Today (11th February 2014) is probably an auspicious date to release the long awaited cloud accounting software, it is the day after Reckon formally ended its agreement with Intuit and the same day that the company launched its new website. It has been a long time from the fanfare of the product launch in May until today, and there have been several premature announcements but this time, no announcements until the release actually happened.
I set up a new company or ‘book’ as it is termed to see what had changed since I last looked at the beta version and generally to assess how it all hangs together. The set up was easy with a free 30-day trial available. I selected the Medium version of each of the modules on offer to make sure I accessed maximum functionality and then I was into the set up wizard to guide me through the initial screens.
Navigation was straightforward. The Task Bar at the top was easy to follow and clearly displayed functionality available. One continuing restriction is the inability to have multiple tabs open at one time. The software still uses Silverlight which I understand to be the reason for this restriction which I hope will be overcome soon. A couple of other minor hassles – it may have been my Browser (Google Chrome) but many date fields, I couldn’t type in the date, I had to select off the calendar – slows me down and in some screens there wasn’t a single ‘Save & New’ button, I had to separately Save and then Add a new record.
Dashboard – Visually this is appealing, there are currently 7 different widgets that can be selected including top customers and suppliers, top income and expense accounts, bank summary etc. All are available as a bar graph or a pie chart with customisable date ranges resulting in a meaningful array of data that is easy to read and understand. I did however find it very slow to refresh even with limited data particularly if my reporting preference was for Cash rather than Accrual.
Customers & Suppliers (Contacts) The data that can be recorded for a contact is pretty basic but the inability to import a file of Customers or Suppliers is somewhat restrictive. And to make life even harder, when you do add a Contact there is no Save & New button making the process somewhat lengthy.
Chart of Accounts – I realise that this is not functionality that excites too many users but I love nothing better than a good chart of accounts – and I wasn’t disappointed. When setting up the Book, you can choose which of the default accounts you want and which you don’t. Loved that feature. In earlier beta versions, you couldn’t break out current and non-current assets and liabilities – this has been addressed and the full range of account types was available. There is a choice of using account numbers and you can also specify the default tax code on the account. All good.
BAS – in the initial set up, I could specify if I needed to report on taxes other than GST e.g. PAYG Withholding, FBT, LCT etc however I wasn’t able to locate a BAS report only a GST report so I am not sure that that functionality is fully extrapolated.
Customer Invoices – as Reckon have said all along, in this release very little in the way of customisation of the printed invoice is available, this includes the inability to load your business logo which is a big disappointment and I would think a major limitation as the invoice looks so bland . However I can customise the email message that accompanies the invoice to include due date, amount etc which is a nice touch. Another annoying little issue, I had to key in a Due Date each time, there was no default due date available. But apart from that it was all pretty standard and the ability to record a discount at the line level was a welcome feature.
Cash Sales and Purchases – Again a bit unwieldy, I had to go through two screens – firstly record the customer or supplier invoice and then record the payment on a second pop up screen – it would be nice to do it in one place. A further annoyance is that I can’t specify a default bank account – every time I have to select the bank account.
Bank Feeds – these are available but I didn’t test this feature – it may overcome some of the hassles with the cash sales and purchases
Projects/Job Costing Projects are available in this release but there is not too much functionality associated with it. There is no feature to make the project mandatory and project reporting was limited. I could run a P&L by project but not a columnar one for a number of projects.
Reports – There are only 21 reports available including 5 list reports so reporting is very limited. There is still no Customer or Supplier aging report, a clear indication that right now the product is aimed at the very small end of the small business market. Lack of Customer Statements reinforces this. In this initial release there is no drill-down functionality from a total figure to the detailed transactions behind it which is again a major limitation. Many reports are available on a Cash or Accruals basis at the report level.
So this release is very much a work in progress. The functionality that has been delivered looks to be robust, but is really just the building blocks for what has to come later if the product is to be a serious contender in the cloud accounting software space. I don’t think Xero or Intuit have much to worry about in the short term at least. No timelines for future releases are available but I do hope the delays will be a bit less than the delay on the initial release. Would I recommend it to a client? Almost certainly not yet, there is still too much functionality that is not yet there, however as some of these gaps are plugged, my reckoning could change.