Document Management & Workflow Alternative to SmartVault?

If you are working virtually with your clients, you may have heard about the powerful and easy-to-use program called SmartVault. The following is a question sent in by a fellow freelance virtual bookkeeper regarding this type of online SaaS (software as a service) program and how you can use it to maximize your efficiency and profitability…

Hi Gabrielle,

I live in Canada and most of my clients use Simply Accounting.

You mentioned SmartVault, but that seems to be compatible with QuickBooks only.

Do you know of a similar online SaaS program to SmartVault that works for Simply Accounting? Do you have any recommendations based on some
technologies you have heard of?

-Sylvie

This is an important question!

Yes, SmartVault integrates seamlessly with QuickBooks (and actually got its start as a QuickBooks add-on program), but we must first consider the different functions this program can provide virtual bookkeepers, and whether those functions can be emulated by “cobbling” together one or more other online solutions for similar functionality.

What function(s) do you need that SmartVault does for QuickBooks that can work well with Simply Accounting (or other bookkeeping software popular with your clients) ?

If it is the document management feature of attaching electronic source documents to each transaction, I am not aware of a product that does that for other accounting software programs. But that’s because I am not familiar with how Simply Accounting (or Peachtree or MYOB, etc.) works specifically, since I’m a QuickBooks specialist. But you might want to check with Sage directly (or the maker of whichever software program you are using) to find out if there is an add-on or built-in feature that works similarly for their program for the paper trail / documentation function.

Doing a quick search online, I did find a program called QCDocs which says that it does document management and integrates with both QuickBooks and Simply Accounting, though I’m not sure how much integration is involved. But you might want to look into it if that’s your focus.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a program where you can streamline the functionality of how your clients’ source documents are converted to digital format and sent to you via a convenient and secure inbox along with storage folders and/or backups, there are other SaaS programs that can do much of what SmartVault does. But from a workflow perspective, I have not found another program that does it so seamlessly. If this is your priority, I would still recommend SmartVault over other programs, since this functionality can be completely independent of QuickBooks.

The workflow capabilities and ease of use for both you and your clients is actually what I see as most valuable with SmartVault, far superior to any other programs I’ve found so far.

That being said, if you would like alternatives to consider, DropBox and SugarSync are two document sharing / storage solutions that come to mind. There is also Shoeboxed, which may help your clients go paperless more easily and help you get a jump on the entry of financial information, whether you are using QuickBooks or another program. You just need to design a workflow that will be efficient and convenient for both you and your client to “drop off” information easily and securely.

Technology is moving quickly and we will likely see more solutions appear in the near future. I also see the emergence of SaaS bookkeeping programs (especially suited for small service-based clients) such as Xero and FreshBooks, which help to streamline document management and workflow too.

But as of now, I don’t know of another product that provides the same combination of functions as SmartVault for non-QuickBooks accounting software. However, with a little research and innovation, you can probably find a combination of solutions that will work the way you do, for a reasonable cost.

Part of our role as virtual bookkeepers truly is as a technology consultant! Therefore, we need to continue to keep our eyes open to the new and emerging online software that will help us work efficiently and profitably. This in turn makes us invaluable to our clients. That is a win-win situation worth pursuing. :-)

As online technology charges forward, our services will become much like putting Lego blocks together to build the perfect (customized) bookkeeping system for each client, using online solutions.

We are truly on the front lines here. :-)

If you are new to virtual bookkeeping and would like to learn more about how you can take your bookkeeping services online, OR you would like a complete step-by-step training for how you can use SmartVault with or without QuickBooks as an efficient, paperless workflow solution, I have created a complete training program, which includes a full-length SmartVault tutorial included as a free bonus.

Get the details here when you’re ready to step up to the next level with your freelance bookkeeping business:

What online tools have you found helpful to your workflow when working virtually with your clients?

Please leave your comment below! :-)

.

Freelance bookkeeper, trainer and consultant who works with internet savvy business owners and bookkeeping professionals to maximize cash flow and build true win-win relationships.

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11 Responses to “Document Management & Workflow Alternative to SmartVault?”

  • Kgosi Johnson on March 30, 2012

    I met with a new client today who stressed the importance to him of meeting me face to face. How can I get a potential customer to be interested in my services virtually without ever meeting me? I use the ideal client profile to determine if the client is someone I want to work for, but how do I know I can trust that company?

    • Gabrielle on April 9, 2012

      You are on the right track, Kgosi, with your ideal client profile. As far as the client feeling like they can trust you, adding your picture to your website, as well as speaking on the phone with them will be enough for many to realize you are a real person who provides professional services virtually. Not everyone will feel comfortable with that. That’s okay, but if you plan to work virtually, don’t try to convince those who MUST meet you face to face, or you will limit yourself to your local area. I have never met MOST of my clients face to face, by the way.

      As far as whether you can trust a company, in all honesty, they have a bigger risk working with you than you do with them! If you are specifically worried about doing a lot of work and never getting paid, require the client to sign an engagement letter that specifically lays out what you will and won’t do AND require an up-front retainer. (You really should be doing this anyway). This is common practice among professional service providers. The key is to get this in place BEFORE you start working on their books.

  • Kgosi Johnson on March 30, 2012

    At a networking meeting I met a couple that own a small non profit. Could this small non profit be able to use Smart Vault?

    • Gabrielle on April 9, 2012

      I don’t see why not! Any business that wants to go paperless (or already is) could use SmartVault. :-)

  • Mark on April 12, 2012

    This is a great blog Gabrielle on Document Management & Workflow Alternative to SmartVault I have a Portland Oregon Bookkeeping company and find this information very useful.

    Thank you,

    Mark

    • Gabrielle on May 6, 2012

      Thanks, Mark. I aim to please. :-)

  • bookkeeping on April 23, 2012

    Wow!! Thanks a lot! I am really pleased to see your blog sharing such a nice and informative content. I am actually looking for something exactly like this. You know knowledge about accounts and tax preparation never ends even if you spend your whole life! Thanks again

  • Kgosi Johnson on June 4, 2012

    Speaking of document management, I have noticed on television a machine, named NeatReceipts, that takes receipts and organizes receipts onto one’s computer. Is this a good tool or is there something else out on the market that you would recommend?

    • Gabrielle on June 15, 2012

      I have heard of it, as well, from business owners who have used it (often contractors like plumbers, etc.). I have never seen or used it myself. I am, however, in the process of investigating Scanwriter, which appears to do something similar, but integrates within QuickBooks. Watch for a future article about that!

  • Kgosi Johnson on July 6, 2012

    I saw a webpage about Scanwriter. It looks pretty awesome and is quite expensive! Is Scanwriter worth the price?

  • Gabrielle on July 6, 2012

    I took a training class on it at Scaling New Heights (conference) this year, and it IS amazing. I’ll provide more detail in a future article, but to answer your question, yes. I believe it is worth the price IF you have at least one substantial month-to-month client for which the time savings justifies the cost.

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