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Breaking News: What's Happening with QuickBooks?

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Oct 22nd 2014
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We're all about QuickBooks this morning. First, read this late-breaking news from John Stokdyk, editor of AccountingWEB (U.K.), who is attending the QuickBooks Connect conference in San Jose, California. Then, for more analysis, turn to our contributed piece on what these changes mean.

You may not be able to see it until you log in and try it for yourself sometime in December, but Intuit has given QuickBooks Online Accountant (QBOA) edition a major overhaul with features that will gladden the hearts of professional users.

A cloud software upgrade is a hard sell, as you can only really see the full impact when using the system, so Intuit's marketing squad went into overdrive, repeating the mantra that this was the "most exciting" product launch in the developer's history.

But as the new edition was unveiled at the QuickBooks Connect event in San Jose, QBOA drew nods of approval and applause from around 1,000 accountants, thanks to its firm-level access controls to client accounts, an editable Client Dashboard screen with a variety of alert icons, a client document center for chasing documentation from clients, and even integration with the QuickBooks ProAdvisor program.

Another common statement in San Jose is that Intuit has "reimagined and re-engineered" its online software for accountants from the ground up—to the point that one audience member stood up and pleaded with the company not to abandon its desktop ProAdvisors.

Jim McGinnis, Intuit vice president for its accountant and advisor group, vowed not to do so, but acknowledged the concern in a conversation with industry analyst Joe Woodward.

"Is Intuit moving too fast to cloud? Are we disrupting you?" McGinnis asked.

"You're doing your job to stay with the pace and stay relevant", replied Woodward. "Disruption is inevitable."

One of the points about cloud accounting is that it lets accountants work in a more collaborative way with client businesses, and aside from gaining QBO certification, the underlying theme of the QuickBooks Connect conference was exploiting cloud software to become a trusted business advisor.

The real time accounting that QBO supports is not the profession's ultimate goal, Woodward argued.

"The holy grail of accounting is helping small businesses succeed, and the way accountants can achieve that success is by reinterpreting data—which is available in real time.

To support this evolution, Intuit has made more than 100 functional enhancements to QBOA. Many of them were focused on trying to solve operational challenges and were based on accountants' requests, according to Intuit senior vice president Dan Wernikoff.

The main Client Dashboard, for example, lets the accountant view different client Tabs based on which application they use (tax, accounts, etc.). The main list is accompanied by a communication stream with messages about new transactions. The program monitors transactions as they happen and flashes indicators against the client's name if an uncleared transaction or changes to a closed period show up.

When adding a new client, the management routine includes an access setting so team members are limited to seeing only the clients they work with.

To help with collecting information to complete the accounts and tax returns, QBOA's Client Document Center lets the accountant create an email within the program to request documents from clients, and then shows a graphical displays whether or not the requested files have been sent back.

Several ProAdvisors in San Jose for the launch shrugged at the claims being made on the new program's behalf, but still welcomed these enhancements as potential time-savers. "The access controls to client accounts was essential", said one.

Related article:

Why QuickBooks' Cloud Bet Matters to Everyone

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