Can Intuit bring CPAs back to the technology game?

Some remain in the consulting and reselling game, but a lot more have left. Firms hanging around technology are now more apt to perform evaluations and needs analysis or offer IT risk management than they are to hawk accounting software packages.

Intuit’s tool for snaring CPAs is QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions, the mid-market version of its ubiquitous small business accounting software application. Oh, many firms are involved with QuickBooks, but view it more as involving their accounting skills than technology. But as users start spending more money, they want more for their money,  in this case, the $3,000 starting price for QBES.

QBES is changing, at least in a small way, that involvement. It still brings users with accounting questions to the CPA firm table, but it also is more robust and serves bigger companies. At the minimum, it must co-exist with other technologies—witness Intuit’s recent decision to support Linux—so that seems to demand a higher level of skills from firms that wish to be involved with clients using this product.

That complexity has drawn Intuit into the reselling business and its list of dealers now includes some very respectable accounting firms. The company’s online Solution Provider database—the overkill term typical of reseller channels—lists Armanino, Mckenna; Hohnkamp Krueger, Squire and Company and Yeo & Yeo, along with a CBiz office and a UHY Advisor office (assuming these are local efforts, not firm wide). 

Many more of the QBES crew are small fry, many of whom are doing quite well. Still, if Intuit attracts bigger customers it will need bigger VARs, under the premise that businesses tend to deal with vendors of similar size.

Intuit talks about disrupting the market with a lower-priced alternative and there’s a great deal of evidence it is making life very uncomfortable for dealers on the low-end of the mid-market reselling channel.

Besides shying away from the liability issues, CPAs have also been shunning technology consulting and reselling because of the lack of business in the mid-market. There’s not that many new sites to sell. QBES is still being sold into that market. But since it seems to be rewriting some of the rules, it may offer a bit of that boomtown sizzle to the accounting firms.

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