In the thirty-plus years I have been involved with software development, there have always been prospective users who during the course of demonstrations or within an RFI have expressed their needs, their wants, and their desires with respect to what an ideal accounting system could potentially offer. Must-haves and nice-to-haves are the order of the day and sometimes they overlap. Of course, DCAA audit compliance has been at the top of the feature list in each and every meeting, but once that is addressed, things can get rather interesting!
More often than not, a prospective user will inquire about integration options with - you name it - another business application that they're using that is working well, and its replacement with something else is not politically feasible. At other times, the prospective user will be using an accounting or ERP system that they do not wish to replace, and ask if it is possible to integrate components from within SYMPAQ that will augment the desired functionality of their incumbent software. Even enterprise systems such as SAP which for all of its capabilities, doesn't offer out-of-the-box DCAA compliance let alone the job costing of projects using the actual cost method used by government contractors.
While it remains a valid method of exchanging data between disparate systems, the days of using flat file transfers to integrate with other applications are becoming a thing of the past. So this begs the question we often hear nowadays, "Do you provide an API for your products?" Or, "Do you have the capability to exchange data using an API?" Fortunately, the answer is "Yes."
Recently, we developed an interface to QuickBooks Online using the API provided by Intuit to read and write common data elements between QBO and SYMPAQ eTX, which provides time recording and expense reporting capabilities that are compliant with DCAA timekeeping guidelines and the Joint Travel Regulations, respectively. In reviewing the QBO API, we determined that master file data which include Employees, Vendors (Consultants), and a Chart of Accounts - can be pulled from QBO into SYMPAQ eTX. In addition, the "TimeActivity Object" enables approved time entries to be seamlessly transferred to QBO. Within eTX, there is a link to connect to QBO that requires the entry of your QBO login credentials and then provides for seamless bi-directional data interchange. There is no need to export a file, save it to a directory location on your computer or network, and then log in to QBO to import the file. Instead, we are letting the API do its magic once the connection is established.
Microsoft Corporation is a proponent of taking an "API First" approach to modern software development where APIs are considered the foundation of an application. This method opens up a myriad of integration possibilities with complementary applications that extend functionality beyond what any vertical market accounting software vendor can typically provide. We have learned from the past that you cannot be all things to all people, and attempting to do as much has its drawbacks and risks. The integration possibilities are limitless when taking a best-of-breed approach by sending and receiving data via REST APIs. Integrating with Human Resources, Payroll, Fixed Assets, Earned Value Management, Inventory Control, CRM, and other ERP systems - just to name a few - opens up a gateway to add unique value to both SYMPAQ software and to the third-party applications within its ecosystem.