Being at Scaling New Heights-2016 last week made me think of apps in 2 different ways: Apps as the accountant-user and Apps as the client-user. There really is a difference. Let’s break down which pieces fit where and change our way of packaging these internal and external needs.
Apps are created to address accountant pains and client pains, as well as create a better QuickBooks Online experience for all involved in the duties of the company; this means there are some apps you will want to attach to QBO files because they fit the need of the accounting firm, and some apps which specifically address the needs of your client user(s). App creators have spent hours listening to both accountant-users and client-users. As a result, they have tailored apps to address the unique needs an accounting firm, or client, has when using QuickBooks Online. While accountant apps help us deliver the best product to our client, client apps help to create the best user experience possible for our clients.
For a list of all the Apps, either type https://apps.intuit.com/ in your search engine (or click on this link); once you are inside the website you can use the search box to filter the Apps.
Intuit App Center
Accountant Apps and Value-pricing Bundle
If your firm has a niche market and internal focuses then there might be apps which are designed to address the needs of the firm and the end product you would like to deliver to your clients. For example, a tax planning firm, or bookkeeping firm, would want to find the best apps to fit those specific needs. Perhaps your firm would like processes for collecting and standardizing data in a particular method so, no matter who the client is, the data collection or document storage is always handled in the same method. You might select one app for collecting the data, another app to process bill payments, and another app to create vivid reports deliver as the end product to the client. Using apps for this process provides greater accuracy, shortens time spent and provides increased value to the client as well as standardized internal processes. None of these apps would require the client to be part of this process because they are accountant apps, so when pricing the engagement for the client there is no need to confuse our clients by listing out how we perform our duties, or the price assigned to each app.
Let me use one of my experiences at Atlantis Resort to illustrate my example. As a hotel guest one of my desires was to have a clean room; I did not need to oversee all hotel processes to ensure I had a clean room. I did not need to inspect their vacuum cleaner, or know which laundry soap they used, because those are internal processes; all I wanted as a hotel quest was a clean room, with clean sheets, and I was happy each night when that product was delivered. This concept is true for our clients’ as well. They do not need to see which app, and how much they cost in order to get a good experience. They simply want to be delivered a good product.
On the flip, what about client apps?
Every clients is unique, and so are their needs. Some might need field service management, time tracking or job costing. These would be completely outside the functional scope of an accounting firm, so these are client-apps. The benefit of breaking apart client-apps, from accountant-apps, is that it helps allocate who is responsible for the management of the apps and where related expenses should be allocated. Being clear about App Responsibilities and Ownership is essential to a proper segregation of duties and must be communicated clearly to client so there is no misunderstanding as to 'who does what' in the company processes. This could be really confusing to our clients unless we clearly document the assignment and segregation of duties. The clearer we are about how, who and when, the better our clients know how to work with us in these new areas.
Segregation of duties is important when talking to the client about apps and the work to be performed by both parties. Conversations need to take place with our clients so they understand how to work with us as their accounting firm. A sample conversation might go like: “Client 'A', you have told us your internal bookkeeper is processing payroll, so I will not be checking, testing or overseeing your payroll functionalities; as such, I will not know when, or if, you experience a mistake or malfunction; accordingly, please reach out to us as soon as possible if you experience an odd or unexpected situation with your payroll App so I can take prompt steps to address your issue”.
This does two things: it lets the client know what their job assignments are, and, just as importantly, what our job duties are (you will fix if a problem or question exists). You could even take it a step further and describe how your client should contact you in case of a situation. I heard a great suggestion at Scaling New Heights which I will illustrate in the chart below:
- EMERGENCY - Call us at ###-###-####
- Same Day Problem - Text us at ###-###-####
- Common Question - Email us at email address
While this might seem extreme, it breaks down, and clears the air for a conversation, so if there is more the client would like from you, or if they would prefer a different method, the communication channels are open, and a better fit, for both parties, can be reached.
The segregation of duties also frees us up to choose apps as we please; if the client is never part of the accountant-apps choice, then they need to be concerned with the replacement of any app for a new app if we, as the firm, adopt a different app to cover accountant functionalities. The same is true for the Client apps. If the app just isn’t working it can be eliminated so the client may choose another app without being disruptive to the way the accounting firm processes the client's work.
Management of Apps
I challenge you to think about apps in a different light. Instead of thinking of a client file with 4 apps, think of the division of apps we have just discussed.
qbo backbone and ribs
The result might be 2 apps that are accountant-apps, and 2 apps that are client-apps. QBO is the strong accounting backbone to support all the Apps which act as ribs to hold together all the duties and processes of the company. Together these form a strong accounting and company management system.