Accountants and Bookkeepers Working With QuickBooks Clients: QuickBooks Hosting Approaches That Work
Ever since the first application service providers began offering hosting services for Intuit QuickBooks desktop products, the idea of running desktop editions of QuickBooks in the cloud has created both intrigue and confusion among accounting professionals and their clients alike. Part of the problem is the term “cloud”, which seems to equate the hosted QuickBooks desktop editions with the true cloud app QuickBooks Online edition. But hosted QuickBooks isn’t QBO, it’s a service model developed around the actual desktop versions of QuickBooks: Pro, Premier and Enterprise.
While it is true that both solutions – hosted QuickBooks and QuickBooks Online – offer centrally managed and accessible online accounting functionality, the underlying services are very different and operate under completely different “rules”. One of the rules, or conditions, which differs between the two solutions is that with hosted QuickBooks service, you may also be able to run other business applications and manage other business data, not just QB apps and data. This is an essential capability when you consider that QuickBooks desktop software integrates with and takes advantage of functionality found in other popular business solutions, such as Microsoft Office.
In many QuickBooks hosting services, the inclusion of Office app hosting is typical due to the reliance upon functionality in those solutions (Excel reporting, Word letter-writing, and Outlook emailing). When it comes to other tools or application integrations, however, customized hosting service becomes necessary. When the need for additional applications or integrations arises, consideration should be given to the best way to orient and implement those add-ons.
For example, if a client business has a heavy reliance upon a solution which integrates with QuickBooks, and uses the solution to handle daily tasks in the business, then it makes a lot of sense to create a hosting environment specifically for that client. The client would be able to access their unique set of solutions, and the accounting/bookkeeping professionals can be invited to participate in that system. This keeps the data in one place, managed and controlled, yet allows all parties who need access to get access.
In other situations, there may be a tool or utility necessary to help get data from one place to another, and this tool or utility is not something the client uses in their daily work. In this type of scenario, it may make sense for the accountant/bookkeeper to have a customized environment which allows them to use the tools and solutions which assist in data integration, organization, validation or review. In many cases, the accountant or bookkeeper may perform these data integrations or sync operations directly in the client data file, so that the client (using “generic” service with just QuickBooks hosted) is able to then access and view the integrated data. In this scenario, only the accounting professional has the additional tools necessary, allowing the cost of hosting for the client to remain lower. Approaching a hosting environment in this manner might allow the accounting professional to develop a niche or customized approach to serving a specific type of client, incorporating behind-the-scenes data aggregation or integration and other types of process support as part of the overall service delivered.
The key to developing the right application hosting and outsourced accounting service model is to focus on how the practice will use the hosting solutions to improve service and process efficiency, serve client needs better and more fully, and differentiate themselves from their competitors in the market. By applying the hosting service and online solution properly, business clients and the accounting professionals who support them will both benefit by getting the information and the application functionality they need, when they need it.
Joanie Mann is a recognized authority in the areas of ISV cloud enablement and ASP service delivery, and consults with application and platform hosting companies worldwide. Her extensive work with accounting professionals worldwide has also positioned her as an expert consultant and adviser to professional practitioners seeking to leverage...