At the annual Reckon National Partner conference in Melbourne last week, participants were treated to a demonstration of Reckon One – the new cloud accounting application from Reckon. In May this year Reckon embarked on an ambitious national roadshow to show case the product, and whilst the sessions generated a lot of positive response (even excitement!) Reckon was subsequently unable to bring the product to market in the time frames discussed with the quality required. This resulted in the release date being under wraps for many months, but finally the date has been confirmed – the product is now in beta for Accredited Partners and the general public release is scheduled for November 6th 2013
During June Accredited Partners were given some early training on the product and I subsequently wrote a blog on my impressions. Three months later, I am scratching my head for anything new to add to that original blog. The main development between then and now is most of the functionality previously presented now works! There is still key functionality scheduled for the November release that wasn’t in the product as demonstrated at the conference – mainly around customer invoicing. The lack of the Invoicing module means that the ability to customise invoices is also not available and of course customer statements is still functionality to be completed. Projects also appeared not to have made it to the In list yet. Right now you can mostly just record money in and money out, journals and budgets and run reports. Even bank feeds don’t appear to be in.
We were treated to some impressive displays of the Mobile app for Reckon One. Reckon has put a lot of effort into developing the mobile app, partly because the use of Silverlight precludes using the standard product on a mobile device, but it demonstrates the company’s recognition one of life’s basic necessities now is 24/7 connectivity on any device. Gone are the days when you could just stand in the bus queue and watch life go by!
A couple of good and disappointing confirmations:
- The customisable dashboard is alive and kicking – users can add, remove and reposition widgets, choose between bar and pie charts, choose which date range to display and this is all shown in variegated colours leaving Xero with its staid blue gasping for air.
- You can sort on any column and show/hide columns which is a nice touch.
- There is no facility to import any list type data – this includes customers, suppliers, chart of accounts and items which is disappointing as this can reduce manual effort when setting up a new file. A chart of accounts tailored to your nominated industry type is provided and can be modified fairly easily.
- The older parts of the software still use Silverlight and that I understand is the reason why it is not possible to have multiple tabs open in the browser at one time. This to me is a major restriction – for example I am looking at some cash receipts and I want to look at the open invoice report at the same time. (The use of Silverlight is probably a hangover from the previous CashBook Online product which will be replaced with Reckon One).
The product is interesting in that in some areas Reckon is using functionality already in Reckon Accounts such as header and detail accounts (a feature sorely lacking in Xero) It also has a budget module which is a little surprising as I find it hard to get small business clients to even consider a budget but possibly this is a hang over from the original Cash Book Online product on which this appears to have been partially based.
So my overall impressions from May & June haven’t really changed, the product is visually appealing, it is easy to navigate and use but we are still only being given the entree. I have done some limited beta testing and am generally happy with the results –although the functionality is limited it appears to be robust so the several month’s delay has been worth it. I am not planning on comparing reckon One with any other cloud accounting software in the Australian market any time soon because right now it is in a league of its own.
My concerns for the longer term future of the product are two fold:
- If it took this much extra time for the initial release, how will we fare with releases of additional functionality?
- How will Reckon attract customers to the new product? Price (which has unparalleled competiveness) alone will not sell the product, Xero has had a couple of years to entrench itself comfortably in the SME sphere and American giant Intuit is already snapping at its heels. Is there going to be room for another product and can Reckon get customers on board?
Time will give an answer to both these concerns but in the meantime – watch out for the November 6th release.