CaseWare moves into the cloud
Among the cloud startups and new-fangled apps you can see at Xerocon this week is a name that will ring a bell with many practitioners. Canadian-based accounts preparation pioneer CaseWare has joined the cloud revolution.
CaseWare’s focus at this week’s event will be its integration partnership with Xero. CaseWare UK sales and marketing director Shez Hammill explained, “It’s a two-way integration, as it is with QuickBooks Online. We can already import everything into CaseWare Cloud that we can import to desktop, going all the way back to DOS version of Sage. We will expand those two-way connections dramatically as the platform matures.”
As is the fashion these days, the CaseWare Cloud is a “catch-all” name for an evolving platform that will link together all sorts of software products yet to be confirmed.
While the CaseWare Cloud has been in operation for several years, the most common implementation is a hybrid approach where clients with desktop CaseWare systems use the cloud platform to synch their data.
“We’re on the journey. Our longer-term strategy is to develop pure cloud solutions across the suite,” said Hammill. “We’ve had audit solutions for a while and are primed to roll out financial reporting, personal tax and practice management.
“We’re about to release the full Mercia limited company accounts process on the cloud and are just about to put personal tax out for beta testing. That’s one of the things we’ll be talking about at Xerocon.”
Plans for the future
As an established player with a pool of customers among larger accounting firms, CaseWare has taken its time to develop its cloud strategy. “We’re not just looking at doing audit in the cloud. We’re looking at how we can make the experience better for users by using this technology at every stage,” he said.
Right now the company is focusing more on the underlying platform than the feature set. “We may be slightly slower to the game than some startups, but we’re not trying to build a glider, We’re trying to build a Boeing 747,” said Hammil. “We’ll be coming to market with products that accelerate very quickly because we’ve done the fundamentals - multi-lingual, group consolidations and all the complex stuff that has helped us succeed on the desktop over other vendors.”
But the practice software landscape is shifting rapidly, he acknowledged, particularly with the tax and accounts production products from Xero’s Instafile acquisition that will no doubt feature at Xerocon.
CaseWare can handle sole trader accounts, but all the cloud bookkeeping products are moving into the low-end market for accounts production and tax, he noted.
“We expect there is market share for both solution types. If you want to knock out a very simple set of accounts from Xero, then Instafile will be acceptable for a percentage of clients for our customers. In the same way, there’s a market for Xero and SAP, there’s a market for Xero final accounts and a market for CaseWare.
“We’re all in the same space race. But CaseWare has always been bookkeeping system independent and our focus is on having a broader template suite with more complex entity types. I’m confident by getting the basics right first, our strategy will be ultimately successful, even if we’re not necessarily first to market.”
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