I interviewed John Leishman who discussed Bookkeeping Business Experiment. His software would take PDFs, run them through some servers in the cloud, we’d extract the data, put it in an XML or DSB format, and then push it into your ERP or accounting system.
It’s nice to speak with you again, John. We’ve done an interview in the past. It’s been several years I think. Today I’m looking forward to hearing a new thing you’re working on, which is a bookkeeping business experiment. Before we start to get into the details, can you provide a brief background of yourself?
A brief background of myself, sure. Basically, I’m a technology entrepreneur. I’m really interested in leveraging technology and innovative and creative ways that most people haven’t thought about. In this particular instance, about a year and a half ago, I talked to some accountants and bookkeepers, and they told me that, basically, the industry hasn’t changed in 20 or 30 years. People get their paper receipts and manually enter them into whatever ERP or accounting solution. I thought it might be an interesting challenge to take upon to see how I can introduce technology to eliminate some of the manual data-entry work.
And can you talk more about what the product or the experiment you’re working on is?
What we’re creating is, we’ve created a Web site called [BookkeepingBusinessExperiment.com], and what we’re doing is blogging about everything we’re doing to run basically a high-tech bookkeeping business because no one’s open the kimono, so what we’re doing is talking about how our pricing strategy works, how many clients we have. We talk about our expenses; we show what our profit and loss is in a conventional firm versus in our firm. We’ve only been doing it for 90 days. We’re just getting up and running. Then what we’re going to do is, we’re introducing technology to automate a lot of the work that’s currently being done. I think a lot of bookkeepers—and, actually a lot of midsize companies—they get a lot of paper coming into their office, whether it’s actual paper you can see in front of you, or else they get PDFs from vendors. That is a manual process to get the data out of the paper or PDFs and get it into the accounting or ERP system so that you have access to that information.
We looked into the marketplace, and there are a couple companies that do data extraction out of PDFs and JPEGs. We called and talked to a couple, and we’ve created a relationship with one in particular. What will happen if I was to walk you through the process here quickly is, let’s just say that you’re at a manufacturing company and you get a stream of paper and electronic PDFs from suppliers for whatever it might be. In this particular instance, what you’d do is scan the paper into PDFs, put them in a folder, say, called your in folder, on your server. Our software would take those PDFs, run them through some servers in the cloud that we have, we’d extract the data, put it in an XML or DSB format, and then we’d manipulate the data in such a way that we can then push it into your ERP or accounting system. This involves a little bit of bidirectional data flow.
We’re working with Quickbooks right now, so what we’ve done is tapped into their SDK, which is their software developers’ kit, and we’ll extract all the vendors, all the GL codes, and some other information that’s required in Quickbooks, like class and project job, and we’ll make those GL codes available through our cloud user interface. What will happen is, we’re extracting the vendor name, the address, the tax, the individual line items. All the data-entry person needs to do is simply assign the GL code, or if you know that a particular vendor is always assigned a GL code, you can force our software to remember that, hey, if it’s Office Depot or Staples, it’s always an office expense, and the GL code is 1120. What we’re trying to do is minimize the amount of data entry so that people can simply focus on just allocating to the right expense or the right class or project.
Every ERP and accounting solution has different ways of tracking items and products beyond the GL codes. That’s what we’re trying to do, just speed up the whole process. We figured about half of all transactions can be automated because they’re not inventory-related, like office expenses, and then half will still require some manual entry, but at least we’ve minimized the number of steps that someone would need to take. Does that make sense?
Yes, and do you have maybe an example of a success story or some results?
We don’t because we’re actually working on the software right now. We actually have a number of companies that have signed up for beta testing. We’re planning to launch in the first week of September. It’s a bit complex to put this all together. It’s not something we can code in a couple weeks or a month; it takes a little bit longer than that. I do have an office in India, and they’re working on it full-time. We have these beta testers, and once we get the beta testers hopping in the month of September, then we’ll start rolling it out to the general public, whoever might be interested.
If someone’s interested, what do you suggest they do to learn more?
They can just call and talk to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can go to BookkeepingBusinessExperiment.com. You can register on the Web site to get updates whenever we post new information up there and follow along what we’re doing. And if people have specific requests, maybe they might have a problem like they’re working with a particular ERP, whether it’s SAP, it might be an older one like Bond or JD Edwards or some other cloud-based ERP. If they have a request to facilitate data being pushed into their ERP, we’d love to hear from them and talk about maybe potentially making our software work with their particular ERP solution or accounting solution.
Thanks for sharing today, John.
You’re very welcome, Dustin.
About John Leishman
CEO at Tursa Group