Buyer Alert: If you are considering moving your business to QuickBooks Online, be aware that they have suffered two multi-day service outages in the last year and several multi-hour outages during that time as well.
If you are already one of the tens of thousands of businesses using QuickBooks Online, you already know all too well the feeling of being stranded with no access to your critical accounting records, credit card processing or payroll service.
WHAT WAS IT THIS TIME?
Was the recent outage because someone tripped over the power cord in the server room?
Or, maybe the processor in the solo 386 computer overheated and quit?
Actually, it really doesn't matter to the thousands of businesses that didn't have the ability to "work anytime, anywhere" as the QuickBooks web site touts.
Here is the official Intuit response to the recent QuickBooks Online service outages.
WHO DOES MAINTENANCE EARLY IN A WORK WEEK?
In reading the Intuit response, my first question is - what online services provider schedules software updates for the early part of a business week? Almost every other online service that I use schedules their updates on Friday nights, Saturdays or Sundays. IT guys - feel free to chime in here. Doesn't it just make sense to do them on a weekend?
The second issue is this as reported in the Intuit message - "Quite simply, this shouldn't happen and there's no excuse for this performance. We didn't meet our own high standards for dependability and customer service".
That apology may work with some customers, but...
It likely rings hollow for those same customers that experienced a similar outage of the QuickBooks Online service in the summer of 2010.
WHAT ABOUT MIRRORING/REDUNDANCY?
The latest figures I've seen indicate that well over 300,000 businesses are using QuickBooks Online. With that kind of user base, shouldn't there be a failover plan in place that would knock the downtime from days to hours?
Since we are not able to peek behind the curtain of the QuickBooks Online data center, we can only guess how it is set up. To observers like you and me, it sure seems to me like an effective failover plan and/or mirrored hot site is NOTin place for service issues such as these. Otherwise, how could the multi-day outage from the summer of 2010 be repeated yet again in 2011?
The statement from Intuit says "We're building resiliency and redundancy into our new products and data centers, so we can keep your services up and running in the event of a failure with minimal downtime."
Um, shouldn't that already have been in place from the severe 2010 outages? Here we are nine months later looking at the same thing.
ALTERNATIVES TO QUICKBOOKS ONLINE?
This is where things get tricky.
Any time a business relies on a "cloud/internet based"solution for any type of service, there are certainly risks involved. Are the risks of using QuickBooks Online more or less than those of using other services? As far as I know, there is no easy way to tell. There is no service that tracks and reports on uptime for online software vendors. The bad news for QuickBooks Online is that they already have two pretty good size black marks on their service record.
Even though no uptime reporting exists, doing your homework can still save you from some potential headaches and heartburn. Here are 7 key questions to ask your cloud software service provider before you sign on the dotted line.
If you have decided enough is enough with QuickBooks Online, you may want to evaluate the pros and cons of these other alternatives:
You'll find that there is no perfect answer in this situation, so weigh the alternatives carefully.
WERE YOU IMPACTED? HAVE SOME THOUGHTS?
I'd love to hear from businesses that have been right in the middle of one or both of the QuickBooks Online service outages.
Are you staying with QuickBooks Online? Are you leaving? Please share your thoughts in the comment box below - thanks in advance for sharing!
Intuit - if you're reading this post, my readers would love to hear from you as well.