MB News: FIRST and Intuit to announce partnership, launch new product "TurboBOM"

Is an accounting revolution coming to FRC?

Numerous sources say that FIRST officials are currently hard at work hammering out the final details with business and financial software company Intuit to bring a modified version of the popular TurboTax software to FIRST Robotics Competition teams around the world.

Confidential documents provided to our newsroom lay out the extensive pitch for “Intuit TurboBOM”. Riding off of the positive excitement surrounding the return of more stringent accounting rules, it seems FIRST leadership and the industry titan were eager to grow the rules package into an even stronger and more enriching endeavor.

The documents call for “increasing the investment of time and, therefore, amount of inspiration derived from counting everything from Raspberry Pis to rivets.” One can only speculate if this means there is interest from Manchester to expand the cost accounting responsibilities of an FRC team to include spacers and fasteners.

The leaked portions of the agreement lead us to believe that teams will not be required to use the software, but will be heavily encouraged to use TurboBOM to manage the intricate myriad of tabulating all purchases pertaining to the raw materials and commercial off the shelf parts that make up their robots.

It looks like teams with access to advanced machining resources won’t have to worry about accounting for that obvious financial advantage, as further statements in the pitch explicitly refer to accounting for “purchases pertaining exclusively to the finished product on the robot.”

Such a move to bring in software to the KOP is not without precedent, as many computer-aided design programs are available to FIRST teams at no charge. However, Intuit’s plan seems to differ in that they will be developing a brand new software to break into the field of engineering projects.

When reached for comment, Intuit’s PR team released the following statement:

“We’re always looking into developing new products to meet the growing demands of the professional sphere. The opportunity to work with the exciting parts of engineering like cost accounting, wild changes in scope, and moving deadlines are very interesting to us, and we think FIRST HQ finds them interesting as well.”

While TurboBOM will come in the Virtual Kit of Parts for free, the agreement provided to MentorBuilt suggests teams will have to pay a fee to publish their final BOM. However, with a fair, contracted price of only $4.99, it shouldn’t be much of a barrier to the most crucial part of an FRC build season.