More Accounting Tomorrow Posts

Attention vendors: Less marketing, more solutions

November 11, 2013

I’m a CPA. A professional knowledge worker. Not a software marketer. 

Yes, I use software to do my job but it’s just one of the many tools in my toolbox. The most important tool I have is my ability to interpret data. I help my clients either reduce their taxes or grow their business. My job isn’t to “do bookkeeping” but to be their most trusted advisor. Your software accounting package (in the cloud or not) really has a limited impact on my clients or me.

Now, granted, the data we enter has to be correct so that we can get a complete and accurate set of financials. As a result, the software product we choose needs to work well and our clients need be able to use it properly and with ease. Bells and whistles just add to my efficiency—and if the tool is in the cloud, even better; it improves the collaboration I have with my clients.

It’s no secret many vendors on the market are vying for the top spot, wanting to be the provider with the best package. Many accountants have a tendency to jump all-in with particular software, whether that is Xero or QuickBooks, Sage One, Wave, or Kashoo. Whatever happened to addressing specific needs by picking the solution that is the best fit for the client?

Whatever happened to good old Excel? Don’t tell me you are done with clients giving you information this way. We all know many CPAs take information via Excel and manipulate it in a way they can use it. It’s as simple as this at my firm: If a client comes into our office with Excel we will convert them to a cloud accounting package. If they don’t want to convert, we won’t accept them as a client.

But I know we are not the average CPAs.

I also know most accountants allow their clients to take the lead in their relationship when it really should be the other way around. I know many clients who are not capable of doing any accounting and really don’t need much more then invoicing. Yet many accountants don’t even think about suggesting a package like FreshBooks or 

As the “accounting wars” play out, I will sit back and watch. I can’t help but think our leading software providers act like kids as they fight for their product to win over the market. I see this competition as a good thing; I am thrilled that finally there is some real competition in a space that has too long been monopolized by one company.

Xero CEO Rod Drury and Intuit CEO Brad Smith















I have a long history with QuickBooks – I used to promote and train for them and I formed the Chicagoland QuickBooks user group that has more than 50 paid members. I still have many clients who use the software. But, if Intuit had continued to innovate like they were doing in the early ’90s maybe they wouldn’t feel the need to fight back with road shows, coughing up extra dollars they haven’t had to spend on marketing in years.

My hope for vendors is this - to quit marketing about who is better and work even harder on a product that will blow us away.  Every vendor in the market right now has work to do—there is no perfect solution. Software is just a tool.

And if I have to, I can always pull Excel out of my bag of tricks – especially since the program is collaborating in the cloud these days.

Comments (4)
Thanks Jody, I have to agree that competition is great in that it benefits all customers. Look how happy Brad and Rod are in the picture above! Allow me to correct your comment about Intuit and innovation though, the new QuickBooks Online is the single biggest innovation to the product in the last 10 years. It's completely rebuilt and reinvented for the cloud. Are we excited about it? You betcha! Hence a little more PR, Marketing and Sales focus to make sure folks know about it.
- Chris, the communications director at Intuit
Posted by crepetto | Tuesday, November 12 2013 at 1:43PM ET

We use cloud accounting for everything. I run a cloud based firm. So I'm really an advocate of using a full online accounting package. We have clients on most of the above named packages includeing freshbooks and However, I'm just so frustrated with how obnoxious the vendors have become with this "war". And how many accountants don't realize that the "product" you use does not make you a good accountant. I want vendors to remember that I have lots of tools to choose from. Good old excel can work in the cloud as well. And for the acccountants who have not left their desktops, they could use excel too.
Posted by jodypadar | Tuesday, November 12 2013 at 1:16PM ET
Jody, I'm confused. You write that if a client comes into your office with Excel you will convert them to a cloud accounting package. If they don't want to convert, you won't accept them as a client. Then you write that if you have to, you can always pull Excel out of your bag of tricks. That sounds contradictory, so what did you mean?
Posted by AUDREY Q | Tuesday, November 12 2013 at 12:06PM ET
So true Jody! Just deliver solutions that allow our clients to build better businesses and we will be your biggest fans and there is no single product that meets the needs of every client.
Posted by evenanerd | Monday, November 11 2013 at 2:52PM ET
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