Intel custom solution provider System76, which builds Ubuntu notebooks, desktops and servers, was so frustrated with the accounting software available to small and midsize businesses (SMBs) that it decided to write its own application. That creation is now available to other SMBs in the form of a cloud accounting service called BeansBooks.
The software, under development for about 14 months, was built to solve a big problem for System76. While the company recorded all of its orders with a custom e-commerce engine, it needed an entirely separate accounting system to reconcile the transactions with its other systems—which was a time-consuming and error-prone process. It has been using the software internally since November 2012.
System76 explains its rationale:
"As we grew, it became increasingly difficult to manage accounting and due diligence. Accounting simply wasn’t integrated into all of the other systems that run the company. We searched for a pre-built solution that was extensible and easy to use. It didn’t exist, so we built one. We also realized that the challenges we faced were not our own. Instead of building a private system for ourselves, we built an Open Source platform broad enough to fulfill the needs of most companies."
BeansBooks focuses on making reconcilation between customer-facing front-end systems and back-end infrastructure simpler. It does this by making it simpler to record payments from multiple customers in one deposit and, conversely, by allowing finance departments to record invoice payments with a single check. This makes it simpler to reconcile transactions with information imported from bank and credit-card accounts.
The software accommodates multiple data sources, integrating information from both point-of-sale (POS) systems and e-commerce engines.
The interface was also a consideration: the application attempts to shortcut data entry processes whenever possible.
"Today's businesses operate efficiently and everywhere," said Carl Richell, CEO of System 76, commenting about the software. "Online shopping carts, Square payment system, Facebook and Google make it easier to reach customers and sell products. Accounting remains a challenge, slowing business down. BeansBooks is designed to remove the challenge by stripping away the complexity of accounting without diluting its value."
Have an unusual back-end system you need to accommodate? The BeanBooks application programming interface (API) allows developers to create even tighter integrations with addition systems.
Right now, there's a 30-day trial period to take BeansBooks for a test run. After that, the platform is priced at $29.95 per month, which includes its entire gamut of features.