From the Jan. 2013 issue.
2012 was quite a year for the “maturing” of new world technologies in small business accounting, but to be clear, the “new world” is still in the future for most firms and clients. If you’re trying to straddle both worlds, you still have to keep abreast of products used by current clients while looking ahead to navigate your firm to success.
It’s not that there is anything wrong with this old world, except the old-world product designers never anticipated most of the technologies that today’s businesses must address. For example, Ecommerce, mobile, and paperless. The emergence of “chunkification of business processes,” zero-data-entry, and collaborative accounting services, has driven the accounting profession to focus on how it changes virtually everything about how we will run our practices in the coming years.
But before we get into my new-world tips, here are a few comments about QuickBooks 2013. For a deep dive into the features, see The Sleeter Group’s blog QuickBooks and Beyond, where Charlie Russell has posted a 17-part series of in-depth articles on QuickBooks 2013.
The most significant changes in QuickBooks 2013 include a completely redesigned interface, including new layouts, ribbons, customizable toolbars, a new color scheme, and several new features in the customer and vendor lists. Also, the QuickBooks Accountant version now allows accountants to electronically “send” journal entries to clients and import batches of data from Excel.
Overall, QuickBooks 2013 is a great improvement, not so much for the features, but for the new design that presents a consistent look and feel across the whole product. For people familiar with previous versions, there will be some adjusting to do at first, but in the long run, we believe those users will adapt and even prefer the new interface.
So, as QuickBooks Desktop editions (including Pro, Premier, Accountant, and Enterprise), continue to dominate today’s marketplace, the new world is drawing more attention of small business every day. Intuit sees this reality and is making even larger investments in the growing popularity of QuickBooks Online. At the same time, relatively new companies such as Xero are quickly grabbing new customers at the low end of the market, and building an impressive reputation in the global accounting community.
For some entertaining reading on the journey into the new world, check out the recent post by my good friend Chuck Vigeant. In his post, Election Results and the Pro-Advisor Community, Chuck pontificates about how the Intuit ProAdvisor community, Cloud Computing, and the change demographics of the US Electorate are intertwined in interesting ways. He talks about the emergences of “The New Entrepreneur,” who has a much shorter-term focus on building a business than in previous generations.
Anyway, on to the new world….
Imagine you could start your firm all over again.
- Would you buy servers, LANs, firewalls, and expensive software that only runs on Windows PCs? Would you buy dozens of file cabinets to store paper-based records? Would you buy high-volume copy machines, and high-speed printers?
- What about the phone system? Would you buy long-distance plans, or use hosted VOIP systems with forwarding to cell phones, speech to text messaging, and voicemail forwarding by email?
- Would you invest in a large client reception area? If you do, is it because you assume your clients will bring in their records, meet you in person, and pick up their printed financial statements and tax returns?
I find it amazing how many of my answers to the questions above are different today than they were even five years ago.
The firm that is just starting out has a many advantages over established firms because there are no legacy systems and processes to maintain or support. So those of us who do have legacy systems should urgently focus on how we can upgrade our practices and processes to thrive in the new world.