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Using AI to Reduce Manual Data Entry Costs and Errors – Transcript

In this interview, you will learn about an AI tool that will help companies reduce accounting costs and errors by automating the process of entering bills, approving invoices and making payments.

Why this matters to you: In most companies, a large percentage of accounting efforts goes into the tedious and error-prone process of manually entering bills and accounts payable information. Diane and her guests demonstrate how much of that can be eliminated, resulting in time and cost savings while eliminating much of the drudgery inherent in the accounting process.

Click below to get the slide deck for this presentation:
Goodbye to Detailed Entry (PDF format)

Here’s the complete transcript of this interview:

Diane (00:00):

Hey there, everybody. Diane Gilson here with you for another one of our Better Numbers, Better Business presentations, and I’m really excited. We’ve got Charley Howe and Phong Ngo. Do you pronounce it that way, Phong?

Phong (00:15):

Yes. Perfect. It’s great.

Diane (00:17):

Great. All right. And lots of times, right on the front end, I like everybody to locate where their Questions button is in GoToWebinar. And if you could let us know that you can hear us and maybe let us know where you’re signing in from. It’s always good to see where people are coming from, and I also want to make sure that you’re hearing us because that’s pretty important.

I’m seeing somebody from Bloomington, Indiana. He’s clicking on the keyboard. Thanks, Fred, for letting us know. And are you able to hear us, okay? He must be if he knows how to answer the question, right?

Reducing Manual Data Entry

Today, of course, our topic, and I’m going to keep my eye on where people are signing in from, is “Waving Goodbye To Detailed Manual Entry.” And I should have put a poll out there about how many people love just putting in Bill after Bill after Bill with line, after line after line and putting in the Job that it goes to and a specific Item, etc, etc.

Diane (01:20):

And if I had a poll out there, I’m going to guess that it would be somewhere in the zero range. But I did have somebody work for me for a while who did love doing data entry. So there are a few people who love that repetitive work, but a lot of people don’t.

And I’m also seeing people from Texas and Southern California. So welcome. We’re going to have a good time today.

Using AI to Save Data-Entry Time and Money

We’re going to be talking about a very special software. Something that when I saw the things that it could do, I was just pretty much blown away. I’m going, “Really, can it really do this?” And, of course, we’ve been hearing so much about AI, and it seems like some of that AI could come in and help the people who are doing the data entry and so on do our jobs better. And MakersHub is going to be one of those things that will let us do that.

The Cost of Manual Data Entry

Diane (02:10):

Lots of times, I like to start out and talk about why we are teaming up today. Just talking about that first topic – for accountants and bookkeepers, if you have to do a lot of detailed data entry, that’s really tedious. It’s time-consuming and boring. Sometimes, you can put some good music on in the background to make it a chunk along a little bit faster, but it’s just not a lot of fun.

And the other thing is when you get into that situation, it is easy to make errors that make you look bad – transpositions, grabbing the wrong Job, etc. So then, when somebody else goes to look at the report, they’re calling you on the carpet and going, “What is this? No way did we spend that kind of money on that particular Job!” So, I know it can be tough when you’re having to do that type of work.

Diane (02:58):

Now, for company owners, you’re depending on fast and accurate data in your management reports. And the employee time that it takes to get that information in and make sure it’s accurate is one of your really big investments. So, from a financial perspective, you’re spending lots of dollars in return for accurate, timely, and what I call “actionable information.”

Slow and erroneous and lagging data is going to mean you can’t rely on getting up-to-the-minute, reliable decision-making information. And, of course, that’s what we need (as owners.)

Gathering the right approvals: Maybe you have some things in place to make sure that the wrong things don’t happen and the right things do. But that can take up even more time. It can slow up payments to your vendors. And of course, if you don’t get those vendors paid on a timely basis, those vendors can either become difficult or they just go work for somebody else who can get them paid timely. Cashflow is very important to a lot of those contractors.

Let’s talk about who’s going to be sharing information with you today. And I want to welcome Charley. Glad to have you here today. Could you tell us a little bit about your background and how you’re going to bring good information to folks?

Charley Howe of MakersHub

Charley (04:16):

Absolutely. And thank you so much for inviting us today and giving us this audience to talk about what we’re working on, Diane. So, my name’s Charley Howe. Before founding MakersHub with Phong several years ago, I spent 18 years in financial services at Citibank, predominantly where I spent a lot of time in various parts of the bank. But, I have a lot of experience in the payments infrastructure and FinTech elements of “What are the pieces of technology that are emerging that allow the more bedrock elements of financial services to go forward.” And in the capacity that we’ll talk about today, that’s really “How do we allow payments infrastructure to travel faster and to work more optimally for the folks like people on the phone today,” who are the ones who need to have external money traveling quickly.

Phong brings to bear a tremendous amount of manufacturing and operational expertise that he can talk about here in a moment. But the partnership is a great one and has led us to what you all are about to see.

Diane (05:29):

Terrific. I hadn’t spent that much time looking at your banking background, but I spent 13 years in banking myself, so we have some commonalities there, Charley.

Charley (05:39):

Congratulations on that.

Phong of MakersHub

Diane (05:40):

And Phong, can you tell us a little bit more about your background and how you got into this whole arena of data entry?

Phong (05:50):

Yes, great. Thank you, Diane, and it’s great to bring us all together today. My name is Phong, and I’m the co-founder with Charley in building MakersHub.

