Challenges to the QuickBooks Accountant “self-hosting”model: There’s more to hosting than just having a server.
Sure, any good IT guy can build you a network. And any quality IT services company can offer to manage your network and systems for you. But, can just any IT company help make your business a QuickBooks hosting company for other businesses? Maybe, maybe not. I’ve always said that there is a fine art to delivering quality application services (especially involving QuickBooks) to a largely non-technical audience, and if the details aren’t covered up front, they will end up causing you a great deal of pain later.
Almost every IT consultant I’ve worked with believes that they have what it takes to help accountants create an in-house capability to host QuickBooks and provide remote access for client businesses. While there is likely no argument that the consultant understands how to set up a network for a single organization, the rules change a bit when you begin talking about having many different businesses – most of them not related in any way – sharing systems, software, and data storage facilities. This is often referred to as “multitenant” architecture, and QuickBooks, like many other desktop applications, was never designed for this type of implementation. For these and other reasons, it takes quite a bit of technical understanding as well as recognition of the necessary controlling elements in the business model to create a hosted delivery that can actually work well, and deliver the security and confidentiality of data required and an online “experience” your clients will enjoy.
While many of the issues to be addressed are technical in nature, a lot of them also speak to the details of the business model and exactly what services are being offered. Decisions must be made in terms of what applications to support, how users will access the applications, how users and data will be organized, and how the entire system will be supported, managed and maintained over time. Experience has taught us that the business that expects their costs to be largely experienced with initial equipment purchases and implementations will be unhappily surprised by the investments in time and materials required to create the client hosting environment, and then to support users and maintain systems post-launch.
The key is to not minimize the needs of the client, and to fully recognize and address the issues that the client will face when working from your environment. Without the relevant experience to know what these challenges are and how to overcome them, the firm may find themselves at a significant operational disadvantage. The result is that they are unable to fully meet the client demands, and could possibly lose the entire IT investment because of an inability to reasonably compete with commercial hosting offerings.
If your company is looking to offer QuickBooks hosting services to your clients, contact InsynQ today to get the information you need to make the best, most informed decisions possible. After all, an unsatisfactory online experience could damage the trust and working relationship with the client, and that just isn’t worth the risk.