Intuit shows off new products at first annual accountants' conference

Accountants and QuickBooks ProAdvisors have converged this week at Intuit Inc.'s first annual Accounting Professionals User Conference to examine the issues that currently threaten their ability to work productively across their most critical tasks.

Most attendees seemed pleased with the class offerings and quality of instruction. Debra Kilsheimer of Behind The Scenes Financial Services in Port Orange, FL, was glad she attended the conference. "I always like to learn more," she said. Kilsheimer works with her husband and is considering expanding their business. She's excited by the idea of new challenges.

Louis Gutberlet, a CPA and QuickBooks ProAdvisor from Atlanta, commented that the conference was "not as advanced as I would hope." But he plans on returning next year. "They'll get enough feedback that they'll make adjustments."

To address the need for greater productivity, Intuit showcased two new offerings that will enable accountants to work more efficiently and better serve their clients: Intuit Accountant Work Exchange and Intuit Document Management System for QuickBooks Accounting.

"Our long history of close partnership with the accounting community and small business customers uniquely positions Intuit to be able to solve tax and accounting issues in ways no one else can," said Jill Ward, vice president and general manager of Intuit's Accounting Professionals Division. "These latest innovations add to our family of end-to-end productivity products and services that help accountants focus on high-value work so they can effectively grow their practices."

Helping Accountants Connect to Solve Staffing Shortages

A major staffing crisis currently faces the accounting profession. According to the 2007 AICPA Top Management of an Accounting Practice Issues Survey, finding qualified staff is the top concern among accounting firms in the U.S. In addition, Intuit surveys have revealed that more than half of its accountant customers regularly experience more tax preparation work than their staff can comfortably handle.

Accountants who have excess tax and accounting work will be able to easily find and qualify accounting professionals with capacity to take on additional work by signing up for the introductory version of Intuit Accountant Work Exchange and contributing to its further refinement. Professionals looking for extra projects simply create a profile listing their experience and qualifications, search for jobs in the marketplace, and apply to the ones they are interested in. Accountants seeking to hire contractors can easily create new projects and search prospects by geographic locations, accreditations, and with which Intuit products they have experience, including QuickBooks, Lacerte, ProSeries, or Intuit Payroll Solutions.

"Previously, if I needed extra help, I'd have to put an ad in the paper, then spend time weeding out the responses and conducting interviews," said Jay Malik, trial user and Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor of Uncle Sam Tax & Accounting Corp in Easton, PA. "With this marketplace I can now quickly find, interview, and hire contractors that have experience with the software I use anywhere in the country. I can now accept more clients, offer more services, and still have time for dinner with my family. This will revolutionize the industry."

The Accountant Work Exchange has more than 700 registered users after less than two weeks of inviting participation, according to Intuit Product Manager Tom Palfreyman. He suggested that some of the users who can benefit from the new product include tax practitioners with out-of-state issues, people looking for certain specialty skills, and those who are comfortable working with and expanding a virtual office.

The Accountant Work Exchange is not limited to accounting work. "The sky's the limit," said Rich Walker, Intuit Director of Accountant Services.

Less Paper Means More Productivity

Another key issue facing the accounting and tax industry is paper overload. According to Intuit research studies, accountants spend approximately 65 percent of their time working with documents, filing, retrieving, and sharing files. On average, a four-drawer filing cabinet can cost $25,000 to fill and $2,000 a year to maintain – 80 percent of which is cost for labor. Plus, misfiled documents can cost up to $120 to replace.

With the Intuit Document Management System (DMS) for QuickBooks Accounting, accounting professionals and small business owners using QuickBooks can store files electronically and access them instantly from their PCs. By moving to a "less paper" office, they can help reduce operating costs, improve service, and help protect their firms from risk and drastically increase productivity.

With the Intuit DMS, customers can automatically import their customer, vendor, and employee lists from QuickBooks to easily create a well organized filing system. Accounting professionals can quickly scan client documents or print to PDF files, associate them with specific client records and organize them on a desktop PC or server. When needed, accountants can easily access requested files from the DMS system, including customer, vendor, and employee information, without having to open QuickBooks. Documents can also be saved to the system directly from Microsoft Office programs, password protected and e-mailed using Outlook.

In developing these and other products, Intuit prides itself on reaching out to actual users and learning what their work experiences are really like. "We want to feel their pain," said Ward when describing the company's "Follow me to the office" strategy where Intuit staffers spend a day with an accountant, watching exactly how the job is done. Ward explained that some elements of any job are taken for granted by the person doing the job, and unless that person is observed on the job, those pieces can be missed.

Pricing and Availability

Both the Intuit Accountant Work Exchange (IAWE) and the Intuit Document Management System for QuickBooks Accounting are currently available through introductory offers.

IAWE is currently available for free. Accountants and tax professionals can register online.

The Intuit Document Management System for QuickBooks Accounting software is now available for purchase in single-office licenses.

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