Tax software maker Intuit Inc. has thrown its hat into the customer relationship management (CRM) ring with its new QuickBooks Customer Manager.

Slated for release in September in the United States and likely in early 2004 in Canada, QuickBooks Customer Manager is designed for businesses with less than 20 users, according to Charles Var, Quickbooks manager at Intuit in Mountain View, Calif.

Var said smaller business users generally employ word processing or e-mail programs to keep track of customer information. According to a survey of Intuit users released in March 2003, 13 per cent of QuickBooks customers use CRM programs even though 89 per cent said they track customer information without using CRM applications while 35 per cent have researched CRM applications.

The Quickbooks portfolio of products are bookkeeping and accounting tools designed to help users financially manage their business. The new Customer Manager integrates with Quickbooks Basic, Pro, and Premier 2003, and industry-specific versions of Quickbooks.

The product also integrates with Microsoft Corp. Office Suite products including Outlook, Word and Excel to provide users with a single-version of truth about each customer or client on a dashboard screen, Var said.

Intuit says the product can link customer history, recent QuickBooks transactions, related documents, projects and appointments all in one place. It also eliminates the need for customers to enter the information twice.

For example, if a user called up a name of one of his or her clients, all the information about that client would be available on a dashboard and could be modified and updated by one or more person at a time.

The product can be installed in about 30 minutes, according to Intuit and runs on Microsoft’s Windows platforms. It will retail at US$79.95.

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