Intuit Drops Two Small-business Applications, Frustrating Some Users

Intuit is planning to discontinue two applications small businesses use to monitor hours and billing, to the consternation of some users who feel the decision came too abruptly.

QuickBooks Time Tracker and Time and Billing will go out of service Dec. 1, Intuit said in a recent posting on its website.

The move was "a difficult decision" made after "much consideration," Intuit said in the post. "We realize this is an inconvenience for you and we want to make this process as smooth as possible."

Customers won't be charged for the service until Dec. 1, and will have access to their data until then. But they should be sure to download it by the deadline, as the information will no longer be available.

Alternatives are available for customers left in the lurch. Intuit's posting promoted one offering from eBillity. "It has a very similar feature set and a few new features that we never had in our solution," an Intuit support worker said in an official Time Tracker forum thread announcing the changes.

Those assurances provided little comfort for one forum poster responding to the lengthy thread.

"Are you kidding me???????????? Less than two months notice? This is a JOKE," the poster wrote. "Why the rush? You have NO idea how difficult it is to implement and train employees on a new timesheet system on such short notice. You've just lost a customer."

Another forum poster voiced similar concerns. "I believe I speak for ALL the users that we desperately need MORE than 60 days notice to find and switch to a new product. Please keep in mind that we are not just 'Time & Billing' customers, we are Quickbooks customers," the post stated. "One of the main reasons I have stayed a Quickbooks customer is this utility. I have also recommended MANY clients to Quickbooks over the years and this decision on your part is a grave mistake."

Intuit's posting didn't provide any clear-cut reasons why the software was being discontinued. A spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for further information on Wednesday.

One vendor looking to capitalize on Intuit's move offered some potential reasons.

"I like the theory that time-tracking is a small, simple niche but in reality it's a mile deep," said Brian Saunders, CEO of BigTime Software. Staying on top of the special needs and tweaks required for customers in various industries takes significant development resources, which Intuit may have no longer wanted to devote, he said.

The outcry from users didn't surprise Saunders.

Intuit Drops Two Small-business Applications, Frustrating Some Users
"For most of the professional services industries we deal with, we're coming up to a very heavy billing period," he said. "A lot of folks outsource in the fourth quarter to get their billing done. The timing for it isn't the greatest."

BigTime's phones have been ringing steadily with interested Time Tracker and Time and Billing customers, Saunders said. While the company will face competition from companies like eBillity, SpringAhead, Count Me In and BillQuick for that business, Saunders expressed confidence that BigTime's tight integration with QuickBooks will be a good selling point.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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