Before building MakersHub, I used to run an equipment manufacturing company in Tucson, Arizona. We built advanced production facilities for OEM across automotive, aerospace, semiconductor, and displays. We built machines that produce the windows on airliners. We built machines that made iPhone glass, those types of things. My background was entirely on the engineering and manufacturing sides, but starting out as an engineer, I ultimately grew to eventually run the business, and in that growth where, even though we were a very strong engineering and operations company, the back office had always bogged us down. And what does that mean? For us, building all these [types of] glass equipment is very important for us to really know what the cost was. And not only the total cost, but we need to really understand the makeup, all these components, and all these components that ultimately go into the machines.

The Cost of Data Entry

Phong (07:04):

And if we don’t know our cost, it’s very hard to do estimates. It’s really hard to do bids and job costing in real-time. Our challenge has always been that for the accounting team, we had thousands of bills coming in monthly, and it was a very tremendous task for the accounting team to keep up. Mistakes were made, the team would get overwhelmed with the amount, and it became very unsustainable for us. And I didn’t feel a lot of these pains until I actually got into it and did some of the job myself. And the data that I needed to run the business was so critical, but so painful to do were the things that we missed. And that was ultimately the inspiration to meet with Charley. We discussed the pain points, and we spent a tremendous amount of time looking at different solutions out there. We tried them all out, and nothing really worked for the company that I was running. And it’s really something that we are very passionate about solving for small and medium-sized business to really leverage their operations.

Diane (08:11):

So you guys built this yourself to solve your own problem, right?

Phong (08:17):

Entirely. We understand the pain points really well and feel very passionately about solving this problem for ourselves and all the people that look like us.

Diane (08:26):

Yes, that’s great. And there are a lot of people like that out there, particularly in construction and manufacturing. Of course, you can apply job costing to service industries as well, but all that detail for equipment and for jobs is so applicable to construction and manufacturing both.

And in manufacturing, I think maybe even a little bit more so than construction, just depending upon how complex your operations are. It sounds like yours were pretty complex.

Phong (08:58):

Yes, we’ve built some very large equipment. Sometimes, the machines had 10,000 parts, so it’s a lot to keep up. We weren’t keeping up, to be honest.

Diane Gilson of InfoPlus Accounting – QuickBooks Accountants

Diane (09:07):

Well, I’ll go ahead and pull my bio up here. A lot of you already know me because you’ve been in other sessions with me, but just as a recap for anybody who doesn’t. I’m a consultant, a trainer, a speaker, author, and I’ve developed some extra products that work hand in hand with QuickBooks desktop.

I have a pretty extensive accounting background between public accounting and banking, and I started Info Plus in 1994. So we’re entering our 29th year this year. I have spent – I said “25+ years” – of course, working with accounting owners and their staff to set up the right structure, particularly in QuickBooks desktop. But of course, there are other tools that get pulled in along with that.

I’ve earned some certifications and awards over the years. The one I’m most pleased about, of course, is being ProAdvisor of the Year. And, of course, at that point, I get to claim that title on a lifetime basis, and I’ve also been named Top Niche Practice, etc. You guys can read the rest of that.

Data Entry Automation Using MakersHub AI

Diane (10:10):

So, let’s move on to the MakersHub demo because this is what you guys are here for. What I’m going to do is change the presenter to Phong. He’s going to pull this up on his desktop, and I have asked them – Charley and Phong – to go through this fairly slowly because it’s so cool, and they get excited about it, and I go, “Well, you got to give people a chance to absorb things as they go along.”

I think you’re seeing now Phong’s desktop, and I’m going to turn my camera off. You guys don’t need to watch me at this point, so I’m going to turn my camera off and turn everything over to Phong and Charley.

Charley (10:58):

Great, thank you, Diane. And so, as Diane mentioned, we’ll try to go through this at a fairly high level and fairly slowly. We do understand that some of this is very, very detailed and granular and perhaps abstract, seeing it for the first time.
So, anyone who’s interested in learning more after the webinar, we’re thrilled to connect directly and spend more time on any specific elements of what you’ll see. But for the next 20 to 30 minutes, we’ll go through this at a high level just to introduce the power of the technology that we have, what it can do, and how it can theoretically apply to your business.

AI Accounts Payable Tool

But to zoom out and just take a quick step back: who are we, and what are we trying to solve? Who are we trying to serve? First of all, at a very high level, we are a full-service Accounts Payable tool that can help with all elements of bill processing, bill approval, payment authorization, and the actual payments to your vendors.

Charley (11:54):

This is both in Phong’s experience, my experience, and not to be presumptuous, but likely many of the experiences of the folks on the phone, one of the most hated tasks of running a business. There’s nothing fun about having to pay your bills. And that’s compounded and made more acute by the fact that it’s very, very hard – if you’re getting a high volume of bills – but not just a high volume of bills where the only task is paying those bills. Our users are the people that we give the most leverage to are people that – when they get a bill from a vendor – have a series of jobs to be done. Those jobs can include:

  1. Number one, “I need to validate that this bill is accurate.”

And typically, there’s more than one person in the organization who needs to participate in that validation. “Is this what we ordered? Is it what we received? Did we receive it in full?” etc.

  1. And then, after answering those questions with the group of people who need to render those opinions, we need to extract all of the information from these bills.

Or we want to because we can use it or need to use it for the sorts of things that Diane spoke about earlier. This is how we do our proper job costing. This is how we understand the source of truth about our costs. This is the data that we use as the basis for estimating future work, etc.

