Why Higher Value Solutions Cost More Money

Value is such a “loaded” word. Depending on who, what, where and under what circumstances, value can mean something different to each person. While price is certainly one element of value, it is rarely the main factor in determining something’s true value.

Bob Anderson of Gartner Group, a guest speaker at a recent Information Technology Alliance (ITA) conference, mentioned a statistic that stuck in my mind. In a recent study, service and support quality was the #1 determiner in small and medium business’ selection of a new product offering, while price was a distant #9. For someone like me who is so passionate about excellent customer service, this came less as a shock and more as validation that I’m not crazy. After all, value isn’t always cheap.

I’ve been in the software sales world for nearly my entire career, and not a day goes by where price isn’t discussed. Everyone knows that cars and ERP solutions are things you purchase at month end, or better yet, year end, but why is that the case? Why are we so concerned with the price of what we offer instead of showing the true value of it, especially when it comes to paying a higher price for a more valuable solution – often the case when transitioning from desktop to cloud-based systems?

The strange thing about this logic in the software as a service or SaaS world, is that we don’t apply the same logic to the rest of our lives. How often do we walk into Home Depot and go straight for the cheapest refrigerator? How about seeking out the lowest-priced TV at Best Buy? Never. Instead, we want to find the best value – one that’s likely not the least expensive, but provides the greatest return on our investment.

As the rate of migration to online accounting solutions increases, we are constantly fielding the objection from accountants who deal with clients that perhaps push back on a monthly or yearly subscription fee. On the surface, any accountant can see that most cloud-based accounting tools, such as QuickBooks® Online (QBO), will cost at least slightly more than a desktop package, especially if clients don’t tend to purchase the new version each year.

What isn’t quite as clear in the sticker price, however, is the value of what you get with each solution. This is where accountants must put on their Trusted Business Advisor hat to show how cloud-based solutions provide value, to themselves and to their clients, beyond what is available in a desktop-based world.

To be more specific, at the risk of opening up a full total cost of ownership can of worms, it’s vital to examine the additional costs that any client already incurs when maintaining a desktop environment. This includes servers, backups, disaster recovery plans, IT support employees and hosting fees if they need remote access. In addition, there’s the drawback of logistical limitations in either transferring files back and forth via email or a portal or requiring an accountant be on-site or have remote access (at an additional charge).

Think of a cloud/SaaS solution more like the cruise ship model: an all-inclusive experience. Just bring your bags and move right in. With most online offerings, including QBO, clients are free from the stresses of maintaining their own infrastructure and backups, while gaining the additional value of their software provider’s security, disaster recovery measures and continuous real-time updates made to the software instead of just once a year (if they pay to update versions).

In a world where today’s newspaper is yesterday’s news – and, if you didn’t read it on Twitter you’re likely behind the times – the thought of being one, two or even three years behind on accounting technology could leave your clients in the dark ages!

Another value that comes with cloud territory is the online ecosystem of add-on solutions. In the desktop days, integrating various solutions was traditionally cumbersome and often not very intuitive or user friendly. Often, the best solution was to build a feature right into an application itself instead of attempting to integrate with another application … even if this meant sacrificing functionality to make it work.

The technology that comes with cloud development, however, enables the “best of breed” approach where multiple software publishers are able to work together much more easily to create intricate interlocking solutions that provide the best possible feature functionality industry wide. As you look to the Intuit® Apps Center over the next several months and years, you’ll see it continue to grow with new QBO add-on apps, adding additional value to your clients’ software investment.

Cloud-based solutions eliminate the unwanted and unwelcome struggles that accountants have faced for years with version control. It’s just a fact that requiring a professional to be an expert in numerous versions creates a disadvantage. By removing this altogether, accountants are free from headaches and have the opportunity to focus on what they do best: delivering excellent support and providing the superior customer service that their clients value so much.