Multi-user Cloud based rivals for Sage 50

 

Hi everyone

I am a Sage 50 Developer, supplying and installing mainly Sage 50 to small businesses with custom add-ons in VB if required. I know, love and hate Sage 50 with all its limitations and the workarounds but now I'm looking at the web-based solutions, particularly for a new client with 3 PCs and 2 Macs, computerising his accounts for the first time. My usual solution would be a separate terminal server (he already has a main server for e-mail, file sharing etc) for the two Macs and remote working. This will work but not cheap with the software costs too.

Other alternatives would be extra PCs for the Mac users, hosted Sage 50 (such as Online 50) - again not cheap long-term -  or VirtualBox/Parallels etc to run Windows on the Macs - a bit messy.

The cheaper and easier alternative would be a web-based system but they seem a bit too basic. I don't need stock at the moment (they are service-based but do have stocks of raw materials) but I do need:

1. User access control so different users with different passwords can have restricted access.

2. Special customer pricing so when he's raising an invoice it looks to see if this customer has a special price rather than just list price or list less discount.

3. Order Processing not vital but would be useful.

4. Then what if he wants something extra in the future - custom reports or even something that reads and writes like the Sage Developer toolkit. In my dreams, I'd like this or at least something like ODBC to read the data tables - do any of the packages use MySQL or MS SQL Server as their databases? ODBC works great with those on web servers.

Kashflow looks good but doesn't have the above. Security is a concern and Kashflow ticks the boxes there but as for Xero, I'm sure some of you use it but someone asked me to have a look at it recently...hmmm. It looks good but I asked myself: what if your data gets corrupt and you can't get in or run reports; what if their servers go down or they go bust and your data is on their server. There is not even an address or telephone number on the web site - just UK "advisors". Not much use if the server or your data on it has a problem and not reassuring.

I'd be very interested in anyone's comments - even some not-too-blatant advertising.

Tony Bayliss FCCA

Senator System Consultants Ltd

 

Comments
garyturner's picture

Xero details

garyturner | | Permalink

Hi Tony

- Our contact details are on the website http://www.xero.com/about/contact/

- We have an open API for developers http://developer.xero.com/ with thousands of third party web app and custom code calls made against it every day.

- Security and viability are issues you are right to challenge, we're a well capitalised public company with more than 60,000 paying customers and well beyond the start-up stage.
http://www.xero.com/accounting-software/compare/

Gary Turner
Managing Director, Xero
@garyturner

DuaneJAckson's picture

KashFlow Permissions

DuaneJAckson | | Permalink

You don't need to worry about Xero going bust. It's simply not going to happen.

Re KashFlow, we're working furiously behind the scenes on user permissions. They'll be rolled out gradually throughout this year.

No true SaaS vendor can give you direct access to MSSQL. Besides the possibility of you screwing up data, if it's architected properly then data for multiple users will be in one database.

We have a SOAP API at http://accountingapi.com. Most Microsoft development environments let you plug in to that and access all the functions as if it's a local object.

I hope that helps.

Thanks

tbayliss | | Permalink

Thanks

The API is exactly what I would need. Unfortunately, user permissions are important for this client but I'll take a closer look ready for the next one.

Tony Bayliss

 

Rhys's picture

Hi Tony,

Rhys | | Permalink

Hi Tony,

A few more comment following on from Gary's reply.

1 User access control - yes Xero does this, from Financial Advisor (access all areas), down to "add invoice in draft only", or "read only".  Most cloud apps have this in one form or another.

2 This gets interesting - as far as I am aware none of the lower priced cloud accounting systems offer special pricing (Xero, Kashflow in the UK, Saasu here in Aus, etc).  But that leads me to think about what it is that is being priced - you refer to your client selling services not products. 

Internally I run WorkFlowMax - it allows me to set up clients and jobs, assign staff to those jobs who then record their time.  I can invoice clients from WFM based on either quote or time, and the time can be charged at different rates (either by client or by employee).  When I create the invoice it automatically interfaces into Xero for back ofice accounting, no need to rekey (same would be true of other cloud based accounting solutions).  WFM actually does a lot more than this, but trying to answer your specific points only in this reply.

There are lots of other options for managing the services you deliver to clients - I have read a couple of favourable reports on (but haven't yet investigated for myself) a product called Worketc.  A couple of my clients run a product called Streamtime.  Each of these are designed to not only assist in the management of service delivery, but also invoicing - which then interfaces into the accounting app.

A bit of research will probably find a cloud app that delivers the functionality your client needs.

