SalesForce for QuickBooks

Salesforce is one of the most widely used CRM products available. QuickBooks is the leader in small business accounting. Leaders in their respective areas, but they didn’t used to work with each other. Frustrating? Sure, but now Intuit has the answer for you, Salesforce for QuickBooks! But, is it the right product for you? There may be some issues that you need to be aware of.

Salespeople tend to “live” in their CRM product. They won’t normally want to spend time in QuickBooks itself, but they may need access to see the current status of a customer, current product pricing, and to create new orders. You don’t want them using the QuickBooks customer list to track leads, and QuickBooks customer records (and the new lead records, as of QuickBooks 2012) don’t have enough information for optimum tracking of sales opportunities.

With Salesforce for QuickBooks your salespeople will be able to see important information about current customers and their history without having to open QuickBooks, as well as being able to see item pricing and submit orders.

Two versions are available:

  • Group is available for up to five users. This is the basic edition for smaller companies. It provides contact management, lead scoring, email integration and more.
  • Professional has no limit to users. In addition to what is available in the Group edition, this includes product tracking, marketing campaigns, contract management and more.

Note that if you go to the Salesforce web site you will see that there are five different versions, with the Enterprise version listed as “most popular”. Intuit is only supporting Group and Professional.

How This Integrates with QuickBooks.

The Group edition will sync your QuickBooks customer list (not the sales lead list) with Salesforce accounts. You can view customer details in Salesforce without having to open Quickbooks – customer open balance, sales history, credit limit, existing estimates, existing sales orders, and existing invoices. Customer/Account syncing can be set up to flow from QuickBooks to Salesforce, from Salesforce to QuickBooks, or bi-directional, as you prefer.

Here’s your Accounts view in Salesforce.

If you open an account record, you can see summary information that comes from QuickBooks.

Accounts have contact records, and you can specify which contact will be synced with QuickBooks.

The Professional edition has all those features plus it adds the ability to create transactions in QuickBooks, such as estimates, sales orders, invoices and sales receipts. You also can sync your QuickBooks item list to Salesforce products so that you can get up to the minute information on product pricing.

When working with an opportunity record in Salesforce you can create a QuickBooks transaction just by picking the transaction type from the dropdown list.

This window shows you the current on-hand quantity information from QuickBooks.

This Intuit App Center product is available if you are using the QuickBooks Pro and Premier (Windows desktop) 2011 and later, QuickBooks Enterprise v11.0 and later, or QuickBooks Online.  Note that some of the features I show above may be limited to certain versions of QuickBooks.

Salesforce for QuickBooks is available at $23/user/month for the Group edition, and $65/user/month for the Professional edition. I believe that this assumes that you are working with one company file.

Salesforce Integration for QuickBooks

What if you ALREADY are a Salesforce customer? Intuit also offers Salesforce Integration for QuickBooks. As I understand it this provides the integration I’ve described above but it relies on your already existing Salesforce account. Keep in mind that this only works with the Group and Professional editions of Salesforce.

Salesforce Integration for QuickBooks is available at $20/company/month for the Group edition, and $40/company/month for the Professional edition. Note that this is not per user pricing.

Some Technical Aspects

This is a web based product and it requires a web browser that supports Adobe Flash technology. That means that you won’t use your iPad to access this product through a browser. However, you do have access to Salesforce Mobile Lite, which works on iPhone, iPad and BlackBerry. I believe that this is available at no additional charge, but note that this is the “Lite” version only.

Synchronization with QuickBooks is reliant on two syncing tools if you are using a desktop version of QuickBooks (only one if you are using QuickBooks Online Edition). If everything is working well, it isn’t a problem. However, that might not always be the case. BOTH of these parts need to be working for your data to be updated on both sides of this equation.

  • The first synchronization is using the Sync Manager program that is installed on your local computer. This is true of most applications that use the Intuit App Center. This tool essentially copies your desktop company file into an Intuit “cloud” data store, and then keeps them synchronized. For some people, keeping the Sync Manager running can be a problem sometimes. This is NOT my favorite utility program.
  • The second synchronization is between the Intuit “cloud” data store of your information and the Salesforce “cloud” data store. Both the desktop and the QuickBooks Online version of the product use this.

In November there was a problem when the second Sync Manager wasn’t working properly, so data wasn’t synchronized. This didn’t stop you from using the product, it just didn’t let you synch data. Intuit is working on “hardening” that part of the process. At the same time there was a problem with the App Center not being able to run Salesforce at all. This was a bigger problem – but Intuit resolved this more quickly. Hopefully this won’t be a continuing problem.

