If you are a QuickBooks ProAdvisor you have already received advance notice of the significant changes to the ProAdvisor Program that will be put into place this Fall. Part of the change will be a total rework of the Intuit ProAdvisor web site, and I have a sneak preview of what this should look like.
First, in case you aren’t familiar with the new changes, take a look at this blog post by Michelle Long which reviews the key new features. Also, if you are a member of The Sleeter Group Consultants Network you were able to see a detailed presentation by Intuit on the new program in the August “monthly conference call” (members, if you missed it, you can find a recording of that presentation in your membership pages).
I do want to point out a couple of items that several ProAdvisors have asked about after they viewed the presentations:
- The “Gold”, “Silver” and “Diamond” levels of membership are just for internal use in the ProAdvisor program. Users searching for a ProAdvisor won’t see this kind of designation, according to Ian Vacin (Intuit Leader of the ProAdvisor Program) “users are looking for proficiency”, so they will still see the certification levels of the ProAdvisor, not the membership levels.
- There are no plans for changing the ProAdvisor logos again, the “shield” logos will remain the same. They are an important part of the Intuit branding and they want to reinforce it.
So let’s look at the new ProAdvisor web site.
Existing ProAdvisor Web Site
I’m not particular a fan of the old (current) ProAdvisor web site. I found it a bit difficult to work with.
The main page isn’t too bad, but when you get away from the main page it can be confusing and hard to find the information that you want. It isn’t always clear what my status is in the program at this time, and what I might have to do to advance. Personally, I generally stay away from this web site unless I need to work on a Certification issue.
New ProAdvisor Web Site for Fall 2011
It is important to note that the screen shots I’m showing here are all taken from a development copy of the web site. Some features are not fully implemented, and anything you see here COULD change by the time it is fully released this Fall. This is a work in progress at this point. However, the general concepts should be the same.
Here is the starting page. Very similar to before. However, see the Notifications button in the right side – click it and a panel opens (as shown here) that has current important notifications. If you come to the web site often, this is an important new feature that will help alert you to important, current issues. I like this, IF you are someone who comes here often.
Scrolling down the page you will see a summary of your current status. I like having the status summary right there on the first page, although I’d like more of this higher on the page.
Scrolling even further down you see links to key areas that a ProAdvisor would be interested in.
One key thing to understand is that it is very apparent that Intuit wants to help ProAdvisors advance through the different certification levels. They want ProAdvisors to become more proficient in the product, so they are going to push you further along that path at every opportunity. The new membership level structure shows that – the further along you go the better support and products you get. The “Membership Goals” concept matches that. This portion of the page encourages you to pass certifications, and talks about the certifications that you can achieve. It provides links for product training and other resources.
My initial thought here is that I like having these kinds of links and resources laid out clearly and in one place, rather than scattered about.
If you dive into the training areas, the options available to you are laid out clearly. The following is just one of the pages that are available:
Software that is available to you for your use, as well as software that you can purchase for your clients, is located easily. Your discount status is show in the upper corner.
Your ProAdvisor support options are all listed clearly on one page. Note that this page will vary depending on your status in the ProAdvisor program – you will be shown the options that apply to your account specifically. This is one of the important areas that all ProAdvisors are going to have to examine closely in the new program.
In the “Community” section you will find links to the forums, recent blog posts and recent newsletters.
It is hard for me to evaluate this redesign without having my hands on it to play with. As I was being led through this in a demo, everything made sense, but the real proof is when I have to go in on my own to find something.
In the past few weeks there were several occasions when I needed to go into the current ProAdvisor site to find something, such as information relating to certification. Since I don’t spend a lot of time there, I found it difficult to locate the specific information I needed.
From what I’ve seen in this demo I think that the new site will be much easier to use to find the specific items I’m looking for. However, Intuit is looking to provide more than that. They are looking to encourage (push?) ProAdvisors further up the ladder, to get you to learn more about the product and become better representatives of Intuit products. This makes sense, of course, from their standpoint. And if you are truly interested in delving deep into the mysteries of QuickBooks and the ProAdvisor program, they seem to be giving you a lot of tools to grow.
In my discussion with Ian Vacin about this web site and the new ProAdvisor program I made the point that many ProAdvisors have felt, over the last year or so, that Intuit didn’t truly value us. Communications have dropped off, information has been harder to obtain. Ian assured me that his division DOES place a high value on working with and developing a good relationship with ProAdvisors, and he believes that the new ProAdvisor program and web site are proof of that interest.
Category: For Consultants/Accountants