So far, every time we finish this discussion the company better understands why there are not more of these "financial" interfaces readily available in the marketplace. They agree with the logic and facts we present so we thought we would document our 33+ years of experience with integrating point of sale and time clock systems into financial systems. The best part of this topic for us has been that the companies that ask this question (or even go and try it themselves) become some of our best and most loyal customers because of their understanding and experience (They call it "pain", we understand).
We believe we can save companies like yours a lot of time and money by sharing our experience. We have tried to list all the obvious (and not so obvious) costs we can think of below required to develop, install, maintain, support and update these interfaces. Technical development of the interface is not the largest cost. The ongoing maintenance is usually the largest cost with system updates (ex. POS, time clock, accounting, etc.) and knowledgeable personnel leaving or not being able to perform their originally assigned duties.
Objectives for a successful interface:
- - To develop - Personnel with both accounting and programming knowledge, money, time, ..
- To maintain - Program adjustments ("Wants" versus "Needs"), software bug fixes. User-freindly interface for ease of use to end-users (ex. accounting keypunchers, controllers, payroll clerk). Costs to maintain with programmers (ex. updates, bugs,).
- What is the motivation to continue supporting a one-time program when something changes (ex. point of sale system adds feature, accounting software changes import methods, etc.)?
- - Works consistently without technical staff repairs, data polling, flexible translation capabilities, balanced journal entries, etc.
- Low on-going maintenance. It costs time and money with every moment you have to stop processing and fix, update or adjust the interface you built. Changes are a constant when programming let alone the accuracy required with accounting transactions. Changes happen all the time with the manufacturers for all systems: point of sale, accounting software, payroll service providers.
- - Automated processes (ex. data polling, multiple location import, transfer functions batched, etc.).
- - High level programming knowledge (ex. C languages, database file handlers, internet security protocols, etc.).
- Data file handlers and the different versions (ex. MS_SQL, Sybase, MySQL, Dbase, flat file structures, etc.). Each system functions differently, use a different database, program and extraction tools, and has differing levels of capabilities.
- - Matching Principle, Default transaction balance, typical account entry, contra-accounts, etc.
- General Ledger, Payroll, Receivables, Payables, etc.
- - Transfer protocols. These can and do differ per system.
- default passwords, required files.
- Polling of data can be the longest and hardest process of setup and needs to be done before any interface (including GetLinked Software) can operate.
This is where computer technicians can assist the most in automating this process on a daily basis.
- - Protocols
- Login configurations (ex. user rights, privileges to/from each system)
- Server versus cloud based requirements.
- - Getting the manufacturer permission to read or write to their system or database.
- - Scheduled tasks
- Error checking transactions versus stopping all processing.
- - Every system you interface TO/FROM requires constant updates.
- Do not count on a point of sale system to contain balanced transactions. It does not need to because it is not a financial system.
- - Must document processes (original and on-going updates and changes).
- Most programmers do not like to document so this is a consent challenge.
- - Programmers will and do leave and this is one of the biggest cost to a custom built interface. In most cases it stops working and you start over.
History of GetLinked Software:
- - 7 years to complete the first interface for production. This includes learning both the POS import side and the accounting export databases and manufacturers logic, adjusting to system changes by each manufacturer, program bugs, functionality changes, balance transactions, etc.
- Took $1.5M of time and money. This included programmers, trips to customers (ex. McDonalds, Subway, Paychex, Micros, etc.), local meetings, research, lost opportunities with other projects and more. Originally estimated cost to program our own interface from one POS system to one accounting system was between $20,000 - $40,000. The challenges and nuances of each system grow exponentially.
- - What is your time, money and frustration worth?
- What is your primary objective for this business?
- Developing a financial interface seems easy, however it is all consuming, detailed and tedious work.
- Depending on your time and resources building a financial interface can be very costly and time consuming versus a ready made product with assistance and on-going support.
- Always ask yourself, "What business are we in?".
I have an additional question. Where can I find an answer?
You can find out more about GetLinked Software (Click on the links below):