"Finally, one of the oldest cloud systems, which appears to spend more time & effort on the software, than marketing, is Liberty accounts."
Thanks for the mention Paul - though we do prefer to think of ourselves as mature and well rounded rather than old!
I can't answer the question that was actually asked as I am Liberty Accounts employee but I can point out that pricing can be found at http://www.libertyaccounts.com/pricing.
VAT online filing benefitsSteve
Online filing of VAT when considered for a business in isolation does not necessarily bring huge benefits.
When the business files directly from within the accounting package which forms the primary records of the business there is a benefit of convenience and a time saving of about 10-15 minutes compared to filling forms, licking stamps, writing cheques etc. For online filers the requirement to pay by direct debit also means almost 2 extra weeks to pay and less bank charges than a cheque.
This may seem of little consequence for a single business but we have partners acting as agent for hundreds of clients and the savings from this efficiency soon add up and are enjoyed by both the accountant and the clients.
You should also know that VAT changes are in the pipeline that will require many businesses to file EC Sales List (VAT101) monthly instead of quarterly. I would prefer to do this online direct from my accounts if I could.
Over time HMRC are going to require more an more online filing. Each individual filing may not seem like a big saving, but if your software supports online filing for a number of different requirements, eg VAT and payroll, over time, and with a significant number of clients you will be able to spend less time shuffling paper and more time helping clients with business issues.
[email protected]Online Accounting Software from Liberty Accounts
The Question Remains - Because there is not a hard and fast answSorry if I did not provide an absolute answer - but that is only because there aren't really particular kinds of business that benefit most - but there are types of people that you will have more success operating online accounting with, and types of accountant/bookkeeper who will be more successful at making the approach work with their customers.
We have a wide variety of different types of business using Liberty Accounts ranging from freelance contractors up to multi-million pound companies so there is not really a type of business that can be identified as needing or benefiting from online accounting. It is more about the attitudes of the owners/managers of the business to taking control of the business finances and whether the benefits of an online approach fit are valued by the decision makers.
Business That BenefitThe first issue to resolve is whether the business will benefit from, or be able to cope with, computerised accounts packages in the first place. Some people just don't want to deal with computers.
If they are willing and able to embrace computerised accounts then online accounting packages will be a good solution if, because of the way it operates, the business has a fundamental requirement for multi-user access to the accounts from multiple locations, or perhaps is a roaming consultant who wants constant access to the accounts without the risk of having all the data on a laptop.
This might just be the business owner and the bookkeeper and accountant being in separate locations but collaborating regularly as required. A pretty common scenario and a great opportunity for more proactive accountants to move to a business model where they provide ongoing advice and support instead of just rolling up at year end.
The other classic benefits of online solutions are zero-administration (backups and updates) and evenly spread costs. If the business values these benefits then online services are a good solution.
For smaller businesses the ongoing cost of subscription online services can be difficult to justify, especially when a typical PC package will last for a good while before you are forced to upgrade. Before we developed Liberty Accounts we used a well-known pc package and kept it going for about 6 years without an upgrade. I could still run a business with it (if I could find an operating system it would run on) so take any price comparisons for online vs installed with a pinch of salt as they are usually based on the assumption that users will take every upgrade to the PC software. This is especially true with low end packages as businesses using more sophisticated installed packages are more likely to take maintenance on key software as a matter of course.
Hope this helps - if you are thinking of offering an online service I could put you in touch with some of our partner accountants who will be able to give a good idea of where it works well and where it doesn't.
[email protected]Accounting Software with Payroll - Online from Liberty Accounts
Stephen Priscott is finance director at Sift Media who are closely connected with AccountingWeb - I am not sure on the exact nature of the relationship but I am sure someone can fill us in.
Suggest you give him a call if you think he should be using your product the phone number can be got via the link at the bottom of the page.
PS John - Based on feedback from one of our partners that is offering LibertyAccounts as well as one of the products in your list your response seems contrary to the opinion of an experienced accountant who tells us they plan to use the other product for the small businesses and ours for the more "grown up" businesses.
[email protected]Liberty Accounts Online Accounting Software
Excellent - when appropriate to business needsWhen we get potential customers with requirements that our package is not geared up to handle we tell them to look at Netsuite.
It is relatively expensive and well featured but you get what you pay for and you pay for what you get.
