QuickBooks Hosting Services for IT-Capable Accountants
Small businesses in large numbers are looking to the cloud as a platform to deliver solutions for the problems of escalating IT costs, mobility, and remote access to business data. The cloud is also becoming the recommended platform for the delivery of services from accounting and bookkeeping professionals, as the benefits of remote data access and real-time collaboration nicely address the requirement for accounting pros to exchange and share information with their business clients. One of the popular “cloud” hosting solutions addressing a collaborative accounting model is a hosted application approach to using Intuit QuickBooks desktop products. While accounting professionals may be aware of the Authorized Commercial Host for QuickBooks program (which allows commercial service providers to offer QuickBooks hosting services), many firms are not aware of what Intuit refers to as the “self-host” model, which is a QuickBooks hosting program model oriented towards accounting firms with an in-house technical capability.
The Authorized Commercial Host for QuickBooks program from Intuit allows 3rd party service providers to become accredited hosting providers for QuickBooks desktop editions. The program is designed for providers who offer services broadly to the market, and there are a number of requirements which must be met before the provider is accepted into the program. Additionally, there is a fairly high cost of entry to the program, as the belief is that hosting QuickBooks could be a highly profitable business and that the authorization has a high value in the market. For small businesses and many accounting service providers, working with a commercial hosting provider makes the most sense, as the authorized commercial host has the infrastructure and the support organization necessary to service hosted customer requirements.
On the other hand, there are a lot of accounting and bookkeeping firms which have skilled in-house IT personnel, and which are more than capable of creating a hosting capability to serve not only their internal requirements, but also to meet basic requirements of the QuickBooks-using clients they do accounting or bookkeeping work for. For many of these firms it makes sense to at least explore the possibilities of implementing a “self-hosting” model for client user access to QuickBooks.
When an accounting firm works with a number of clients with QuickBooks desktop edition files, the firm has to install and manage not only their own software products, but also the relevant QuickBooks software products in use by the various clients (must have the right QB program in order to open the QB data file). This often puts an undue burden on the internal IT systems of the practice which has its own internal-use software and systems to support. With an application hosting approach, the firm has an ability to provide hosting services to their clients in a direct manner, building their own “economy of scale” on the platform, and achieving all the real-time and remote access benefits of an outsourced hosted model. The difference is that the firm does not experience a retail cost for the hosting solution, often resulting in the ability to offset much of the cost of providing service to the client. This offset is most frequently experienced through the efficiency gained at the firm level through direct access to client data and applications.
The technical model for delivering hosting services to a relatively small client base is not overly complicated. In many cases, commercial service providers have complex architectures because they must serve a large and diverse client base, and they never really know what sort of devices (computers and printers) or connectivity the customer may have. Commercial providers generally have to be prepared to deal with any and all situations, where a “self-host” firm needs only to concern themselves with supporting their particular client users and use cases. Additionally, when the solution is offered as part of the accounting or bookkeeping service, the general and technical support requirements of the customer tend to be focused during mutual working hours, as opposed to the 24×7 support requirement of the commercial host.
As accountants and bookkeepers search for solutions to improve efficiency, increase profitability, and differentiate services, it may make sense for those with an in-house IT capability to explore the possibility of becoming a QuickBooks self-host. It is one possible way to eliminate cost as a barrier to working closer with QuickBooks clients.
Read about Hosting All My Applications in the Cloud
or more about the Collaborative Online Model for Small Business Accounting Professionals