Simultaneous Syncing Sinks Solution: Extend Access but Control Integrations
Accounts and ProAdvisors: Make sure you “enable” only those who need it
In this wonderfully interconnected world of hosted and online applications and the integrations which complement them, it is important to not let the excitement of connectivity and collaboration replace reasonable control. While there is much conversation on this topic when it involves file sharing and similar services, the discussion of data synchronization and data integration doesn’t often come up. However, it has been my experience that there is usually a misunderstanding in how, exactly, a particular sync or integration should be applied and who should have access to the functionality when it is deployed as an extension of the QuickBooks desktop financial software.
An example of the problem might be seen when QuickBooks desktop editions are set to integrate or sync data with a web-based solution such as Method Integration or Santrio Open for Business Order Bridge. Solutions like these, which extend the functionality of QuickBooks through extending access and integrating data, rely upon QuickBooks integration functionality move data between their solutions and the QuickBooks database. These solutions are quite beneficial for businesses because they can affordably deliver support for various business functions via a true web application and incorporate QuickBooks data in those application views. Additionally, this type of solution is able to push information from the web application to QuickBooks, allowing for complete integration of financial and other relevant data.
While having this type of integrated service is beneficial, there are a lot of businesses who don’t fully understand how to appropriately implement the solution and end up creating a great deal of difficulty for themselves. One of the most frequent failures I have seen when implementing this type of solution is where the customer doesn’t really understand who should or should not have the integration.
When a web-based solution exchanges data or syncs with QuickBooks, a path is created to communicate between the two systems – the web solution and the QuickBooks application and data file. This path must be open, and both sides of the communication identified, in order for data to sync. The most important thing to remember is that there should be only one controlling entity on each side handling the integration. What this means for QuickBooks users is that only one installation – one PC accessing QuickBooks – should be configured to facilitate the primary integration with the QuickBooks company file.
To illustrate, consider an implementation of Method Integration and QuickBooks that was done for a business some time ago. This business used Method-based applications for a variety of business functions, and those applications used data sync’d from QuickBooks desktop. Just after implementation, it was discovered that system sync’s were not happening as they should, and sometimes when they went to sync data, it would take a huge amount of time (which was not supposed to be normal behavior). In short, the system proved to be problematic and, at times, unusable. But the problem didn’t have anything to do with the Method Integration system, nor the technology.
The problem was that all workstations in the office were set up to sync data between QuickBooks and Method. QuickBooks was installed on all the PC’s, even though most of the users did not use QuickBooks (they used the Method Integration system to do their jobs), and each PC had the Method Integration sync engine installed and set up to run. This caused the system to be frequently overloaded with sync requests and caused QuickBooks to behave erratically or crash. In addition, users who did not need (and should not have had) access to QuickBooks financial information were starting up QuickBooks and opening the company file every day because they thought it was required to allow them to access or use QuickBooks data in the Method Integration system.
The benefits of using web applications which can connect to and integrate data with QuickBooks is that a business can give users functionality and data access required to get the job done, but not expose those users to more software or data than they need. In most cases, if not all, QuickBooks is not necessary for users of the web application (saving you the cost of purchasing and installing QuickBooks for these users). Further, to ensure proper functionality and to remove any possible conflict or confusion in the sync process, only one workstation with QuickBooks should be set up to sync data to/from the web solution. While it makes sense to have a “backup” PC setup with the ability, syncing should remain inactive on this machine unless the primary “sync machine” is out of service. The key element to remember here is that the data coming from the web application is being added to the QuickBooks company file. Once the data is in QuickBooks, QuickBooks users may access the data from QuickBooks and do not need the connection to the web application.
When deploying this combination of solutions with a hosting service provider, the same rules will apply. Only users who need the sync capability require service with both QuickBooks and the integration installed. In some cases, this may make selection of host services more affordable, as only those who need the “additional application” (being the sync solution or integration tool) require customized service, and the rest of the QuickBooks-only users need standard QuickBooks service. *It might also be worth noting that many hosting providers do not support “persistent” connections – sync connections which continue to run even when you are not logged in), so syncing of data would only be able to occur if the primary user was logged in to QuickBooks and had the sync integration active on the host solution.
Accounting professionals, QuickBooks ProAdvisors, and small business consultants can help their clients understand the value and potential of extending QuickBooks desktop editions with connected web-based solutions. The additional value these professionals bring to the conversation is the understanding of the need for structure and control of the data flowing into and out of the financial systems, offering their expertise to ensure that the accountability and appropriate treatment of the information exists throughout the business.
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