3. Order Processing - probably covered by one or more of the apps under point 2, depends exactly what you are looking for.

4. Gary referred to the use of the API in his reply.  I use a number of report writers and other add on tools, some of which are already great, some feel a bit new (more development required).  From your post I am guessing you have far better developer skills than I do, so you can have lots of fun getting into the API!!

I partially share your concern about "what if their servers go down", although this is really the same question as what if your local server goes down.  When I look at the level of redundancy, of backup, of security, etc that businesses like Xero and others (via Rackspace or whoever hosts their app) employ they leave anything I could manage on a server in my office for dead!  And usually if you do get any unscheduled downtime it is a few minutes of inconvenience (again similar to a local server failure, power cut, etc). 

A much bigger concern (for me) is the second part of your question "or they go bust".  If the vendor goes out of business, even if you are able to export your data it is of limited use to you if you can no longer access the software.  So (it seems to me) that one of the biggest issues to resolve when selecting a cloud app is whether the vendor still be in business in the future.  Gary's comments re Xero as a public company / size of the company are exactly the sorts of answers I would want from any cloud vendor.

Hope these comments help,

Cheers, Rhys

Gary

tbayliss | | Permalink

Gary

I take it back. I just expected a contact link on the front page and it was a level or two down. It's all on that link you gave me and the security details.

I see you do support unlimited users and user permissions. Is that unlimited simultaneous users and at the total monthly price of £19 or £24 (not per user)?. The client I'm looking at now has 5 users and no more than 3 simultaneously. It could be said you could charge extra per user (or for size of database - either way it's putting more demands on your computing power) but for my customer that £19 or £24 would be his total monthly price even with 20 users? Is payment by credit card only? No direct debits?

Also, do you have special pricing by customer? 

I will have a look at the trial anyway.

Thanks

Tony Bayliss FCCA

By the way, I see one of your non-exec directors is ex of MYOB, the Australian company who sold their UK customer base to Mamut (to concentrate on their home market was the reason given, but no doubt there was a financial gain too). Mamut of course killed off MYOB's software in the UK forcing users to change to Mamut or go elsewhere. He's only a non-exec and may have not played a part in that decision and, even if he did, he may not suggest something similar for Xero...still bad PR, though.

 

tbayliss | | Permalink

 

Thanks Rhys. Very helpful.

The customer does sell a service but not on an hourly rate - there are different services with list prices in his catalogue of services offered and materials are used too, all part of the fixed price (he's not looking at stock control by the way). He has agreed special prices with different customers and wants the invoice to do what Sage 50 does, i.e. as an invoice line is entered and the service is selected from the drop-down (which would be a service item in the product file in Sage), it then does a table lookup to see if the customer has a special price and if so, that automatically overrides the list price. I would guess there would be some kind of workaround.

A question for those in the UK, what are the higher priced cloud systems in the UK that do offer this sort of feature? Sage 50 has it in Accounts Plus - one off cost of about £750 single user plus £250 per extra user.

Your security points about the local server going down are valid but I know even if my client's server or whole network packs in, he can install Sage in any machine, restore a backup and he's up and running, or replace the server and restore all his IT data from a full backup. Ditto if Sage does a Lehman Brothers - very unlikely I know. Then if he wants to move from Sage, once he's restored the backup we can export it all to text files and go somewhere else. I'm sure Xero lets you export everything to text or Excel files but not if you can't get in to the system or your data, for whatever reason.

Thanks again

Tony Bayliss

 

 

garyturner's picture

Great PR

garyturner | | Permalink

Craig Winkler co-founded MYOB and, as I understand the chronology, sold MYOB to Wolters Kluwers CCH and effectively retired. What subsequently happened to the various component businesses - including the Mamut deal - happened later.

Craig's belief in Xero has led him to invest around $20M and we're privileged to have his experience and insight on our board.

Gary Turner
Managing Director, Xero
@garyturner

Castroggi's picture

Tony,

Castroggi | | Permalink

Tony,

you could take a look at www.centralaccounting.co.uk though it may be a little 'over-the-top' for the particular requirement you describe.

Regards, Paul

I am also a Sage 50 Developer

PeterForest | | Permalink

Tony

 

I am also a Sage Developer and have also tried to move my buisness to the 'cloud'!. I have used the API for both Kashflow and Xero. I do not believe that either of these can claim to have 'Special Pricing' or 'Order Processing'.

