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Why IT consultants should embrace Intuit products

Is your IT consultancy capitalizing on Intuit demand? If not, Erik Eckel outlines your options for taking advantage of this potential growth opportunity.

 

If you're like most IT consultants, you probably focus your technical skills on predictable technologies: Microsoft server and desktop OSs, Microsoft Office software, e-mail platforms, and TCP/IP. Particularly ambitious IT consultants might add VoIP, Cisco, SonicWALL, and other network technologies to their plate, too.

But you may be missing a cash cow if you overlook Intuit products. The company recently reported a 9 percent increase in quarterly revenue vs. the third quarter 2008. With third quarter 2009 revenue of $1.4 billion, someone is buying Intuit products, and many of those people could be your clients.

Creating opportunity

The demand is there for Intuit products, so don't overlook a potential growth opportunity for your consultancy. From small business QuickBooks financial software and point-of-sale systems to QuickBooks enterprise financial and even Project Management tools, Intuit is performing well in a very difficult economic environment.

I've seen Intuit demand firsthand. Everyone from entrepreneurs (after being laid off and forming their own startups) to established organizations (seeking to leverage financial management and CRM tools) are turning to Intuit to find economies of scale and to boost productivity.

Your options

IT consultants have two options for capitalizing on Intuit demand:

  • 1. You can align your firm with the company's products and earn certifications in the tracks most useful to your clients.
  • 2. You can partner with a certified Intuit ProAdvisor or an agency of certified Intuit professionals. Find certified Intuit professionals and form an alliance.

There are many benefits to both options; each option also has advantages and disadvantages.

Option #1

By committing to becoming an Intuit ProAdvisor and earning a certification in one of several disciplines, you can ensure you possess the skills necessary to tackle specific Intuit challenges. Using the company's strong self-paced e-learning portal, known as the Intuit Solution Provider University, you can pass exams for each of the following platforms:

  • QuickBooks
  • QuickBooks Enterprise
  • WorkTrack TimeCard for Intuit Payroll
  • Point of Sale Retail Provider Solution
  • QuickBase

Once you're certified on the platform most appropriate for your client base, your IT consultancy will be better positioned to meet small business needs. In addition, your IT consultancy can leverage Intuit's sales and marketing tools. Better yet, when responding to client requests to address the typical printing issues, Windows failures, user account problems, or e-mail troubles, any outstanding QuickBooks or Intuit software errors can be addressed during the same service call. Also, since you will have added additional expertise to your skill set, you'll repeatedly find additional billing opportunities. Further, clients will be pleased that you're able to address a wider range of technology issues.

Option #2 The second option enables smaller consultancies and those seeking to concentrate their skills within specific ranges to better address clients' Intuit software needs. By aligning with a certified Intuit ProAdvisor or an agency of certified Intuit professionals, your IT consultancy can quickly and easily add Intuit expertise to its list of capabilities. Whether clients require needs assessment, deployment assistance, or maintenance and troubleshooting help, partnering with certified Intuit ProAdvisors helps ensure IT consultancies don't forfeit revenue opportunities.

Although you will have to pay external ProAdvisors to fulfill Intuit needs (either as a subcontractor or via some other contract), your consulting firm can build better relationships with clients, serve as a one-stop technology stop for clients, and still tap into the laundry list of hardware (including site-to-site VPN deployment, new servers, more powerful desktops, etc.) investments and service time typically associated with new installs or upgrades.

Aligning with a ProAdvisor creates opportunities to capture new revenue that would normally be lost, and it helps ensure you do a better job of addressing all of the client's technology needs.

Choose an option

Regardless of the route you choose, select one of these options rather than sticking with the status quo. If you're dismissing clients' Intuit questions and needs, you're missing revenue opportunities. Even worse, you're possibly leaving clients with the sense that you're failing to address all their technology requirements.

Options are available, but it's up to you to capitalize on Intuit products by delivering the corresponding service.

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About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

11 comments
dogknees
dogknees

The only reason we need Intuit experts is because their products are so awful to manage. Try configuring the last 6-8 versions on a Citrix system so people can use the version they need by simply clicking the appropriate shortcut. If it's even possible, it's so complex as to be effectively impossible. Why run several versions? Because not every small business can afford to update every year when the old versions work for them. If you support accountants who in turn work for these sort of clients, this is the real world. But try telling Intuit that.

