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April - 2006 - issue > Company Profile
Success-Intuition-at-Intuit
Priya Pradeep
Saturday, April 1, 2006
Engineers at Intuit India are flashing their thirty-two pearls. Wide smiles. Intuit has done it again. It is Fortune magazine’s ‘Most Admired Software Company in America’ for 2005 and 2006 consecutively and not just by fortune. It has made it to this list with consistently high rankings for the past four years on critical reputation drivers enlisted by the magazine. Prominent of which are ‘innovation’ and ‘ability to attract, develop and keep talented people’. And the India Product Development Center’s (PDC) contribution to it is by no means a small measure.

Intuit India sprinted off the blocks in April 2005. And the annual product release for an accounting software package for 2005 had to be done in September. Just five months to show results for the India PDC to the $2 billion Mountain View, CA headquarters. There was market competition brewing in the U.S. within the small business accounting space. Intuit India had to come out with features for the company’s QuickBooks software range to address the concern. Results were produced. The top-left hand corner of the QuickBooks software package sold in the U.S. has ‘Office Integration Features’ emblazoned on it. It’s a key feature developed by the India team, which allows Intuit to compete with a rival product from Microsoft. Yet another example of Indian intuitiveness proved at Intuit.

“QuickBooks, our flagship product with over 85 percent market share in the U.S. caters to accounting needs of small businesses, and is the source of a larger part of our revenue. At the India PDC the focus is on QuickBooks. We are working on the Office Automation project because people have to use QuickBooks in conjunction with other MS Office products like Word, Excel and Outlook. Microsoft has a project that is in the beta stage now and at Intuit India we are looking at how we can accommodate those changes within QuickBooks,” says Deepa Bachu, Senior Engineering Manager, Intuit. The PDC here is gearing up to ward off the challenges from Microsoft (which has launched the Small Business Accounting (SBA) package), Peachtree and MYOB.

The lavish 22,000 square feet PDC in Bangalore, which can accommodate 90 engineers, believes in customer driven innovation and recently suggested game changing ideas to the headquarters. It caters to finding financial, tax and accounting solutions for Intuit’s small business customers. “Intuit is here in India as part of the growth strategy of the company. The small business market is growing rapidly and Intuit is here to expand its product development capability to cater to this growing market,” says Ranga Shetty, Head–Product Development.

Desktop applications are being developed here as most small business customers in the U.S. use PC’s, which run on the Microsoft platform. At present C++ is used to develop products but going ahead C # and .NET will be used as per market considerations. Java based, Web-enabled solutions are also big technology areas for Intuit. India being big in cell phone penetration has caught Intuit’s attention, and the India team may evolve products for mobile device access to Intuit’s financial and accounting solutions.
The Intuit challenge at India is how to serve 25 million customers despite being remote as customer focus is the alpha priority of the company. Frequent trips onsite for two-three weeks solve this barrier to a large extent. Video conferencing, customer listen-in sessions which are conducted using audio links and Voice of the Customer (VoC) data which is captured using elaborate mechanisms and stored in a repository are some means developed at Intuit to bridge the gap of time and distance.

To enable Intuit India to scale up to customer challenges the company is ramping up at a brisk pace but with focus on quality. There are 20 team members presently and the goal is to ramp up to 300 in the next five years. The target for the near future is to scale up to 50 by July 2006. Recruitment is done through consultants, employee referrals and participation in career fairs both in India and in the U.S. “A recruitment tool developed in-house is used for tracking resumes in Quickbase. The placement consultants can directly post resumes into the Quickbase instead of sending them to HR. Resumes are posted here and can be accessed by all even when the HR manager is absent,” says SP Poornima, Head – HR

There is a need for development and QA engineers, senior architects and principal engineers/ technical leads with seven plus years of experience and managers. “Software engineers with the customer empathy and a flair for innovation will be much sought after,” says Shetty. Sound software engineering fundamentals are a must. C++ and Java skills are an added advantage.

Intuit believes in creating ‘engaged employees’ who are motivated, which is facilitated through a great work environment, focus on problems, which they are passionate about solving, and a management that allows them to create solutions for these problems. “Employees whose referrals are successfully hired are given an incentive of $1000. Also salary structures are higher than the industry average,” says Poornima on the various employee incentives. It’s not all work either. A Friday Hungama is conducted sometimes with antakshari and getting families to the workplace.

The India PDC blinks brightly on Intuit’s radar. You too could flash your pearly whites here. Will Intuit make the mark as amongst India’s forerunning IT companies? That’s an intuitive guess!
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