Cloud Connectivity

There are many well known advantages to working in the Cloud  - not least, the flexibility of anytime,anywhere working.

One of the least discussed aspects, however, is the ability to connect to and import from – or export to – other software applications, whether cloud based or desktop based. This enables automatic transfer of information between packages such as databases, accounts software and other systems.

This is done using the programme’s API (for the technical this stands for Application Programming Interface) – which is basically the language that enables different packages to talk to eachother. e-conomic  has a very flexible API interface which enables communication to a wide variety of different applications.

In a seminar that I gave recently, I explained how my accounting practice used  e-conomicwith virtually all of our clients to prepare monthly management accounts, VAT returns and outsourcing functions. However, when it came to annual statutory accounts production, I looked for a package that I could use which would allow an easy transfer of information from e-conomic.

I chose Caseware which through the API of both packages allows me to work with our clients using all the benefits of the Cloud  - all entries are recorded in e-conomic  including the normal accounts finalisation adjustments such as Directors bonuses, dividends and tax provisions. At the point when the Trial Balance has been finalised, I can then switch to Caseware, which is hosted on Hosted Desktop, and literally at the touch of a button, I can import the Trial Balance (or if required, the entries) into Caseware and complete the statutory accounts in an a time efficient and cost effective manner.

Many users of e-conomic  who are in the fashion industry tend to use an industry specific system such as Zedonk for organising their production schedules, styles and stock call off etc. Sales invoices raised in Zedonk are automatically recorded in e-conomic  thus avoiding duplication and ensuring synchronisation between both systems.
There are many examples of working with the API and maximising the benefits of working in the Cloud.

The Cloud is truly international

I have been spending the last couple of days in Copenhagen on one of my regular visits to E-conomic’s HQ to get up to date with the latest developments and future plans. Some exciting things on the horizon so watch this space.

I always get a buzz when I visit the offices here – the place is humming with enthusiasm and there is a great team working away on different aspects of the system. Since I last came earlier in the year, they have taken an additional floor which is rapidly filling up with new team members to service the ever increasing demands of a modern software house.

I was particularly struck this time by the international nature of the team. I have been introduced to team members from Denmark (of course), Norway, and Sweden; as well as the US, Spain, France, Germany and Finland. All of these guys and gals are fluent in English, Danish as well as their own language and are on board to provide support to the various countries now using E-conomic.

It makes me, who is just about fluent in English, feel very inadequate. But more importantly it highlights the know no boundaries of much in the Cloud world.

Reflections on a conference – Beijing

As the HLB conference in Beijing draws to a close it is time to reflect on the events of the last few days. Apart from Beijing itself – more of which later – the conference itself has been a great success.
What has been apparent is the level of genuine interest in Cloud technology in general and online accounting in particular. The E-conomic stand has been busy over the three days and some very useful contacts made. Tejn Nielsen is going to have a busy time when he gets back following up on the enquiries that he has received.
What has been particularly gratifying as fars as I am concerned, is the level of interest from the UK – a marked change from conferences earlier in the year.
As I have commented previously, I predicted that 2011 would be the year of the cloud and Beijing has confirmed my view.

Reflections on a Conference

I have just returned from exhibiting with E-conomic at the 2020 annual conference in Birmingham where we spent the day on the E-conomic stand. I can’t believe that its a year since I commented on the last conference – time certainly flies when you are enjoying yourself!

Comparing the two conferences there were some marked differences as far as the Cloud in general and Cloud Accounting in particular are concerned. Firstly it must be said that all credit goes to 2020 for promoting the Cloud the way that they do and directing the delegates to the exhibition stands. The 2020 organisers certainly understand the benefits of the Cloud and how it can add value for their accountancy practices.

What struck me this year was how better informed were the accountancy practices – they didn’t necessarily sign up on the spot but all the visitors to the stand were, in the main, well informed about Cloud Accounting and were seeking information as to the distinguishing features of the various applications. And of course one of the noticeable aspects this year was how much choice there is for anyone seeking to move into the Cloud. As well as E-conomic there were 4 other cloud applications exhibiting at the conference and that doesn’t include the many other providers who weren’t there.

A number of enquiries were received from practices where they were already using a Cloud accounting product but wanted to expand their offerings  - this all good news for the Cloud industry and accountants. The message is beginning to get through. As well as this, the new Accountants Club concept was well received.

In addition to speaking to the delegates, it was very interesting speaking to the other exhibitors. As well as comparing notes it was very helpful speaking to some other of the product providers who might be able to add some very useful features using E-conomic’s API integration – watch this space!

I forecast that 2011 would be the year of the Cloud and as we approach the last quarter of the year I am convinced that I was correct.

I am now off to Beijing to speak on the benefit of the Cloud at the HLB conference – I shall report on this when I get back.


Accountants Club’s – a good thing!

All publicity is good publicity the old adage goes – however I was a little surprised by the response of some commentators – namely Adrian Pearson and Denis Howlett – to the recent announcement by E-conomic of the launch of their accountants’ club.

I must at this point declare my interest in that in my role as a consultant to E-conomic I was involved in the discussions that resulted in the launch of the Club. However in spite of this  the views that I express now are my own.

One of the points raised by Adrian in his blog is as follows….

“Accountants are being used as a free proxy for a traditional reseller channel by the accounting software vendors.  They provide access to their client base and make volume on-boarding of new customers a possibility; saving the vendors a fortune in marketing effort.”

But isn’t this missing the point…by rather a wide mark. Yes there is a benefit to any vendor in getting accountants on board in the hope that they will roll out the application to their client base. After all, it is a numbers game and I don’t think anyone can disagree with that. But in adopting Cloud Computing – it doesn’t matter whether its E-conomic, Twinfield, Kashflow or Xero or the many other offerings now available – accountants should appreciate the immense benefits that their practice can achieve by working with their clients in the Cloud.

To suggest as Adrian does, that accountants are acting as unpaid vendor channels is disingenuous in the extreme. And this is the problem that the industry is experiencing at the moment.Professional practices are failing to appreciate the advantages of the Cloud and are getting stuck in the dark ages as a result. It is their clients that will eventually lead the way in this as today’s generation of entrepreneurs will expect their professional advisors to interact with them using today’s technology. Those that don’t will fall by the wayside.

As for the vendors. what is wrong with giving their professional clients a small incentive to get on board with the Cloud. After all if they get clients using online accounting – which will be to their advantage as well – they can easily recover any of the costs involved in joining the Accountants Club in the first place. To talk about training as being a lost cost to the accountant is simply not correct.

I should at this point add that Adrian has recently joined David Terrar and myself as part of the Cloud Advocates and I have high regard for his input and opinions. I just don’t agree with him in this instance.

I think the following extract from some of E-conomic’s recent marketing material sums up the position quite nicely:

At E-conomic, we are not altruistic. Obviously we’d love you to be using our system, however whether you opt for us or one of our competitors, our avowed aim is seeing the accounting world put itself online, lock stock and barrel.

…and if they can provide a little encouragement along the way, what’s wrong with that?