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 that QuickBooks can be hosted by 3rd party providers, many firms are not aware of what is referred to as the “self-host” model, which is a QuickBooks hosting model for accounting firms with some in-house technical capability.
For small businesses and many accounting service providers, working with a 3rd party hosting provider makes a lot of sense, as the host has the infrastructure and the support organization necessary to service large-scale hosted customer requirements.
On the other hand, there are a lot of accounting and bookkeeping firms which have skilled in-house IT personnel who are more than capable of creating a hosting environment to serve not only their internal needs, but also to meet basic requirements of the QuickBooks-using clients they work with. It makes sense to explore the possibilities of implementing a “self-hosting” model for client access to QuickBooks, overcoming the cost and other barriers involved with 3rd party hosting services.
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 internal hosting approach, the firm can provide standardized/centralized application hosting services to their clients, building their own “economy of scale” on the platform and reducing the IT management while achieving all the real-time and remote access benefits of an outsourced hosted model. The firm does not experience a retail cost for a hosting solution, and the cost to host the client is generally offset 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. 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 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 support requirements of the customer tend to be focused during mutual working hours, as opposed to the 24×7 support demanded of the commercial host.
As accountants and bookkeepers search for solutions to improve efficiency, increase profitability and differentiate services, it makes sense for those serving QuickBooks desktop clients and having an in-house IT capability to explore becoming a QuickBooks self-host. It is one possible way to eliminate cost as a barrier to working closer with QuickBooks desktop clients while providing the mobility and collaboration businesses need.