SAAS 'great expectations' under-fulfilledNicholas
Since MS Office Accounts is based on a MS SQL database is it not possible to look at the database via ODBC and find the transactions?
Accuse me of hubris if you like, but you obviously haven't tried Liberty Accounts yet ;-)
[email protected]Online Accounting Software - Liberty Accounts
I Quite AgreeI agree with Mark Davies - Online accounting is the future and increasingly it is the business owners who are showing the accountants the way.
Online Accounting Software from Liberty Accounts
have any other users had similar problemsNicholas
Your post happened to catch my eye because only yesterday I made a support call to one of our users, a bookkeeper who until recently was a big user of Quickbooks with her clients but has decided to move away from them.
She had hit a problem with our application and because our system is an online service we received notification and within 1/2 an hour I was able to tell her the cause of the problem and what she needed to do to avoid it.
Her comment to me was, with a smile in her voice, "Wow, imagine Quickbooks calling you to tell you how to fix something you've just done".
Of relevance to you, our product includes an integrated payroll and we offer concessionary rates to Non-Profits.
Rather than make this into any more of a sales pitch get in touch via our website if you want to know more, I will happily put you in touch with some of our customers if you want to know what experience they have of our approach to customer service.
Liberty Accounts Online Accounting Software
Where does the cost fall?
I can't speak for the other providers, but at Liberty Accounts we offer our professional partners the flexibility of providing the service as part of their bundled offering, in which case we invoice the partner, or asking their clients who use Liberty to set up a direct debit payment within Liberty Accounts. Some partners use both approaches, depending on what suits the relationship they have with the client.
Agreed - Good to have an article listing cloud payroll providers
Since your article opens with the suggestion that xero "claimed to be the first cloud developer to link payroll with accounts", which is not a fact that stands up to examination, it is to be expected that this should stimulate some comment. People rightly tend to "push back" against claims that are not true.
The casual reader will not know how you came to understand that this was their claim. You are not the only journalist to have the same misunderstanding and the thread has given Gary Turner an opportunity to clarify matters.
I trust we will be included in your update as we have had an HMRC recognised payroll integrated with our cloud accounts since 2004/5.
Calm Down Gary
Nobody is accusing you of being delusional or cavalier Gary.
The first paragraph of Rachel's article implies xero has made such a claim and other articles on the internet seem to suggest the claim has been made in a press release issued by xero. I am sure you have a better idea than I do of what is put out on your press releases, but they certainly seem to be giving a lot of journalists the impression that xero are claiming to be the first.
Be of good cheer
Thank you Ray for alerting us to this article.
As you say we have had HMRC Recognised payroll integrated into our online accounting solution since 2004/5, along with HMRC Recognised P11D preparation and filing since 2008. Given that a number of other packages listed above have more recently added integrated payrolls any claim by xero to be the first is clearly self-delusional nonsense if not an cavalier attempt to mislead.
Just to clarify on the pricing of our payroll:
The headline price is £1 per month per active employee, but the payroll can be free either when offered via the freelancer business service key that is only available via our partners, or for businesses starting up on Liberty where the turnover is below £75k and there are 5 or less active employees on the payroll.
The latter is part of a concessionary pricing package we offer for startups aimed at giving them all the tools they might need for a new business at a very reasonable price.
I look forward to your update to this article Rachael - if there is any information you need from us at Liberty please make contact.
It is all very well describing yourself as innovative and beautiful over and over again hoping enough people will believe you, but there comes a point when facts will get in the way of fantasy:
"The new solution is described in the press release as "the first seamless, all-in-one accounting and payroll solution,..."
They are not the first online accounting software provider to offer a seamless accounting and payroll solution. They are probably the first in the UK to upset their 3rd party payroll plugin providers who have put business their way only to marginalised when things start to get interesting.
We at Liberty Accounts have been offering Payroll as an integrated part of our online accounting product since 2005, so I guess we were innovative in this area about 10 years before them.
We also were the first of any software provider to offer online VAT filing in 2006, which xero forced it users to do manually until 2013, so we only out-innovated them by 7 years there..
Will they be innovative enough to add one-click P11D preparation from accounting records and filing to their product? We have had that since 2008.
I guess we should be flattered that we get business analysts from xero registering for our free trial.
