Intuit is starting to push out the QuickBooks Online Redesigned Reports upgrade to accountants and users on a worldwide basis. There are some significant changes in this release. However, to me, one of the significant aspects of this release is how Intuit is handling this update with accountant/ProAdvisor users.
Charlie Russell will be presenting the session, Recent Developments in QuickBooks and Looking Ahead, at Accountex 2016.
Let’s talk about how Intuit is rolling out this update to users and accountants (including ProAdvisors), and what the update includes.
It Started With QuickBooks Labs
We’ve been able to test the Redesigned Reports feature for some time now, via QuickBooks Labs. This is a place where Intuit publishes “experimental plug-ins” for QuickBooks Online. You can try a feature, give Intuit feedback, and see what might or might not be available in the future. If you don’t like the feature, you can turn it off.
I wrote about QuickBooks Labs when it was first added as a menu option in QuickBooks Online back in 2014. At that time, I cautioned people about using features found here. Things have improved since then, but I still tell people to be cautious when using these plug-ins. Intuit tests them aggressively before they are offered here, but there are three problems that I see.
- You don’t know if these features are actually going to be released. If you rely on one heavily, it might not be released and could be taken away from you.
- On rare occasions, some of these plug-ins might cause problems with other features in your account. I don’t know of any problem that has caused serious trouble, such as a loss of data, but these issues can be annoying at the least.
- For an advisor, some of your clients will have a feature and others will not. It can be complicated to provide support if different clients have different features.
However, this can be a great way to view new features in advance – and give Intuit some feedback on product development. My current recommendation on QuickBooks Labs in general is be cautious and understand the risks before implementing any of these features. There are some interesting things there, take a look and give some a try! You can always turn the feature off if you don’t like the results.
To find QuickBooks Labs, in your QuickBooks Online company file click on the Gear icon and select QuickBooks Labs.
This opens a window that shows the various options that are currently available, along with buttons to enable the feature in your QuickBooks Online account.
You can enable Redesigned Reports, if you don’t have it already. Note that the information here is out of date, as there isn’t a “Redesigned Reports tab” any more – the new report functions just replace your existing ones.
How Intuit Is Rolling This Out
Before we take a look at the changes in this feature, I want to talk about how Intuit is rolling this feature out. Their plan for this particular feature addresses several issues that I’ve been complaining about for several years now, and I like the approach they are taking!
I often feel that when Intuit rolls out a new feature in QuickBooks Online, they don’t do a proper job of notifying users and they ignore accountants. There usually isn’t a way to preview the new feature before it starts to show up in user accounts (except those in QuickBooks Labs of course). There often isn’t adequate notice of what the changes are (such as in a newsletter or email notification). Because Intuit updates users in groups over time (so that they can see if the update impacts server performance), accountants will often see that some of their clients have a feature while others don’t. In my own case, my ProAdvisor account for QuickBooks Online is almost always one of the last to get updated, which means that many clients that I work with will have a feature before I can see it. This is very frustrating.
However, at least with the rollout of the Redesigned Reports feature, Intuit has improved their process significantly.
Of course, the feature was available in QuickBooks Labs so that anyone could review it. That can’t be done for all new features (such as ones that may alter the structure of the database), but it is helpful.
Intuit started placing notices about the new feature within QuickBooks Online itself, inviting people to try it. So, notification of what the release includes has improved a bit.
All that is great, but what I really like is how Intuit is handling the actual update in relation to accountants who use QuickBooks Online Accountant to manage their QuickBooks Online clients.
First of all, accountants get the update before their clients. Yes! I can see this feature and understand it before my clients start asking me questions about it! This will show up in the “Your Books” copy of QuickBooks Online that you get with QuickBooks Online Accountant.
Next, accountants will be notified in advance that their clients will be updated. Hooray! I can talk to my clients about the new feature that they are about to get, to prepare them for any changes.
Along with this, all of your clients will be updated at the same time. Wonderful! I don’t have to worry about which clients have the old version and which have the new version. Everyone will be on the same page.
Finally, all company admins and user admins are notified that the update is coming. Hopefully I’ll have already communicated with my clients before this (since I know it is coming), but Intuit will cover that base for me also.
I really like this new procedure, I think it addresses many of the complaints that I’ve had about how new features are rolled out to QuickBooks Online. I have a feeling that this might not be possible with all updates, since all of my clients are probably not going to be on the same cluster of servers in the Intuit data centers, but hopefully this will be the goal for all upcoming releases.
Note that Intuit has already started this rollout process on a worldwide basis. Accountants and users are being converted to the new system now. It is probably going to take some time before everyone is migrated to the new report system.
One caveat to all of this is that your clients have the option of turning on the feature while it is offered in QuickBooks Labs. That means that they could have the feature before your account is automatically updated. At this time, probably around 15% of the QuickBooks users have enabled the feature via QuickBooks Labs.