Earlier today, I had a conversation with David Terrar, UK MD of D2C. This company offers accounting software as a service (SaaS). We talked about the barriers to adoption and I cited 'ownership' of data and 'security' as the two most common objections I come across. David said:
"Yes, but that ignores the wider question of disaster recovery. Most don't believe it will happen to them and cannot afford a robust solution. SaaS solves that problem because it's a pre-requisite to 99.6% uptime."
I'd not thought about that but David has an excellent point. The other is that SaaS doesn't require a server infrastructure so there's nothing to buy, manage or go down at your end. What's more, you're not stuck with a massive capital investment in machines and product.
The big question for me is usability. Is the software intuitive? Can I make sense of it in 5 minutes? If not then I'm not going to use it.
From your perspective, SaaS is a great way to get out of the morass of compliance work. If you can get your clients to buy into this then you're part way there. The problem is getting them to understand double entry book-keeping, so they don't create more work than would be the case if they left you with a carrier bag of paperwork.
- Clients could OCR documents and the system recognised what they are?
- The system pinged you when a posting session was completed so you could give it a once over?
- There was something in software so the client could say if an item is income, expense or asset - including a 'don't know' account that could then be re-allocated at your end?
These features would solve the perennial problem of clients not understanding double-entry book-keeping. David thinks it's possible and is discussing it with the software architects. I have a few other ideas that could make such a service a potential winner.
From a practice perspective, it would be a great way to tie in clients, while offering a differentiated service.
I'd recommend checking out Twinfield. They've had huge success in the Netherlands (10K users and 6/10 of the top book-keeping services using their stuff). I wish him well in the UK. David can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org