So, for many businesses, extracting vendor bill data at a line item level is an operationally critical task. And it’s really hard, right? It’s very manually intensive, and there aren’t tools previous to MakersHub that really made that process more automated and more enjoyable (if you’ll forgive me for using that term.)

Payables, Receipts and Accounts Payable

Charley (13:38):

So what you’re looking at on the screen right now is a summary Dashboard of a user who has Bills and Receipts in the system waiting for their review and Payables. So, a Payable is – to quickly define – these Bills are Invoices that you’ve received from your vendors that need to be paid.

Receipts are the actual economic record of something that has already been paid. I went to Home Depot and bought something with a credit card. I want that economic record to get into QuickBooks, but I don’t want (obviously) to have any duplicate payments take place.

And then, an Account Payable is a Bill that has been through the approval process that you’ll see here in a moment and now needs to be paid.

And when we go in to actually review the Bills that are in the system, these Bills can get to the mailbox of our user, if you will, in a number of ways.

Using Email to Receive Invoices

Charley (14:32):

You can drag and drop any file type in here. But more commonly, all of our users – or most of our users – operate on an email basis. So either they have an existing AP inbox set up that we just set up a forwarding rule out of, or people can just forward emails to dedicated email addresses that we give you when you start as a new user of MakersHub. And we’ll recognize from whom this email is coming and route it appropriately.

So, if we go back to the Financial tab here – where these Bills that we’ve just processed live for you – are sitting awaiting your review. We’ll spend some time looking at the interface and just demonstrating the power of our system’s ability to read and contextualize all of the information on your Vendor Bills.

And so I’ll try to go through this slowly and point to you where we’re looking. Feel free to ask questions as we go. I can’t see the questions right in front of me, but Diane, perhaps you can help moderate the questions if they come through. We’re happy to take them as we go.

Diane (15:37):

I’m keeping an eye open.

Charley (15:39):

Thank you. This is the main review interface that our users operate in. As you can see on the left-hand panel, there is a picture of the Bill itself. And then, on the right-hand side is our system’s ability to – basically – extract all of the information from that Bill on the left and to give it structure and context.

MakersHub Initial Setup

And so, at this stage, you have connected to QuickBooks, a process that takes about five to ten minutes on QuickBooks Desktop. It’s instantaneous in QuickBooks Online. And when we make that connection, we ingest all of your Vendor information, all of your Chart of Account information, all of your Item information, and all of your Customer and Job information – which allows the system to make flexible reference to it. What I mean by that is if you look at the upper left-hand corner of the right-hand panel, you’ll see that we’ve read this Vendor as “Belimo R,” which is how it’s written.

Using AI to Assign a Vendor

Charley (16:38):

If you’re actually reading quite literally from the page that tiny little “R” and we say, “Hey, you don’t have a vendor in your vendor list called Belimo R.” So one of two things is true. Either this is a genuine de novo new vendor, and you’ve never set that record up in QuickBooks (which you can do here with a single click by saying “Create a new vendor.”) We’ll create that Vendor record for you on QuickBooks. Or we say, “You very likely are referring to a vendor that you do have called Belimo, and we can say with a high degree of confidence that this is what you need.”

And when you click that and say, “Yes, this is actually the vendor that I want this bill to be married to,” the system remembers that. And so there’s a lot of self-learning built into this system that, by virtue of the actions that you take in your Bill review process, you teach the system how to get smarter. You teach the system how to operate at or near a hundred percent accuracy for your specific details.

Inputting Bill Details

Charley (17:39):

Moving on from the Vendor piece, on the right-hand side are all of the Bill Details. So we’ve pulled:

  • The Invoice number
  • The Due Date
  • The Terms that are available, and any Net Term that is available. This example doesn’t have a Net Term, but if this were a scenario where your vendor offers you, “Your standard Term is Net 30, but if you pay in Net 10, you get a 2% discount.” We will extract that and allow you to flexibly capture those terms, which you’ll see a little bit later in the demo.
  • The due Date and
  • The PO number. And using that PO number, we’re able to go and basically perform a search – if you will – through your Customer and Job list and look for Customer and Job numbering conventions that are close to this PO number and serve them up to you as options for the Customer or Job that this Bill might be for.

Customer Information

Charley (18:33):

And if the Bill is for, in this case, Scalise Industries, with a single click, you can apply that Customer to all of the Line Items on this Bill. Now, as you can see, all of the Line Items have been extracted for you here. All of the Quantity, Price, and Total information is here, but any of these are editable. So in a scenario where, “Hey, I bought ten things from Belimo. Nine were for the Scalise Job, but I had to throw in one other thing for a different Job,” it’s very easy for you to go in and individually edit any of these fields. You can do that – again, we’re going to serve the dropdown menu as your Customer and Job list exists in QuickBooks. So, none of this requires any re-architecture of your setup in MakersHub. We’re just going to basically pull from QuickBooks. And any change that you make in QuickBooks, we’re going to recognize and automatically update.

Item Numbers

Charley (19:31):

So you can see that on the left-hand side, there’s a series of Item numbers. This is an example of where our document-reading technology is very, very powerful. If you looked at the first Line Item itself on this Belimo bill, this mass of text is very, very hard to reconcile, right? Which of these is an Item number, which is a Description, etc?

