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January 24, 2023

Build vs Buy for Accounting Integrations: When You Should Outsource Building Integrations

Tuongvan Le
Marketing Lead
at Rutter
Contact Sales

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Many integration product managers often face a common dilemma: building write accounting integration functionalities with accounting and ERP platforms is table-stake for many financial management, expense management, account payable automation and account receivable companies; however, understanding every single step involved in each workflow & learning about all the features their customers may need in each process is very time-consuming, painful, and at times not interesting to many. 

In an ideal world, many product managers wished these integrations could just be outsourced. The best engineers prefer not to spend their time building integrations. Wouldn’t it be so simple if one could just hire an outsourced development agency to build these integrations?

However, at Rutter, we also learned that many product managers have considered outsourcing and changed their mind as they learned that there are so many factors that make outsourcing feel like a sub-optimal route:

Many integration vendors who build integrations are not experts in accounting and have a steep learning curve to become experts

Many companies these product managers talked to don’t really understand their customers’ needs. In order to build a scalable solution, these vendors would need to really understand the ins and outs of accounting and the day to day challenges of accountants and controllers who have to manually record these expenses into ERP platforms. Yet many developers are not accountants and have a steep learning curve to become experts. And without proper context, they end up designing APIs that have specific limitations once deployed. Once put into practice, these APIs often break in addressing a variety of scenarios that could happen in production. 

Many vendors’ API is not built for generalizability and customizability to adapt to their customers’ changing needs

These product managers are tasked to understand the ever changing needs of their customer base in writing payments into accounting and ERP platforms. For example, many customers may need to amortize some purchases so they would need to include start and end dates of their purchase. Some other customers may have different legal entities and need to record the location of every purchase to track sales tax and understand which entity to assign a payment to. 

As product managers attempt to map out all the features they need to capture in a bill, they learn that this list of features keeps growing as they talk to more customers. The bigger their customer base, the bigger the list grows and the more they realize how nuanced and challenging it is to address all customers’ needs. 

Due to this growing complexity, product managers need to work with engineers to quickly add new features to meet their customers’ changing needs. 

Oftentimes when they outsource to 3rd party APIs, they don’t have control or visibility into how these APIs are designed. They don’t have confidence over how generalizable these APIs are built to address their customers’ variety of needs and how flexible these APIs are in adding new functionality to meet each customer’s specific need. 

Many product managers feel like it’s difficult to feel in control of how fast 3rd party vendors can turn around changes and deploy new features to meet their customers’ changing needs

Relying on a 3rd party vendor to build API oftentimes means these product managers lose control over how fast they can turn around changes and new code to meet their customers’ needs. The best they can do is to keep nudging. They have no visibility into how scalable these APIs are designed in addressing additional needs their customers have.

What this means for us at Rutter as a universal API for accounting 

As a universal API for accounting, we help companies minimize engineering work, provide expertise around the gotchas of accounting platforms while giving product and engineering teams more control and the ability to customize their integrations across any accounting platform. 

We’ve learned that there will always be new learnings every week on what we don’t yet know and haven’t built for. What we can focus on in building trust with product managers who ideally would like to outsource their integration to us is to ensure that:

(1) We are obsessed with learning about accountants’ needs in their day to day work of recording bills, reading transactions and expenses, attaching receipts and many more actions they have to take in an accounting and ERP platform.

(2) We are obsessed with building a generalizable platform to ensure we meet the foundational needs of our customers in a scalable way to make sure we can add and make changes fast when our customers come to us with new information around workflows that their end users need to fulfill. 

We have built Rutter from the ground up after talking to hundreds of accountants and product managers at leading financial management software companies. We’ve designed our schema and data model to handle all the complexities needed to successfully integrate with any accounting and ERP platform whether its Netsuite, Quickbooks, Xero, Sage Intacct, Microsoft Dynamics or Freshbooks.

If you are a product manager who has considered outsourcing in the past and decided not to due to these concerns, we’d love to chat to learn from you and explore potential collaboration opportunity so you don’t have to think about integration anymore. You can also try our Universal Accounting API here.

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