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Intuit is making big changes to the QuickBooks ProAdvisor program and website, clearly reflecting the desire to keep QuickBooks Online edition at the forefront of the solution set.
The QuickBooks ProAdvisor benefits are now delivered within QuickBooks Online Accountant, including desktop licenses, etc. Earlier this year, Intuit began redirecting to QBOA for those looking for the ProAdvisor program information, and now the entire ProAdvisor site is about to be fully retired.
Those working with QuickBooks desktop editions should pay close attention here, because being a ProAdvisor no longer means simply getting training and software. The belief is that all ProAdvisors are professionals serving a client base, and that these professionals should use QuickBooks Online Accountant to manage that client base. Staff accountants, bookkeepers and those who wish to get accredited for their QuickBooks training, whether desktop or online, will be able to manage that activity only from within the QBOA app.
The ProAdvisor website used to be where enrolled advisors could obtain their training, certification, manage their listings for referrals, and get their software. With the introduction of client and practice management features geared towards helping ProAdvisors manage their entire client bases (QBO and QB desktop clients), it seems that QBOA is now the sole way for professionals to engage with Intuit as ProAdvisors, too. No longer a standalone site, ProAdvisors must now enroll and access their program benefits – including desktop benefits – as QuickBooks Online Accountants.
read more on Intuit’s website: ProAdvisor Website moving to QBOA – QuickBooks Learn & Support
A profitable accounting “firm of the future” is not out of reach for even the smallest of professional practices, because it doesn’t take a lot of people to develop a highly efficient and profitable operation. The key is having the right business foundation – the technology and the concentration on structure and process – which will serve the business for years to come. Profitability is really about effectiveness and efficiency… delivering more value and doing it in a more intelligent manner than the next guy. This is how the practice not only stays profitable, this is how it beats the competition.
Powered in part by efficiency created with technology-enabled business, professional firms find that they are able to realize increased revenues by billing for services, not by the billable hour. Data processing and performing the “mechanics” of the bookkeeping process is going by the wayside, with artificial intelligence and automation taking the lead in these areas. This creates the opportunity for professionals to broaden their scope of service and involvement with business clients. The higher value work, the tasks that most professionals would rather spend their time on, is now available because the lower value data entry and tabulation is handled electronically. When accountants are able to spend less time on entering information and more time on evaluation and analysis, business clients find greater value in the insight delivered from the engagement.
It is more than possible for the professional to develop new competencies in business technologies without having to invest the entire practice and put the client base at risk. Hosting and remote access solutions, for example, bridge the gap between on-premises computing and the cloud, delivering the benefits of mobility and anytime/anywhere working models without the complete transition to SaaS applications and web-based frameworks. This allows the firm to streamline production by taking advantage of connected systems and real-time data, which is at the core of efficiency in business.
The small business market is the economic growth sector, and the number of opportunities being presented to smaller firms is increasingly significant. With the correct technology and approach, small firms are able to compete at levels previously available only to their larger counterparts. The business of accounting is changing because the technologies supporting it are evolving more rapidly than ever before. The firms that embrace these changes and use them to improve and streamline practice performance are the firms that will achieve and sustain the highest levels of profitability.
The Cloud and the Business Desktop (with QuickBooks)
Cloud computing is here – no longer is it considered to be temporary or just a fad. Even though there are many businesses in the country without access to high quality high-speed Internet connectivity, the levels of investment and revenue surrounding cloud and mobile computing solutions and technologies has proven that mobility and managed service matter to those who are connected. What’s interesting is that the popularity of the cloud and the emergence of cloud-based applications and services haven’t really put much of a dent in the need for the desktop, which remains as the business workhorse and – connected or not – represents the foundation for business productivity and getting work done.
Some years ago, business applications began to emerge in SaaS (software-as-a-service) format, meaning a customer could simply subscribe to an application on the web rather than purchasing and installing software. This option clearly resounded with many business customers and ushered in an era of online application services oriented specifically toward mobile users. Yet the desktop remains as the place where online solutions meet productivity (export any online data to an Excel spreadsheet recently?) and where accounting and finance connect with the rest of the operation.
