Integration with multiple accounting packages and payroll services
All accounting software applications are different. Most modern programs have databases that are built on some flavor of SQL, i.e. Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL, etc., but that is where the similarities end. Obviously, all accounting packages have different user interfaces, but integration is all about being able to pull the right data from the accounting system, store it in the time tracking program, and send the new timecard records back to the right place in the accounting system or payroll service.
There are two general formats for exchanging data with an accounting system. Some programs have an API (Application Programming Interface), a tool providing specific formats for interfacing with their database. Others use import and export routines. Both require intimate knowledge of the database infrastructure. The API comes with a set of information detailing the table and field names to be accessed and the software formatting required for access.
Import/Export routines require the mobile time tracking vendor to know which tables and fields contain the information needed to pull employees, jobs, phases, cost codes, pay codes, etc. Getting the completed timecards back to the accounting system is a little easier. Almost all the accounting packages or payroll services have in Import function to enable the import of timecards from an outside source.
A flexible time tracking application can work with both API’s and Import/Export routines. In fact, you should be able to create separate export files for accounting and payroll (and others, if necessary). It can also easily handle most situations where the customer changes accounting systems, a scenario that is not unusual for companies that outgrow their current systems.
The User Interface – HTML5 Flexibility
As the World Wide Web has evolved so has its technology. As more and more consumers began to use smartphones, the “App” became very popular. That is, applications written specifically for the mobile phone. Steve Jobs guided the creation of the Apple App Store for mobile applications written solely for the iPhone.
Since that time, web developers have been faced with one overriding issue – do they write platform/browser specific software that enhances the user experience but requires them to write separate code for each one, or do they use a development technology that is less customized for each platform but allows them to write the application once and run anywhere.
In our next post, we will discuss additional benefits derived from having a flexible mobile time tracking system. In particular, we will review system options, program access and control, and reporting.
The latest version of HTML - HTML5 - has definitely narrowed the “user experience” gap to allow developers to concentrate on adding more features and functionality. Instead of writing code for each mobile platform, they can focus on what will make the product better for all users. Companies will spend less time on customizing each user interface and more time on improving the overall product.
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