January 27, 2017 | Aaron Gourley

Building a Global App: Make it, Don’t Fake it!

In an earlier blog post, Lori Fraleigh discusses how small businesses are using apps in record numbers. Clearly, there’s a huge global opportunity awaiting developers just like you.

So now you might be asking:

What do I need to do to prepare my app for not only the US, but also Canada, the UK, Australia, India, or any other region where QuickBooks is used?

For starters, take a look at the entire lifecycle of the application and consider the broader implications of going global. Regardless of whether or not code changes are necessary or what the extent of those code changes might be, you should give pause for thought before rushing out the global release of your app.

Concept

First, determine how your app could best solve for customer needs in each region that you are considering. There are unique opportunities in different regions, so always know what your “ideal state” looks like. This will likely be an iterative process as you work through your design.

Design

If you ask any small business owner or accountant, it’s likely that their “Rule #1” for any app will be “Don’t mess up my books”. The deeper you understand each region you’re building for, the more likely you’ll be to solve customer problems the right way. This includes doing research on things like regulatory/compliance requirements, time zones, and commonly exchanged currencies. Don’t forget about localization (that’s not a typo from where I sit in Canada)!

Development

From a developer perspective, familiarize yourself with any differences in QuickBooks functionality from region to region. This includes things like the global tax model, multicurrency, APIs (reference docs indicate regional differences), character encoding (US = ISO-8859-1, Non-US = UTF-8), and even the fact that the names of things like accounts, tax codes, payment methods, etc. can vary based on region or language.

Test

Testing all data in/out flows for all regions that you’re app will support is absolutely critical to your success. Additionally, it’s important that you test your application using production accounts (e.g., 30-day trials) in addition to the developer sandboxes.

You’ll also want to test with different company settings. For example:

  • Enabled/disabled state of features like sales tax, multicurrency, and shipping
  • Review and test against feature-set differences of all available QuickBooks Online versions (i.e., Simple Start, Essentials, Plus)

As mentioned earlier, US and global versions of QuickBooks Online use different character encodings, so don’t forget to test the use of special characters as well.

Launch

Don’t overlook the logistics associated with launching your application globally! These launches touch everything from marketing/publishing on the QuickBooks App Store to customer support, so ask yourself:

  • What regional changes can I make to the app card to make it most appealing?
  • What is involved in publishing my app in the QuickBooks App Store globally?
  • How can I support customers across all regions and time zones?
  • How will I charge for my app in foreign currencies? (for paid apps)

Now go forth and populate the world with your awesome global app!

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