Intuit forms ISV net

Intuit Canada has hatched a Software Developer Network in a bid to reach thousands of new customers in new markets, particularly in the small business arena.

The Edmonton, Alta.-based company has opened its small business accounting solution (the QuickBooks programming code) to software developers

in Canada — a move that follows a U.S. program launched a year ago.

“”In the U.S. there was a huge wave of developers who wanted to participate,”” says Donna Scott, who manages the Developer Network for Intuit Canada. “”We had 85,000 downloads of the software development kit, and there were over 190 integrated applications that are now available.”” When the program first launched in the U.S., 40 developers jumped on board.

Based on the success of the U.S. launch and a strong urge to integrate in Canada, Scott says the program was rolled out north of the border.

“”Our Canadian customers, both developers and QuickBooks end users, were asking for integrated applications for their QuickBooks financial accounting software.””

Canadian developers can create applications that share data with QuickBooks Pro 2003, QuickBooks Premier 2003 and QuickBooks Premier 2003: Accountant Edition, as well as U.S. versions of QuickBooks and QuickBooks Online Edition.

To date, the Canadian program has attracted 35 developers. One Canadian developer is Alocet, which is offering QXpress, an application that targets users in the landscaping and property services businesses.

The application is integrated so it enables the user to do better scheduling of landscaping jobs, invoicing and job costing, Scott says. “”This company was a U.S. launcher last year and found it easy to port their QXpress application into QuickBooks Canada — they did it in under five hours.””

Joseph Palko of Alocet says the company provides industry-specific management software. “”This is for all of the underserviced industries out there — the janitorial, the air conditioning, and lawn industries, for example. We provide software that manages their business.””

For a long time, these types of players were using QuickBooks for accounting purposes as well as Alocet software for industry-specific tasks like scheduling, job costing, and invoicing.

“”The problem was the two programs didn’t talk to one another, so there was tonnes of double entry. You enter a customer into one program and you had to retype it into another. If you changed an address in one program, you had to update it in another program. And that was very tedious and time-consuming.””

And while the QXpress program was integrated prior to the company joining the network, the product now interacts better with QuickBooks, Palko adds. “”So when you first turn on our program, your customer information is already set up because we pull it from the QuickBooks database. We pull in as much information as we can, so we cut down on the setup time.””

For Alocet, the benefits roll in on the development and marketing side (in terms of an enhanced customer base). “”We have access to the kit, we get the benefit of their conferences, we can learn from what they’re doing, and we get their software ahead of time so we can release products with them.””

Prior to joining the network, the company had to divine Intuit’s next moves. “”Before we had to figure out how QuickBooks was working and do what we could without their help. But now you can have dialogue with them and be on their forums and ask questions. It makes us able to integrate with their program more tightly.””

Other Canadian developers coming to the table include: ERPlite, which is offering manufacturing management and inventory tracking software; Groupe A.G.I, which is offering ABak, a time and billing software solution for small offices; and Hypertext Software, which is offering employee management software including payroll, time sheet and human resources applications.

“”The breadth and depth of the applications is broad,”” says Scott. “”And at the end of the day, they all map back to some kind of accounting functionality that you need to have in your core QuickBooks product.”” The diversity of applications catering to the small business market means huge opportunities for resellers, she adds.

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