I attended the 2016 Reckon Accredited Partners conference last weekend and received a full immersion of the position of Reckon, where it was going as a company and what it had delivered or was delivering on its various accounting software platforms.
Clive Rabie – CEO of Reckon was scheduled to participate in a ‘By the Fireside Chat’ at the conference however he was in the US working on the Reckon acquisition of SmartVault – see more below on this and was replaced by Managing Director, Sam Allert. The first question posed to Sam was ‘Why does the Reckon share price continue to fall’. Sam gave a brief overview of the events last year surrounding reports in the national press that Reckon was an acquisition target. The official version is that Reckon approached Macquarie Group first, to understand why its market capitalisation was so low and subsequently asked shareholders to forgo dividends so that profits could be reinvested to fund R&D operations. The second action caused the share price to fall even more and fuelled the rumours of a takeover. Sam stressed that Reckon is alone in accounting software companies to be profitable – (Saasu is profitable but is a private company) and pay a dividend (a dig at Xero who generates increasing losses every year) and no sale is on the horizon. So with that sorted – on to the software.
Reckon One – After a few years of anxious waiting the Payroll module is about to be released – tomorrow!. Whilst the beta version of the module looks to be fairly comprehensive, disappointingly the initial release will not allow for integration to Jobs or Classes. The Time & Expense module in Reckon One is currently very limited as it cannot capture employee labour costs, I had hoped that Reckon One would have a major point of difference from its competitors by providing this function – but not yet. Another missing feature from Payroll is ABA files – this feature is due for release shortly but will be for suppliers and employees in a combined file. An Employee Portal will be available in the Medium version of the module which will cost $5 a month or $3 a month for the Lite version – both with unlimited employees – definitely a point of difference here.
Eighteen functional releases were delivered into the product last year and there are now more than 30 third party products that use the API to integrate to Reckon One (being a true cloud product – this process is much easier than in the Hosted version – see below) So both the depth of functionality and the User Experience is gradually improving. The mobile app now includes supplier bills as well as customer invoices for those that use the product on the go.
The product remains somewhat lightweight in comparison to Xero, QBO and Sage One, however Payroll has for some time been a significant hurdle to clear. Once the first release is delivered, resources will be freed up to work on other areas and with a Payroll module, the product becomes a more viable option when selecting cloud based accounting software and the potential increase in subscribers should increase the pressure for greater functionality.
Reckon Accounts – The majority of R&D effort over the past couple of years has been channelled into Reckon One so only a few goodies were released in the 2016 version of Reckon Accounts (coming next week for Hosted). This included:
- ABN validation.
- Webmail support for Hotmail, Gmail and other providers.
- Enhancement of functionality in Bank Rules including ability to set classes on a rule and add a rule whilst in the bank feed.
- Additional SuperStream functionality.
Reckon Accounts Hosted – Sometimes I am surprised that there are any customers remaining on the product, it has been so plagued with horror stories. Downtime continues to be an issue despite the migration to AWS and Reckon experiences challenges in supporting the 3,000 or so people that log in over a short period in the morning. Resources and servers are being thrown at the issue and improvements are being made to the file server architecture.
Whilst the APIs required for third party apps to integrate to the product are now available and there has been some take up, technical issues continue to plague deployment making it a long road for some vendors. The increasingly popular and highly functional time sheet app TSheets for example has been unable to integrate with Hosted although it is available on the Desktop version (It is also available on QBO and Xero but not MYOB Essentials or Saasu).
SmartVault – Earlier this year, Reckon acquired US-based SmartVault – an online document management system which will sit alongside the existing document management system; Virtual Cabinet which offers an enterprise level document management and portal solution to businesses and accountants. Whilst this is an important strategic acquisition for Reckon complementing Virtual Cabinet, it also enables Reckon to provide a similar solution to Xero in that documents can be directly linked to transactions in Reckon Accounts and stored in SmartVault. Other business documents can be stored and shared as well but the link with Reckon Accounts will be a useful feature . (Again Reckon Accounts Hosted users – don’t hold your breath – whilst SmartVault is a cloud based service – it does not integrate with Reckon Accounts Hosted!).
The message is – Reckon remains open for business (although share price continues to decline), it is continuing to deliver more features and functionality in its accounting software products, whether or not Reckon One will be a product to be taken seriously remains to be seen; I am just waiting to test out the Payroll module in Reckon One tomorrow and will let you know how I go.