Did you get that email? Intuit told us that the QuickBooks Online Accountant Document Center will be discontinued. This surprised me, so I did some research to find out what was going on. Here is what was found.
What Is The QuickBooks Online Accountant Document Center?
“Document Management” is an important feature in an accounting system, something that I’ve discussed often in the past. For most businesses it is important to be able to store critical documents in a safe manner. I like it when my accounting system can integrate with that so that I can retrieve documents related to transactions, send documents to customers, and so forth. For an accounting professional I think that it is critical that you have a simple and secure way to exchange documents with your clients.
QuickBooks Online has a very simple document storage system that lets you attach documents to transactions. This is NOT the feature that is being discontinued. People who use QuickBooks Online will still be able to attach documents as they have been all along.
QuickBooks Online Accountant has a totally separate document storage feature that the accounting professional can use to exchange documents with their clients. This was a partnership with Box that provided accountants with a free 10GB Box account to store this data. This is the feature that will be discontinued. It only affects users of QuickBooks Online Accountant.
It has always bugged me that there were two separate document features in QuickBooks Online (counting the one in QuickBooks Online Accountant), and to be honest, I’ve never been a fan of the Box integration. I’ve always been a big fan of SmartVault, which provides a more complete set of features and that also integrates with my QuickBooks Desktop files.
If you are using QuickBooks Online Accountant and you have activated your free Box account you can send document requests to your clients via your client list (and a few other access points). Here is what you are going to lose when the Document Center is discontinued.
In your client list the New Request button will be removed, and the Requests information in the right-hand column will no longer be available.
When you click on a client in the client list to see their detailed information, the Requests and Documents tabs will no longer be displayed.
Will I Lose My Documents?
That is a key issue! If I’ve been using this feature and it goes away, what happens to these documents?
All of these documents are stored in your Box account. Even though Intuit is removing the access points from QuickBooks Online Accountant you still have access to all documents by logging in to your Box account directly, or by using the Box app that syncs that account with your desktop computer. So just one of the three ways that you get to these documents will be discontinued.
The next question that came to mind is “will Box start charging me for this account?” According to Intuit, Box will continue to provide you with the free 10GB account even after the integration with QuickBooks Online Accountant is terminated.
Right now you use your Intuit ID credentials to log in to your Box account directly. At some point in the future you will be asked to create a new set of credentials directly in Box to be able to continue using that account.
Why, When, and What’s Next?
Why? Intuit knows that collecting and managing client files is a pain point for accounting professionals. Since the initial release of the Document Center back in late 2014, Intuit has been studying usage patterns and taking feedback from users. What they’ve found is that usage has been very low. Not many people have been using this feature. In addition, this integration just didn’t hit the mark for ease of use and flexibility. So, rather than continue providing this, they are withdrawing the feature.
When? This will take place in several stages. Approximately in late July 2016 the ability to sign up for a new Box account through QuickBooks Online Accountant will be removed from the product. Approximately in late August 2016 the access points to the service will be removed from QuickBooks Online Accountant. Note that these are tentative dates, and because of the way that Intuit rolls out program updates some users will see the changes before others.
What’s Next? Intuit hasn’t announced a replacement for this service at this time. The do say that they recognize that client document management of this sort is a very important process for accounting professionals, and that helps guide their priorities. Some thoughts on this:
- Although QuickBooks Online does have some document storage features itself, I don’t see that as being the platform for accountant-client document management.
- Intuit does have a client collaboration and data collection feature on the accountant tax side of things. I could see them deciding to work with service in QuickBooks Online Accountant as well. I’ll admit, though, that I’ve never looked at this service.
I don’t know what Intuit’s plans are going forward, but there are some good alternatives and I’m sure that they’ll find an answer shortly.
I’m glad that people who use the current feature aren’t losing access to their documents. I just wish that Intuit had a replacement ready to go as soon as the current system was discontinued. Anyone using the current feature is going to have to come up with something soon!