Interfacing with Accounting Systems
Invoices are distributed from most accounting systems in either print format or by email. Some industries such as retail support invoicing in EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) format, which is usually achieved through the use of an add-on module to an accounting system.
As is clear from other parts of this learning centre, sending invoices by post is a costly and inefficient distribution method. Email is such an insecure means of distributing invoices that many organisations refuse to accept invoices sent by email, and it cannot be used as a means to deliver invoices to consumers for Data Protection reasons.
OnePosting is a secure invoice distribution service that sends invoices electronically to customers but can also send them by post if required. So is information extracted from an accounting system and routed to OnePosting?
There are a variety of extraction methods available. These include:
- OnePosting Data Extractors for Sage
- CSV/XML outputs
- Use of the OnePosting API
OnePosting Data Extractors for Sage
OnePosting has developed Data Extractors for some of the Sage range of accounting systems including several versions of Sage 50 and several versions of Sage 200.
The OnePosting Data Extractors for Sage work in the background, checking for new data within Sage on a periodic basis and uploading it to the appropriate OnePosting Data Centre. Invoices and credit notes can be extracted several times per day if required. In addition, the ledger position for all debtor accounts is kept up to date through periodic checking for ledger updates.
A very common means of providing data to OnePosting is through exporting information from accounting systems in CSV (Comma Separated Value) format or in XML (eXtensible Markup Language) format. The capability to output information in these formats is built into many accounting systems, but where this is not available as standard, it can often be achieved by running reports that can save data to file.
In other cases, Systems Integrators can extract data in CSV or XML format and make it available for upload to a OnePosting Data Centre. The OnePosting Data Collector service, checks for CSV or XML files on a period basis and if it finds them, it uploads them to a OnePosting Data Centre.
An Application Programmable Interface (API) can be used by Systems Integrators to upload invoicing and debtor information to OnePosting in real time. In this scenario, the Systems Integrator develops software that uploads invoices to OnePosting as they are posted to customer accounts thus ensuring that OnePosting receives information as it updates customer accounts.
This is an option that would be considered if it is important for customers to have real-time access to their accounts.
Security and confidentiality of information is of paramount importance within the OnePosting solution. For this reason, data is always ‘pushed’ from client systems to OnePosting and never ‘pulled’.
The OnePosting Data Collector is used to transmit data from accounting systems to a OnePosting Data Centre. It runs as a Windows Service on the client’s server, and whenever it identifies that there is information for transmission to OnePosting, it opens a secure link to a OnePosting Data Centre using SSL (Secure Socket Layer). This is the same technology that is used to capture credit card payments over the Internet (you will notice a padlock symbol whenever you access a secure website).
Once a secure link is established with a OnePosting Data Centre, invoices, credit notes, statements and/or ledger updates are ‘pushed’ by the client’s server to OnePosting. Once the receipt of the invoicing data is confirmed, OnePosting Data Collector closes the link to a OnePosting Data Centre. At no time is a client’s IT system open to an inbound link and so there are no security concerns over the transmission of data to OnePosting.
All of the information necessary to enable customers to receive invoices electronically or in the post is present on an invoice. Extracting invoice data is normally a straightforward task that can often be achieved using a standard reporting tool that is part of the accounting software itself.
Once data is extracted, the OnePosting Data Collector transmits it securely to a OnePosting Data Centre from where it is distributed electronically or by post to customers.