Now that the hype about the QuickBooks 2009 product line is in full swing, I wanted to share some thoughts with you about it, and make some suggestions to really, really help drive your product sales with the 2010 product release.
Stop Catering to the Accountants...
First of all, might it be time to stop catering to the accountants out there (many of whom have no idea how QuickBooks works and don't want to have any idea) and start focusing on businesses that are actually attempting to use your software for their accounting? I sure think so.
In the 2008 version of QuickBooks, the big news was all of the new and improved capabilities with the accountants' copy feature. In the 2009 version, the big news is the Client Data Review Tool. No question, this tool will be quite helpful for those accountants (me included) that are dialed into improving their client QuickBooks data files. However, how much development time went into this feature at the expense of other more pressing and beneficial improvements? My hunch is a lot.
Foreign Currency Capabilities - So?
Another highly touted feature in the Pro, Premier and Enterprise versions of QuickBooks 2009 is the ability to handle foreign currencies. Based on the polling I have done with clients and businesses in the QuickBooks classes I teach, this feature has been met with a collective yawn. I've seen it stated in your press releases that over 30% of those businesses using QuickBooks (or some similar figure) were asking for this feature. Maybe 30% of those who are using QuickBooks Enterprise need it - if so, why not make the a selling point of the Enterprise line? The majority of the smaller businesses using the Pro and Premier editions of QuickBooks don't have a need for this feature. They are having a difficult time as it is generating sales in US dollars.
What You Should Be Adding to the Product Instead:
As a member of your Certified Pro Advisor and Certified Enterprise Advisor teams, I'd like to suggest some product enhancements that sure make a lot more sense and would benefit far more QuickBooks users than the Client Data Review Tool and Foreign Currency. They may not be home runs, but they sure are practical ones. Here are a few for starters:
- How about having a remit to and a physical address capability for vendor accounts? What seems so logical and so badly needed has been missing for years. My guess is that you'd be feeling the love of accounts payable and purchasing deparments by the tens of thousands by making this one small change.
- What about the ability to have multiple shipping dates when creating a sales order? Businesses today requires flexibility, and the current setup in QuickBooks doesn't accomodate this need in any way. A business shouldn't have to use QuickBooks add-on software to get this functionality.
- While we're at it, why not make the Custom Fields boxes within inventory items plain and visible when viewing item details? The screen space is there - why do we have to click on the Custom Fields box to see what they contain?
But Wait, There are More...
The list continues - once you have tackled the above, let's talk about these improvements:
- Provide businesses (not just their accountants) a tool to help fix problems with sales tax. Call your support department and ask five of them how to go about fixing problems within multiple tax agencies on the sales tax liability report. You'll immediately see why this is such a problem for a regular business.
Don't make a business modify an open sales order report just to see what the open dollar balance is on the sales order. Most clients I deal with expect that an "Open Sales Order Report" would show a listing of what sales orders are open, AND what the open balance is on the order, NOT just a listing of sales orders that have not been closed.
Help businesses that are using the assembly feature within QuickBooks Manufacturing Edition to quickly identify what components are out of stock when building an assembly. Highlight the items in red or do something else to draw attention to them. Don't just tell them there aren't enough to make the assembly - this is really problematic with long bills of material.
One Final Thought for the Moment...
The suggestions above are simply an accumulation of various things that have driven my clients nuts with QuickBooks over the years (there are more for sure!). Many other suggestions could easily be added to this list, including this big one:
- Update the tool set available to modify QuickBooks reports. The current one is tired, really tired. It has served its' purpose, and it is now time to build in some better tools for users to have at hand. Simple things like adding subtotals and adding more sort options are just the beginning of things you could do here. Even better, if you built in a more advanced reporting tool set into the Premier and Enterprise versions of QuickBooks, you'd be able to sell more copies of those. Businesses today require the ability to create and modify their own reports with a more robust set of tools, and they should have more options than having to use the ODBC option in Enterprise or go to a third party solution for common reporting enhancements.
There are many other things that could be baked into QuickBooks 2010 to make the user experience even better than it is today. I hope to have the opportunity to talk with you about them someday soon!
Scott Gregory, QuickBooks Specialist
What do YOU wish QuickBooks would add to their software in the 2010 release? Submit your comments below!
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