And this, without going into a ton of unnecessary nerdy detail, is where the technological progression of AI capabilities is something that we leverage a lot. We’re able to use the power of those language models to help us suss out what in this mass of text is what. In this case, this is an Item, and that green check mark says this is an Item that exists in QuickBooks already. This is a known and created Item. A few down, you’ll see this yellow shopping bag icon.

Accounting Class

Charley (20:28):

This says this is also an Item, but this is not an Item that you have set up in QuickBooks. From here, you can, on a rule-driven basis, instruct the system as to what you want us to do when you encounter things like new Items.
And before we go into this integration mapping tool that the cursor is hovering over, I’ll just point out that you can also see that the Class, the accounting Class, is precast here. The way that we do that and the way that we assign all of these Items to their proper place in the accounting system is by using that integration mapping tool. Phong, I’ll let you talk through this.

Rules-based AI Processing

Phong (21:10):

Yes, so before we go further, one of the biggest challenges that we used to run into a lot in my company was that it’s often not always the same person doing the data entry for the Bills. And so it’s very important for the books that things always go to the right place. For example, when you have a new Item, when you create a new Item in Quickbooks, it requires you to assign the correct Chart of Accounts; what Expense account does it go to? What Income account does it go to? And whether it is a sub-item of something else, and is it Inventory or Non-Inventory? The same thing with Class.

When we started having a lot of people involved, that process became very hard to keep up, and ultimately, that caused a lot of confusion in the books and made the books hard to reconcile. So, instead of relying on human knowledge to make sure things are routed all to the right place, what we do in MakersHub is build out an integration mapping dashboard. This is a very simple line-by-line rule-based system that really allows you to design and teach the system where things should go in your accounting. And it can be applied as simple or as complex as your business needs.

Phong (22:28):

And we’re going to start from the top tab. In QuickBooks desktop, when we enter a Bill, there is going to be an Expense column, an Expense tab, and an Items tab. What this allows us to do is for you to tell the system how and where to allocate the Item. You can read the rules written in English. Basically, the way we have it set up here is that you can set up rules based on Vendor name, based on Item number, based on Item description, and PO number.

And so this rule – what it says is – “Hey, if a Bill comes in from Cooper, make all the Line Items an Expense. I don’t want to track Line Items. If it’s coming from Scott Electric or Home Depot, then assign it to Miscellaneous Hardware,” which is an Item that I already created. “If it was sales tax or shipping, put it into the Sale Tax and Shipping Items that I’ve created that allow the company to track where things should go.” Things like that.

Phong (23:29):

What that does is allow the system to automatically route all those things to the right place, and you don’t have to remember where things should go. Now, as Charley mentioned earlier, we have a majority of the line items already set up in QuickBooks with the green check mark that we saw.

Adding New Items

However, this B220HT is a new Item. What you really want the system to be able to do is automatically create it for you so that you don’t have to do it yourself. So, in integration mapping, you now can go to the Chart of Accounts, and under Items, you can set up the rule-based system to really set up where things should go.

So what this rule says, what we are looking at is that “Hey, for every new item that I encounter, put it in the Cost of Goods Sold Expense account.”

Chart of Accounts

Phong (24:23):

In the same way that we have ingested all your Vendors or your Items, we also serve up all the Chart of Accounts already set up so you can change anything you want. Assign it to the Construction Income account, and then mark it as a sub-item of Miscellaneous Hardware.

And then, unless it comes from Belimo, which is a Vendor that we are looking at right now, I actually really want it to become an Inventory. So I can now set up a rule where, “Hey, create a new Item for me, put it under Construction Material cost with an Income account 42600 (the Inventory Asset account), and put it in HVAC Controllers.”

What this does is – now you no longer have to remember where these should go. We will automatically create a new Item for you, and so on. We can do the same thing across the Chart of Accounts. What you saw earlier where we are able to automatically assign an accounting Class and whether the Bill is billable or non-billable under this Accounting Class rules as well.

Removing Variability from Data Entry

Diane (25:28):

I’m going to jump in for one second because I’ve worked behind many, many people in their books when they bring us information. Getting Items set up in the right way is one of the really biggest error-prone areas that I see because, lots of times, people don’t totally understand items or how they interact with different accounts, and somebody’s in a hurry, and they just throw something new in the system, and they don’t pick out the right account. So you’re exactly right when you said it’s different people. You get somebody new in, and they don’t know all the nuances. Or even somebody who’s been there for a while and they’re just in a hurry and they don’t take the time to set things up properly. It is a big issue. And if you guys are solving for that, that’s huge.

Reduced Employee Training Time

Phong (26:12):

Exactly. And then another issue that you’re coming to is that this integration mapping ultimately becomes the company domain knowledge so that when people leave or when new people are coming in, you no longer have a transition period where you have to teach and train people. This is going to be your source of truth, and people can look into it, refer to it, and really get their hands around where things should go.

Diane (26:37):

And with everything going on in the labor market, there is turnover going on out there – more so than ever before, I think. So, that continuity is a big deal. Exactly.

Charley (26:49):

For anybody who runs an item-driven business and has lived this, this is probably very visceral for you. But there are a ton of businesses who say, “This looks cool, this sounds cool, but it’s not relevant to me.” There are a bunch of other elements of our ability to read and contextualize data that are very advantageous for almost any business.

Simplifying Approvals

A big one is around approvals.

  • How do we – basically – take a bill that we received and validate that it’s correct?
  • How do we do that in an efficient way when there are a number of people at the organization who we either demand or optimally would like to participate in that process?

