QBO 3p ideal state

QuickBooks Online 3rd Party Apps Ideal State

Small Business Owners' Goal

Manage revenue, expenses, cash flow, growth, and customers.

QuickBooks Online Business Goal

QuickBooks Online can increase revenue by targeting underserved segments with specialized features, new pricing models and add-ons. Additionally, it can expand to new geographies. By meeting the specific needs of these segments, it can expand its customer base.

My role

I played a crucial role in this project. The primary goal was to create a roadmap to expand user numbers and increase revenue through the 3rd Party App ecosystem within 6 to 12 months.


Executed quantitative and qualitative research with cross-functional teams; Competitive analysis; Created end-to-end flow design; Pitched the ideal state to the leadership team.


1.5 months.


The vision work got funded by the GM for an additional $2 million.

What are the challenges?

The low adoption rate of QuickBooks 3rd Party apps was attributed to a lack of awareness among users. To address this issue, a year-long effort was planned that would involve both engineering and marketing efforts to increase the visibility and discoverability of the apps.

However, I decided to investigate further by analyzing more data. To my surprise, the conversion rate remained low even for customers who were aware of the apps. Through further research, I discovered that these customers had more conservative psychological profiles and were less open to new solutions than we had originally anticipated. In order to improve adoption, it was important to understand what small business owners were looking for that our app ecosystem was not currently providing. I believed that by understanding their motivations and priorities, we could develop strategies to make our apps more appealing to them. Understanding the psychological behavior of potential customers is essential to improve conversion rates.

Business Challenges

What is missing in the current market?

My research showed that the small business software market is highly segmented into three categories: operations, sales/marketing, and finance. The competitive analysis found that existing players tend to work in silos and offer features that often surpass the needs of low-end and mainstream customers. The largest untapped segment is small business owners who earn less than $100K profit, who currently rely on manual methods like paper, spreadsheets, and free Google apps, and prefer not to use multiple software. This creates an opportunity to cater to this market by simplifying our product, focusing on key pain points, and providing an easy-to-use single solution.

Reinvent QBO

Proposed vision of the QuickBooks ecosystem

QuickBooks Online operates in a mature market, primarily targeting customers from the bookkeeping sector. To expand its user base and monetization opportunities, the strategy is to re-position QuickBooks Online as a business management app, rather than just an accounting app. This can be achieved by breaking down silos and automating end-to-end workflows, making it a central hub for business information and providing a comprehensive view of the business performance. The app should be designed for ease of use, providing business owners with a quick and easy access to a centralized view of their business, just by logging in every morning. The focus should be on simplicity, with complexity hidden in the integration of the app ecosystem. The goal is to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

What do small business owners worry about the most?

After reviewing data from the central research team, we discovered that many business owners are concerned with both acquiring and retaining customers. Additionally, it was found that 50% of businesses fail within 5 years due to poor cash flow management.User challenges

What small businesses' pain points should we attack?

In order to identify the product-market fit, I conducted another round of quantitative user research to identify the critical needs of potential customers. The survey covered various areas such as sales and marketing, business operations, financial operations, and business reporting. After evaluating the responses from 200 respondents and rating and ranking their needs, here are some of the results.

QBO quantative Research

We then grouped the top tasks identified from the research into three levels of importance based on users' motivation and business intent: very important, fairly important and important. This categorization assisted in strategizing our priorities and partnerships moving forward. most important tasks

Qualitative research also echos with the qualitative research

We conducted qualitative research to gain a deeper understanding of the motivations and pain points of small business owners. By interviewing around 15 individuals, clear patterns of information emerged. One interviewee, for example, expressed a desire for more time-saving features such as having all the necessary business information in one place, without the need to log into multiple apps. They were particularly interested in understanding more about leads, bookings, and financial information.

Qualitative research

An interviewer in the construction industry identified marketing and staffing as their top two business challenges. Qualitative research

Turning Apps data into business insights

In order to align our applications with the priorities of our users, we conducted interviews to gather information on what insights and information are essential for their business success. One of our main challenges is to design a business console that centralizes various business functions while avoiding data clutter.

insights and data

Apps central to our push toward sales and marketing

To give an example, in the field of Sales and Marketing, I researched the major players in its sub-fields, evaluated their features, and discarded providers that didn't align with our findings on small business needs.

most important tasks

User journey map

The journey map helps us understand users' journeys through different business stages. User journey map

Help users save time and make smart decisions by providing meaningful insights instead of raw data.

QBO data

QuickBooks Online dashboard screenshots

Our main strategy is to use QuickBooks Console as a centralized hub for all business needs. We have determined through research that users prefer to use a single software. To gain a competitive advantage, we aim to position QuickBooks as a one-stop solution for all business needs. The console will include "Business view" and "Get things done" tabs, where the "Business view" provides an overview of the business performance and highlights areas that require attention. The "Get things done" tab allows users to complete simple tasks without the need to switch to third-party applications. We also used both quantitative and qualitative research to guide the design of the console, including what information should be presented and how it should be organized. A prototype of the full solution is available upon request by emailing design@annyeh.com.

Business view screenshot

QBO dashboard

Customized modules for finance / marketing & sales / social impact

QBO Business modules

Get things done screenshot

QBO todo view

QuickBooks Online app discovery

Where do you find your Apps? Through internal data analysis, it appears that customers find apps mostly through Google searches and external referrals. The assumption that "customers will find you in the App store" was not effective, as surveys indicated that customers did not have the time to search for apps in the app store. To address this, an alternative approach was proposed. Instead of relying on customers to come to us, we decided to go to the customers. This was achieved by creating an integration tab in the console, where personalized app suggestions are made using machine learning, user behavior, and usage patterns, similar to a concierge service.

Introduce my integrations for app awareness, suggestions & installation.

QBO integrations

App discovery touchpoints

We discovered key opportunities to customize recommendations and promotions for individual customers.

app discovery touch points

Automatic app installation during onboarding.

QBO onboarding discovery 2

Use user’s usage patterns to promote app installation.

QBO usage pattern app discovery

User feedback on the prototype

We received positive feedback from users after presenting our prototype. They noted how simple and organized it was to manage and keep track of all aspects of their business within a single platform. They also highlighted the time and cost savings when handling finance, operations, social media, and marketing. This reinforced our belief that QuickBook can serve as a comprehensive hub for businesses.



Senior leadership compliments


Reflections & takeaways

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