What do you want in QuickBooks, Quicken and TurboTax?
I began this page in January, 2003. It soon resulted in amazing changes.Intuit CEO Steve Bennett and I often say that the best is surely yet to come. Please try to help us make this happen (Mike Block, 3/10/05).
Intuit began in 1983 and went public in 1993. Do you know other companies this new with three products, critical to our economy and 70% - 95% market share? Intuit does more right than anyone I know. The key is a long-term almost maniacal search for your input. Intuit goals include do right by all our customers, customers define quality and think smart, move fast. Its mission: transform the way people manage their finances by delivering innovative, automated financial solutions. I am now increasingly dedicated to showing how much Intuit wants input and how you can make a big difference.
What you want from Intuit may be revolutionary, but that will not stop me or this revolutionary company from soon embracing your plan. Unfortunately, Intuit's size and need for quality and legal compliance now slow it down. This means someone like me sometimes beats it in executing ideas, So far this page is an example, so would you please write me bout inevitable mistakes.
Here are my main current concerns:
Public new feature and bug tracking: Practically from the moment you begin using QuickBooks you want Intuit to add features and fix bugs (even if you later see many reported bugs are user error). Intuit once frustrated us by not having fast ways to give feedback. It recently frustrated us by not giving feedback on suggestions. My long intense QuickBooks involvement included heavy beta testing and newsgroup writing. This increasingly got me talking to top Intuit executives, especially Rich Walker (the outstanding Director of the Accountant Advisor Services). Intuit increasingly surprised me by eagerly acting on user suggestions, though this may take up to three years. This is because, as I gradually learned, Intuit has always been a very unique company. It builds products based on how users want to use them. Top Intuit executives always highly valued user and potential user feedback. They still carefully track each suggestion they get.
Despite this I am still often unhappy with long periods of limited feedback. That is why I know how unhappy you must get when nothing happens (or seems to) as a result of your suggestions. I am even more distressed when I see the obviously very smart Intuit people occasionally upset many users. That is why this is now a starter page for Intuit Public New Feature and Bug and Tracking. As with my long ago fight for an open developer version of QuickBooks, this Public Tracking should be far more important to you and Intuit than having you and I push for a change we want. When I first created this web page I had not discussed it with anyone in Intuit and few people outside of it. However, there are good reasons why Intuit can and should fully support it as a driving force for their changes.
My proposed Public New Feature and Bug Tracking is an ideal way for top Intuit executives to show us they are giving us what we most want. It also is a way for them to show those who say they want changes that few a good reason why a change "that everyone wants" is not high priority. To the extent this causes you to campaign for what you want, and not blame Intuit for not getting it, this should be the business version of participatory democracy and state constitutional amendments, with which I have long experience.
Intuit may not be able to do this for legal reasons. There are federal laws against vaporware for companies like Intuit. This means Intuit cannot announce program features before they are actually in production. However, there is obviously nothing to stop me from helping you post and track your requests for new features and bug fixes. There also is nothing to stop Intuit representatives from learning about what you want, which is something they always want to know. The difference is you will now get feedback on the popularity of your change, which I am sure directly relates to the likelihood it will be made.
Your tracking will soon cover much more than forums. Once an issue gathers support from perhaps three users I will add a poll for you. You and your supporters will be able to create or correct the poll question on your issue. Once a poll shows substantial support, from perhaps 10 users, out of the millions of QuickBooks, Quicken and TurboTax users, I will try to get you a reasonable estimates of the cost of implementing the change. The poll question will then change to include your estimated cost. A second question will ask user - voters if they would be willing to pay your cost in the form of a small price increase. With your permission, prior voters will be polled to see if how they support they new questions. From my long close experience with Intuit I feel sure that issues on which you get substantial support are very likely to soon result in changes. Please click on email@example.com to tell me what you think about this and your requests for specific new feature or bug fixes.
9/1/03: You can now read the complete Intuit story, including a total committment to search for and use customer and potential customer input, in the excellent Inside Intuit: How the Makers of Quicken Beat Microsoft and Revolutionized an Entire Industry.
9/30/03: A three day meeting of top Intuit managers producesa Public New Feature and Bug Tracking manager! Scott Cook, Intuit founder, wants Intuit to follow up with users when it makes their changes, even if that takes two years!
10/1/04: Intuit releases what soon becomes the bi-directional Accountant Inner Circle Feedback Center, as a direct result of this web page. It plans to expand this for all customers and feedback. You can now really vote on How Should Intuit Change, see how others voted and create your own voting topics.
Why are add-ons vital to you and Intuit? How can Intuit get you using integrated add-ons? The one important question Intuit asked at its 2002 Developer Conference was, " What can we do to get you to use add-ons?" Today there are only QuickBooks Add-ons, but extending this to Quicken is only a matter of time. Such products make it far faster and easier for you to: never enter data twice; cut data entry by using customer and supplier data; reduce errors; speed results; and better run your small business. 18 months after creation of my first QuickBooks Add-ons forum Intuit made QuickBooks developer their #1 top priority. In less than four years Intuit had 400 registered MarketPlace Solutions 1,000 QuickBooks and QuickBase integrated products. They are the leading edge of far more programs to soon come from more than 12,000 registered developers. This is not only a major effort for Intuit and its developers, but top priority for Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, Sun, BEA, the federal Securities and Exchange Commission and the American Institute of CPAs. It may mean annual savings of $140+ billion dollars a year in the United States and $1.8 trillion dollars worldwide and I found more than.
The big question now is how can Intuit get you to use these integrated products. Those who know about them know their benefits are incredible. I never got such terrific compliments as a CPA until I began actively recommending them to clients. My own CPA practice has been so changed by one integrated product that I am considering billing based on how long things used to take, not how long they now take. Intuit wants customers using them because its goal is to do right by all its customers. It also should want them because its studies show that integrated product users update QuickBooks about twice as often. Developers want users because that is their business.
I think the big problems are that:
Intuit and I think that Certified ProAdvisors are the key to getting users to rapidly adopt these integrated products. I have some ideas about some very easy and inexpensive things Intuit can to make it much more likely that users will rapidly find appropriate developers. So far they are discussing their approach privately. However, I believe that discussing this in a public forum will give us more reliable results faster. Please click on firstname.lastname@example.org to tell me what you think about this. I am not quite ready to track your requests for specific approaches.