GoProposal becomes part of Sageby
The pricing and onboarding app GoProposal was acquired by Sage this week for an undisclosed sum.
GoProposal went from strength to strength during the pandemic as accounting practices went into paramedic mode and started working remotely to support their business clients.
Explaining the backdrop to the sale of his software “baby”, GoProposal founder James Ashford said that accounting services got a lot more complicated over the past 18 months, for example with payroll and furlough calculations, Brexit and how it affects VAT.
“Clients have become far more complex in nature. And if you don’t get the intersection of complicated services and complicated clients right, you start to lose profitability and there’s more risk. All these elements make a perfect storm,” he told AccountingWEB.
“If your letter of engagement doesn’t reflect those things, you could be exposed to that risk, or it might come to light during a quality audit.”
Those concerns and the need to price and structure services more consistently prompted a lot of practitioners to invest in onboarding tools. GoProposal made a lot of inroads among smaller firms, supported by the enthusiastic presence of Ashford across multiple media platforms.
Built to sell
On the back of this surge, Ashford said he had started to entertain offers towards the end of 2020 and started engaging seriously with suitors early this year.
“I built the business from the start to sell. It’s what I advocate for accounts and I always had that plan for GoProposal,” Ashford told AccountingWEB.
Already based in Salford, Ashford and the rest of the GoProposal team will join Sage’s global accountants team based in nearby Salford Quays. The program will now be known as GoProposal by Sage. While work is underway to link the app into Sage’s evolving online practice suite, it will continue to integrate with QuickBooks and Xero.
For Sage, chief strategy and development officer Derk Bleeker described the GoProposal deal as part of the company’s broader mission to build a platform to help accounting firms operate efficiently and profitably.
“It was a real meeting of the minds,” Bleeker said. “We wouldn’t be buying GoProposal if we didn’t think it was a critical fit - it’s the spearhead of our strategy to build great solutions for accountants.”
In true honeymoon spirit, both executives emphasised the cultural fit between Sage and GoProposal and how the software giant’s backing would enable Ashford and GoProposal to carry on doing what they do to accelerate growth.
“Our joint intent is to scale this business in the UK and beyond. There’s a huge market opportunity in the UK, but there’s no reason why proposal management wouldn’t be a good value proposition to accounts in other part of the world.”
The road ahead
The deal also got the thumbs up from Chris Downing, director of product marketing for accountants and bookkeepers Sage UK. “Accountants have been through a pivotal 18 months and over the next 18 months they have to get through the MTD ITSA transition. We’re still coming out of the pandemic and they’re thinking about how to survive, what direction their cashflow is going and how they are going to price and provide their services,” he said.
“You need to do that with complete visibility and confidence about where the practice is going. Proposal management is key to ensuring that accounting firms can maintain profitability in the long term.”
Ashford, too, was looking ahead to the new look GoProposal by Sage and listed 15 new programmers and support staff he was taking on to accelerate the development of a “fully real-time, events-based experience” for practitioners from pricing and costing their work into an engagement letter.
“That’s just a start. Because circumstances change on an ongoing basis, that spec can always adapt and be agile to help the firm grown,” he said.
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