So many apps, so little time!  How do we make the best use of our time while also learning about new technologies that will allow us to become even more efficient?  It’s a balancing act for sure.  Below I’ve outlined the steps I take to find, research, try and implement new apps.  Enjoy!

 

Top 10 Tips for Vetting Apps

 

  1. Determine what problem you are trying to solve.  Do you need an app or are you looking because your colleague has a new toy?  Do you just need to sit down with a pen and paper to map out the process?  Knowing the purpose of the app will be the best use of your time and resources.
  2. Set aside time to research and vet the app.  Good vetting isn’t one and done – it’s important to spend a few hours researching, narrow down the field, and then spend another 1-2 hours vetting each app to make sure it’s right for you.
  3. Know how to look for the app you need.  Once you’ve set aside time and determined the type of app you need, it’s time to go hunting.  No need to reinvent the wheel here, reach out to folks/groups within your industry to see if they have an app they like that solved the same problem.  If you’re looking for an app that integrates with your accounting software, check out www.apps.com for intuit-approved apps (many of which have reviews by current/former users).  If you’re still stuck, it’s time to make Google your friend.  No need to dream up keywords, just ask Google the question or tell it what you’re looking for.  “I’m looking for an app that integrates with QuickBooks online and will automate invoicing.”
  4. Check out its security.  You’re looking for the apps security and/or compliance pages.  The easiest way to find these pages is to Google “[App Name] Security.”  For all things accounting, you should be looking for SOC (Service Organization Control) Reports.  More about SOC reports here from the AICPA.
  5. What are your deal breakers?  Have a budget in mind when looking for apps.  Are you going to pass the cost onto your clients or pay for them yourself?  If you find an app you love that is too expensive, continue the hunt.  There are typically others that will do the same or similar for less.  Is user interface or navigation important?  Make sure what you’re looking at makes sense to you (and your client, if they will also be in it).  Know what will stop the process dead in its tracks prior to spending too much time in an app and look for those things first.
  6. In*te*grate – verb. combine (one thing) with another so that they become a whole.  Do you need the app to integrate with something else?  If so, make sure you look at how it combines with your current apps/processes to complete the picture for you.  Many times software doesn’t really NEED to merge with another software to be everything you need it to be (even though it would be handy).  If there’s not a lot of info about how the app you’re vetting “talks” with your current software, use that handy “Chat Now” function at the bottom of most web pages to ask someone who helped make the app.  If there’s no chat feature, look for the “contact us” link.  Every page has one!
  7. Test, test test!  Put the app through its paces.  Use real data whenever possible so you can witness how the app “acts” in a real-life scenario.  If it’s not doing what you need it to do, SCRAP IT.  No harm, no foul.  If it is, see if a colleague or staff person can take a look at it with you and give you some scenarios you aren’t currently thinking of in order to work through as many angles as possible.
  8. Onboard your clients little by little.  Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to move everything over in an afternoon or weekend.  One client at a time will do the trick.  As you get to the next client’s work, onboard them slowly and deliberately, making sure all pertinent data makes its way over to the new software from the old. Use the new and old software simultaneously for a month or so to ensure everything is working the way it’s supposed to.  If you find during this step the software is not ideal for some reason, you haven’t invested a ton of time moving everything over and can feel better about letting it go without too much thought.
  9. Dealing with setbacks.  Even after we spend all of this time making sure an app is the perfect one for us, inevitably we run into a situation where it’s just not working the way we wanted or needed it to.  KNOW THAT THIS IS NORMAL.  No need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Reach out to your networks to see if and how they’ve overcome the problem.  Think outside the box.  Maybe the app works for 99% of clients and you have to do things a bit different for the remaining 1%.  I’d still call this success.
  10. How’s their support?  When you run into your #9’s, reach out to the app’s tech support.  They have a vested interest in helping you make their app succeed.  I regularly ask questions via the “Chat Now” box or by email so that I’m not sitting on the phone and can work on other things simultaneously.  Give them feedback to help make their product better.  If you find Tech Support difficult to deal with or you feel like you’re not a priority when asking for help, determine how important this app is to you and if you’d like to continue to support the company with your hard-earned dollars.  By and large, they will bend over backward you make their creation work for you.

 

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