Believing too much of the marketing-speak around cloud computing, many business users believe that they can only remotely access business software solutions if they are “cloud” and subscription model applications, and that the desktop products they know and have invested in cannot be available to them in a fully managed online model. In fact, a large number of the business owners I speak with that actually use hosted desktop services somehow believe that the software they are using is something special and different from that which would be installed to their PCs. The fact is that the software is not different, regardless of what they may think. More often than not, the hosted applications are EXACTLY what the customer had previously installed (or would have installed) to their own computers had they not been working with a hosting provider. Whether they are hosted or not… the desktop products generally function with all the features and capability designed into them because they are hosted on platforms they were designed to run on (like Microsoft Windows, for example).
Customers of the QuickBooks hosting companies often refer to their systems as “QuickBooks cloud, but not the online one”, not really understanding that it is simply the full desktop application that is being hosted for them.
Regardless of how many online application services emerge, and even if (IF) web-based versions of our favorite word processing and spreadsheet software become as useful as the installed kind, there will still be a need for the desktop if for no other reason than to make it easier to use and work with a variety of solutions at the same time. Perhaps this is why remote desktop computing and hosted application services are becoming increasingly popular approaches to cloud and managed computing services. The user benefits from having the feature-rich applications they need and a single place to access them and make them work together (the desktop value proposition), yet is able to have remote and mobile access, comprehensive system management and maintenance, data protection, helpdesk support and affordable monthly payments (the cloud value proposition). In many ways, application hosting models represent the best of both worlds for the business.
Consider how beneficial it would be to businesses who want the advantage of remote desktop and mobile access to applications to be able to run their QuickBooks (feature-rich desktop QuickBooks) and/or other business applications in an anytime, anywhere sort of environment. Businesses can obtain hosting services for QuickBooks Pro, Premier, and Enterprise – allowing organizations to have their QuickBooks financial applications managed, protected, secured, and made available to users all the time and from any location. Some hosting services may also support integrations and extensions for QuickBooks – for both desktop and Web-based applications and services. When the host can provide authorized subscription licensing for Microsoft Office, a business can have a complete, outsourced IT solution and pay only monthly service fees to get it. No installation or system management to worry about: the QuickBooks financials, the productivity, the operational systems and plugged-in applications can all be hosted in the cloud.
Accounting for Custom Manufacturing
Accounting and bookkeeping is a part of every business large and small, yet there are myriad details to work with and a multitude of possible approaches to addressing the requirement. From a summary perspective, there are standards which are fairly easily met, providing the basics of sales and expense tracking and income reporting sufficient for basic tax and compliance work to be performed. Yet accounting may go much deeper into the operational processes of the business, delving into the details of productivity and profitability in order to find and expose areas where the business might improve both.
Manufacturing, particularly custom manufacturing or ETO (engineering to order) is among those industry types that could benefit tremendously from a more intimate and detailed approach to accounting. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to find experienced professionals with not simply a competence in working with manufacturing industry sector clients, but specifically with ETO process. Building to order is one thing, but finding the way to improve efficiency and profitability when every job is a custom encounter takes additional skills and a lot of data. Accounting professionals with these skills are needed to help these custom manufacturers grow, transform their businesses and make the overall operations more efficient and sustainable.
It seems logical that manufacturing and ETO space businesses are ripe for the same bridging of technology and analysis that the accounting industry started broadly approaching some years back. With bookkeeping processes being more frequently outsourced to non-accountants, the accounting professionals saw increased pressure to find more efficient ways of doing things and had to find new value to deliver to clients. Technology, data collection and analysis became the foundations for delivering on that new requirement. With the established model and philosophy, bringing more operational aspects of client systems into the mix and extending the model end-to-end just makes sense.
