This week FreshBooks took yet another step in its evolution from being a cloud-based invoicing solution for “gig” workers, to being more strongly considered a true accounting solution, one that accountants themselves could use to collaborate with clients as their business needs evolved.
The official release of Collaborative Accounting came this week, and was developed literally in collaboration with accounting professionals that are a part of its Partner Advisory Council (aka Fresh PAC). Moreover, it is a move in which the company truly believes will have more accountants, and service-based business clients, see it as a viable accounting solution as this interview with Twyla will reveal.
FreshBooks began its journey 20 years ago as a simple invoicing solution, albeit a cloud-based one, for independent contractors. This was its core purpose for years and while the company wanted accountants and bookkeepers in particular to be aware of the product, there was not much directly for them. Around 10 years ago the company finally built double-entry into its platform and could function as a true GL, but still did not quite have the collaborative or more robust abilities (on its own or through integrations) that it does today.
In my view, FreshBooks is at a point where if it is going to be seen as anything more than a simple invoicing solution(which it is not any longer) it needs advocates from the accounting community. Having the PAC, which you need to register to become a part of, is key. But much like QuickBooks with its more vocal Advanced ProAdvisors and Xero’s Ambassadors, FreshBooks needs accountants to regularly get the message out. It appears their channel head and leader of their accountant partner program Twyla Verhelst, CPA is well on her way to doing so.
In paraphrasing her words after a recent conversation, accountants are currently involved in nearly every product related decision FreshBooks makes. Rather than having developers build integrations or roll out new features to the platform and get feedback from accountants after the fact, they are, according to her, more directly involved in the process. This is something that, while it may take a bit longer in the process, is sorely needed and even requested in the accounting software community.
Again, it seems the company’s hope is that through further evolution of the product, through the aid of its accountant-centric PAC, the product can even be a true alternative (for the right clients) to the likes of Xero, Sage One, Zoho and even QuickBooks. After 20 years, it’s been fun to watch and it appears it’s about to get even more interesting for FreshBooks in the bookkeeping world.