It’s a big week for product launches – and a busy week for those commenting on the accounting software space. billFLO
is this week launching its offering which it claims is the first low
cost solution providing electronic invoice exchange for small
businesses. Think of it as EDI for the rest of us…
billFLO was borne out of the fact that, despite much talk about
standards and cross vendor integrations, there is still no fail safe
way to transfer invoices from one product to another. The system is
quite simple in that vendors just email their computer-readable
invoices to the customer who uses billFLO to then import the invoice
into their own accounting software. billFLO have estimated that a small
business receiving 100 paper invoices each month spends $400 in manual
data entry for those invoices – billFLO’s mission is to save the bulk
of that time.
I have to say that at a conceptual level, the need for a product
such as billFLO annoys me. The demise of desktop software should have,
in my view, obviates the necessity to manually enter data – and under
the new connected model it should be incumbent upon software vendors to
ensure their products “talk” to other with no translation needed – as
such the need for third part integrators such as billFLO goes against
my “everyone connecting with everyone” ethos. That’s why the recent OAccounts initiative resonated so strongly with me.
That said, billFLO is living in reality, while I’m being idealistic.
The fact is that cross vendor integrations are difficult with no
standards in place – third party providers such as billFLO whose core
proposition is providing these integrations have the ultimate incentive
to get them right. In other words I don’t like the fact that we need a
billFLO but all credit to them for seeing the need and providing for it.
I’d prefer to see bilFLO automated so that users didn’t need to take an intermediate step and manually click on import to get invoices into their own system – ideally once a vendor has been “approved”, their invoices would come through automatically every time.
billFLO is launching with support between Quickbooks, FreshBooks, Less Accounting, Harvest and Blinksale
– that alone gives them the bulk of US small businesses – it’ll be
interesting to see what momentum their “digital bridge” gains.
Below are screencasts of billFLO in action.
Receiving billFLO Invoices:
Sending billFLO Invoices from Freshbooks: