The Cloud accounting industry faces a long campaign to convince the accounting profession to adopt web-based applications according to a small group of practitioners who shared their views with developers at the Business Cloud Summit on Wednesday 2 December.
Whatever other commentators say, accounting software functionality is still important to practitioners. If they are going to shift themselves and clients from tried and tested programs, they will demand mature applications that match up on features and functionality right down to mundane things such as data entry.
“Accountants don’t feel comfortable pushing Cloud applications,” said Net.Accounting’s Tom Bristow. “If someone’s going to change, it’s got to be to something better than Sage or QuickBooks. If you’re inputting 300 transactions, you don’t want to have to click return after every single one.”
Having learned a particular accounting system - often recommended to them by their accountant - clients are reluctant to consider newer alternatives. Cloud accounting developers would grow more quickly by concentrating on start-up accountancy firms and new businesses than by trying to convert existing desktop software users from their current systems, the accountants advised.
To a man, none of the four accountants who participated in AccountingWEB’s fringe meeting at the Business Cloud Summit reported that clients were pushing for “Cloud” functionality.
This response reflects the tenor of comments on in the Cloud accounting discussion group’s Trash the terminology thread. Rather than arguing the case for web over desktop, online developers need to get across the real benefits of putting accounts online.
“Some clients would like a more collaborative approach, or to see live reports online,” said sole practitioner Nigel Simmons. Small businesses don’t like accounting and so Simmons created a firm based around a hosted QuickBooks environment to take the pain out of accounting for them. “We set up as a bureau so we do everything for them. That means we can avoid having to unravel all the knitting at the end of the period,” he said.
The inaugural Business Cloud Summit was organised by AccountingWEB.co.uk’s parent company Sift Media and brought together leading figures in this emerging industry. For those following the event on Twitter, the hash tag is #BCS09.
See below for a live feed of coverage and comments. More detailed coverage of AccountingWEB’s “fringe” meeting will be published in our Cloud accounting discussion group.
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.