1majones
1majones

There are actually some pretty innovative ways QuickBooks can be extended for the enterprise. www.cpaasp.com provides hosting services for QuickBooks products, and also hosts a wide variety of integrations and plug-ins (including SaaS integrations). All in all, the Intuit product line and their developer networks have quite a bit to offer. And with hosting being an option, businesses are no longer limited to accessing their QB data and applications only from their office.

minmor
minmor

I've used QuickBooks for almost 15 years, while using my IS degree in programming and maintaining custom applications. Wish I'd gotten certified years ago. Having Intuit's resources readily available saves an incredible amount of time when troublshooting a client's problem. One thing you left out was that as a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, you get to skip the Tier I level of support, since they know you already have a known level of expertise in QB. They also have a great online community. They're not afraid to tell it like it is, or isn't. I highly recommend the company, product and service. Mindy Morrison, MBA

Mike-Kemp
Mike-Kemp

I really hadn't paid much attention to Intuit, until a customer asked me to research software offerings, to support his growing business. One of his requirements was to get out into "the cloud," for all the usual reasons. This customer wound up going with QuickBase, which is actually a whole suite of applications, and will provide for him sales management capability as well as project management, and issue tracking. The apps are well-thought-out, good-looking, logically laid out, and easy to customize, including API's. During the course of my research, I spoke with four QuickBase support folks, and each one was pleasant, very knowledgeable, easy to understand, easy to reach, quick to respond, and eager to help. I'm now running the implementation, and their tech support has continued to impress. I've been thinking about the Intuit certifications for QB, and will gladly second Erik's suggestions. Mike Kemp http://kempresources.com

jwmort
jwmort

While QuickBase might be an awesome suite, the monthly fee is ridiculous. Software vendors need to realize that SMBs don't have an unlimited cash supply. Shelling out $$$ monthly is not acceptable, and as an IT Consultant I will not recommend it. My clients tend to agree ... they would rather pay a software company's light bill, on an annual basis for software assurance, than pay their monthly mortgage payment (like QuickBase).

jeff
jeff

However, as an IT professional we need to understand that our role is and should stay in the technical area and not give advice on what what items should they have for the company. My wife, a CPA, has far to often ran into small business people who have had their quickbooks software installed and trained by IT professional who advice went from How to use the software to this is how YOU should set up your company. If the clients need that kind of advice remember to leave that up to professionals who understand the best way for a company to utilize quickbooks. However, If you don't be shocked if six months to a year down the road my wife shows up to there office to fix there poorly laidout books. The clients will blame you if you help them lay out their company structure.

Mike-Kemp
Mike-Kemp

Every choice comes with its plusses and minuses. The particular client I referenced is a very savvy guy, he's a highly certified technical person and an astute busimessman, to boot. We looked at a lot of solutions, and in the end he thought QuickBase was the best value for his set of requirements. And believe me, cost was a consideration. In the end, it's up to the client to decide. Mike http://kempresources.com

pgit
pgit

Well said. That's exactly the opinion I've gotten from all the Intuit users I know.

Erik Eckel
Erik Eckel

Jeff, At no point do I advocate that IT consultants should assume or manage any accounting responsibilities. I agree, IT consultants should form partnerships with qualified accountants, CPAs and similar professionals to manage those tasks for clients. However, I do believe IT pros and consultants need to be familiar with the processes to installing and troubleshooting QuickBooks Professional, POS and Enterprise, at a minimum, and should know the recommended processes for backing up and restoring company files. This is especially true for any IT pro or consultant who works with small businesses.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Even though I used to direct the development of accounting software, I'm no accountant. Heck, I even try to stay as far away from end users as I can -- my clients are software developers. So I might consider using Intuit products for myself, but I don't foresee adding them to my offerings as a consultant.

martian
martian

Given the additional fact that their developers have yet to figure out how to code properly, I'll continue to give them a pass. NO software nowadays should need admin rights to operate it. To install, sure, but just to operate it? Never. To the Intuit developers: Go back to school and learn your jobs properly.

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