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Why a product roadmap and accountant feedback are critical in app selection and development - Intuit Developer Community Blog

October 24, 2019 | Amy Ball

Why a product roadmap and accountant feedback are critical in app selection and development

With so many apps entering the market every day for accountants to use with their clients, how do you make your app stand above the rest? How do you develop an app that accountants and consumers want to use?

Matthew Fulton, co-founder and CTO of Parkway Business Solutions, has a set of questions that he recommends accountants ask when reviewing an app. These questions are critical for app developers to ask as well, including:

  • How do you get data into (and out of) the application?
  • How secure is your data?
  • What integrations exist with other applications?
  • Does the company have a product roadmap?

His other questions revolve around the UI/UX usability (and attractiveness), what happens to your data when you close an account, the app’s knowledgebase, customer reviews (positive or negative), and the role of consumer input.

“As a workflow specialist in the accounting world, an important part of my job is to vet applications before they are connected to any of our clients’ accounts,” says Matthew.

One vetted app that exceeded his expectations is CData Software. In this video, he shares why he can’t live without this app.

Serving clients better with CData Software

“Technology has changed the face of accounting and the job description of an accountant,” says Matthew. “Previously, the reporting capabilities of small business were limited by their ability to get data into and out of their accounting platform. Fortunately, applications such as CData’s Excel add-in simplified the data transfer process for more than 100 applications, including CRM and marketing platforms, accounting and ERP systems, and even social media and collaboration hubs.”

CData Software allows users to connect to live data from QuickBooks directly from Microsoft Excel. The app is easy to install and easy to use. Users can perform mass imports, exports, updates, data cleansing and de-duplication, Excel-based data analysis, and more.

“The addition of CData to our technology stack has increased the range of services we are able to offer to our clients,” he Matthew.

App developers and buyers benefit from the same features

Including CData Software, Matthew has tested more than 200 apps for accountants. His app experience, combined with his accounting background, enables him to provide app developers and buyers with expert advice, starting with the importance of product roadmaps.

A product roadmap that is consistently updated makes it easier for users to overlook minor bugs knowing that it will likely be corrected,” he says. “It is not enough to just have a posted product map for people to look at; To get true engagement from users, it is important to build a forum or help center around the roadmap. Make it simple for people to submit their own suggestions and for others to add their vote to the suggestions made as well.

“As an application grows, that same forum should also have notifications for app outages that provides real answers,” he continues. “If an application implements these functions in a support site, it should reduce the number of support requests.”

What else does Matthew think app developers should consider when developing apps for accountants? Not introducing their app until it’s more fully developed.

“The concept of the minimum viable product needs to change. With so much pressure to get an app to market, more and more development teams are pushing their apps out before they are truly ready.  While I understand feedback is vital to the development cycle, an underdeveloped product can ruin an applications opportunity for quick growth.”

Finally, he believes getting an accountant’s opinion on an accounting-based application is imperative, saying, “You need to include an accountant, paid or unpaid, who can verify the quality and accuracy of the data being pushed into accounting platform.”

As you develop your app, build our your product roadmap, and work to involve accountants in the process, Matthew’s advice and the example of CData Software will come in handy. And, as an app developer, you may want to also check out these recent blogs on how to make your app card work harder for you and how to create an email to drive app downloads.

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