Intuit has announced some significant updates to its developer platform and ecosystem support this week at QuickBooks Connect. It has invested in its developer community through improvements including of a new portal for developers, new educations resources, a new app marketplace and several new APIs. It has also revealed a small list of curated apps and a marketing concierge.
Alex Barnett, director of Intuit’s Developer Group commented: “Our developer community is critical to Intuit’s mission of solving the most important problems facing small business owners and accounting professionals around the world. The new tools and programs we revealed at QuickBooks Connect this week are part of our continued investment in enabling our developer partners to create thriving and sustainable businesses on our platform.”
The Developer Portal
Intuit has relaunched the developer portal with a new design. It is targeted at not just developers but the whole life cycle of a QuickBooks app. This includes learning tools for developers looking to understand the accounting environment. Practical assistance on developing and moving the app through to authentication through to placing the app onto the App Store. Finally it gives instructions to marketers about improve the changes of the app being sold.
The new portal is easy to navigate though surprisingly there is no search button. On the home page there are four areas to begin the developer journey:
Develop for QuickBooks Online. This gives access to documents, SDKs and other technical documentation. The API’s and platforms supported include:
- QuickBooks Online
- TSheets Time Tracking
- QuickBooks Payment
- QuickBooks Desktop
Learn Accounting Concepts: This includes educational material around invoicing, business analytics, managing inventory and paying bills. These appear mainly text based but do include examples of code that include .NET, Java and PHP.
Go-Live with your application: A step by step guide to publishing an app and creating a listing on the App store. This is targeted at developers
Publish to the QuickBooks Online App Store: Targeted at marketers this goes through the process of listing on the app store and beyond.
There is also access to blogs and other areas that assist developers new and experienced on the platform.
The new App Store
With over 600 listed apps, Intuit has redesigned the app store to make it easier for customers to find applications. The new design is simple and intuitive to use. Users are able to filter quickly based on Categories. Intuit has also created some curated collections. These collections include essential apps, which are presumably those most commonly used. There are staff picks, though there is no explanation behind why these are listed, and Free Apps.
The latter category includes apps which are free in some circumstances. Insightly CRM, for example, appears to be free for the first two users and includes QuickBooks integration. However, recent reviews indicate that “free” may not be completely free and surprisingly there is no response to the comments from either Intuit or Insightly. Whether it is possible for Intuit to respond to comments is not apparent but it is an update that Intuit should consider quickly.
The app details page now has clear and concise information that includes an overview, pricing, reviews, similar applications and some FAQs specific to the app. What is missing is details about releases. This is very useful information as customers are able to see when the app was last updated and what new features are included.
The newest API, currently in beta, is a payroll API. This enables third party time tracking and benefits providers to connect directly to QuickBooks. Functionality will include access to deductions, benefits, pension information and the ability to sync employee contributions and time by payroll items. Intuit estimates that organisations able to leverage this API could remove up to three and a half hours of manual work each month.
Other ecosystem improvements
It has introduced a marketing concierge service that assists third party app development companies to better understand their marketing funnel. This includes advice on their Apps cards (App store listings) and how to be seen by prospective customers. There is, however, little further detail about how to access this new service in the press release or on the web site.
Launched in March this year the Accountant Apps Program has added more top rated apps that it believes accountants should consider for its clients. The latest apps added include:
- SaasAnt reduces manual entry, allowing users to import, export, and delete file transactions easily and quickly.
- Qvinci automates financial reporting, giving users near “real-time” access to financial data and business analytics.
- Pay with Bolt enables online payments for invoices by connecting QuickBooks with popular payments providers.
- AutoEntry automates data entry for bills, receipts, sales invoices, bank and card statements and more.
- Plooto Today creates an integrated platform to send and receive business payments.
Intuit has also added a new 4 part webinar to its CPA App Academy, the Best of QuickBooks Online Apps. Hosted by David Leary it consists of five hours of webinars introducing different app categories and how they can help accountants, bookkeepers and their clients. The four part series covers:
- Automate customer and international payments
- Turning paper data into forecasts and advising services
- Focus on non profits, law firms, manufacturing shops
- Streamline for your amazon and ecommerce clients
What does this mean
Creating a marketplace for Apps is easy. A successful marketplace needs a supporting platform that enables developers to access it easily and understand quickly how to develop for the application. These latest updates will help Intuit make its developer platform and marketplace successful. It may not be as good as the Salesforce or Apple app stores yet but this update has moved it closer to those best practise examples.
There is still work to be done on the marketplace especially but Intuit is unlikely to rest on its laurels and further updates should follow in due course.