I talked about the changes with Heather who told me that they spent a lot of time looking at what were the pain points in the old version, what operations took people the most time to do. They then looked at how to speed up those areas and at the same time make the site look and feel nicer. They focussed on making the core functionality quicker and easier so that businesses could get back to doing their core stuff.
New user interface
IAC-EZ has gotten a new look. When I first reviewed the product the UI was a little clunky and had some failings that made life difficult for users. The new layout is more cohesive and clearer for users with more intuitive navigation. It also includes a console to handle import and export, including integration with third party applications.
Personally I’m not a big fan of icons as opposed to text based menus – but that is very much a personal preference and many users will find the icon based layout easier to use. Justifying the changes Heather said that when it comes to navigation, they purposely broke with convention; “The world is using tabs and ledger-based bookkeeping. We don’t. We like to be different. So we’ve added icons across the top of each page. Some might say it’s ‘web 1.0′ but it’s a better navigation system for the user.”
IAC-EZ has also moved to a two line view for clearer and more informative display. At a functional level this now allows users to associate expenses to two contacts, clients to which they are billable and vendors to which they are paid. It’s a simple feature but one that I personally would find very useful – as an example if I purchase some airline tickets from a vendor, but those tickets are chargeable to a client, IAC-EZ now allows that double transaction to be recorded in one – both the purchase (cost side) and the invoice (expense side) – a nice time and hassle saving feature. To aid in this process contacts can now be saved under multiple categories, so ABC Corporation can be a vendor and a client if necessary. No more double (or triple) entry or names – yay!
As part of this, and given their close integration with FreshBooks, FreshBooks Expenses can now be associated to a billable client and the vendor to which they were paid.
Some more State taxes
State Tax Estimates for Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and Oregon are now supported by IAC-EZ who are rapidly covering all of the US states.
Exciting times coming
This release is 1.4, the next release is going to have some really nice features that again, resonate with my own situation. I’ve long wished for the ability to split my transactions into multiple accounts so that, for example, an invoice could be apportioned between several difference expense accounts or customers or whatever – very useful for property investment businesses or anyone for that mater with multiple business units each with their own bottom line reporting.
More than the changes themselves, this new release shows the value in the customer feedback/development loop. As Heather said,
Our users know what they need, and we’ve made it easy for them to tell us. Many of the v1.4 changes were requested on our ‘features‘ page, forums, or help desk. Some requests we added to or expanded on, but the majority of the features in this release were user-requested. If a client said to me ‘I want to lower my tax liability’, as an accountant I would have the obligation to figure out what I can do to lower their liability. If an IAC-EZ customer says ‘I want to spend less time processing CSV imports’, we at IAC-EZ have to figure out how to help them import their CSV’s faster. We designed it for our users.
That’s a powerful statement and one which, yet again, validates the customer focussed viewpoint which is part an parcel of nimble SaaS vendors.