Support is an interesting issue also. If you buy Salesforce for QuickBooks you get your support from Intuit support staff, not Salesforce support staff. According to Sonia Singh, Intuit’s senior product manager for Salesforce for QuickBooks, Intuit has a dedicated support team set up. They handle all of the issues with dealing with the Sync Manager on your computer, how to access your product, as well as any Salesforce related questions. If they can’t handle a Salesforce question they have the ability to get the answer from the Salesforce staff for you.  This is important to note – if a problem occurs with either of the synchronization steps, or with access via the Intuit App Center, you can’t call Salesforce to get help. You have to go through Intuit support.

Does It Work?

I guess that depends on what your expectations are.

“Salesforce for QuickBooks is a great entry level tool for businesses needing to connect their CRM and accounting information. It provides a good, basic integration that will give sales and marketing staff visibility to customer financial history and the ability to send sales transactions to QuickBooks from Salesforce. It only works with the Group and Professional Editions of Salesforce, so it would not be appropriate for Salesforce Enterprise Edition users or companies who may move to the Enterprise Edition in the near future. It also does not take advantage of the powerful customization features of Salesforce. For example, if you set up your own invoicing, order entry, or payment processes in Salesforce, Salesforce for QuickBooks would not send that information to QuickBooks. For these situations there are a number of other integration products available, and custom programming is also an option.”  ~ Mike Branch, SalesForce Developer

I don’t have a lot of experience with Salesforce so I can’t provide a detailed analysis of the product. It seems to me that the Group version is very limited. You can only have 5 users, you can’t post transactions into QuickBooks. Unless you are already using Salesforce and are really dependent on it, I don’t see this as a useful integration.

Salesforce isn’t really aimed at the smaller business. You can make a better case for the Professional version, but you need to look very closely at how orders are created in QuickBooks. The order entry feature in QuickBooks (estimates, sales orders, invoices and sales receipts) is very flexible. You can add custom fields, change the types of fields that are included, select different kinds of templates, apply payments and credits and more. You have a variety of item”types” that can be used in QuickBooks and they provide different features, like group items, discount items and subtotal items. You have many different ways of coming up with a price for your product, including price level lists and more.  At this point I don’t believe that the integration with Salesforce will provide you with all of the features that can be found in QuickBooks, so before you commit to this you need to look at how you are using QuickBooks and see if you can create orders the way you want.

Another concern that was brought up to me by a friend who was trying to use this is how this works with Salesforce customizations and add-on applications. Salesforce has an AppExchange, similar to the Intuit App Center, where you can get many different applications that work with Salesforce.  Intuit says that all of the apps in AppExchange are available to Salesforce for QuickBooks users. However, people are finding that this isn’t always the case. You normally log in to Salesforce via the Intuit App Center, which places the application in an iframe. That can prevent some add-on products and Salesforce features from working (including the Salesforce/Outlook integration).

Some Questions Looking Forward

  • This application currently is a “Federated” application, which has to do with how it integrates with QuickBooks and is accessed. Earlier this year Intuit announced “Intuit Anywhere”, and said that it will be asking add-on developers to move to this new integration approach. Will Intuit be prompt in converting this application to the new technology?
  • Will Intuit be able to work out the problem with integration with AppExchange applications, as well as other features that won’t work if you log in from the Intuit App Center? Intuit acknowledges that this is a problem that they are looking at. Chuck Vigeant of Clearify suggests that they would avoid this issue if they were to make this integration work through the AppExchange rather than through the Intuit App Center. As a “Federated” application this probably won’t work. Perhaps this would be possible when (if) they move this to the Intuit Anywhere platform?
  • Intuit has a history of developing add-on products and then dropping them when things don’t pan out the way they hoped. They dropped the online storage of attached documents, as well as their time tracking tool, amongst others. So I wonder what Intuit’s commitment is to the Salesforce integration. If YOU, the consumer, commit to this, can you trust that Intuit will continue supporting it? Sonia Singh (senior product manager at Intuit for this product) says that this is a very important alliance for both Intuit and Salesforce and that they are fully committed to it.
  • What about integration with the Enterprise version of Salesforce? When I first heard about the Salesforce integration I didn’t think that Salesforce Enterprise would be important. Salesforce Enterprise is aimed at larger companies, I’m not sure that this is a market for QuickBooks. However, I may be changing my mind. The first person I talked to who was actually trying to implement this really wanted the Enterprise edition. According to Intuit they don’t have that many calls from customers who want to buy Salesforce Enterprise from Intuit, but they ARE getting calls from people who already have Salesforce Enterprise and who want to integrate it with QuickBooks. According to Intuit: “Based on customer response we are considering it”.

via Sleeter Group

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