Charley (27:32):

The value of being able to extract all of the data from the Bill and give it context is that – based on that context – things like:

  • What Vendor is this from?
  • What does the Description say?
  • What is it?
  • What is on this Bill?

And any other attribute that we can read – we can – using that same rule-driven smart routing approach, allow our users to design the routing for the approval process.

Setting up Approval Workflows

And so, in much the same way that you would set up the instructions for the system as to where Items and Expenses should go into the accounting system, you can set up an approval workflow that says, “Hey, based upon the facts and circumstances of the bill that you can read, this person or this set of people need to participate in the approval process.”

And so what you’re looking at on the screen is again that same very simple sequential rule-driven system that says, “Hey, if I encounter a Bill where the total is greater than zero, send it to Chris Pepper, the office manager, unless the bill has a total greater than a $1000, then, send it to Chris and the AP Department.” (The AP Department is a group of people.)

No Per-user Seat License

Charley (28:47):

So basically, once you add all of the users that you want to be on the platform, which is no additional cost. (There’s no per-user seat license or anything like that. You can have as many people as you want.) You can say, “Hey, I want these five people to be the AP department, and any person who is a member of this group can take an action on behalf of the group.”

But it’s not just Total. We can do this by Item Description. We can do it by accounting Class, Customer, etc. And this, again, I don’t want to spend too much time on it unless it’s very relevant to a lot of people on the phone, and we can do a follow-up. But this can be very sophisticated, or it can be designed to be very sophisticated.

Building Conditional Approvals

The use case that we see most commonly is basically a conditional routing where the workflow inside the company is:

  • A Bill comes in.
  • Somebody in the AP department looks at it and applies a code, either a Customer code or an accounting Class code or something of that nature.
  • Depending upon what code was assigned, a different set of people need to be the ones to approve this Bill. (And that’s what you’re looking at here on the bottom line in the blue hue, which is saying conditionally, “When a Customer that includes ABC School District is assigned to the Bill, then route to this group of Project Managers.”

So we don’t need to go into that in a tremendous amount of detail. The takeaway is that this can marry and match approval processes that exist in your companies that are very, very complicated and previously haven’t been supported well by legacy platforms in the AP space.

So, let’s assume that we’ve looked at the Bill, we’ve validated that all of the accounting coding is correct, and now it’s gone through the approval process. There can be a number of people who participated in that. You can bring people in.

Email Approvals

Charley (30:40):

One element of the approval process that you probably touched on is that you can bring people into this conversation who may have the necessary information that you don’t. It can be very flexible. You just add somebody from your organization. They’re going to get an email notification, and you can add documents – support documents to this.

So let’s say somebody has a packing slip or a lien waiver or something of that nature that’s going to be beneficial to other people who are looking at this for an approval perspective. All of this is captured here and timestamped. The documents themselves are referenceable by anybody else who is taking part in the approval process.

But let’s assume now that we’ve gone through this process, and everything looks good. It’s a single click to approve this Bill, and we’re going to autoload the next one in the queue for you. When this is approved, that is the first time that we’ll take an action in QuickBooks. When the Bill is approved in MakersHub, we’re going to create a Bill record in QuickBooks that we’ll show you in a minute. But we’ll approve a couple of Bills here just so you can see that basically, any type of file format, any type of invoice format, be it handwritten, be it a mess, we’re able to read and reconcile.

Multiple Bill Handling

Phong (31:54):

I want to add a couple of additional notes. What we have seen so far is a Bill that was individual, meaning a single PDF or for a single bill. But very often, especially in construction and manufacturing, you will receive a Bill that we designated as an Invoice group here. When we read them, it’s not really a single bill in one PDF. Many AR systems will send you a single PDF that includes five, six, seven, eight, or nine bills in this single document. This often causes a lot of issues with errors; like, when you go really fast and type this thing in, you can miss the page.

So you can see that MakersHub has not only been able to read the Bill itself individually, we can also extract a document and recognize that “Hey, this is actually six bills combined into a single PDF document.” We’d be able to serve that up to you, showing you that it is being extracted properly. When you do a review, we automatically bring it to the right page on that document that referenced the Bill itself. And the idea is that it’s going to typically eliminate and capture a lot of use cases for the companies. So we’re going to approve a few of these as well so that you can see the capability.

Diane (33:20):

I’m seeing a question out here. It says does MakersHub integrate with Accounting Suite?

Charley (33:26):

That’s funny. Today, we do not. Today, we are QuickBooks exclusively – but all forms of QuickBooks, and that’s a deliberate choice at our stage that we can talk more about. But today, we do not have an Accounting Suite integration.

Comparing Bills and Packing Slips

Diane (33:40):

I do have one other question. Can you open the Bill and the packing list side by side for comparison purposes?

Phong (33:48):

Yes. So, you end up attaching the support document. So let’s say I’m going to attach – it won’t be the right one – but I’m going to attach some sort of packing slip to the support document. So once you add it, the attached document is going to be right here for you. So you can actually pop them up open, and you can review them alongside the document itself. So, any additional document that you add is going to show up. You can add multiple support documents. You can put notes or Change Orders or anything else that you really want to know.

The idea – and you will see this once we push all the information into QuickBooks – is not only that we capture and link them all on the MakersHub side, but we really spend a lot of effort on pushing all the information to QuickBooks as well. So you are no longer going to have to chase around looking for Bills or finding documents or downloading and rearranging them in Dropbox. They’re going to be all organized together and linked to your Bills.

