One of the things we recently rolled out is a sync between TimeTracker data in Salesforce and QuickBooks Desktop (QBD). Our sync mechansim brings data into QBD’s TimeCards, Customers, Invoices and Receipts. It is available as a paid add-on to TimeTracker. This article is about setting up the TimeTracker QuickBooks Desktop Connector.
Intuit has an interesting approach to integrating other software with QBD – “Don’t call us, we’ll call you”. No, really, we’ve rarely seen that kind of model before. Given that QBD is a desktop system, this is the way their integration works:
On the same system as (or on the same network as) your QBD installation, you install a a component called the QuickBooks Web Connector (QWC). That’s a piece of software that connects to QuickBooks on one side and to an external web service on the other.
Periodically, QWC wakes and connects to the web service, asking for data in its qbXML format. The data can be records of invoices, receipts, timecards and so on. When it gets the data, it processes it (adds/updates in QuickBooks) and then responds to the external service with the results for each record that it got.
The external service can respond with a “Done” kind of message or return with more data to process. Once the full set of data that the service wants to deliver has been processed, QWC ends the conversation.
In most other systems – specifically, web-based systems like, for example, QuickBooks Online (QBO) – there are two parallel connections: one where the external system submits data to, say, QBO and another where QBO lets the external system know when data has changed. Having built lots of integrations of this parallel-connection kind, putting together the QBD Connector was both interesting and educative (and challenging, of course🙂). Here’s what it looks like, from a technology perspective:
After a lot of work, a number of restarts and lots and lots of XML head-scratching, we now have a system that brings the following data from Salesforce to QBD (not QBO – yet):
Accounts as Customers
TT Users as Employees
TT Invoices+InvoiceLines as Invoices+InvoiceLines
TT Projects as Jobs
TT Materials as Item Inventory
TT Collections as Received Payments
TT Details as Time Cards.
Related info like Payroll Wage Items are also set up in QBD, so QBD’s own reporting and internal consistency is maintained.
To set up TimeTracker Connector for QuickBooks Desktop, there are three majos things you need to do:
Set up some prerequisite software
Set up parameters in Salesforce
Set up stuff in QuickBooks Web Connector.
Here’s a detailed look at each step.
Getting it all to work OK needs some prep. Here’s what you need to do first:
Install the QuickBooks Web Connector (QBWC), a free add-on from QuickBooks that is meant to help such integrations, alongside the your QBD installation. You can get QBWC from the Intuit website.
Set up an email ID for the “integration user” in QuickBooks. This is usually the QBD Admin and they need to have a working email ID that must be set up as the user’s email ID in QuickBooks (see image alongside).
Setting it up in Salesforce
Once you’ve finished the prerequisites, head over to Salesforce to set up things. Setting it up and using it is fairly straightforward:
Log into Salesforce
Go to the App Key that you want to set up QBD Sync for
Click the Config button to bring up the TimeTracker configuration tabes
Click the Integration tab and then click the QuickBooks Desktop icon.
You’ll see a page somewhat like this:
Here, fill out the 3 fields in this manner:
Key in the location of your QBD Company File as seen by the QuickBooks Web Connector. You can figure out that location within QuickBooks Desktop as follows: Qo to File > New Company from Existing Company File. Carefully copy (^C) the value in the 1. Select a Company to copy from field, click Cancel. You will now have the location in your clipboard – you can paste that into the QBW File Path field in Salesforce.
Key in the QBD Admin user’s email ID, as described in the Prerequiresites section above.
Key in a password that you will later need to key into QBWC. So make sure it’s something you won’t forget immediately.
Click the Save button to save your integration parameters in Salesforce. In a few seconds, you will see the download of a QWC file – make sure you know where it is saved to, since you’ll need it in setting up the QuickBooks Web Connector next.
Setting up QBWC
Now, you get to use the QWC file that you got from Salesforce in QuickBooks Web Connector (QBWC).
Go to the desktop where you’ve installed QBWC. Start up QBWC. The screen will look something like the image alongside (there may be no entry in the table).
