Importing TPO data into Light Blue

We’re pleased to announce that we are now able to offer a data import service for The Photographic Organiser (TPO) customers who want to import their data into Light Blue.

Here’s a summary of the TPO data that we’re importing into Light Blue:

  • Job types
  • Products
  • Contacts & people
  • Jobs & events
  • Invoice totals
  • Receipts

We are not importing quotes or purchases from TPO.

Read on for more detail about how we’re importing each type of data from TPO.

Job types

TPO job types are imported into Light Blue as shoot types. We’re importing the name and default session length for you.

Products

TPO products are being imported into price lists in Light Blue, split out into separate price lists for each TPO product group name. We are importing the product name, code (which won’t be displayed until Light Blue 7 is released), unit price, tax rate, and unit cost.

Contacts & people

TPO contacts and people are imported into Light Blue as contacts. Where a TPO contact has multiple people, we group the Light Blue contacts together. The contact information that we’re importing covers:

  • Type
  • Title
  • First name
  • Last name
  • Job title / role
  • Notes
  • Birthday
  • VAT Number (which won’t be displayed until Light Blue 7 is released)
  • Warning
  • Mailing list opt-in (if none of TPO’s “do not contact” flags are set, the contact is opted in to your mailing list)
  • Phone & fax numbers
  • Email addresses
  • Web address
  • Postal addresses
  • Linked notes

Jobs

TPO jobs are imported into Light Blue as shoots. We’re importing:

  • Shoot type (where it matches one of the shoot types listed in your TPO job types file)
  • Job number (this goes into what we call the shoot reference number field)
  • Notes

Job events are imported into Light Blue as appointments (for any TPO job type that ends in “Viewing” or “Meeting”) or sessions. The status field in Light Blue is at shoot-level rather than session-level, so we’re writing both the TPO event type and status into the session description field. If any of the sessions for a shoot that we’re importing are confirmed, we’re setting the status of the shoot to confirmed.

The following TPO job fields don’t have a direct equivalent in Light Blue, but we’re adding them to our shoot notes field so that you can refer back to them:

  • Reference numbers
  • Price
  • Adults
  • Children
  • Pets

Invoices

TPO invoices are imported into Light Blue as sales. We’re importing:

  • Invoice number
  • Invoice date
  • Linked contact
  • Linked shoot
  • Notes
  • VAT Number (which won’t be displayed until Light Blue 7 is released)

TPO’s VAT calculations work differently to Light Blue’s, so we aren’t importing the items from TPO’s invoices. Instead, we’re importing a single item and using that to store TPO’s invoice net, VAT, and gross totals. This means that you can use your imported invoices to see the total value of each of your historic invoices, but not the details of the items that your clients ordered. If those details are important to you, you should keep a copy of the ‘Financial_Invoices_Items.xlsx’ file exported from TPO so that you can refer back to it in future.

Receipts

TPO receipts are imported into Light Blue as payments. We’re importing:

  • Date
  • Linked contact
  • Payment method
  • Amount
  • Notes

We’re also matching up the imported receipts with your imported invoices.

13 March 2018 update: the way that TPO handled deposits from clients means that you can end up with deposits from clients that appear as unallocated Payment records in Light Blue. Because the way that TPO handles deposits is so different to the way that Light Blue handles them, we are not planning to change the way that we’re importing these records. If you would prefer to not import your TPO receipts into Light Blue, let us know and we will exclude them from the import.

How to arrange your TPO data import

To be able to import your TPO data into Light Blue, you need a Light Blue account and to have set up the desktop version of Light Blue. We strongly recommend that you take advantage of Light Blue’s free trial and our training and support resources to ensure that it is a good match for your needs before purchasing Light Blue or arranging your TPO data import.

When you’re ready to transfer your data, you need to:

  1. Contact us via email so that we can check that your account is set up and ready to import data, and schedule a date for your import.
  2. Contact TPO’s developers to arrange for them to export your TPO data.
  3. Send us your TPO data export. We will need to check the data and arrange a time when we can access your account to do the import.

We charge £95+VAT to import your TPO data into Light Blue.

Light Blue Success Stories – Matt Ross Photography

Matt Ross is a family and headshot photographer, offering a mix of on location, and studio based shoots from just outside of London, in the UK.

After a successful career in the world of finance, working in both the Formula One industry, and for a Big Four professional services firm, Matt brings his professionalism and belief in “good old fashioned customer service” to his photography business, with the help of Light Blue.

“Light Blue has helped me to be a professional business, and equally importantly to appear to be a professional business too!