It takes a combination of systems – from the core accounting solution to the manufacturing control or other operational systems, through to the analytical tools. Leveraging hosting technologies and cloud service, businesses are finally able to bring the multiple work locations – shops, warehouses and business offices – together in a single software and technology platform, and collect the level of detail necessary to provide a comprehensive and true picture of the business. The analytical tools then provide the means to explore the details and identify where improvements might be made or where previously unrecognized risk exists.
QuickBooks desktop editions remain among the most popular financial systems used by manufacturing and job shop applications, largely due to the effectiveness of connecting the operational applications to an accounting solution which proves highly workable and which has strong industry support. Even with the emergence of QuickBooks Online (and the push by Intuit to get customers to adopt this web-based alternative to desktop-based software) the QuickBooks desktop edition products continue to provide more functionality and application support for these working models, as the ability to fully manage the information in the solution exists more in the disk based products than it does in a multitenant web-based application. Accounting “mechanics” are able to see, access and work with all the data rather than simply view reports where only half of the transaction is visible – making detailed accounting and data analysis more readily available.
The key is to leverage the accounting professional, the right software tools, and the platform and delivery environment that allows it all to work in concert for the entire organization. Add the QuickBooks hosting service provider, who turns hosted applications and QuickBooks desktop products into anytime/anywhere SaaS-type service, so the participants can work more closely together. Enabling the accounting professional and bringing them closer to their clients (and client systems) allows the deeper move into operational issues, creating the basis for both to receive new and more value from the relationship.
EMV and Retail – Your Trusted Advisor Should Be Advising You about This
There is ‘big change a comin’ for retailers, merchants and any business that accepts credit cards for payments, and there are a great many businesses that are completely unprepared for it. The change, what is being referred to as the “Payment Networks’ Liability Shift”, goes in to effect in October 2015 and places the burden of liability for fraud squarely on the shoulders of the merchants and card issuers who are not compliant with certain payment system security standards. Accounting professionals and Trusted Advisors – here’s one of those things you should be helping your clients with. Help them get informed, trained, and prepared. Help them to understand the risk and decide on a course of action. This is part of what makes a trusted advisor: they got your back.
The way things generally work in the US today, a fraudulent charge on a credit card is likely to end up being covered by the credit card company (the issuer). Starting in October, retailers are supposed to be able to accept payment cards with EMV chips (named for the founders of the standard: Europay, MasterCard and Visa), and must process those cards using the compliant technology that takes advantage of what the chip processing and security offers. If these conditions aren’t met – like having a POS or payment terminal not capable of reading the EMV chip – the merchant is on the hook for the fraudulent transaction. Given the volume of credit card and payments fraud in the country you’d think that most merchants would already be ready for this, but replacing all the POS and terminal equipment could be pretty costly. It may take a bit of analysis to understand the real risk and compare that to the cost of compliance. Certainly it makes sense to always be in compliance, but there are always factors which influence how quickly (or how completely) compliance may be met.
The liability shift is part of the influence being leveraged to get businesses to adopt newer and more secure models of electronic payment acceptance and processing. It is simply the case that the magnetic strip on a credit card isn’t good enough any longer. The new EMV Chip reading payment terminals require that the card be inserted and processed by the terminal rather than simply swiping the magstrip across a reader. Over 40 years of using the magstrip approach has helped to earn the United States a top spot on the leaderboard for credit card and financial fraud, and we seem to be lagging behind in adoption and implementation of the EMV technology even though it has been shown to seriously curtail fraud even as payment card usage increases. The EMV chip process, which encrypts information about the card so that even the local POS system doesn’t get access to it, is far more secure and is being widely adopted and used in Europe, Canada, Latin America and the Asia/Pacific regions. Now the clock is ticking for US businesses to get ready to either update their systems or accept the liability for not doing so.
The shift in how payment cards are made and processed is simply one of many changes which will continue to occur as technology and human ingenuity continue to be applied in both good and not-so-good ways. Recognizing that the pace of change is increasing, businesses must find ways to remain informed and prepare for those changes which will impact the business operation and sustainability. This is among the essential roles the trusted advisor plays, and the current imperative simply underscores the growing need for such advisors by business large and small.