US accounting software developer this week signalled its intention to make life easier for practitioners with enhancements to QuickBooks Online Accountant. John Stokdyk reports from QB Connect in San Jose.
With 330,000 accountants affiliated to its ProAdvisor programme worldwide, QuickBooks is being continually upgraded to help this network expand the global base of 2.38m users.
“A large part of that growth comes from the support of the bookkeeping community and accountants,” Intuit’s global accountant segment leader Rich Preece told accountants at QuickBooks Connect in San Jose this week. “Fifty-three percent of small businesses work with an accountant and we actively encourage that. We firmly believe that working with accountants and bookkeepers is part of that.
As well as listing accredited ProAdvisors in its online directory to facilitate those connections, the main focus for development is QuickBooks Online Accountant. The enhancements unveiled at QuickBooks Connect include new front-end facilities to help accountants track leads and prospects as they make contact with the firm.
“We want QuickBooks Online Accountant [QBOA] to be the one place to grow and manage all your clients and all your practice,” said Preece.
This is a nifty looking addition that addresses one of the aspects of marketing that many practices overlook. The 2017 Practice Excellence Awards show that accountants are piling more and more effort into digital marketing, but only 25% of entrants this year were actively managing their referrals and client communications. And all the evidence points to the conclusion that those who do this are more effective.
“We’re not trying to compete with Karbon HQ and JetPack, but [QBOA] really is a workflow tool that is getting better all the time,” said Preece. “It’s perfect for small and medium firms.”
While specialist app developers can look forward to more integration with QBOA, the practice management module is directly competing with similar systems put forward in the past year by the likes of Xero, Sage and Exact.
After struggling to make a significant dent in this sector, Exact is now pulling back from the UK which will open a door for QuickBooks to present its practice management credentials.
In response to user requests, the QBOA developers added a simple tickbox that allows accountants to set up recurring tasks in the workflow. The second most popular request was a customisable view of client tasks, so a new filtering mechanism has been added.
Reflecting the rise of SMS messaging within the profession, particularly among the North American ProAdvisor network, QBOA will now integrate with the Slack messaging platform. The announcement drew whoops and applause from the San Jose audience.
Around 30% of ProAdvisors have experimented with QBOA Practice Management since it was given a soft launch in the summer, and Preece said 15,000 are now actively using it.
About John Stokdyk
John Stokdyk is the global editor of AccountingWEB UK and AccountingWEB.com.