Head of Insight AccountingWEB
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Survey: Small suppliers thrive in MTD lull

10th Apr 2018
Head of Insight AccountingWEB
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Accounting Excellence Awards software survey
Accounting Excellence Awards_AW
Accounting Excellence Awards software survey

Smaller software developers look to have prospered since July last year, when changes to the Making Tax Digital (MTD) exerted less pressure on accountants to review their systems.

The first 1,000 ratings from AccountingWEB’s Accounting Excellence Awards software survey show a stronger turnout for brands serving smaller firms, including 2017 award winners such as TaxCalc.

TaxCalc currently has the biggest pool of responses in the practice categories, nudging ahead of Keytime and Gbooks. After the first few weeks of voting, there are still relatively few ratings for big names such as IRIS, Sage, Thomson Reuters and Wolters Kluwer.

As usual, the small business accounts and bookkeeping category is the most competitive. Xero heads the pack in terms of user numbers so far, with 21% of the ratings, but is closely followed by QuickBooks Online (15%) and Sage’s desktop stalwart, Sage 50 Accounts (10%).

Users of Zoho, the low-end US-based cloud suite, have shown up in surprisingly large numbers, but we have yet to hear from FreeAgent customers, who voted the specialist contractor accounting app into top place last year.

Mid-market stirrings

The big trend of 2017 was the contest between cloud and desktop systems in small business accounting, with MTD stimulating a visible shift towards online systems. An early surge from the AccountsIQ community suggests that cloud is beginning to make inroads into territory traditionally occupied by the likes of Sage 50 Accounts, Pegasus, Access and Exchequer.

Market analysts have been predicting the advance of “post-modern” cloud enterprise suites such as FinancialForce.com, NetSuite and Sage Live, but sightings of these applications are still rare among the votes so far. It’s a lot harder to migrate an established, mid-market or enterprise financial software system, so this sector has not embraced cloud accounting the way that small companies and their accountants have since MTD was first mooted in 2015.

As a result, our early polling shows a UK mid-range and enterprise accounting software market fragmented between numerous outposts of client/server products. One factor we will be monitoring is the extent to which these business turn to the Xero, QuickBooks and Sage cloud “ecosystems” to string together more cost-effective, DIY finance suites.

We have to assume finance managers who maintain costly client/server finance systems are aware of all the cloud alternatives, but for the past decade we have seen little appetite to make the leap into the cloud. Will 2018 be the year when cloud accounting starts to pick up momentum among larger organisations?

Are you part of the cloud future, or sticking with tried and tested on-premise systems? Either way, we want to hear from you in the 2018 Accounting Excellence Awards software survey. You can rate as many products as you like and it only takes a few minutes for each. The results will be fed back to survey participants and AccountingWEB members in a series of software reviews.

Replies (7)

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By Tornado
10th Apr 2018 23:09

It is not particularly surprising that given half a chance, talented small enterprises can develop top quality software that is equal to or better than offerings from the mainly money motivated dominant software giants.

The biggest fault with the MTD project is the unnecessary rush to get it working at all costs in some way or another, and the use of the 'gun at the head' method of making sure that we all comply. (It will still not work that way).

If the Government back-off with the mandatory approach and let this project evolve under its own momentum, giving everyone the chance to contribute, then it has a much greater chance of success.

The impression I have always had is that the haste to implement MTD was to specifically benefit the giants of software, but I am very pleased to see that the smaller developers are now getting a chance to show us what they can do, and I am I with them all the way.

Thanks (5)
12th Apr 2018 10:55

Small, medium, large what difference does it make. This is ludicrous idea which the way is implemented is, in my opinion, heading for disaster.
I am getting out. I have had my fun since 1972 and now the time has come to say goodbye!!
Anybody interested in buying accountancy related products cheap let me know!

Thanks (1)
12th Apr 2018 15:40

"Anybody interested in buying accountancy related products cheap let me know!"
Tanquilisers? Whisky? ... how much?

Thanks (2)
By dgilmour51
12th Apr 2018 11:07

I have to say that the ever increasing momentum towards driving us to 'cloud solutions' leaves me witha bad feeling.
The burgeoning Privacy industry, eagerly exploited by Governments who see 'fines' as proxy taxes, will find easy pickings here.
We really have no idea what 'GDPR' compliance looks like, or will there ever be the possibility of certainty about 'GDPR Compliance'.
All we have is words in a contract - and whilst these words may be mitigation vis a vis Regulatory GDPR fines, they will have a different and probably lesser light to shine on the tort aspect.
For example, off you go to holiday in Kerula taking your Laptop in case of emergencies - and one happens. You access your clients data in the hotel. Voila - the cloud provider has enable the export of your client's data - a breach that potentially you and the cloud provider should auto-report and with consequences.
Its all very well to abrogate data storage responsibilities to a remote 'specialist', but in my opinion we need much more enlightenment about where which fingers will point before we dare fully embrace 'cloud' solutions.

Thanks (3)
By North East Accountant
13th Apr 2018 09:05

It is true that the small suppliers have some great products out there, in many cases far superior to the offerings from the big beasts.

My worry is if (when?) they go bust how on earth do you get all the data you have put into their ecosystem back and how do you get it quickly into a new system.

Thanks (2)
By Victor Bellingham
17th Apr 2018 15:50

Has anybody heard of or used Moneysoft It has a superb and easy to use book keeping package plus a payroll pack which can be down loaded directly Its down fall is that several years ago it stopped developing "final accounts" In my view this package was the best thing since sliced bread It is so easy to use. Come on MM you are missing a golden opportunity to nail the market


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By Deena Charles
05th Dec 2018 11:36

can i ask has any body used clear books if yes what do you think

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