Ian McManus is taking his mission to bring better business insights to entrepreneurs and their accountants worldwide with a cloud software tool called MyBusinessManager.
McManus’ CV takes in senior management positions with enterprise software developer JD Edwards and CCH Australia, where he oversaw products and services designed to help small businesses with strategy and planning.
He founded MyBusinessManager in 2005 to address a gap he had spotted. “I started realising that the small business community doesn’t have access to any resources at all, unless they’re lucky enough to meet an accountant who’s been trained in management accounting,” McManus told AccountingWEB.
“In Australia, that’s not a mainstream group.”
McManus brought on board other leading figures from the Australian accounting scene, including former accountancy institute president David Smith. “Together we set out to unlock the profit and loss report and balance sheet, which led to cashflow, KPIs, consolidations and lots of other things.”
While MyBusinessManager has gained a following Down Under and runs in tandem with Xero, QuickBooks, MYOB, Reckon and Sage, it took until this year for McManus to start expanding into north America and the UK. In this country he is working with Paul Hodgson, who is well known in QuickBooks circles as part of the Reading-based accounting practice and training specialist, BCAMS.
In a very crowded market for forecasting, planning and analysis tools, Hodgson was attracted by what he saw as “one of the most granular reporting solutions on the market”. After being connected to the chart of accounts in the underlying accounting system (desktop or cloud), MyBusinessManager can generate a 15-page business snapshot dashboard in under a minute, or output a single page summary of monthly or year to date performance.
MyBusinessManager caters for both business users and their accountants, but the initial thrust in the UK will be to reach business customers via practitioners.
“We’re not focusing so much on the reporting aspect – though obviously that’s included,” said McManus. “My differentiation is to create business management functionality all in one group. If an accountant is busy, rather than having to learn something that only looks after one platform, we do everything.”
The price for MyBusinessManager is variable, ranging from £20-£25/mo for business owners. The application is sold to advisers in packs of five, 10, 25, 50 and 100 seats. “They can buy bundles and roll it out and retrospectively. As they climb the volume ladder, we reprice it so the cost ranges from around £12-£15/month to less than £8/month,” said McManus.
“We made the price something that wouldn’t be a consideration. Less than £10/month per client leaves a lot of margin for accountants to add value to the dashboard.”
MyBusinessManager may not look as slick and glitzy as more modern analytic applications, but the package is very comprehensive. The initial interface presents the user with a flow diagram of the different command menus they can access (see below). These functions cover settings, client data, a financial hub, report scheduler, budgets and background guides and resources, many written by McManus himself.
The Financial Hub contains a collection of “instant insight” dashboards and deeper financial reports that are updated every day at midnight.
The KPIs are configurable and are displayed in tabular form. Beneath the numerical data are charts for categories such as cashflow, balance sheet or P&L KPIs showing actuals against budget and a three-month average line:
“Instant Insight is very useful if you have a 20-30min meeting with the business owner,” explained Hodgson. “They want to understand where they are and how they are developing. You can quickly select the period, and compare it to the budget or last year’s actuals.
“If you’ve got more time, the Financial Focus dashboard is similar, but slightly more in depth.”
McManus emphasised the advisory philosophy behind the product. “We’d love to appeal to accountants, but they’re so focused on compliance, it’s a long process to get them to cross over to business advice. I redesigned MyBusinessManager to automate the process as closely as I can.
“Advisers are time poor, so it has to be so intuitive, there is no learning curve. That’s what we are aiming at. Plug it in and you are productive in 15 minutes.”
The profession in Australia is credited with leading US and UK in the shift towards advisory services, but data from AccountingWEB’s Accounting Excellence Award entrants shows that more firms are embracing reporting tools – 21% this year up from 16% of entrants in 2017.
“The idea has been coming, but very slowly. I’ve been an apostle for that for a long time, but the first one [to market] isn’t always the winner,” McManus said.
About John Stokdyk
AccountingWEB’s Head of Insight has been with the site since 1999 and likes to spend his time studying accountants’ technology habits. When not nerding out, you can find him exploring obscure indie music and searching for the perfect organic sourdough loaf from his base in Brighton, UK.