Click the Add an Application button (bottom right). This brings up a file-selector. Navigate to the folder where you saved the QWC file from the previous step, select that file. QBWC loads that file and will show a line for the configuration that you just set up.
You can change some of the parameters, if you’d like – for example, set it up auto-run every so often. Note that, if you set the frequence to anything less than 6 hours, the TimeTracker Connector quietly ignores intermediate calls and responds only once in 6 hours. So data can only be synced once in 6 hours.
At this point, your QBD Sync should be happening periodically, automatically. You should see your TimeCards and their related Customers, Invoices and Receipts in QuickBooks Desktop. If you have trouble, look up some of the articles related to QuickBooks on our Support portal here. Or send us an email at email@example.com and we’ll help. Thanks!
I’m not an economist, let me say that upfront. But I do watch people, like most of us. And that’s what this blog is about – what people will do and how that could affect the economy. The more economists say that there’s a recession coming, the more worried we’ll all be. And the more worried we are, the more risk-averse we will be, the less decisions we’ll make, the less new initiatives will roll out, the less stuff will get bought. On the supply side, companies will make less money, so banks will tighten credit, there’ll be less money circulating and the GDP will decline. And so, we’ll ring in the recession all together, like it or not.
All that’s well and good, you’re thinking, but what can I do to make things better? Well, let’s look at two “fundamentals”:
– Are you as a person making enough money to pay your bills and then (even a little) some? If so, you’re going to be OK in the short term. If not, cut out that shiny new phone you wanted to buy. And focus on those new skills you wanted to develop. Whether you’re thinking transferable skills or company-specific, now’s the time to get that going and up your game.
– Is your company OK? You may not know the details, but the indicators will be everywhere. The toilet paper goes from 3-ply to 2-ply, for example – yes, I’m not kidding. And regardless of how the company is doing, you can do better. For example, you can talk to your manager about focusing on projects that deliver value in the short term. That’s not to say long-term projects must be dropped – in fact, with enough money in the bank, some companies choose to weather a coming Recession with longer-term initiatives. The point it, talk about it with your peers and managers about the “R word” of Economics.
Whatever you decide to do, do one thing for sure: Make the most of your time. How, you’re thinking. You want me to work on new skills, you want me to focus on stuff at work, there’s stuff to do at home – hello, how do I do all this? Well, track your time (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?):
– At a professional level, use a good time-tracking tool to track what you do and then analyse where those hours went (we have a good one here, if you’re in the market). Something that works specifically for your business and operating culture (oh yes, time-tracking can be seriously against general belief in some companies). Something that isn’t intrusive but is detailed enough so you can tell what you were focusing on. So you can decide what you should be focusing on.
– At a personal level, look at what you’re spending your time on. Start with a simple digital-health analysis (Android Digital Wellbeing or iOS Screen Time). If you spent 3 hours every day last week on Instagram and/or WhatsApp, you may want to think of other things you can do with that time. I’m not saying either of them are complete time-wasters. That’s for you to decide. But to decide that, you need to first know where your time goes. And that’s what these apps will tell you.
With focus, time-tracking and a little bit of luck, let’s beat the Recession. Then we can worry about Inflation.😊
Managing a project can get real hairy real quickly. Look at our own process as an example:
We begin with a great idea – taken from our storehouse of great ideas, Jira, of course.
We talk through of how we think it should work within our context.
We write out the details of what we think should be done.
We break down the stuff that needs to get done into small segments – 8-to-16-hour work-items.
We figure out the skills needed for each of these work-items.
We use a Gantt Chart to set up Tasks.
We assign those tasks to various people using a Resources mechanism.
We get to work.
Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, not at all. Yes, all the pieces are in place, but how do we know how things are going on a day-to-day basis? For example, someone takes off for a day fo personal reasons – how do we know about that? And how do we figure out how that will affect the project? If you’re anything like a typical team, there are always other things that intrude on your work – customer issues, tech issues, laptop failures, you name it. And they all impact someone’s ability to deliver on the tasks they have to work on. Yes, they may have a nice dashboard that shows what they should be working on today. And they may even have ways ot marking those things as Done when done. But that’s when things are done – what about when things are being done? How do we know if things are slowing down?