Being able to send branded invoices and contracts with a few simple clicks, and track and accept card payments online in one simple and elegant workflow has been a massive change, and helped me to deliver an impressive and convenient experience to my clients.

Behind the scenes, it’s great that I no longer have to wait for bank transfers, or spend time manually checking which ones have been paid, with the ever present risk of one getting missed.

Light Blue is my to-do list, personal assistant, and accountant rolled into one.

Without it, I would be constantly wondering what on earth  I should be doing next, and which clients have failed to pay me. My life would be spent doing long-winded admin tasks, such as sending contracts, raising manual invoices, tracking receipts, and apologising to clients for missing things!

I’d much rather be taking photographs!”

If you’d like to add a little extra professionalism to your photography business, spend less time doing admin, and be even more organised, try Light Blue today – free for the first 30 days.

The Societies’ Trade Awards

Here at Light Blue Software we work hard to deliver the type of customer service that we’d like to receive ourselves, and like to think that it makes a difference to our customers.

The SWPP Trade Awards offers us an opportunity to be recognised for this, and maybe take home a trophy too.

So if you feel that Light Blue has had a positive impact on you and your business, we’d really appreciate your vote in the ‘Best Professional Customer Service’ & ‘Best Professional Software’ categories of the SWPP trade awards. You can cast your vote here.

It should take you less than a minute to cast your vote, and the SWPP are entering all voters into a prize draw, where you could win a Masterclass Full 4 Day Pass to The Societies 2018 London photo convention (worth up to £225).

Vote now

The Societies of Photographers Roadshows in Gravesend & Birmingham

We’ll be at The Societies of Photographers Roadshow in Gravesend on Wednesday 4th October & Birmingham on Thursday 5th October.

It’s a great opportunity to come and see us at the free trade show as well as enjoy the fantastic programme of masterclasses.

Gravesend masterclasses

  • Sanjay Jogia FSWPP – Evolve or Evaporate (10:00-11:00)
  • Scott Johnson FSWPP – The Art of Bride and Groom Portraits (12:30-13:30)
  • George Fairbairn FSWPP – Shooting in any location (15:00-16:00)

Birmingham masterclasses

  • Catherine Connor – Refine your Business (10:00-11:00)
  • Gurvir Johal FSWPP – Want to take your images to the next level? (12:30-13:30)
  • Christina Lauder FSWPP – Child Portraiture (15:00-16:00)

If you’d like to find out more about how Light Blue can help you to run a successful photography business, we’d be delighted to see you there. We’ll be running demos throughout the day, and coming to see us at the show is the perfect opportunity to ask us any questions you might have about how you can put Light Blue to work for your business.

Admission to the roadshow is free if you register in advance:

Light Blue and France’s new NF525 regulations

The French government is introducing a new set of financial regulations called NF525 on 1 January 2018. Only photographers with businesses based in France are affected by NF525, so please don’t be concerned by this if you’re not based in France.

NF525 is designed to combat fraud, and is aimed at cash register and accounting software. It requires French businesses to be using software that has been officially certified as complying with the new regulations.

Although Light Blue includes helpful invoicing and simple bookkeeping features in addition to its core shoot and contact management features, we’ve never intended Light Blue to be a comprehensive accounting package. However, because it generates invoices it still falls within the scope of NF525. We have therefore been working with French lawyers to find out exactly how the rules affect us and whether we will be able to get Light Blue certified under NF525.

NF525 has several technical requirements, and some of those requirements can’t be met with a system like Light Blue that allows you to work offline and then, later on, sync your changes between several devices. We might be able to change the way that Light Blue works to comply with the technical requirements at some point in the future, but the new regulations also include some non-technical requirements that are very hard for a company that doesn’t have a French office to comply with.

Together, these requirements from the French government mean that we will not be able to get Light Blue certified under NF525. Photographers who are using Light Blue in France can of course carry on using Light Blue’s core shoot and contact management features, but they should ask their accountants for advice about whether they need to find an alternative invoicing system.

We’ve heard a lot of grumbling about NF525 from the various companies and people that we’ve spoken to in France, and it sounds like a lot of them are going to struggle to meet the government’s certification requirements by the 1 January 2018 deadline. We will be keeping a close eye on the situation, and we hope that the regulations evolve to allow French photographers to continue to use their existing invoicing systems.


Le gouvernement français est sur le point d’introduire de nouvelles règles financières appelées NF525 à partir du 1er janvier 2018. Seuls les photographes dont l’entreprise est basée en France sont affectés par les règles NF525, si vous n’êtes pas basé en France, ceci ne vous concerne pas.

