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QuickBooks cranks up the pressure in UK
QuickBooks Connect 2018_AccountingWEB
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QuickBooks cranks up practice platform race

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28th Feb 2018
Editor in Chief (interim) AccountingWEB
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John Stokdyk reviews the key product announcements and executive pronouncements at the QuickBooks Connect event in London this week.

With extensions to its QuickBooks Online Accountant (QBOA) suite and the UK launch of its chatbot assistant, Intuit let accountants, business customers and its cloud rivals know that it's gearing up for a major push on this side of the Atlantic.

As the dominant player in North America, QuickBooks has very deep pockets to fund its expansion plans. Football sponsorships, advertising on cable TV channels and events like QB Connect, which drew 1,500 users and prospects to London this week, demonstrate the resources the company is putting into marketing.

R&D firepower

Product announcements at the show confirm that Intuit’s big R&D budget also poses a major challenge to Xero and Sage in the UK. For practitioners, the most significant move is the evolving practice management module within QuickBooks Online for Accountants (QBOA).

The updated edition is built around a customisable work view that lets the practitioner filter their pending workload by date and client task type. QBOA Practice Management also includes basic customer relationship management tools to track contacts with clients, who can be contacted by the accountant within their own QuickBooks Online (QBO) system or via the Slack chat platform.

The program also acts as an app selection and deployment aid – using platform analysis to present a menu of add-on programs that will suit the practitioner’s clients and allowing them to integrate them with QBO.

The QBOA client portal can also accommodate users of other accounting systems and allows the advisor to upload related files and documents such as Excel spreadsheets. The low cost QuickBooks Self Employed program – currently the company’s fastest growing product – is being hooked into QBOA. With continuing tax policies designed to dissuade sole traders from incorporating and the looming prospect of quarterly filing under Making Tax Digital, the UK could be a particularly receptive market for this edition, posing a challenge to FreeAgent, which has annexed a good portion of the freelance/contractor market in recent years.

And to round things off, QBOA has now been linked to Intuit’s QuickBooks Assistant chatbot, which was demonstrated by executive vice president, small business Sasan Goodarzi in London on Wednesday.

“We believe there’s a huge opportunity for practice management,” Intuit global accountant segement leader Rich Preece told AccountingWEB at QBConnect. “What we’re releasing is not all things for all firms – larger practices will want a fuller set of features.”

The platform play

But by providing a single view of all the key data a practitioner needs, QuickBooks is aiming to become “the one place” where accountants can manage their practice and clients, he said.

This “platform” play is becoming something of a theme. At the Xerocon event in the autumn, Xero introduced Xero HQ. Sage is readying up its own Sage Accountant Cloud that will blend the app management

“Many accountants and bookkeepers have been telling us that it is becoming increasingly complex to manage their work. There are more partners, more logins and more tools. Sometimes it all ties together and sometimes it doesn’t.

“We are driving a cloud where QBO is the center of an ecosystem. We have tied them all together for the accountant in a cloud culture that is unbelievably convenient.”

Alongside these features, accountants who undergo certification for the QuickBooks ProAdvisor programme are listed on a Tinder-like Find a ProAdvisor directory, where online responsiveness, client reviews and product expertise are all analysed by machine learning to match potential clients to QuickBooks accountants.

The QuickBooks UK blitz appears to be working according to conference delegate Jaimal Chandarana, from Raj Consulting. He told AccountingWEB: “Four years ago I wouldn't have used QB Online, but they have convinced me with the resources they’ve poured into it.”

According to Intuit, QuickBooks now has 13,000 ProAdvisers in UK, twice as many as this time last year. “We are number two cloud accounting supplier in this country at the moment and we will be the number one very shortly,” Sasan Goodarzi told AccountingWEB.

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Replies (12)

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Jonathan@Aiteo
By [email protected]
01st Mar 2018 10:59

I like QBO a lot, though I think it's politely generous to describe practice management as 'evolving'. It needs a lot of work at the moment, and feedback seems to fall into a black hole. Development doesn't seem to be very user driven.

