Case study 3:

Journal Entry Utility

For many bookkeepers, Rise payroll meant sacrificing detailed tracking of funds to keep time costs low.


Between onboarding, maintenance, and running reports, Rise’s previous solution to journal entries could easily eat up hundreds of hours a year, making granular tracking of funds unfeasible. Furthermore, changes in payroll data routinely caused unbalanced entries, leading to mistrust from clients.

To save our customers time and headaches, we rebuilt our journal entry tool to be "set-it and forget-it". We added smart onboarding, automated journal entries, and guard rails to prevent non-balances.


As the sole designer, I was responsible for all aspects of the interface design and led the UX design. Part of that responsibility included heavy data analysis, user interviews, defining the information architecture, and building HTML/JavaScript prototypes for user testing.

Smart mapping
We leveraged data to build a smart mapping interface, making onboarding a snap.

For bookkeepers to track payroll, they need to map each payroll line item to an account from their system (ie. an employee’s commissions might be mapped to a “Salaries and wages” account).

Our onboarding process relied on our Client Experience team setting up spreadsheets with payroll and department data, sometimes containing thousands of lines, for customers to then fill in with accounts. Errors often led to multiple iterations, sometimes taking months before customers could run their first report.

We started by cutting their work in half

All mappings require a credit account (where funds are coming from) and a debit account (where funds are going to). Rise withdraws from a single bank account for payroll, so we provided an input for customers to select their payroll clearing account, allowing us to pre-fill their credit mappings for the majority of transactions.

Then, we pre-populated and organized their data

Instead of our CX team wasting time building spreadsheets, we added all of their payroll and invoicing data into a single list. Further, we organized it by type and provided simple sorting and filtering, to make finding the items customers need quick and simple.

We provided focussed department and employee mappings

Not all departments or employees require specific mappings, so copying and pasting the same account repeatedly is a futile experience. To remedy this, we included department and employee overrides, allowing customers to create specific mappings for the items they need and letting the rest fall back to the default mapping.

Finally, we included smart mapping suggestions

By aggregating and analyzing the data from current customer mappings, we were able to isolate keyword matches for each type of payroll instruction or invoice charge.

For example, there’s an 82.6% likelihood that a “Bonus” payroll instruction will include one of the following keywords:

  • bonus or bonuses
  • salary or salaries
  • wage or wages
  • commission or commissions
  • payroll expense

Through this, we were able to provide smart suggestions, reducing the overall time customers spend in the mapping interface.

Automated journal entries
We integrated with our customers' accounting systems so they could set their journal entries on auto-pilot.

Every time a customer pays their employees, they need to track the flow of cash in a journal entry.

Rise’s journal entry tool required customers to run a report and manually copy data into their accounting software line by line. The more granular they track the cash flow, the longer the process took.

We partnered with accounting products to seamlessly transfer data

To make a completely automated system, we knew we would have to partner with the top Canadian accounting products. Through integrations, we were able to automatically import and maintain an updated list of our customers' chart of accounts. More importantly, it enabled us to send journal entry data directly to our customers' general ledgers, saving them time and energy every pay run.

From there, we built “auto-reports”, completely automating the process of creating journal entries

Once we had direct access to customers' general ledgers, we were able to automate the creation of journal entries without customers having to lift a finger.

During onboarding, customers are given the power to choose their own adventure. They can enable Rise to create and send journal entries to their general ledger, choose the frequency of which to do so, and dictate the format in which to download their reports.

Not only did this remove the redundant, time-consuming task for our customers, but it also allowed them to track their money at the finest granularity without added labour.

We added feedback, so customers can kick back and relax

Communication is the key to any great relationship, so we created notifications to let customers know the automated journal entries were successfully sent to their accounting software.

We stored their reports, so they wouldn’t have to

Even when journal entries are balanced and accurate, bookkeepers may still need to audit their data for a more detailed version of events. To account for this, we stored all their reports with the balance and date sent to their general ledger.

Guard rails
We implemented balance checks and guard rails to gain back our customers' trust.

Even with smart mapping and automation, a journal entry is useless if the balance doesn’t match the payroll invoice. Oftentimes, a new payroll instruction is created in payroll and the journal entry wouldn’t balance, leaving the bookkeeper to investigate the issue causing mistrust in the system.

To regain their trust, we implemented checks to notify customers when entries aren’t balanced. We also added alerts when payroll data changes so customers can update their mappings to prevent non-balances.

We removed the need to audit reports with automated balance checks

We wanted customers to feel confident that every penny is accounted for in the data we send. To accomplish this, we implemented checks to compare the journal entry balance against the related invoice. We also added email notifications to inform customers the balance is off so they can resolve any issues with the mappings.

From the Reports & settings tab, customers can locate the unbalanced report and download it to investigate which mappings need to be revised. Afterward, they can re-run the report to check the balance again.

When running a report manually, we’ll display confirmation feedback that the report is balanced and ready to be sent to their general ledger.

Finally, we provided alerts and feedback to prevent non-balances from occurring

Most unbalanced reports were not the result of a bookkeeper's mistake. Instead, a common occurrence was for payroll administrators to not communicate changes in their data, leaving bookkeepers to audit the report themselves.


Admittedly, this project was an uphill battle the entire way. Not only were we thrust into the world of accounting without any prior knowledge, but we were also working on tight timelines to go to market.

At the time of writing, we are about 75% feature complete and are beta testing with a small group of early adopters. As of now, the results are as follows:


Customers were able to onboard within a few hours as opposed to several weeks, averaging 168x reduction in time spent.


100% of beta customers have successfully begun sending their data to their accounting software through an integration.


  • 50% of customers’ first journal entries were unbalanced
    • Some had no accounting experience and had not consulted with their bookkeeper before onboarding
    • All customers were able to balance with some assistance, but this highlights an opportunity to add more educational tips to the product