7 Tips to Prevent Sync Issues in FreshBooks

The term synchronize seems too technical to inspire a lot of emotions. But tell someone that they just lost their data due to a "synchronization error" and all sorts of emotions begin to emerge.

Sync (or is it synch?) has been one of those features that you love and hate. Everyone wants their app to sync with something else. All the software developers make sure to highlight sync on their features page. Yet it's also the one feature that seems to be the most prone to catastrophic problems. Who reading this hasn't had a phone suddenly end up with 3 copies of everyone's contact because of a sync issue?

Yet despite all of the problems we have with sync, I have to rely on sync daily to keep something as important as my client's bookkeeping data up to date.

FreshBooks is a great app for time tracking and invoicing, but it doesn't handle all bookkeeping tasks. That means I need to get that data into another app. The way bookkeeping data is synched with FreshBooks is entirely one-time, one-way.

I create an invoice in FreshBooks. As soon as it is sent, it gets synced into the receiving app, like Xero or Kashoo. That's where the synching stops. If I make changes to that invoice in Xero, those changes don't go back to FreshBooks. Conversely, if I make changes to the invoice in FreshBooks the changes don't get sent to Xero. Payments will sync across later on, but that's it.

Why is this important?

There's usually a reason we're using 2 apps. In my case, it's usually a situation where the client is using FreshBooks day to day, and I'm using Xero or Kashoo. If either of us makes changes to an invoice, the other side doesn't see the updates in the reports. This means there will be discrepancies between both sets of books. If it was always the case that Xero was right and FreshBooks was wrong then I could just send the client some reports each month. But that's not the case. More often than not it's my data that's wrong.

So, bookkeepers, what are we to do? Here are 4 steps to make sure your data stays in sync.

  1. Be aware of the fact that this is an issue. Just being aware that this is an issue will help you prepare.
  2. Make sure your client is aware. Let them know that changes they make to FreshBooks invoices after they're sent don't update the data in Xero or Kashoo. This might make them less likely to make late changes, or at least let you know when they do.
  3. Make a checklist of areas you'll want to review each month before generating final reports.
  4. Create revenue and receivables reports in each app. Once the numbers in both apps match then you're good to go.

Just because 2 checklists are better than 1, let me run you through the 3 most common situations that would cause the data to get out of sync.

  1. Invoice totals are adjusted after they are sent. This usually happens on the client side. Maybe someone submits their time late and has to add it to the invoice later. Sometimes the customer pushes back about certain line items and adjustments need to be made.
  2. Invoices are written off or deleted. I don't mean bad debt writeoffs down the road. This just means that, after it was sent to the customer, the invoice was fully discounted or removed.
  3. Payments are changed or removed. All payments will sync across properly, but sometimes a payment is reversed, removed, or applied to a different invoice.

Until we get better sync this is just going to be something we have to deal with. If you put together a detailed plan, and follow it each month you should be fine.

Let me know if you've had this problem before: either in the comments or by replying to this email.

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Making the Move to Harvest


After I just talked about making a big move last month, it looks like I'm doing it again.

Last month I talked about a client who I was moving from QuickBooks desktop to QuickBooks Online. I'll be writing more about that in the future, but now I'm facing another move.

One of my clients is moving from FreshBooks to Harvest. I very briefly tested it out a year or so ago, but otherwise I have no experience with it. It's focus is similar to that of FreshBooks. They specialize in time tracking and invoicing. So, the question is; why are they making the switch?

The move has nothing to do with the bookkeeping side of things. This is a very project-focussed business, and apparently Harvest has better project management than FreshBooks.

My initial reaction was to throw a tantrum like a 4 year old. Apparently I'm getting into the grumpy old man stage of life. I've spent a long time tweaking the system to work just the way I need it to, so I wasn't looking forward to a change.

But here we are.

I did a bit of research into Harvest. There are a couple things I don't like about it, but at the end of the day the benefits for the team far outweighed any minor complaints I had.

< rant >Fellow bookkeepers, let me talk to you for one quick second. It doesn't have an AR Aging Report. A friggin' AR Aging Report! How do you build an invoicing system and not include a way to display a simple report of what clients owe you money...broken down by age? It just doesn't make any sense. < /rant >

Ok, deep breath...

So, in the next few months I'll be reporting back with my impressions. My initial thought is that it's going to be different. Not better or worse, just different.

If any of you have used Harvest before, please let me know your thoughts. If you have been wanting to check it out, feel free to ask me questions. I'm happy to guinea pig this for you, so just leave a comment with "Hey, does it do __?" and I'll find out.

Wish me luck.

Bookkeeping and Technology: Part 2: My Setup

This is the second post in my series about bookkeeping and technology. Last time I wrote about the early days of moving my business online. Today I'd like to talk about the tech I use and how it has changed the way I run my business. For the sake of brevity we'll stick to what I use for client bookkeeping.

My basic criteria:

If my client is going to be using it, I want the interface clean and simple. There should be as little industry jargon as possible.

Is this a slight on my clients? Of course not.

My job as a bookkeeper isn't just to record business data and generate reports. My job is to make that part of an owner's business as simple as possible. I want my client to worry as little as possible about entering data so they can get back to doing what they do best.

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