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Reckon One – accounting software to be reckoned with?

The much heralded showcase presentation of Reckon One last week started with the word ‘Imagine’ – I hoped I would be doing more than imagining at this long awaited demonstration of the product that it is hoped will catapult Reckon into the Cloud Accounting space. The company fortunes have suffered somewhat over the past few years from its inability to compete effectively with products such as Xero. But in the controlled environment of the road show, Reckon demonstrated it had the potential to mount a serious challenge to the existing cloud incumbents.

There are still some significant milestones to meet before the product is available on the market. Xero originally hit the Australian market fairly light on with regards to functionality, but in the intervening 5 years, has released significant enhancements so that it is now a much more robust product. Reckon One does not have the luxury of this gentle approach. Accountants and business owners alike will continually be comparing it to Xero so it needs to be at least as good as if not better than Xero to gain traction and market recognition. This takes time – hence the slippage in release dates. The product definitely will not be available for general release on1st July (a significant date to miss), potentially a beta version will be available in July and maybe a public release in August.

The road show satisfied my curiosity in one area. I found out that ‘Designed by you’ the product catch phrase really meant ‘mix and match’. You don’t get to design the product – just choose which modules you sign up for and whether you want the heavy duty, medium or light (Lite) version for each. This can result in a price saving as you end up paying for exactly what you select. (And indeed, even if you take the large serving of every module, the overall result is still fairly competitive) However I am not really sold on this one, maybe it is cheaper but if I save $20 a month on the subscription but it takes me an extra 2 hours a month to complete my accounts, how much money have I really saved? Price is fairly low on my list of criteria when selecting or recommending accounting software.

Despite the all star show, I am reserving judgement on the product until I have a chance to really play around with it and assess in more detail both how complete the functionality is and how friendly is the user interface and experience. However it is worth noting some significant deliverables.

Customisable Dashboard
The dashboard (which is what you see as soon as you log in) did not fail to impress – it is both visually appealing and relevant in that is fully customisable. You choose which KPIs you see, where they are positioned and you can choose to see numbers, bar graphs or pie charts. From a management perspective this should be a significant tool enabling macro management of the business from one area. The crisp and clear visuals make it doubly appealing and compare well to the more sombre and staid colours of Xero and Saasu.

Functionality
The dashboard may look good, but there does need to be some serious functionality behind the scenes to create the numbers for those pie charts. We were treated to bits and pieces in a somewhat piecemeal fashion – enough to whet my appetite but not satisfy my curiosity.

Some of the highlights that I did see:

  • Project/Job Costing/Billing functionality indicates that Reckon One is aligning itself with one of QuickBooks traditional markets – construction and projects.
  • Bank Feeds and bank rules will definitely be there, but how effectively it will compete with Xero’s comprehensive functionality remains to be seen.
  • Budgets.
  • Fairly comprehensive User Roles to manage data integrity.

What I didn’t see

  • Business Activity Statement (BAS) – vital functionality required by the majority of small businesses – it must be complete and seamless.
  • Tailoring and extent of reports.

Mobile Apps
This is worth mentioning because it appears that Reckon has invested heavily in the development of mobile apps. Key functions are enabled for Mac & Android devices – iphone, ipad and tablet. Businesses are increasingly demanding true mobility for accounting software and it looks as though Reckon One will not only deliver here but will deliver better than its competitors.

What is coming later
Still in the pipeline with unconfirmed release dates

  • Payroll
  • Inventory
  • The Advanced versions of most of the modules – for example – the ability to fully customise a customer invoice will be in the Advanced version of the Invoicing module

My Conclusion
Shows promise but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The demonstration was short on detail and at the risk of mixing metaphors – that is where the devil is! The product needs to both look and taste good. I am waiting patiently for the long awaited full tasting.

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