We all have our opinions about spreadsheets when it comes to accounting: some say they are a thing of the past and should disappear forever, others think it’s a method of finance tracking that can be improved in a way to match the expectations of the 21st century.
The prime example for this ‘spreadsheet 2.0’ concept is Smartsheet, a software as a service (SaaS) application with which businesses can plan, track, automate and report on work while also keeping the familiar look of Excel spreadsheets at the same time.
Although there is no doubt that the program works and is a great asset for many businesses, in a few years – especially when more millennials will enter the market demanding an even more streamlined workflow – the whole concept of accounting based on spreadsheets concept could well be obsolete. Thankfully the solution is not only smart and cheap as well but it’s moving towards online accounting software, too.
Why Online Accounting?
Smartsheet can effectively handle business accounting since the company provides plenty of different templates for various tasks, all of which can be customized to your liking or even built from scratch. Not to mention the moment a spreadsheet is modified, the program automatically updates the relevant spreadsheet on the devices of other users. But there is one major catch: since no communication is established between individual spreadsheets, all data must be entered and updated manually, meaning additional work and slower business operation.
However, this is not the case with accounting solutions: the moment any new data is entered into your account, everything else related to that piece of information – including business reports – is updated automatically without human intervention. Unfortunately the process is just partially automated, since every time your business needs to create a new invoice, bill or inventory item it has to be recorded manually. And that can be a real torture if all the books are kept in spreadsheets.
The only effective way this can be achieved is if you manage to import said spreadsheets into the accounting software using the traditional approach (offline importing) or assign the task to a third party solution via clever tool integrations.
Importing Spreadsheets via CSV Files
This option is for those SMB owners who are moving their books to an accounting solution permanently. Thankfully exporting spreadsheets from Smartsheet is pretty simple, since files are regular Excel files by default and so they can be easily saved in the standard CSV format as well. The problems are with the accounting software itself: although these programs are capable of importing third party data, there is no choice but to use the CSV template of the accounting solution in order to perform data import without any major errors – in other words, say goodbye to your beautiful, well-organized Smartsheet templates.
And even if this import is performed, the accounting software still can’t fully guarantee flawless data import where different items are concerned: Xero, for instance, supports almost anything created by another app – from invoices and bills to inventory items and even some reports – but FreshBooks only lets you import expenses, clients and taxes.
Importing CSV Into Xero
Importing Spreadsheets via Integration
Integration is a more convenient method of data migration that lets you use the original software in tandem with the accounting solution. The basic principle of integration is simple: it is a set of preset commands given to one of the programs that are triggered by an action performed in the other software.
Although currently direct integration of Smartsheet into accounting solutions and vice versa is not supported, the presence and support of an API allows users to build the missing link themselves. And let’s not forget about third party ‘bridge’ apps like Zapier, Workato and Cloudpipes that provide the necessary trigger actions, effectively linking together Smartsheet with any app you like.
Best Online Accounting Software of 2018