Charley (34:53):

So let’s show you that in QuickBooks, and then, we’ll spend the last five to ten minutes of the demo walking through the Payments pieces (but very quickly.)

Connecting With QuickBooks

Phong (35:03):

So far, we approved five or six bills, and they got moved from Bills to Accounts Payable on the MakersHub side. On QuickBooks – we are going to leave this Bill tracker window up so you can see that we did not pre-type these things in.

So we use the web connector, which most of you are probably already familiar with, in order to communicate between QuickBooks desktop and MakersHub. Most often, we set these web connectors up to run in the background, where it automatically syncs.

But for this demo, we’re going to sync them live so you can see the Bill get populated in QuickBooks desktop in real-time. Give it a few seconds here. So we’ll see the information start. So you see the Belimo Bill come through, the Pittsburgh Air Bill comes through.

Diane (35:53):

My COO calls this, “Magic happens here.”

Phong (35:57):

Exactly. And what you will see – we’re going to look at the Belimo bill, which we ended up having to create a new Line Item that we looked at earlier. So we’re going to open the Belimo Bill so you can see what it looked like. So you can see this one Line Item B22HT731. It got created automatically. It got put under the HVAC Controller. And if you look at this Item specifically, you’re going to be able to see the setup through all the right Expense accounts and Income accounts without you having to do any additional work.

Audit Trail

Charley (36:33):

And beyond that, obviously, to state the obvious, all of the Line Item information is captured here, coded appropriately, Class, Job, etc. On the Memo line, we basically give you an audit trail of anything that took place, such that this record exists in QuickBooks now. So, this Bill was processed by MakersHub. It was fully approved on this date, at this time, by these people. It was really uploaded by Mitchell Clark. It was approved by the AP department and this person in the AP department, etc, etc. It’s very easy to reconcile, “Why is this here?”

Furthermore, we give you a unique link in this Bill record and document record to the original version of the Bill. So you can just put this unique link into any web browser, and you can reference the original Bill. So you don’t need to keep this in any document vault or physical storage or anything like that.

Linked Files to Simplify Your Work

Charley (37:29):

It’s going to live next to or attached to its Bill record in QuickBooks.

If you went through the process of updating that packing slip or uploading a lien waiver or that sort of thing, that’s going to show up in a Line Item beneath that document record. So, all of these records are going to live together.

These links – a common question we get – regardless of whether or not you leave MakersHub or MakersHub goes away entirely, these are unique links that are hosted on AWS. So, as long as Amazon is around, these links will be around as well.

So this is what gets done in QuickBooks, and we can now go back to the MakersHub side (unless there’s something else that you wanted to point out here, Phong.)

The Bill Payment Process

Phong (38:13):

No, that’s it. And then, we can go over the Bill payment process.

Diane (38:18):

Let’s do that, and then, I’m seeing some questions out here. So let’s go through the Bill payment process so we’re sure everybody sees that, and then, we’re going to jump back over into the questions.

Charley (38:28):

Phong, do you want to tackle this?

Phong (38:30):

Yes. So, regarding Bill payments. As you can see, MakersHub is basically trying to enable users to allow them to do what they do today with less manual entries. So far, as you have seen, we were able to push and auto-create all the manual data entry.

We have two types of users. One is that they have a proper functioning check-cutting system in QuickBooks. So once you have already approved and the Bill gets into QuickBooks, you can continue using your existing system. So, for the purpose of this demo, are we going to show that – let’s say the Bill already goes into your system: Pittsburgh Air. You’re going to pay the Bill and cut the check for it. So, I’m going to go ahead and cut the check to pay this bill in QuickBooks. But when you pay the bill in QuickBooks – for MakersHub – we are a two-way integrated system.

Phong (39:23):

We are going to be able to recognize that the Bill has already been paid, and we’re going to move them out of the Payables and move them into the Archive. You’re never going to be in the situation where you have to go back and forth, manually marking it as “paid” on the MakersHub side.

You can see here after I pay the Bill – the Pittsburgh Air Bill – if I hit the refresh button on MakersHub, you will see that it got moved out of Account Payable and moved into Archive. You can see we marked them as Paid. You can view it. We’re going to note that payment had been made externally, meaning we know they’ve been paid in QuickBooks. We move it here, we change the status, and you don’t have to do anything.

However, MakersHub – we’re not stopping at the data entry process, but we are a fully integrated payment system where from here – where you have all the Bills from all your Vendors – and now you really want to pay them.

Pay Bills Using Single or Multiple Checks

Phong (40:22):

And so all the Bills – you see who approved them, when the Invoice date was, what the Due Date is, and you can select this Bill to schedule the payment. A couple of things to point out here is that by default, we actually would know that Bill is coming from the same Vendor, so we are going to be able to combine them together into a single transaction that you can see.

We also have our users who want to actually pay individual Bills by individual checks. Instead of having to do that manually, you can do a single click to schedule payments individually. We automatically split the payment so that individual Bill gets paid by a single payment, making it easy for the vendor to reconcile.

Capturing Payment Discounts

One last thing to point out is we didn’t just stop at reading and data entry that Charley mentioned earlier; we actually read the Net Term as written inside the Bill. We are going to understand it, and we are going to make it very easy for the company to capture the discount.

Phong (41:32):

These are the things that often get missed. So, for example, this Bill has a 10% discount if you pay in 10 days. In order to capture this, you have to calculate what the discount was. You have to create a Line Item to claim that discount. With MakersHub – we read it, we understand it, and we will tell you when the discount is going to be active until. We automatically calculate what the discount is. All you need to do is hit Apply. We automatically apply the discount, we change the opening balance, we change the due date, and we allow you to process it with a single click.

