I recently upgraded from QuickBooks Pro 2008 (I know, I know) to QuickBooks Pro 2012. The upgrade itself was as painless as possible. I really only had to click Next a few times. The first time I ran the program it found my old data file, walked me through making a backup, and then converted it to the new format.
I was also greeted by the following screen which made it really easy for me to adjust to the new version.
A major improvement is the ability to open lists as spreadsheets and work on them directly. Before it really wasted a lot of my time to edit list entries one by one. Now I can fly through updating the services we offer and the prices we charge.
I also had my first QuickBooks 2012 “wow” moment watching the tutorial video (it’s worth taking the time to watch it). Now, when I edit an invoice I can see a customer summary, a list of prior transactions, and my customer notes. This is a huge leap forward. Before I had to toggle between windows – it was basically a nightmare if I needed to look up a customer record in the middle of entering an invoice. This is going to be a huge time saver.
There seem to be a bunch of features that I don’t want, but this is what happens when a program tries to be all things to all users. QuickBooks 2012 features a To Do List which I guess would be helpful if I tracked customer interactions and tasks in QuickBooks itself. I see this feature as the beginning of QuickBooks becoming “business software” rather than “accounting software”. A small business could use QuickBooks to manage everything that goes on in that business, not just to settle accounts.
A time saving feature is the ability to memorize transactions. Say you have a bill that is due every month, or an invoice that goes out every month. The first time you enter it you can click to memorize it. Now, you won’t have to retype that invoice or pay that bill every single time. When you open QuickBooks 2012 a screen pops up with memorized transactions and you can either let it do everything for you or stop it.
The Lead Center is totally new in QuickBooks and I’m looking forward to checking it out. This brings some CRM functionality into QuickBooks 2012 that is probably going to replace my beautiful paper and white board system. Leads can be entered, contacts tracked, and meetings documented so everything is all in one place. The best part is that when a lead becomes a customer, I can convert him with a single mouse click.
There’s an article in today’s Wall Street Journal about Groupon’s ability to create brand new ways of accounting. As someone involved in both technology and finance, I am horrified by the wool they’re trying to pull over our eyes.
Instead of using standard accounting practices, they’ve devised something called “adjusted consolidated segment operating income” that, get this, eliminates marketing expenses from their bottom line. Hey, what business wouldn’t look stellar financially if they didn’t deduct hundreds of millions of dollars in expenses from their bottom line? In the first quarter of 2011, they report that they had earnings of $81.6 million. Using standard accounting practices they actually lost $98 million. That a $150 million difference. What a load of crap.
It’s awfully fishy, especially because more and more companies are coming out and saying that Groupon increased their visibility but was economically a really bad deal for them. You can read all the stories by using this query on Bing.
So they’re about to file for an IPO using cooked books and a business model that is under attack. Forbes had an article recently about the increasing number of law suits the company is facing. The lawsuits deal with non-expiring coupons and coupons for alcoholic beverages that can apparently be purchased by minors.
This is a cautionary tale. When something is too good to be true, it is. Everyone is talking about Groupon’s fantastic new business model that turns retail on its head. They’re one of the fastest growing companies in the history of the US economy. Of course they are, they don’t account for their expenses.
Another thing that deeply disturbs me is that they are filing for an IPO. How many morons will throw money at them because they believe the lies? When companies raise money based on a pack of lies it hurts the entire market. When companies are deceitful with their accounting practices (Enron, cough, cough) it doesn’t just affect their management team and their investors. If Wall Street and the rest of America fall for this “adjusted consolidated segment operating income” then Groupon’s executives can laugh all the way to the bank – that is if they can cash out before their bubble of lies bursts.
The other day I got a chance to sit down with Adam Neary, founder of Profitably. Adam has a background in management and data analytics consulting. Throughout his career, he’s seen the same problems and many different companies. From this he decided that solving a single company’s problems isn’t as powerful as developing a methodology to solve everyone’s problems (and I agree).
The goal at Profitably is to automate financial analysis and bring it to small business. The expertise comes from Adam’s consulting and then gets distilled down so small business can access it and benefit from it. And then the service is provided through the cloud so it is easy to consume.
A major function of Profitably is to make life easier for a VP of finance or a CFO, to streamline what that guy has to do every day and alleviate the burden of what uses up his time. This is typically reporting and communicating financial status to non-finance heads. The service was just launched five weeks ago, and they already have over 350 businesses signed up.
The platform’s focus is on customer profitability – which of my customers make me money, which don’t. There’s a near term focus on professional services companies, but this will expand over time. Other questions answered include Which sales channel is most effective? Are you get the value out of your paid search?
For example, you look at your sales funnel and determine which channels are most successful because they have more customers. This is too simple. It would be better to calculate the value of each customer, but this is a somewhat more complex analysis that must take place across service lines and sales people and follow the customer all the way through to figure it out. Profitably does this all for you and generates a lovely chart.
The goal is to make Profitably as simple as possible and save time. You can see the what from Quicbooks and learn the why from Profitably. The company is a full Intuit partner (incidentally Intuit put them through an extensive security review), and the service works by pulling from QuickBooks desktop using Intuit’s connector software. Profitably is working to add additional data sources to shed more insight on customer profitability.
The company is in a pretty good space right now. There’s no app in the marketplace right now that can pull data from a bunch of different sources to inform small business about how much it costs to make a sale, how much the project costs, and whether it makes sense to bring in the business. This looks like a great opportunity for these guys.
Profitably is available on the Intuit Workplace App Center for $64.95/mo. There is a free trial so you can see if the reports are truly helpful for you. Adam estimates that Profitably will save someone 8-10 hours a month, so depending on how much that person gets paid, you could be looking at 10x ROI monthly,