Intuit’s Live Communities — for users, accounting professionals and resellers — have always been one of the more active of online communities in this space, and with good reason. One of the most dynamic sets is the community for QuickBooks Certified ProAdvisors, many of whom enjoy participating in online discussions because this forum promotes expertise and helps build business. The ProAdvisor Program also provides members software, training and priority tech support to members.
In October 2010, the new Intuit ProLine blog opened its cyberspace doors, unveiling an online content and resource center for accounting and tax professionals. The blog includes content from the all-new Intuit ProLine newsletter (previously ProConnection newsletter) along with industry and Intuit news, feature stories, thought leadership articles, and even interactive video and online polling features. Based on initial feedback from Intuit, the blog is a convenient and quick vehicle to post updated news and information on how to use Intuit solutions.
Sage Accountants Network Community (http://community.sageaccountantsnetwork.com), Sage MAS Community Forums (community.sagemas.com), Sage ACT! Community (community.act.com) & Sage Peachtree Accounting User Community (community.peachtree.com)
The Sage Accountants Network is a valuable resource for professional accounts who support multiple clients, offering access to information, software and support for Sage products. SAN also provides a community offering to its members that allows them to network and exchange ideas with their peers. (You can read more about the new benefits of SAN at www.CPATechAdvisor.com/go/2960) Sage also offers several other online communities for its users, each one customized to a particular product line. The largest is the Sage MAS site with its focus on Sage MAS 90, 200 and 500. Sage ERP X3 is not featured, but most likely will be added at a later date or may, perhaps, have its own site. All of the Sage community sites offer interactive features with discussion forums and blogs. Sage products are featured, as well.
Restricted Online Communities
ATX Community & TaxWise Community — CCH Small Firm Services
CCH Small Firm Services maintains company blogs and community forums that are accessible through its customer support site, which is secured by client ID, username and password. ATX and TaxWise customers can post freely at the respective community boards, and the Customer Care VP blog alerts users of industry news, program updates and seasonal issues.
Drake Software Forum — Drake Software (www.drakesupport.com/Forums)
Users of Drake Software’s tax, practice management, document management and client write-up systems can access and participate in online forums moderated by Drake staff. Users frequently share program tips and business strategies and ask questions of support staff or of other users.
NetSuite User Community — NetSuite (usergroup.netsuite.com)
NetSuite offers its own version of an online community to customers, solution providers, developers and employees. The Community provides the ability to interact and share knowledge and expertise, best practices and information on third-party solutions.
TaxWorks Forums — RedGear Technologies (forums.taxworks.com)
The TaxWorks’ Forums offer company information and discussion forums on one concise website. Users need to register in order to see the postings and participate. Software-specific areas include TaxWorks, 1040Works, ArkWorks and E-File Center.
Social Networking Online Communities
Many accountants want to know how they can participate in social networking to enhance their practice, add to their knowledge or simply network. Although the big three — LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter — vary in format and deliverables, LinkedIn provides the best semblance of accounting communities through its “Groups” feature.
Groups focus on like-minded topics, and there are an unlimited numbers of groups in which accountants can get involved, including vendor-sponsored groups. Simple searches by the name of the vendor display groups associated with general vendor communities, as well as specific-software titles.
For example, a search for “Sage” on Groups presented Accpac, ERP X3 and other titles, as well as “The Sage Network.” That community alone had 662 members at the time of this writing. Once you subscribe and are approved to join a group, you can receive immediate messages with discussion items almost immediately after they are posted or you can opt for a daily digest. Obviously, the more a member is active in a group, the greater the likelihood that the member will increase his or her exposure, thereby receiving referrals and building business.