Phong (42:11):

From here you can see, you can select what account it should be paid from and how you want to pay your Vendor if they have multiple methods. You can see from here we have a couple of transactions that are going out as ACH and some that are going out as physical checks. Both ACH and checks operate where we cut, print, and mail the check on the same day you want to schedule the payment so there is no payment delay. Your Vendor will get remittance details, and you can schedule future payments as well. We automatically allow you to schedule payment exactly on the due date. You can change the date or schedule them however you would like.

Scheduling Payments

Once you decide how you want to pay the vendor and when you want to pay the vendor, all you need to do is hit Schedule Payment, and all the records are going to be moving out of Account Payable; they go into the Payment tab, and then, they’re ready to be paid.

No ACH Fees

Diane (43:10):

I’m going to jump in with a question. So, if we paid three bills here through MakersHub through ACH or even check, what’s the charge for the ACH transfer from using MakersHub?

Phong (43:26):

ACH and checks are included in the subscription. We do not charge an additional charge per user or per transfer. All payments are integrated, and that’s part of your subscription.

Diane (43:38):

Oh, that’s a huge advantage because, in many cases, the vendor would have to pay a fee, or you would have to pay a fee to handle that.

And what’s the normal time lag between authorizing an ACH and a vendor receiving the funds?

Same-day ACH Payments

Phong (43:53):

Yes, so that is probably one of the biggest advantages that MakersHub brings to the ecosystem because we have the most technological connection to our charter bank partners. So, for ACH transfers, if you authorize a payment before 4:30 PM Eastern time, the payment will arrive at the vendor on the same day.

Diane (44:17):

Wow, same day!

Phong (44:18):

Exactly, yes.

Diane (44:20):

That’s great.

Phong (44:21):

And if it’s after the [time] window, then they will receive payment at 8:30 tomorrow morning. If you submit payment – let’s say you do it at 5:00 PM Eastern time – then they will receive it at 8:30 tomorrow morning.

Checks are the same thing. If you submit the check payment before 4:30 PM Eastern time, then checks will get printed and mailed on the same day; otherwise, within 24 hours.

Diane (44:44):

Thank you.

Charley (44:47):

One other thing to add, and then I saw the questions that you referenced, Diane. I answered them in the chat, but I can just quickly go through them.

Payment Approvals

So, in the same way that you can design an approval matrix for the Bill (validating that the Bill itself is good,) we treat the consideration of when a payment should go out and who can authorize a payment as a separate question. So those are two discrete questions and should have two discrete workflows.

The user can decide and can say, “Hey, for our organization, this is the same. And the way that we’ve designed the bill approval, we want to apply to payment authorization,” but you don’t have to. And many people find that very valuable, and in our mind, it’s an important part of a hygienic AP process – that answering the question, “Is this bill valid?” and the question of, “Do I authorize a payment? How and when?”

Those are two separate questions. So, those two things can be designed discreetly in MakersHub.

Two-Way Sync with QBO

There are a couple of other questions that people asked in the chat. David asked, “With QBO – does it handle all of the syncing that you saw in the background automatically?” Yes, it does. What you saw – the web connector – is unique to QuickBooks desktop because it’s on-premise software.

If we were doing this in QBO, all of this would just happen automatically.

Does the application only push data to QuickBooks, or does it also retrieve data from QuickBooks?” It does. It’s a full two-way sync. So, any update that you make in QuickBooks, as you saw Phong paid the Bill out of QuickBooks, or if you were to add a new Customer or take some other action and QuickBooks, we’re going to recognize and retrieve that as well.

Charley (46:29):

It’s a true two-way sync. There was a question about document storage. “How are documents stored in MakersHub, and can you download them at any point?” Yes, you absolutely can. So, all of your information is archived here, and there are two little icons you can see there. A calculator icon allows you to export all of it to an Excel file, or you can download all of the actual PDF documents themselves into a zip file at any point.

Lastly, there was a question from Kim, “If a Class or Job changes from Bill to Bill, can that be overridden once, or must you adjust the Item each time?” Yes, you can make any individual override that you want. If you had applied a rule, and many people do this, many people say, “Hey, 90% of the time, this is the way that I want this captured. But there’s going to be one out of 10 times where it’s different.” It’s very easy to just go in and one-off change this.

Depending upon the specific use case that you’re talking about, we can help you design rules that basically capture the nuance as well. But any of this is individually editable at any point.

Diane (47:38):

It looks like you’ve taken care of most of the questions that are in the Questions pane, and I’m sure that if people get to do a one-to-one conversation with you guys later, they’ll have more specific questions that relate to their particular company.

But I am going to grab the screen back so that we can get our prize given out! You guys have a very nice prize.

Great demo, by the way, you guys! I appreciated you going through it at that pace. It was more clear to me even because I’ve seen a couple of demos, and seeing it at this pace was really helpful for me.

So, our giveaway result: now we have our COO hop in, and ahead of time, we said it’s going to be – from the screen that she looks at – it’s going to be participant number 11.

And Charley, what is participant number 11 going to get from MakersHub?

Charley (48:32):

Yes. Thank you all so much for joining. We’re going to send participant number 11 a $100 Amazon gift card. We appreciate all of your attendance and participation. A lot of great questions, and so, thanks very much. We’ll get your contact information, whomever the lucky winner is, from Diane.

