Why 'Partner' is such an important word

It’s been a big couple of months for us at Intuit APAC.

In my part of the business, Strategic Partnerships, we’re celebrating the arrival of eight new developer partners that have chosen to connect to QuickBooks Online. Internally, we’ve invested heavily in the people, technology and processes that help ensure our APAC team is able to support and grow a world-class ecosystem of App connections. We also recently had Avi Golan, our GM for the Intuit Partner Platform, in town. He met with lots of partners and is super enthusiastic about where we are currently, as well as the opportunities ahead with our Australian and New Zealand partners.

It feels like a good time to step back, evaluate where we are with the Intuit Partner Platform in APAC, and look at how our work here brings together amazing App solutions and small business…and also connects developers to the larger global ecosystem of Apps.

Many of you know our roots are in the US, where we’ve been the market leader for much of our history. We’re also the largest cloud accounting provider in the world, with more than 1.5 million QuickBooks Online users as of February 2014. Our success is built on the strengths of our partnerships – with bookkeepers, accountants, and increasingly App partners who, in partnership with us, give our customers a better experience than we could deliver on our own.

Our partners make us better, and the way we structure our relationships reflects this. We have a shared objective, responsibility, risk and – ultimately – success. That’s why we have an open platform. We also have a shared customer, and as our CEO Brad Smith recently said in Fortune Magazine,

The average small-business owner uses 18 apps to run their business every day, and if those applications don’t allow data to flow seamlessly and they don’t integrate, it’s going to become a point of friction. It’s going to prevent the small business from being successful. So we have to be open, and we embrace that opportunity because our ultimate goal is to help the small business.

At Intuit we understand that managing accounts in QuickBooks is only one piece of a small business’s technology needs. To many small businesses, we’re not the focal point of their business; we’re part of a toolset that helps them win. That’s why we’re creating an ecosystem where all the apps a small business uses work together, seamlessly. We’re making it easier for small businesses to focus on their passion, instead of the details of making their systems integrate. Case in point, we joined forces with KeyPay to provide payroll solutions to small businesses, and it’s been a huge success. Similarly, Invitbox chose to join the Intuit family because of a shared passion for small business success.

I often hear local App companies referred to as ‘Add Ons’. The term is so popular we even use it so people can find partners on our website, but I don’t like it. At Intuit, you’re a partner. An essential part of small business success. Which would you rather be?

The coming months promise to build on the success we have already seen. If you like what you have seen to date, watch this space…

(Note: This post originally appeared on August 15, 2014, on our Intuit Australia blog.)






3 responses to “Why 'Partner' is such an important word”

  1. Stephanie Allemann Avatar

    I am compelled to respond to this post from the perspective of an Intuit developer so-called “partner”.

    I agree… “Partner” is an important word. And it’s essential that all parties to a partnership understand and behave according to the meaning of the word. Intuit clearly does not.

    Quoting from above: “At Intuit, you’re a partner.”

    This should say, “At Intuit, you’re a partner only for so long as it benefits Intuit.”

    Again, quoting from above: “We have a shared objective, responsibility, risk and – ultimately – success.”

    Let’s review the past 24 months.

    If you were a developer looking to integrate with QuickBooks Desktop (QBD) 24 months ago, Intuit instructed you to use the Intuit Partner Platform (IPP), not the outdated 1990’s SDK technology. Although the IPP did not have feature parity with the SDK, Intuit said “no worries, we are committed to building out the IPP for QBD…. the features are coming.”

    Based on this, Intuit’s development “partners” spent man-years developing apps using IPP technology, believing that Intuit would indeed stick to their word and continue to enhance and support the IPP.

    10 months ago, Intuit pulled the rug out from under their “partners”, reversing direction, saying they would not add promised new features to IPP for QBD, that IPP would actually never have feature parity with the SDK, instructing new developers to use the outdated 1990s SDK technology for any new apps… and telling existing IPP QBD developers that they would have to move from V2 to V3 of the IPP. IPP V3 didn’t yet have feature parity with IPP V2, but Intuit was committed to making that happen.

    4 months ago, Intuit announced that V3 won’t have feature parity with V2, but developers wouldn’t have to move from V2 to V3 after all. And although Intuit wouldn’t be adding features to V2 or V3 of IPP QBD, Intuit assured developers that they were committed to fixing bugs in V2 and V3.