Communicating through Slack with customers might get headlines, but Slack is best as a team management application (rather than a 3rd party comms tool) so we need integration with platforms such as Microsoft 365 too.

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Replying to [email protected]:
By Charlie Carne
03rd Mar 2018 15:58

I agree. Deep integration with Office 365 (including MS Teams) would be hugely advantageous.

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By Lutondata
01st Mar 2018 11:11

It is a real battle of the heavy weights as they line up for the pre MTD fight. I tested QB extensively and found it difficult to navigate. Tried the Sage one and instantly felt comfortable.

QB has fantastic "Feel good" marketing and I went to the 2017 Connect event. It was impressive, generous and very well organised. Sage is currently eating humble pie and realises they screwed up.

I`m leaning toward Sage because of the usability and my firm has 200 licenses as a starter. I would love to use QB as much but its the software interface that wins.

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Replying to Lutondata:
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By carnmores
02nd Mar 2018 15:48

its a different mindset to sage , have you used non sage accounting progarms, anyway competition is good

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Replying to Lutondata:
By Charlie Carne
03rd Mar 2018 16:04

I'm surprised that you find QBO difficult to navigate. I find it the easiest of all of the platforms. I have taught non-tech-savvy clients who have never used any accounting software how to get started and to navigate around very quickly. If you want to DM me, I'll show you the basics in 10 minutes (seriously, basic navigation is that easy). For a full understanding of the software and how to use the bank feed etc., Intuit offer free training to accountants.

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Replying to Lutondata:
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By BryanS1958
12th Mar 2018 10:28

My recollection is QBO has much better reporting and also much easier reallocation of transactions when using in Accountant's mode. Sage seems pretty basic in comparison.

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By BryanS1958
01st Mar 2018 11:16

I like QBO, although in many ways it still lags behind QuickBooks desktop. They need to sort out bank feeds as a matter of priority, both the onboarding (printing and posting mandates and then long delays or it doesn't happen - really?!) and daily updating, or failure to do so.

It would be difficult for them to compete as a one stop for accountants in practice. I use Iris and Microsoft 365 and there is not much communication between them, Iris obviously has it's own agenda with Kashflow, etc so only limited import links from QBO.

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Replying to BryanS1958:
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By carnmores
02nd Mar 2018 15:46

i have 15 clients on QBO absolutely no problem with the bank feeds, its a different product to desktop and works in a different way but can do much the same

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By SammyBerlusconi
02nd Mar 2018 15:15

Just to say I am ( back !!) in the building.

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By Jim100
02nd Mar 2018 19:48

The battle seems to be between quickbooks and xero for supremacy and sage is playing catch up due to complacency though the damage may already been done. I just don't see many accountants recommending Sage to their clients.

I really like quickbooks as a company and how they take care of accountants. When I first come across Quickbooks online I liked the design, functionality and ease of use. Though they seemed to have changed design and layout. Furthermore, the new payroll tool is poor as they could have made it much better. It still has flaws. They should really concentrate on making its core offering as perfect as they can before delving into practice management tools which is nice and very basic but risk just being involved on many areas and hence risk being jack of all trades and master of none.

Sorry, was the practice assistant part demonstrated at quickbooks connect where you can ask questions to the software verbally and an answer would be provided (similar to Siri on the iphone) ?

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Replying to Jim100:
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By BryanS1958
12th Mar 2018 10:34

I agree that payroll needs some work and Intuit should concentrate on getting the basics right before expanding into other areas. Bank feeds can be intermittent for some banks, VAT filing feels very basic compared with Kashflow (although Kashflow VAT is poor overall) and you seem to need to enter HMRC log in details every time, etc. But overall as an accountant, having to correct client errors, etc I prefer QBO to Sage, Xero and Kashflow.

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Replying to Jim100:
John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
03rd Apr 2018 11:34

Sorry Jim, I think the QB Assistant was demonstrated on the second, business-focused day of the event. (I only attended on day one, but interviewed Sasan Goodarzi, who confirmed he was going to be showing it to the business audience). If you want to know a little more, here's a write-up of it from a US demo last year: https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/tech/accounting-software/quickbooks-assi...

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