With the web work world being a hotbed of innovation, we cover a lot of fresh startups here. But that doesn’t mean that working over the web and software as a service are entirely new ideas. Case in point: Intuit’s QuickBase hosted workgroup applications for teams, which has been around for over seven years now. Used by thousands of Intuit’s own employees and spread across the Fortune 100, with its data handled by the same data center that manages Turbo Tax returns, QuickBase has a proven track record for reliability and scalability.
The basic idea of QuickBase is to provide workgroup access to line-of-business applications via the browser. They start with a batch of pre-built applications such as project management, sales team management, issue tracking, time and billing, marketing management, and many more. These applications are much more fully developed than those I’ve seen in similar offerings (this reflects the long history of QuickBase). For example, the sales team management application tracks companies, contacts, opportunities, and activities and features over three dozen reports as well as a customizable dashboard.
QuickBase applications are easy to customize right in the browser, so if you want minor tweaks (changing a field name, rearranging things), you can just start with the stock applications. Beyond that, you can go out to the Quickbase Application Library to see whether another customer has developed a custom application that matches your needs. Or, you can build one from scratch, using spreadsheet or database metaphors (still in the browser) or importing from Microsoft Project. The sort of workgroup applications that can be built with Access or Excel are easy targets for QuickBase.
With their established user base, Intuit is now trying to move QuickBase to the next level with an Enterprise Edition. Aimed at deployments of 500 users and up, the Enterprise Edition is something of a peace offering to corporate IT departments who traditionally have not been all that happy about the proliferation of workgroup-level applications. It adds central user and password management, LDAP integration with corporate authentication policies, usage and cost monitoring, and IP filtering for access control to the basic QuickBase package. Thus individual departments can continue to use QuickBase for productivity while IT can track the overall use within the enterprise.
If you’re a smaller company, you’ll probably want to look at the starter levels of QuickBase use. This begins with a 30-day trial and goes on to $249 per month for 10 users. While not as flashy as some current Web 2.0 startups (or making as much use of fancy browser techniques), or as cheap as some of the small fish, Intuit does bring a proven track record and good data security and scalability to the table. Those are strong selling points for a business that just wants to have their workgroup applications work from anywhere.