This year marks the 4th time we attended QuickBooks Connect in San Jose, California. We only missed the first two years of this conference. It is consistently informative, inspiring, and a great place to learn more about accounting practices and apps to better serve our customers. Here is our QuickBooks Connect 2019 review for those who couldn’t be there.
New QuickBooks Online Announcements
There were many new QuickBooks Online features announced and many are excited and already rolling out.
Business Performance Dashboard
This is a very exciting feature that shows key business performance metrics and trends with previous time period comparison.
Key metrics include:
- Cost of goods sold
- Gross profit
- Net profit
Trends charts include:
- Gross profit margin
- Net profit margin
- Accounts payable days
- Accounts receivable days
- Current ratio
- Quick ratio
Now, this dashboard is an accountant only dashboard. Therefore, it is up to accounting professionals to make sure the data reported is accurate and shared wisely with customers. I expect that this will be made customer–visible eventually because it’s too valuable to not give to them, but understanding the data requires a good understanding of the financial reports that support them.
They also previewed comparing these metrics and trends to industry benchmarks. This is very exciting considering the massive amount of data that Intuit has with their many customers. The big caveat is data quality, as these metrics are only as good as the accounting behind it. How they determine what customer data to include to make up these industry benchmarks is yet to be explained. If the data is solid, it will be a great guide to businesses understand if they are performing well or not.
Bookkeeping review is available now and provides guidance on the state of the books. Again, this is an accountant-only feature. One wonders if this data will determine what data sets will be in the Business Performance Dashboard. This information has been around for a bit and includes apps connected, account summaries, and common issues:
An exciting addition is the inclusion of automatically downloaded bank statements. This feature was announced last year, so it’s a long time coming, but easier said than done (as seen in auto-fetching tools like Hubdoc). I expect this will work well for big banks, but less so for the endless number of small credit unions.
Another coming feature is the Optimization Center which will score how effectively QuickBooks Online is used. This also appears to be an accountant–only feature. Scoring will be based on things like, but not limited to:
- Bank connections for automated download of transactions
- Usage of bank rules for automated transaction coding
- Streamlined receipt capture
This will be a handy guide for driving better usage of QuickBooks Online and taking advantage of the many automation features therein.
QuickBooks Connect 2019 Sessions: Advisory and Specialization
The sessions for QuickBooks Connect 2019 focused heavily on becoming more of an advisor to customers and becoming industry specialized. Becoming an advisor is a theme that is getting a bit old at many accounting conferences, but it makes sense. This is because accounting work is becoming increasingly automated via software. In the case of QuickBooks Live, technology is starting to compete for basic work altogether. I believe the push to advisor minimizes the transactional work a bit too much, but the truth is that simple transactional accounting work is increasingly commoditized. So, moving services towards more complex work and customer interactions makes sense.
Industry specialization is preaching to the choir here at LedgerGurus. Brittany Brown, our CEO, even presented on ecommerce accounting and participated in a panel. In our experience, industry specialization is key to becoming more valuable to a customer. The challenge is learning what needs to be done and how to communicate the value to the customer.
Vendors and Networking
Intuit has one of the biggest ecosystems of app partners and therefore one of the best vendor expos of any accounting conference. I won’t bore you with the details, but it’s a great place to find new solutions and connect with vendors you already know.
Likewise, we increasingly value the opportunity to connect with other accounting professionals. We have more connection than any year as we’ve built up relationships with firms and vendors alike over the years. It’s always nice to learn from those who have or are experiencing the same challenges and help others avoid some that you have experienced.
Bring Back the Firm of the Future Award
There were some changes at QuickBooks Connect 2019 that made us sad. Intuit quietly discontinued the Firm of the Future award, and that is disappointing. It was fun to see different firms highlighted every year and inspire us to grow and improve. When we first went to QuickBooks Connect in 2016, we were inspired by the videos and stories and told ourselves that one day we might be worthy to apply. We’re friends with many of the past winners and finalists now and realize that we have grown so much since 2016. We wish that Firm of the Future was still in place so we could learn from some of the best firms (or even be one of them). Bring it back in 2020 Intuit!
Great Keynote Speakers
QuickBooks Connect always pulls out the stops on the keynote speakers, and 2019 was no exception. This year included Common, Ashton Kutcher, and Rent the Runway’s CEO, Jennifer Hyman. As usual, one of the best was a less–known celebrity, Jade Simmons, a maverick concert pianist. She was fantastic and inspiring – get a taste from her TedX presentation.
Final Thoughts on QuickBooks Connect 2019
QuickBooks Connect is still one of the best conferences for accountants working with small businesses. Between great technical content, fantastic keynotes, a huge expo, and many other details, it’s a must attend. We’ll be back next year to learn and connect again.