Businesses using software other than Sage - the impudence!
"If businesses are using software other than Sage, it is worth finding out whether their providers are operating a similar support service"
I have to say that we would find it difficult to offer a support service similar to that offered by Sage - our users have much higher expectations.
Otherwise great point Suzanne. One of the strengths of providing accounting online to businesses is that we can be proactive in our support of online filers, often letting clients know of problems with their submission and how to resolve them before the client has made contact with us. This is because filing takes place from our centrally managed queues and we have full visibility of the process.
Another question businesses should ask is how the supplier deals with HMRC changes to online filing requirements.
HMRC changed the format of VAT filing XML in November '09 and January '10. As an online supplier we had the required updates in place and transparently available to users on the day they were needed without any need to download and install updates.
You also say you have had online filing capabilities in Sage software for 3 years - does that mean it was released into the marketplace before you had been through the HMRC recognition testing process?
Accounting Software Online from Liberty Accounts
It seems you got the wrong end of the stick, but only because we held it out!
FYI - the adaptation required to process a £1m invoice line was to a simple sanity check being applied to user input; there is no inherent inability to handle larger numbers. Admitted we initially set the sanity check at the wrong level because our largest live transaction line item to date is just shy of £9m so you can see we have some pretty serious businesses using Liberty Accounts.
With an oracle database backend and a hardware/software architecture designed for scalability proven in over 6 years of live operation I am satisfied with the robust nature of our offering, as are the ICAEW since we have recently successfully been through the ICAEW accreditation process, and we also go through regular HMRC recognition validation for our VAT, ECSL, PAYE and P11D online filing.
The point that Neil was making is that Liberty is much more than just software for recording micro-business invoices and expenses in a browser. As well as many sub-£150K turnover businesses the product is also catering for a diverse range of larger businesses who have carefully evaluated the available offerings before making an important business decision to trust Liberty to provide a key element of their business software infrastructure.
Watch out for the quiet ones...Many successful businesses have nothing whatsoever to do with anything internet.
There is an ancient Persian proverb that translates as "An ass loves to hear the sound of his own braying".
The web has done much to democratise publishing power but it has also had a distinctly adverse effect on the signal to noise ratio.
It seems to me that one of the most important skills to consumers of web content is turning out to be the ability to read between the lines and discern the underlying agendas and vested interests that permeate the fabric of this free-for-all publishing medium that for some people constitutes "Web 2.0".
[email protected]Online Accounting Software from Liberty Accounts
PS - Now here is a really worthwhile use of the internet:
Future's So Bright - we gotta wear shades...Its shiny bright Sun workstations here at Liberty...
Windows is only kept alive round here to allow for testing of our online accounting software in Windows browsers and StarOffice/OpenOffice is an excellent replacement for MS Office without the constant upgrade expense just to be able to exchange 3 page word documents with other people..
Solaris is probably not for the faint hearted but my 12 year old son gets on fine with it on my home computer. The Ultra24 runs Windows if that's your thing, and Sun even provide a free virtual machine to run Windows under Solaris if you need it (Sun VM Virtual Box)
Longer term we plan to move to Sun Ray Clients - This would mean I carry a smart card and login on any workstation in the office or even at home and just carry on with my current session.
We looked at Macs for development but decided that as we were in the business of digging holes we would be better of with spades than jewel encrusted trowels.
While Sage clearly need to do something to improve their login security model, the Kashflow approach of placing an https login form on pages that are not protected by an SSL certificate could not be described as "security best practice". You place your users at greater risk of falling prey to "phishing" attacks which are a far more popular and effective means of harvesting user names and passwords than actually trying to intercept clear text passwords when they are being transmitted over the ether.
As for the ICAEW guide to online accounting software, the body of the guide is a balanced and informative piece by a respected author in the field and to call it "half-baked" because you didn't get a free piece promoting your business seems somewhat unwarranted, especially considering we are working in an industry where the products are never finished and so by definition are half-baked. Reading the guide you will see that Kashflow gets equivalent coverage in comparison to both those who contributed to the cost involved in preparation of a product review at the end of the guide and those who elected not to when it was offered.
Given the target audience and the expected shelf life of such a guide compared to typical off-the-page advertising the cost of inclusion was pretty good value and I am sure that Kashflow could have stretched to the amount being asked.