A cloud product that does offer this is www.brightpearl.com funcionality is very rich you may feel that it is expensine and there is no API (although I do believe it is on the way) or www.e-conomic.com. I think this probably meets all your requirements but I do not know a lot about this product (I did spend a few days evaluating brightpearl).

I hope this helps. I am interested in where this takes you as you as I believe your are treading a similar path to myself.

If you want to discuss this further please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

peter@fcsluk.net

Multi-user Cloud based rivals for Sage 50

CharlieBurdett | | Permalink

Tony

Stick with what you know and just use a www.cirrusstratus.com to host your applications (Paas).

You can access your desktops on any internet enabled device - including Macs and the iPad.

Charlie

cburdett@cirrusstratus.com

 

 

Hugh Scantlebury's picture

Lots of people move up from Sage Line 50 to Aqilla

Hugh Scantlebury | | Permalink

Hi Tony,

Take a look at Aqilla and maybe give us a call. We use a straight forward to use document centric approach to accounting which provides Sales Ledger, Purchase Ledger, General Ledger, Cash Matching, Sales, Purchase Ordering, Time Sheets, Expense Processing, Project Costing and Budgeting functionality across an almost unlimited range of analysis from £50 per month for a full 'Pro' subscriber or £10 per month for  lighter, more occasional users.

We provide excellent security configuration with users being able to define what personnel have access to in terms of roles, functions and even specific data (you can filter what a user has access to down to analysis level).

Pricing on items can be extending to have standard and additional prices.

Aqilla sits on top of Oracles MySQL which provides power to support large data volumes and our incredible analysis capabilities. We have an extended range of API capabilities (SOAP and RESTful) which can be exploited by a range of tools and 3rd party applications from Salesforce.com, Paypal and even Microsoft Excel. For sophisticated data ad hoc query and reporting reporting you might like to take a look at this video taken from a webinar we run last week. If you want to get in touch directly, you can just drop me an email. Regards, Hugh 

Hi Tony

NeilFraserC | | Permalink

Since day 1, back in 2002, Liberty Accounts have provided a multi-user online service (operating on PC's and Macs) into which, a few years ago, we introduced multi-level access control.  The multi-level control allows you to select from 14 pre-defined levels or create a user specific one.

As discussed above none of the lower priced solutions, into which I would include Liberty Accounts, offer a customer pricing matrix.  There are workarounds that all could suggest and they would vary depending on the number of customers and different service offerings.

The requirement to design reports suggests that the standard reports within any given system falls short whereas reporting across all providers is at a good standard.

Unless you want to look at one of the costlier options then there may have to be compromises and other considerations e.g. do you want to integrate payroll; fixed asset ledger; what options would help automate your clients’ business processes as far as possible, etc.

Happy to discuss options with you.

Neil Chadwick

Director, Liberty Accounts

cverrier's picture

MYOB and Mamut

cverrier | | Permalink

Craig Winkler left MYOB in 2008, having stepped down as CEO a few months earlier.

I worked at MYOB until late 2007 (but have no particular inside knowledge!).  I met Craig a few times, and he always struck me as deeply passionate about technology's ability to solve business problems.  MYOB was becoming a bit..er. Sage-like, which I don't think was so enjoyable for him.

MYOB UK had two divisions - 'Accounts' and 'Business'.  In April 2008 The 'Accountants Division' was sold to CCH Wolters Kluwer and the Business Division was sold to Mamut shortly after.

Given the timings, I doubt very much that Craig had any involvement in the detail of Mamut's subsequent decisions.

 

 

 

Twinfield on-line accounting    1 thanks

mcloughlin56 | | Permalink

Hi Tony,

Have a look at  www.twinfield.com

Twinfield was the first organisation to start providing online accounting services eleven years ago. Since then, Twinfield has been adopted by thousands of accounting firms and tens of thousands of businesses across Europe and continues to grow and expand.

Twinfield Online Accounting is used by thousands of professionals within bookkeeping and accounting firms – both small and large – who trust many corporate accounts to Twinfield.

Twinfield can be easily integrated with almost every other existing business application through Webservices. With almost 100 partners in a multitude of vertical sectors, you will always be able to take advantage of an integration opportunity with one of your existing systems.

Twinfield undergoes a BDO audit every three months. This certificate is a stamp of quality confirming that Twinfield meets all the requirements of a professional and secure online service provision. In addition, many technical measures are taken to ensure maximum security levels are maintained. Read more about the excellent security of Twinfield online accounting.

http://www.twinfield.co.uk/twinfield-the-most-secure-solution-for-your-a...

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