The 2015 Reckon Roadshow visiting 22 locations around the country and reaching around 3000 people has kicked off this week. It is focusing almost exclusively on the new version of Reckon One cloud accounting software that will be released on 31st May. This is a new release not a new product (it was announced with great fanfare at the 2013 Roadshow and then went AWOL from all radar screens until February 2014 it when there was a very quiet release.) so why all the excitement and focus?
Reckon One morphed out of an earlier Reckon product named Cashbook which failed to excite and attracted just the occasional subscriber for a multiplicity of reasons. Cashbook was delivered on the Silverlight platform and continuing this into Reckon One proved to be both a colossal error of judgement and a very costly mistake by Reckon. Silverlight was already old technology before it was Reckon One was released, it is no longer supported by Microsoft and it was unable to deliver the flexibility of HTML based software. Reckon quickly realised it had a white elephant platform and embarked on a rewrite of the software using HTML5 and it is this that Reckon will be delivering in the release on 31st May. For a non-technical user this may seem like much ado about nothing but moving software to a new platform is a major undertaking and this was a significant move both for the future of the product and the company in a world that is increasingly cloud.
The release won’t deliver major changes in functionality from the existing version but what will be delivered will be cloud accounting software on a fundamentally sound technical platform in a contemporary user friendly environment that can readily be enhanced. (Yes – what other cloud software companies have been delivering for the past few years!)
It will enable Reckon to work towards retaining its customers that want a simple cloud based product although in the immediate future it won’t be able to compete with products such as Xero or QuickBooks Online that are able to deliver a more feature-rich solution. It will also ensure the product has firm building blocks for future enhancements. So it is more of a pain removal release than a release that enhances existing functionality.
Reckon identified three main features it wanted to deliver:
- Ease of use
And it looks as though these boxes can all be ticked.
- There is an enhanced user interface in the HTML version similar to that across other cloud products meaning a user should be able to easily find functions, enter data and run reports and inquiries. The Dashboard will be user configurable, presents key data in an easy to read format and allow for Quicklinks to frequently used functions.
- Affordable – see below for the flexible pricing model that is available.
- Local means that unlike some other vendors, all data is stored in Australia not offshore which is a concern for many business owners.
I have not enjoyed a hands on experience of the new release so am not yet commenting in any depth on the product functionality except to note that Reckon One has most of the basic standard features of all other Australian cloud accounting software products. It does have one significant differentiators in its Projects module which should give it a competitive edge over other products and has the potential to attract businesses operating in a projects environment particularly building and construction although the Taxable Payments Annual Report – (TPAR) may not yet be a deliverable (MYOB Essentials does have this)
Disappointingly Reckon announced at the Roadshow that delivery of the Payroll module would slip beyond the significant date of 1st July to sometime in quarter 1 – a significant slippage that generated a few other disappointed gasps.
What else will not be delivered?
- ABA files for supplier payments – although this will be available when Payroll is released
- Multi currency
- Sales & Purchase Orders
- Budgets by Project – again a disappointment given the focus on this module
Also announced was that the APIs that allow for third party products to integrate into the accounting software are available so once a vendor has completed certification, their product will be available to use with Reckon One. We are likely to see products such as Ostendo plug the gap of not having an Inventory module and BizTools to help with enhanced analytics and reporting in the near future. Whereas add-on products has long been a key feature of Xero and also Intuit’s QuickBooks Online, Reckon has been extremely slow to recognise and provide APIs both in Reckon One and Reckon Accounts Hosted so this was a welcome advice
Reckon One has a somewhat revolutionary pricing structure. Not only can you just pay for the modules you need, you can also choose from a light featured version to a medium or heavy featured version, but also similar to a gym membership – you can put the whole subscription on hold if you are off on an extended holiday or are running a seasonal business. You can both scale up and scale down and all data is available for 7 years on a read only basis if you discontinue your subscription. (I selected the Medium version of just about everything and the total came to $25 although once Payroll comes along this will of course increase)
Disappointingly on day 1 – it will not be possible to load List data (chart of accounts, customers, suppliers, items etc) directly into Reckon One; however Reckon will be providing a free data conversion service to load this data. I prefer the self help options but accept the conversion service as a viable alternative.
Reckon One could appeal to a number of different market segments including:
- Existing Reckon Desktop and Hosted users that fit a simpler business model and want an easy migration to the cloud.
- Price Sensitive business owners due to the flexible nature of the pricing structure.
- Triple S (start ups, spreadsheets, shoebox) businesses that are new to accounting software
- Project based businesses
My final verdict will come on May 31st when I should be able to seamlessly upgrade my existing book to the new version but in the meantime. Other software vendors probably don’t need to get unduly worried just yet but I am reasonably happy that Reckon has got it right this time and will deliver a reliable product with the opportunity to enhance over the coming months/years. It still has a long way to go to compete in the wider market place with the current incumbents and initially lacking Payroll, it will lag behind even MYOB Essentials which has this as a configurable option. It is still very much a lightweight product and the company has to rebuild its credibility and product awareness but with the big dollars that have been invested in this release, I expect we will see an commensurate investment in marketing to tap the into the large portion of small businesses that have yet to make the leap into the cloud.