Intuit Preps a Minty Fresh QuickBooks Online Update

By Pedro Hernandez | Posted September 25, 2013

Intuit's cloud-based accounting software, QuickBooks Online, will soon sport a new, more modern look, but the improvements go deeper than pixel-deep.

According to Kevin Kirn, group product manager of QuickBooks Online and new products, the online small business accounting software has been "rewritten from the ground up to be simple but to still retain all the power" of the QuickBooks Online platform, he told Small Business Computing. Jokingly, he added, "we stole a lot from Mint in terms of ease of use and visualization."

Intuit acquired Mint.com, the popular online personal budgeting and money management service, in 2009. Mint is considered a software-as-a-service (SaaS) trailblazer that eschewed desktop software paradigms and gave users easy-to-use, interactive tools that visualized data in appealing ways and offered at-a-glance simplicity.

Soon, QuickBooks Online customers will experience those same perks.

Small Business Accounting Redesigned

During an online conference, Kirn demonstrated how the new Mint-like offering uses information gleaned from the platform's hundreds of thousands of customers. The online small business accounting software will guide small business users through a setup process that personalizes their QuickBooks Online environment based on their particular industries and business requirements.

For example, when a bake shop owner first logs in and answers a few questions, QuickBooks Online generates a tailored experience that is informed by other bake shop operators.

The software also takes a page from enterprise social networking to highlight important information, looming deadlines and status updates. Further, "everything we're surfacing results in action." Once clicked, an alert for an overdue invoice, for instance, takes the customer to the appropriate screen.

A "cash flow" ribbon, which runs along the top of the screen, adds a dash of gamification, prodding customers to grow the money-in portion (green) and shrink the money-out section (red) by completing the related accounting tasks. In keeping with the "action" theme, clicking or tapping a section of the ribbon allows customers to delve deeper, explore charts and graphs and ultimately take the next steps in getting paid and balancing the books.

Distinguished by clean and uncluttered screens and contextually-driven processes, Intuit's goal was to "make this a very actionable center for business," said Kirn.

QuickBooks Online has also been updated with mobility in mind. "QuickBooks is starting to leave the back office and going in the field," noted Kirn. To support the droves of contractors, consultants and countless other iPad-toting small business professionals, QuickBooks Online works as well on a tablet's touch-screen as on a desktop—if not more so.

In a prepared statement, Intuit noted that, "This release of the online version of QuickBooks features a mobile-first design approach that gives small business owners around the world access to information wherever they work."

Described as "the biggest release in decades" by Dan Wernikoff, senior vice president and general manager of Intuit, the product "is built to take advantage of the cloud and is an open platform that sets our foundation for future growth in the United States and globally."

The new QuickBooks Online will be available for new customers in late October and will be rolled out to existing users starting in January 2014. Prices for new accounts start at $12.99 per month or $124.99 per year after a 30-day free trial.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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