Zapier…What is all the buzz about?

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Zapier...what is all the buzz about?

You may have noticed that I’ve been talking A LOT about Zapier lately, and you’re probably wondering, what is all the buzz about?
Imagine this: you send a new client a Google Form to gather their information. They complete and submit the form and the following tasks occur automatically:

  • The client is added as a new Client in Practice Ignition
  • A new channel is created in Slack
  • A new folder is created in Sharefile, Google Drive, or DropBox
  • A new card is created in Trello
  • A notification is sent to someone in your organization to let them know that the client has completed the form and the tasks above have been completed

Sounds incredible, doesn’t it? I have saved countless hours each month using Zapier to automate many of my recurring tasks. In November, I shared 5 of my favorite Zaps at QuickBooks Connect in San Jose, CA and in December, I launched a 5-week Zapier Workshop course through Satterley Training & Consulting to help busy accounting professionals and consultants learn how to use Zapier to supercharge their efficiency both in their own practice and with the clients. My students are doing some pretty clever things with their new found knowledge. One student has automated the entry of Invoices from Freshbooks into QuickBooks and another has created a Zap that scrapes data from an email and automatically creates a Sales Receipt in QuickBooks. They created these new automations in no time and are saving tons on time!

So, what is Zapier?

Zapier is a web-based application designed for non-techies that allows you to create automated workflows between other web-based apps that you probably already use, like Gmail, Trello, QuickBooks, Xero and over 1,000 other supported apps. Some exciting recent additions to their platform include awesome accountant-specific apps like Practice Ignition and Aero Workflow.

So how does Zapier work? 

A Zap starts with a Trigger, which means that something happens in an app that you’re using, this could be that you receive a new email in Gmail, or create a new invoice in QuickBooks, or an event is added to your Google Calendar. When that Trigger occurs, Zapier sends an Action instruction to another app to do something in another app. 

Let’s look at an example:

I created a Zap that I use in my own firm that automatically sends a blank Form W-9 to my service vendors via an email when I add the vendor to my QuickBooks Online company. I call this my W-9 collection Zap! Here’s the way the workflow in Zapier works:

Zapier W-9 automation

Step 1 – Define the Trigger: The first step is to define the Trigger for the Zap. The Trigger in this workflow is that a new Vendor is created in my QuickBooks Online Company. But not all of my vendors should receive a 1099, only the vendors that provide a service to me. This brings me to Step 2. 

Zapier Trigger

Step 2 – Add a Filter: Zapier has built-in apps to help you supercharge your Zaps by filtering for specific data, transforming data from one app to a format that can be read by another app, or completing more complex functions like parsing data from an email. This all sounds very technical but it really isn’t that complicated once you learn the rules and best practices for building Zaps. In my W-9 collection Zap, the filter will be to look to see if the “Track payments for 1099” box is checked when the Vendor is created and only run the Zap if that condition is true. Now that we’ve set up our Trigger and told Zapier exactly what to look for, our next step is to tell Zapier what to do by creating an Action.

Step 3 – Add an Action: In this workflow, the Action is to create an email that will be sent to the vendor with a blank W-9 attached to it, along with a link to upload the completed W-9 to a folder in my Sharefile account. 

Zapier Workflow

Now that I’ve completed building the Zap, I just turn it on and let Zapier do the work for me. The email above is sent to my service vendors automatically when I check the 1099 box in QuickBooks. This has saved me tons of time because I don’t have to remember to reach out to the vendor or manually request a form W-9 from them! Pretty cool stuff.