their integration with QuickBooks in a private sandbox environment before releasing it to users.”
Their QuickBooks App Store page provides users with a quick, easy-to-understand explanation of the app’s features and functionality. And their efforts have paid off, garnering over 330 reviews and counting.
Here’s just one of many five-star reviews: “We have used AutoEntry for about 6 months and LOVE it! Not only have they saved us countless data entry hours, but their customer service has been top notch. I really like that we do not have to pay a monthly subscription fee but can buy bulk credits as we need them.”
More Advice from AutoEntry and Where It’s Headed
AutoEntry, one of the finalists in Intuit’s 2017 Small Business App Showdown and September’s App of the Month for the QuickBooks app store, has certainly found success amongst users in the QuickBooks Online ecosystem. Because of this, Michael has some tips for other developers looking to replicate his app’s success.
“Gain insight from the whole business, including your sales, operations and marketing teams to really ‘get to know’ your audience, and build the right features. Prevention is better than cure, so spend as much time as possible building a good wireframe, which is focused on UX, so you’re able to ‘wow’ users from the get-go,” he says. “Make use of the sandbox testing environment QuickBooks makes available to third party developers and conduct your own user testing. This will allow you to thoroughly review all aspects of app configuration and coding.”
Additionally, he advises developers to appreciate the five-star reviews but to pay attention to the criticism. “Work with your customer success and marketing team to monitor the marketplace and any critiques new users may have. Action feedback where possible, as soon as possible, to make your solution as powerful as it can be.”
Taking his own advice, Michael and the AutoEntry team are continuing to enhance their app’s capabilities and versatility using their customers’ feedback. In 2019, they have a series of feature updates, including:
- The ability to set new tracking codes to speed up the processing of purchase invoices and bills
- Making their billing system even more flexible by providing users with an extended overdraft
- Enhancing their recently announced expense capture function to make it even more useful to business owners
As AutoEntry continues to grow, pushing technological boundaries for its customers, Michael is keeping his eye on emerging technologies, such as AI, which they already utilize. He notes that blockchain technology is on the rise and says, “Managed blockchain is now available making it very straightforward to build systems that transact over centralized and decentralized trust networks.” And he points out that businesses are using responsive website design and that he’s “following the development of ‘edge’ computing, which will have a huge impact on industries by providing real-time data analysis from connected devices.”
If you found AutoEntry’s story and Michael’s advice to be helpful, stay tuned for more words of wisdom from our next developer in the Intuit Developer Spotlight series and check out the Intuit Developer Blog for ways to stay connected, Intuit Developer news (such as the all-new QuickBooks App Store), and tips/tricks you can use to grow your app. You’re also invited to contact our team at any time with questions and feedback.
Michael agrees. “The [Intuit] team has been on hand as we continued to enhance our integration with QuickBooks software. This included when we built our integration with QuickBooks Desktop, which we launched last year.”
His last bit of advice?
“Follow the Intuit Developer guidelines closely so you won’t hit too many bumps in the road, which will slow your progress. Review what competitor solutions are offering and consider how you can set yourselves apart. Get to know the Intuit team and enjoy the ride!”