Diane (48:47):

And let’s name it. Laura, my COO, is out here. She’s going to tell us who it is.

Charley (48:53):

Hi Diane. And the winner of the prize is Michael Waterfield.

Diane (49:00):

Michael, I’m sure you’ll be able to find something fun to do with that Amazon gift certificate with the holidays coming up and so on. Probably you can even just have a nice dinner out somewhere or do something special for somebody. So, thanks for being here with us!

Now, I have a few questions I’m going to run through very quickly on these slides that you guys are going to get. Of course, you’re all going to get a copy of the actual recording as well as these slides.

Ideal Industry Fit With MakersHub

“Which industries are an ideal fit for MakersHub.” We’ve already talked about that. Probably, construction and manufacturing are at the top of the list, but any company that has a lot of that type of detail that they need to get entered and limited bandwidth in terms of employees, I imagine that could really make a big difference.

QuickBooks Desktop vs QBO

“Do you see any big differences in the functionality between QuickBooks desktop and QBO in terms of what you can do with Makers Hub?”

Phong (49:57):

No, as far as limitation goes, it’s actually really so much more on exporting or inventory control – QBO is still lacking (against QuickBooks desktop.) But from an integration perspective – and this is one of the main reasons why we are still staying very narrow – we built a very deep integration on both Desktop and Online. But really, for our users, especially if you’re servicing multiple companies, the capability is going to remain exactly the same.

The only one anecdote to point out is in QuickBooks Online, the Projects and Customers work a little bit differently than in Desktop, where everything counts as a Customer. But we are able to handle that as well. There are some nuances around job costing and project tracking differences between the two.

Short Set-up Time

Diane (50:44):

Thank you. We did take care of the transaction fees, but the question before that is, “How long does it usually take somebody who’s new to get up and customized, up and running, and having things running smoothly?”

Phong (50:57):

Yes, great question. I think one of the biggest things that we really take great pride in is a very minimal learning curve for our customers. Charley mentioned the integration process takes about five minutes for QuickBooks desktop and is nearly instant for QuickBooks Online. Once you integrate it, we already bring all the information in, and you can just start dragging and dropping Bills.

Usually our team, our onboarding team would help our customers and spend 30 minutes with them. Once you’re integrated, track a few Bills, process them, walk through how you think about where things should go, and set a few rules up for you. We have many customers get up and going within hours.

MakersHub Customer Support

Diane (51:36):

Great. And in terms of support, if people have a question as they’re moving forward?

Phong (51:41):

Great. You will never talk to a computer or someone internationally. You will have our dedicated team here in the US. Most of the time, it’s going to be Charley and me responding to support tickets because we love our customers, and we are still in the mode where we continue to iterate and improve the product. We love to help our customers.

Diane (52:01):

And I know that the latest features you guys told me about were the payments. And you’d been really focusing on that for the last couple of months to make sure that was the finishing touch or the frosting on the cake.

New MakersHub Features

And then, “Where do you decide on new features that you’re going to create and offer?”

Charley (52:19):

Yes, I mean, we want to hear it from you. So, the vast majority of what you saw today happened certainly by virtue of Phong and my lived experience, but that was only the initial kernel. We’ve built things that our users say, “Hey, I love that this saves me X amount of time in the AP process, but could you also do this?”

And nine times out of ten, those are wonderful suggestions that are not beneficial just to the person who’s asking. They’re beneficial to a wide swath of people who’ve got the same problem. That’s how we decide what to build, and we build it quickly, and it allows for a great experience for our users but also a better platform for us.

Diane (52:59):

And that’s important for folks. And I know we’ve got one minute left, so I’m going to speed through our last slide.

First thing: on the left is all about MakersHub. I would recommend that you guys go out and click through on these when you get the handout. Of course, you can download it right now from GoToWebinar, but you’ll also get a copy tomorrow.

In these three links, there are a couple of customer stories and a TechCrunch article. I loved all of these. And, of course, here is the contact information for MakersHub.

Now they offered, here’s a big deal, a “year one” 25% discount. And I’ll tell you what, their pricing is not outrageous at all, especially compared to the cost of people’s time. But even then, they’re going to give you a 25% discount for your first year if you say that you came in through this webinar. Of course, that’s a limited-time offer. So get on that right away.

On the right side, you’ll see the types of things that we offer. And again, I think most of you guys are familiar with us, but if any of these things strike your fancy. When you see this handout, you can click through on any of those links.
So I think we did it. We might have 20 seconds left!

Charley (54:16):

Diane, thank you so much for hosting us today. All of the participants on the phone, thank you very much. Your time is very valuable, and spending an hour of it with us is greatly appreciated. If we can answer more questions or spend more time on things that either didn’t make sense or detailed questions that were unique to you all, we’re thrilled to do so. Just reach out to the email on the screen, and we’ll get it set up for you.

Diane (54:36):

Thank you so much, both Charley and Phong. You guys did a great job, and I’m excited to have more and more people learn about this. I think it’s just a terrific, terrific tool!

Take care everybody. Bye-Bye. Have a great week.


  • For your “Year-One 25% discount” – or to get more information – click this link: MakersHub. (Note that offers or promotions mentioned in the video are available for a limited time only. Please contact MakersHub or Info Plus for more information.)
  • Contact Charley at: chowe@makershub.ai. Be sure to let him know that you watched our webinar (or the recording!)

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