On this episode of the Tech Talk for Accountants Show, Andrew is joined by David Leary, a global small business ecosystem evangelist. They discuss QuickBooks apps and other topics. You can listen to the show wherever you listen to podcasts, or read/listen/watch below.

Who is David Leary and how did he get into the accounting world?

David Leary
David Leary

He’s a podcaster, accounting influencer and has been a force in the small business accounting world for over two decades. David started at Intuit over two decades ago. “I was working at the mall, selling desktop-based software.”

“I remember when the first QuickBooks DOS came out,” David said. “At that time, the mall software retailers got disrupted by Best Buy. Best Buy started selling all the software for like $28 and then software was like $50 a box.”

The gig ended and David needed a job and started in tech support for QuickBooks.

“My whole career essentially has been QuickBooks,” he said. “I’ve done about all the roles except commissioned sales.”

He’s worked with the development teams on integrating apps as well. Apps that would integrate with Quickbooks.

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How do you determine what software is brought into the QuickBooks apps ecosystem?

There’s a degree of a vetting process, David explained but you also have to look at the whole QuickBooks experience.

“There’s historical innovation data. For every good idea you have to have like 60 bad ones,” David said. “You can apply that for everything. Even Angry Birds. That was like version 51 for them.”

For every homerun app integration, you have to deal with 40-50 bad apps, David said. And he explained how you still have to look at them. Just looking at their websites doesn’t always give the full picture.

The current website is outdated, is one thing, David said. Then they have a new version on another URL and to see it you still need to talk with them.

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From a vetting process, you really have to look at everything. “It’s like dating. You go on a lot of dates; you don’t just go on one date,” David said.

How about bad apps and the QuickBooks experience?

David left Intuit and started his own business, and looks at integrations. He forwarded an invoice email and everything synced. “All these things I’ve talked about everything worked but the other thing I realized was that my tolerance for apps that mess up my data has disappeared. I have no tolerance for them.”

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David has his share of stories where apps didn’t work. For example, one app put his name as the vendor name in QuickBooks, which then makes the QuickBooks experience more negative.

“When apps mess up your data, that’s like the No. 1 thing,” David said. “Apps get about 15 to 30 seconds of consideration and I spend 30 minutes looking at apps. If I can’t get it to work after 15 minutes, the app won’t make it in the app store.”

The importance of working technology

That things work in the QuickBook experience is important for small business owners. Sometimes they will try to work around a problem, but in the case of a bookkeeper who works with multiple clients this would be a headache. They may have to work around it a couple dozen of times or so per day, said David.

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“There’s a level of priority you have to make it work,” he said.

David looks at these things when looking for good apps:

“In my experience, if they don’t have screen shots of their app, they aren’t proud of it,” David said. “It’s not going to be an app that looks good.”

Certainly, it’s a sales strategy to want to talk to people and not have self on-boarding, but it can be a barrier.

“And if they don’t have upfront pricing in 2020 for a SaaS app, move on,” David said. “There are plenty of other options.”

Most bookkeepers want to interact with an app by logging in and trying it. “They don’t want to be sold to,” David said.

Andrew echoed that sentiment that “nobody really wants to talk to anyone.” People just want to try things.

Being able to use technology helps you understand if it’s doing what you need it to do.

“Customers know more about your product than you do,” David said. If you can embrace that that can be very helpful.

But how about app demos?

Many developers want to give a demo, but “if you have to handhold me through the process, it’s not ready,” David said. “People aren’t idiots.”

[Tweet “Accounting apps that are ready for the market are easy to use. #taxtwitter”]

Think of Zoom or Venmo, most people don’t need a demo to use those apps.

The Sombrero Apps Company

David is the founder of the company, which has evolved over time. His vision was to be the hat of working hats. His idea was to help niche apps get into the accounting space. For example, a brewing accounting app doesn’t need to go to a conference to talk to four accountants that might buy the app. But it might make sense to highlight niche apps in one place at a conference.

“It’s turned a bit into a marketing company,” David said. “These things are falling under a umbrella.”

Will apps help us with productivity?

Of course, even when apps are really helping your productivity, make sure to use that time for other productive tasks. It can be human nature to just fill that new-found time with other busy tasks.

“The time a task will take expands when we are given more time,” Andrew said. “We save five minutes a day but then just fill it.”

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