We’re going to take a break from our regularly scheduled broadcast to bring you “Charlie’s Rant”, a more or less monthly post where I’ll set aside my usual balanced and sane commentary on QuickBooks and other Intuit-related items and allow myself to complain about something that is bugging me. Today I’m going to rant about how Intuit lets us know about things that are going on.
Businesses who USE QuickBooks are usually very reliant on the product. Creating invoices, paying bills, tracking inventory, these are all key business processes. If there is a problem with QuickBooks, they need to know about it. If there is a fix for a problem in QuickBooks, they need to know about it.
Accounting professionals who work with clients who have QuickBooks are also very reliant on the product. Their clients look to them for expert knowledge on how to manage the program, how to get around problems, and to explain why something isn’t working as expected.
One of the keys to keeping everyone happy is good communications. If there are problems, everyone needs to know about it. If there are fixes for problems, everyone needs to know about it. I don’t think that Intuit does a great job in communicating to business users and accounting professionals.
I know a lot of people at Intuit, and at least a few of them read my articles. I can hear the protests now. “We work VERY HARD to provide information”, “we have MANY methods of communicating with you”. It’s true – there are a lot of ways that Intuit gets information out to us. Here are some examples, and I’m sure that there are several that I’m missing:
- Twitter – Intuit has multiple Twitter accounts. A few that I’ve seen (and I’m sure that there are MANY more) are @timteichman, @Intuit, @GoPayment, @QuickBooks, @IntuitPayroll, @IntuitInc.
- Facebook – Bunches of pages there, Intuit, Intuit Quickbooks, Intuit Payroll, Intuit GoPayment, several others.
- As a ProAdvisor I get to log in to the ProAdvisor web site, where I can get information about what is going on by clicking the “notifications” link.
- Anyone who has the Accountant version of QuickBooks 2012 can see the Accountant Center, which has an Accountant Updates section that shows notices.
- There are a couple of “service” web sites that provide information about the availability of services. I don’t have a good list of this, but one example is the QuickBase service page. There used to be others, for merchant services and QuickBooks Online, but the addresses that I had before are no longer working (they could have just moved).
- In the Intuit Community web site, when you get down to a certain level specific to a product, you sometimes see service messages posted at the top of the page.
- On rare occasions, Intuit will send out an email notification or newsletter to ProAdvisors if there is something going on.
- There are, in some cases, email messages that go out to customers of QuickBooks. Usually these are (from what I’ve seen) notifications of a product being discontinued or retired.
I’m also very fortunate to be in contact with many Intuit PR people. These are a great source of information for me as a blogger (usually). I talk to Kim, Danielle, Elisabeth, Vanessa, Emma and probably some others. I also am fortunate to be able to talk to various “Product Managers”, so many that it is hard to keep track of, such as Jacint, Catherine, Shane, at least three Alex’s, Raj and several others.
So, What’s My Problem?
There are a lot of venues for getting information here, I should be happy? Well, I’m not happy when it comes to information for business users, and ProAdvisors. Here are a couple of problems that I see:
- Most of the information sources for ProAdvisors and business users are passive. That is, you have to go out to look for them. You have to log in to a web site, find a page, make an effort. Hey, I’m lazy, I want the information to be pushed to me! I’m a busy person, I can’t spend a bunch of my time each day going out to different sites to find information, or to look to see if there MIGHT be something going on.
- Most of these sources, passive or not, are clouded with sales chaff. I know that Twitter can be used to get information to me, but I tend to ignore that because so much of the information is promotional. The important things, like service outage notifications, are buried by all the promotional info.
- There isn’t one place to look even if I DO have time to go out to look at a web page. Service outage information is in several places depending on the service, information on new releases and updates are in another, and so forth. You have to look in lots of places to find the info that you need.
- Sometimes the notifications are hidden. I’m in a hurry. I don’t have time to hunt, I don’t know IF there are any notices, so make it obvious! The new ProAdvisor web site has a notification button, but you have to click it each time to see if there are any notifications, and you aren’t told if any of them are new (although they DO have dates on them, which is helpful).
Look at the issue with the problems with Loan Manager and Internet Explorer 9. We didn’t hear about this from Intuit – I was told about it by a client and had to dig in to find out what was going on. Then, a fix was available, but end users where NOT notified of this, and ProAdvisors only heard about it if you happened to click that Notifications link on the ProAdvisor web site. While Loan Manager might not be important to a lot of people (I wonder about that, though, as there were lots of complaints in the Forums), if you are USING the feature this was a VERY important update.
I Want It All, and I Want It Now!
I’M LAZY AND I WANT YOU TO MAKE IT EASY FOR ME, Intuit! ProAdvisors used to have a newsletter, and regular communications, but that was discontinued a few years ago. You’ve added the Accountant Center with the Accountant Update section, and that is a really nice feature, but you aren’t using it to post the really important bug fix updates (go ahead, compare what you see there today with what you see in the “notifications” section of the ProAdvisor web page). But that isn’t available to people who don’t have an Accountant version.
I’d like to see a couple of changes. Here’s my list – feel free to add your own thoughts!
Use the Accountant Center to push out update/bug notifications. I doubt that this is interesting to them – Intuit won’t want to have their product showing you that there are bugs (even showing that there are bug fixes), but it would help me. I spend a lot of time in QuickBooks – it is easy for me to glance at that portion of the screen. At the very least can you put a red flag there when there are new notifications in the ProAdvisor web site? At least then I would know that I need to look (not optimal, but better than what we have).
There should be one web page that has all notifications available, and it should be open to ALL users. Have a widget that shows the service status of the various Intuit services. Is Intuit Merchant Services down? Post a notice there. Is QuickBase down? Post a notice there. Payroll Services being cranky? Post a notice there. Don’t make us wonder, don’t make us hunt around to find this information. IN ADDITION, have information about updates that are coming out, bug fixes or patches that are available, and more. ONE PLACE that I can go to.
If Intuit could do both of these then I have a “push” notification (Accountant Center) and a passive site that I can go to for all service notifications and bug fixes.
In the meantime, there are resources that are available. Of course, QuickBooks and Beyond, where you can subscribe and be notified about bug fixes and new releases. We aren’t set up for “service outage” notifications (again, it’s hard for ME to find out about this), but we can help. You can also join Michelle Long’s Linkedin group “Successful Quickbooks Consultants”, often when there are service outages you will see a notice there. If you are a ProAdvisor, I highly recommend joining The Sleeter Group Consultants Network – there is a discussion forum (for members only) where service outage information and update notices are often posted quickly.
I’m Charlie Russell, and this is my rant – opinions expressed here are my own and don’t represent the official position of The Sleeter Group or of any rational person.