Les règles NF525 ont été conçues pour lutter contre la fraude, et sont destinées aux logiciels de caisse et de comptabilité. Tout cela pour s’assurer que les entreprises françaises utilisent des logiciels ayant été officiellement certifiés comme étant compatibles avec ces nouvelles règles.

Bien que Light Blue comprenne de simples caractéristiques comptables et de facturation en plus de ses caractéristiques principales de gestion de travaux photo et de contacts, il n’a jamais été notre intention que Light Blue devienne un package comptable complet. Cependant, étant donné que le logiciel génère des factures, il relève toujours des règles NF525. Nous nous sommes donc concertés avec des avocats français pour découvrir exactement comment ces règles nous affectent et si nous pourrions voir Light Blue certifié selon les règles NF525.

Les règles NF525 possèdent plusieurs exigences techniques, et certaines de ces exigences ne peuvent être satisfaites avec un système comme Light Blue qui vous permet de travailler hors ligne puis, plus tard, de synchroniser vos modifications entre plusieurs appareils. Il se peut que nous puissions changer la manière dont Light Blue fonctionne pour se conformer aux exigences techniques dans un futur, mais les nouvelles règles comprennent certaines exigences non techniques auxquelles il serait très difficile de se conformer pour une entreprise ne possédant pas de bureaux physiques en France.

Ensemble, ces deux exigences en provenance du gouvernement français signifient que nous ne pourrons pas voir Light Blue certifié selon les règles NF525. Les photographes qui utilisent Light Blue en France peuvent, bien sûr, continuer à utiliser les caractéristiques principales de gestion de travaux photo et de contacts de Light Blue, mais ils devraient prendre contact avec leurs comptables pour obtenir des conseils quant à la nécessité d’utiliser un système de comptabilité alternatif.

Les règles NF525 ont prouvées être une source constante de grognements de la part des différents individus et entreprises que nous avons contacté en France, et il semble que bon nombre d’entre eux vont avoir du mal à se plier aux exigences de certification du gouvernement à compter de la date limite du 1er janvier 2018. Nous surveillerons la situation de près, et nous espérons que les règles évolueront pour permettre aux photographes français de continuer à utiliser leurs systèmes de facturation existants.

Compatibility with macOS High Sierra and iOS 11

In the very near future, Apple are going to release macOS High Sierra and iOS 11. Because many of our customers like to upgrade their Macs, iPhones, and iPads as soon as new operating systems become available, we’ve been testing the latest versions of our apps with both new operating systems.

Light Blue 6 and the latest version of our iOS app appear to work well with Apple’s latest operating systems. However, we can never be entirely sure that Apple won’t change something before the release of either operating system, so please read on for the important health warning…

Health warning

As with all major operating system updates, it is a very sensible idea to be cautious about updating all of your computers and mobile devices at the same time. Although our testing of Light Blue 6 and version 3 of our iOS app has been positive so far, there is every chance that Apple could change something that breaks compatibility or that we’ve missed something because we can’t test every conceivable combination of devices and settings.

If you rely on Light Blue to run your business, we would therefore recommend holding off from updating your operating system as soon as the latest versions of macOS and iOS come out. At the very least, if you absolutely must update on day one, make sure that you have at least one computer and iOS device on the ‘old’ operating system until you’ve had a chance to test that all of the features that you depend on are fully functional.

Also, please note that our testing has been has been focussed on the latest versions of our desktop and mobile app. The vast majority of our customers are already using Light Blue 6.2.3 and version 3.3 of our iOS app, and if you’re using older version of either the desktop or mobile app then please update to the latest version to ensure that you’re able to take advantage of all of the new features and bug fixes that we’ve been adding. You can update the desktop app by using the ‘Check for updates’ command (in the ‘Light Blue’ menu if you’re on a Mac, or in the ‘Help’ menu if you’re using it on Windows), and you can update the iOS app via the App Store.

Scheduled server maintenance this weekend

In order to support some new features that we’re working on at the moment, we need to make some changes to the servers that run our online services. We’ll be carrying out these updates early on Saturday and Sunday to try and minimise any disturbance to our online services.

The only part of our online services that will be affected is data synchronisation from our desktop and mobile apps to our online services. All other features (including existing forms, contracts, and online invoice payment) will be unaffected, but anything that depends on our desktop and mobile apps communicating with our servers (e.g. sending a text message, or publishing a new contract) might be affected.

We’re going to try to keep any disruption to a minimum, but data synchronisation might be offline for parts of the time between 05:00 – 09:00 BST on both Saturday and Sunday.

Update: there won’t be any disruption to our online services on Sunday morning.