    So, let’s say you’re a developer on V2 and that V3 doesn’t have some of the V2 features your app needs. Let’s say V2 has bugs in it that are driving your subscribers away. Remember, Intuit says that “we have a shared objective, responsibility, risk and – ultimately – success.” Bugs in the IPP are driving subscribers away from developers’ apps, directly impacting developers’ success. How does Intuit respond?

    Here are real live quotes of interactions with IPP support, some from as recently as last month:

    Responding to a question about a V2 issue where accounting data is incorrect (Remaining credit on credit memo is always 0):
    “This is not supported by our v2 services and there is an already open bug for it since Feb 2014. I’m not sure if/when it be prioritized as it is for v2 services.”
    — Really? Intuit, an accounting software company, is sending incorrect accounting data to their development “partners”, and that’s NOT a priority?

    “As per the communication from QBDesktop leadership team,engineering will not fix any bugs in the V2 API.”
    — Umm, WHAT!?!?! This response came AFTER Intuit stated 4 months ago that V3 would not have V2 feature parity and that issues would be prioritized and addressed in V2 and V3.

    “… the expectation is that existing QBD developers who have already built using V3/V2 are self sufficient and no new issues will be reported.”
    — Uh, Intuit says in the post above that we have a “shared objective, responsibility, risk…”, but now V3/V2 partners are self-sufficient and won’t report new IPP issues to Intuit, their partner? How does partner A (Intuit) tell partner B (developers) they are on their own (i.e. self sufficient) in addressing issues that are the responsibility of partner A and over which partner B has zero control? Where’s the shared responsibility and risk? No where.

    “Since the issue you have reported relates to V2 and there is a workaround to use both v2 and v3, I would suggest you to use that.”
    — In other words, Intuit is not going to fix the bug… developers should rewrite their code to query data twice… once in V3 to avoid the V2 issue, then again in V2 to get the specific entities that are missing in V3. Shared responsibility? Not so much.

    The reason for Intuit’s reneging on countless commitments to their QBD IPP development “partners”? Intuit is now focusing almost 100% on QuickBooks Online.

    So, since it is no longer convenient or beneficial for Intuit to “have a shared objective, responsibility, risk and – ultimately – success” with their QBD one-time “partners”, Intuit hangs them out to dry. The responsibility and risk Intuit shared with their development “partners” a year ago? Well, those don’t count anymore since Intuit has decided to change direction… and tough luck to the suckers who believed Intuit was a real partner.

    Partner, shmartner. Actions speak much louder than words. And clearly, Intuit doesn’t know or care what the word means.

  2. lisa_rathjens Avatar

    Thanks for your frank and open feedback, Stephanie. Though we work hard to be a good partner, we know there’s always room for improvement. I’ll make sure your comments are shared with the right teams here at Intuit so appropriate action can be taken. Sometimes we need to make hard business decisions in response to market and technology shifts and trends. We know these types of decisions aren’t always easy on our partners, so we try to give you plenty of notice and we try to provide reasonable support for you along the way. We hope that in the long-term, we’re doing what’s best not only for the business, but also for our partners, and ultimately for our mutual customers. We appreciate your on-going support of Intuit and our mutual customers, even through the bumpy patches.

  3. Stephanie Allemann Avatar


    I understand the need to respond to market shifts. That response can and should be done in a thoughtful and responsible manner.

    While it is understandable that Intuit might decide not to build out the QBD IPP according to the original vision, it is irresponsible and bad partnership to not honor the short-term development commitments they had made to their development and customer “partners”.

    There are apps running in production on the QBD IPP. Intuit has a fiduciary responsibility to provide a stable and functioning platform for their development and customer “partners”… as well as to protect Intuit’s own reputation. It is irresponsible and bad partnership for Intuit to abandon support of that platform.

    For all intents and purposes, Intuit has abandoned QBD development and appears to not have a coherent strategy for migrating that customer base to QBO over the next several years. When an existing QBD customer decides to move to the cloud, they will investigate options. To the extent that a QBD customer is using IPP apps, the likelihood increases that that customer will move to QBO instead of a competitive product.

    Intuit’s abandonment of QBD — as well as the numerous commitments made and reneged on over even just the past 10 months (not to mention the past 4 years) — smacks of desperation and appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to competitive pressures rather than a well-considered and smooth adjustment. This is just one example of Intuit’s careening from one direction to another, leaving their “partners” bloodied and questioning Intuit’s management acumen.

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