At the QuickBooks Solutions Marketplace, small businesses that use the popular accounting program can buy complementary software to handle tasks such as e-commerce or inventory management. These applications, created by third-party developers, are customized to integrate with QuickBooks.
With more than 400 different software programs from which to choose, it wasn't always easy for customers to pick the right one. The decision should now be a bit easier. Based on both customer and developer feedback, Intuit has instituted a certification program that establishes quality standards. These third-party developers must meet certain requirements in order to be designated either a Silver- or a Gold-level developer.
According to Shannon Adkins, an Intuit group manager, the new program is a matter of quality, not quantity. "Our primary goal is to look out for the best interests our customers. We want to ensure that they find applications that meet their needs and help them grow their business," she said.
A Silver-level developer must pass what Intuit calls a "Tech Check," a technical review (by an independent third-party) that ensures the software application is compatible with QuickBooks and that the developer follows Intuit's standards.
Gold-level developers must also pass the Tech Check. In addition, they must meet these requirements:
- Complete a customer-satisfaction survey administered by a third-party research company. Each survey consists of 32 questions about the companys product functionality, ease of use, technical service and overall user experience.
- Provide at least one completed case study available for download.
Intuit rates the results on a scale of one through 10, and the developer must score at least a six to pass. Adkins noted that the survey results and the case studies are available to the public on the QuickBooks Solutions Marketplace product pages.
The new program is essentially a win-win for both QuickBooks customers and the companies that develop the compatible software. "The ratings, the case studies and the survey results are excellent tools and resources," said Adkins. "They help customers find the programs they want, and assures them that they're reliable. The developers like the certification because it offers them a way to differentiate themselves from the competition."
Intuit gave developers a year's notice and a rolling deadline to certify a process Adkins said takes between eight months to a year. The company also defrays the cost of certification by paying for the cost of the Tech Check: 100 percent for the first 150 developers and 33 percent of the cost for the remainder. Intuit covers the cost of the customer surveys and case studies.
One hundred software applications have been certified so far, and Adkins said the goal is to have the rest certified as Gold or Silver by September 2007. In order to sell applications in the Marketplace, a developer must attain at least the Silver certification.
A New Look
In addition to program, the Marketplace Web site now sports a new look and, said Adkins, a better design. "It has a completely new look, feel and function," she said. "You can search by industry, business function, silver or Gold certification or the application it integrates with. Over all, it offers a much better customer experience."
Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com
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