The best way we’ve found is to do the following:
Begin with setting the number of hours each assignment takes, right in the assignment
Break the assigned hours across the days that someone’s to work on the task – say, 4 hours a day for 6 days if it takes 6 days to deliver
Get everyone to track the hours that they spend on each of their task, every day, using an effect time-tracker
Get people to report PTO requests regularly
Report the hours spent on each task against the hours that should have been spent by now, based on the daily breakdown and the time-tracked hours
Talk to people when these hours don’t match, help them fix things early.
With this simple mechanism in place, you can tell if things are slowing down, very early in the game. You can tell ahead of time if your project needs more people, more time, more money, a new laptop, whatever. That’s how you can make sure that your project management is actually working.
Now, you can do all of this and more using PK4 TimeTracker and our Project Management add-on.
With the Gantt chart, you can plan your whole project out, with work-breakdown at a Task level.
You can then assign those tasks to various people having multiple people doing things on each task, if needed.
People can use the Tasks tab to track when they need to do, as can you for your project.
Everyone can request and track PTO requests as they come up.
People can report the time they’ve spent on each task – they can use Salesforce, a web app, a mobile app, Jira, Slack or a Chrome Extension to report time worked.
If you have stages in your project, you can track those stages for each task on the Kanban Board.
You can see who’s working on what, what days they’re overloaded on, what days they’re on PTO – all via the Resources tab.
You can set up any number of Salesforce reports to track work-breakdown and time at every level of detail.
The key thing in all this is that you can track tasks as they get done, based on the time that people report for each task assignment. This gives you a much clearer idea of how things are going than jotting down notes during meetings.
Hopefully, this will get you sleeping better.
P.S: Check out the details of Project Management here.
11 apps. That’s how many I installed in the 1 week I spent up in beautiful British Columbia, on the Sunshine Coast. The sun so bright, the water so blue – and my phone so full of new apps. Over a span of five days, I installed an app for Caltrain, one for United, another for Vancouver, evenone about ferries in BC. While most people installan average of 3.5 apps a monthnowadays, here I was, hitting the Play Store every few hours for something new. And my motivations were somewhat different from the usual buzz you get from Facebook and WhatsApp – they were mostly about finding the right information using my phone. For example, I saw that the Caltrain website looks terrible on my phone, so I looked for an app in the Play store and, sure enough, foundone that worked well. I’m sure you’ve been through that process, too, when you find a problem and think that there must be app to solve it.
What I find fascinating, though, is that I don’t seem to think that way about business issues. When I see a problem at work, I don’t think of a mobile app, I think of a web solution. Track leads? Buy into Salesforce. Send mass email? Sign up for Mailchimp. Set up a marketing process? Use replyapp.io. So while my personal needs demand mobile apps, my business needs seem to be calling for web solutions. For example, while I know Salesforce has a strong mobile offering, I’ve never used it to track leads. And replyapp does not even have a mobile offering, but that’s not stopped me from relying on it.
As a company that offers mobile apps for businesses, I see this behaviour among prospects regularly. I’ve seen customers spend thousands of dollars rolling out responsive websites. I’ve seen nonprofits spending hours tweaking their Sites pages. But I don’t see them considering solving issues with a mobile app. It’s not that they think it won’t work – it’s that most people seem to not think of mobile apps for work at all. Consider this chart from Statistaabout the categories of apps that are popular in the US – Business appears far down the list, with only about 22% of people even trying Business apps.
I can see, though, that this is changing. Recently, a friend who runs an online store in Amazon discovered Amazon Seller, a mobile app that gives him access to his store on his phone. Now, he’s probably in Amazon Seller more than in WhatsApp (and that’s saying something, for an Indian). And our customers who DO make the effort to think Mobile wind up being addicted to the idea. So I guess that’s the issue: Mobile is not yet in the normal mind-space of solutions today. And I believe the operative word is “yet”. In the “personal” space already, no matter what problem you want to solve: there’s an app for that!