Harper, Rains, Knight & Company, P.A.

Managing the Engagement and Expectations When Migrating from Desktop to Online

5/6/24 Accounting, Financial Planning, Firm News

As a CPA and a Certified QuickBooks consultant with over 20 years of experience in business and tax services, I have worked with many clients. Each client has their own unique needs, and I’ve found that meeting them where they are—and not where I think they should be—while also carefully managing their expectations is the recipe for our mutual success.

To show you what I mean, let’s look at the QuickBooks Desktop to QuickBooks Online (QBO) migration process as well as explore some of the challenges that can arise during this technology conversion and how you can overcome them.

How to Handle Conversion Challenges

Converting from Desktop to Online is a great decision for businesses operating in today’s digital economy. Some of the many benefits of this conversion include remote access, automatic updates, and online data storage, and for the client, these—and additional benefits—are exciting. But to those within the company who are resistant to change, they’re not so much. I call these people “Desktop holdouts.”

Desktop holdouts are employees who have used the Desktop version for years. As a result, they’re very knowledgeable about the application and dig in their heels when asked to let it go—which is completely understandable. In addition to knowing the software inside and out, they may have also seen a story online where someone had a bad migration experience. Plus, change is just hard.

So, what can you do?

First, you must have conversations about the migration before you start the process so that you can guide the engagement in a way that will help them not only engage with the product but ultimately bring them on board. In the lead up to the actual migration, my team and I talk with the users about how they use Desktop, including determining their main daily workflows. Depending on what those workflows are, I may send them some links from Intuit on how they are accomplished in QBO, which allows them to see how the product looks and “moves.”

Even so, I’ve learned that the long-time Desktop users have some very customized processes and workflows and that they may not necessarily be super impressed with QBO’s bells and whistles. If this is the case, we try to introduce at least one way that we think QBO will be a win for them. For example, we may highlight the enhanced banking experience or increased A/R functionality, staying positive about the enhancements and redirecting their focus away from their perceived limitations.

These positive, redirecting actions usually work, but—and this is important—I always give them an out. I tell them that their Desktop data is not going away, and we can always go back to it. I also tell them that I have done over 300 conversions and have only had ONE client go back to Desktop.

Don’t “Spook the Herd”

Too much change too fast spooks the herd. You have to know when to back off so that they have time to adjust to the change. Here are some recommendations on how to gently encourage the Desktop holdouts to consider making the move to QBO:

  • Be available: Check in with them regularly and see if they have questions or if something is not working for them as expected.
  • Be their cheerleader: I’m constantly telling them how great they are doing—even if they could be doing more.
  • Be invested in their—and your—success: If they get frustrated and give up and go back to their Desktop product, you might be tempted to just let them do it. Unfortunately, when the subject comes up when they are out in the world, they will say, “Oh, my accountant talked me into switching and it was awful.” So not only have you lost out on advancing and helping that client, but you have also lost the one with which they shared their negative experience.

I consider it a personal failure if the client gives up and reverts back to Desktop. I’m 100% invested in them having a good experience and feeling good about the decision they made to migrate, which means I will do whatever they need me to do to make them comfortable. For me, the key is constant communication. If I haven’t heard anything from them every few days, then I need to reach out.

I don’t want any clients suffering in silence, and I’m not afraid to tackle their perceived roadblocks. While I may not know the answer to every question and every workaround, I know that I have access to a huge community of support within Intuit, and between the two of us, we will get a solution for them.

Working with Clients After the Migration

So, we’ve discussed meeting people where they are and managing expectations. Now I’ll share our specific process for working with the client after the migration is complete. Here are five things we think have helped us achieve migration success:

  1. I am physically (at their office or via Zoom) with the client when I invite them to view the product for the first time. I have learned that for Desktop power users, it’s better to be with them when I send them the invites for QBO. There can be issues around logging in, and I also like to be there when they first get into the product so that I can gauge their enthusiasm.
  2. The next thing we do is connect the bank feeds (tread carefully on that date range selection). We spend a good amount of time talking about how they can use the bank feed to really streamline their data entry tasks.
  3. We then spend some time in the Settings Section, determining if they need connected apps and making sure the Payments account is set up (or converted over).
  4. After step 3, we review the customizations available: the forms, the banner bars, the overview tiles. We’re always mindful of how they are going to use the product and work hard to fine tune the customizations to keep them engaged and excited.
  5. Lastly, we move on to daily workflow. Again, we ask them about how they did it on Desktop and then try to replicate that flow in QBO and hopefully find a way to lessen the data entry that they were previously doing. Example questions include how did you bill your customers, how did you receive their payments, how did you enter and pay your company bills, how did you track your sales tax, etc. We then walk them through how they accomplish their day-to-day tasks on QBO.

Remember: Always ask them, “What is your least favorite thing to do?”  This allows you to be the hero when you find the task they hated most and turn it into something that is now easy and less time-consuming.

Making Life Easier with QBO is a True Gift

If you’re able to provide someone with a powerful solution—like QBO—that makes their life easier, it’s a true gift. If you do so at their own pace, while encouraging them to continue moving forward, it will be a real ‘win’ for everyone. And each win offers personal satisfaction that you really have helped someone enjoy their own work more.

Intuit has pulled together some dedicated support materials written by accountants who have successfully migrated their own clients and want to help pave the way for yours. Download migration guides and for access to more information and resources, visit the Intuit move online site.

**This is a paid partnership with Intuit.