Light Blue 6.2.3

We’ve just released Light Blue 6.2.3, our latest minor update to Light Blue 6. Here’s the list of feature updates and bug fixes that you’ll find in this latest update, which you can get hold of by using the ‘Check For Updates’ command from within Light Blue:

  • The ‘Export Records’ dialog now defaults to the last set of fields that you exported from the same section.
  • Added a hidden option that allows you to export just the currently selected record. To use this, hold down the Alt key when opening the ‘Export Records’ dialog.
  • Fixed a bug where the headings for custom fields would be missing from a data export.
  • Fixed a problem with importing ProSelect orders if you’re using a comma as your decimal separator.
  • Fixed a database error that occurred when using the Linked Records panel on a Contact record to set that Contact’s role on a Shoot record.
  • Fixed incorrect entries that could appear in the popup menu when using the Linked Records panel on a Contact record to set that Contact’s role on a Shoot record.
  • Fixed any crash reports that have been sent to us.

Server updates on bank holiday Monday

We’re going to be taking advantage of the bank holiday weekend here in the UK to make some updates to our servers on Monday morning. Most of you shouldn’t notice any problems, and of course your Light Blue desktop and mobile apps will continue to work offline, but there might be some interruptions to our data sync service.

Moving from adhoc organisational systems to a centralised system

This is the first in a series of articles written by photographer & Light Blue customer, Nick Church, about how Light Blue has helped him to grow his photography business.

Do what you do best, outsource the rest

To be a successful photographer, your business needs sound marketing, PR and sales strategies as well as outstanding organisation. The chance of one individual excelling at all of the above is low, and the reality is that we are distracted by admin tasks that eat into the time we spend on taking pictures and improving our creativity. In this series of articles I share the various ways how Light Blue Software ring-fences valuable creative time.

When I started Nick Church Photography I had a demanding full time job. Any time spent on business development was snatched in lunch hours and evenings.

With a handful of bookings and occasional consultations, I was on top of the admin. I had a spreadsheet noting wedding dates, another for finance, a calendar for appointments, and booking forms for clients detailing information about the shoot. All very organised, what could go wrong…?

The problem is that all these systems are unlinked. When the calendar prompted a wedding, I’d have to refer to the other spreadsheets, re-read emails and Facebook messages to get the full picture. I’m sure that some clients thought I looked a bit vague in meetings. The truth is that I was often “winging it”!

A spreadsheet set-up is a passive data store so it must be manually driven with a routine process. If you get a text message while you’re out and just once forget to copy-paste this information when back home you will have major problems and a lot of stress. With bookings, email and Facebook enquiries and appointments I felt like I was drowning; having no chance to come up for air before the next wave crashed over me. My creativity and business development was stunted, just at the time I needed it most.

Then two incidents last year made me realise I had to work smarter. Firstly some good friends got engaged and asked me to shoot their wedding. Thrilled, I gave dates I was free so they could book their venue in the knowledge I’d be available. When they contacted me with their confirmed date, I was not available. The new booking was from Instagram, the one system I had not checked.

The second incident was the nightmare we all dread… Mid-way through a call at work a text  came in… “Hi Nick, just checking all is ok, we’re all at the venue and waiting for you. Hope you’re on your way!”.

I had no idea who the message was from or what venue they were at. Eventually when the call finished, in a cold sweat I ran through my systems to find out which clients would be having their day without a photographer… and wondering whether I’d be facing my own day in the small claims court. It turned out not to be wedding I’d missed, but a venue visit. But I’d still been disrespectful of my clients’ time and I’d lost faith in my ability to run my business in this way.

As with all small businesses, photographers need a return on investment and so when I found a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system that had a free tier I gave it a go. This was an improvement, but it would need a lot of customisation time, and it’s true: time is money.

I heard about Light Blue Software’s platform via my professional network and saw that it had the huge advantage of being written by and for photographers. They know what we need and with the free 30 day trial – you’ve got nothing to lose!

After entering two weddings into the system I saw this was the holy grail I’d been looking for. Light Blue automatically sets workflows, gives meeting reminders, there are sections for wedding day agendas, shots requested, contacts, notes, finances, Social Media etc. Critically, all this information is in a single place and linked together logically. Overnight it replaced all my disparate systems and out of the box it was up and running in 10 minutes.

Yes, it is an extra cost to my business, but along with the likes of Adobe Lightroom it is something that I now see as critical to Nick Church Photography. The time and the stress saved by having this ‘second brain’ is priceless.

In following articles I will be discussing other parts of my growing business and how Light Blue Software allows those parts to develop effectively and smoothly.

Start your free 30-day trial