Saas – what is the Tipping Point?

Returning to a favourite theme (have I ever left it?),  I was having an interesting exchange via email and Twitter with Maria Sadler of e-conomic.

I had raised my usual question of how to persuade the diehard Sage users – and in this instance, specifically the Online 50 users – to move to real online accounting.  Maria had quoted on the e-conomic blog Paul Garside of Symbiotic Projects who had written about saving in excess of £100,000 by utilising SaaS as opposed to onpremise solutions. The case study on the e-conomic blog is well worth reading.

For the practising accountant, I suspect that the above may be of passing interest however and the savings quoted may not be the norm. There is no question that SaaS solutions tend to be cheaper than Online 50 and those committed to the concept do not need further evidence of its justification.

But for the vast majority who have are not convinced, I have yet to discover the tipping point that would move them from their diehard preferences. You would think that cost would be a factor, but on its own it is not sufficient.

So what would be – it is a given that the product must do what it needs to do, be secure and the provider stable. But apart from that what would persuade a current Sage or Online 50 user to change.

Maria says: “…It’s those who use blogs, forums and communities like Twitter who seem to have the vision.” Very true – but what about the rest?

So here is my challenge directed to the vast majority who don’t use blogs, forums and  Twitter (and the fact that you are reading this may – by definition – exclude you) :

…..Given all of the above, what are the elements and essentials that would convince you that there is a better alternative.

SaaS – The green shoots of acceptance?

Three apparently disparate items caught my attention this week which makes me wonder whether, at long last  the inevitable acceptance of Online Accounting may just have started.

The first was Dennis Howlett’s interview with Andre K of Twinfield. It was an enlightening review of Twinfield’s experience in rolling out the product in the Netherlands. What he said was not new to the exponents of SaaS but it was interesting to hear him emphasise the advantages and importance of accountants being able to interact with their clients over live monthly data – and being on top of the figures and reporting so that planning can be done with up to date live information.

The second was an article in this weeks Accountancy Age, with “experts” discussing what firms can do to improve services to clients. One of the highlighted comments was from Ian Stumbler, a partner in Morris Owen. I quote: “No more should we be having to drive accross the country to sit in front a set of records for half an hour. It is far more efficient to look at the same data over the internet, talk over the phone and see what each other is doing.”

This comment, coming as it does from a practicing accountant, sums up the benefits of SaaS and taken in conjunction with Twinfield’s Netherland experience gives me hope that, albeit slowly, attitudes may be changing and accountants are starting to see the light.

The third, apparently unconnected, item was a report that Microsoft are discontinuing their Microsoft Money product. The quote from their offical blog says, in part, ” …“With banks, brokerage firms and Web sites now providing a range of options for managing personal finances, the consumer need for Microsoft Money Plus has changed.”

Is this the start of a process which will see the acceptance of SaaS as the norm…I certainly hope so.

The Democratic requirement for a General Election

Gordon Brown’s pathetic attempts to cling onto office flies in the face of everything our democracy should stand for.

Apart from the fact that the electorate never had the opportunity to vote for him as Prime Minister in the first place  – and yes I know that this is not a requirement of our constitution, but it should be – it is quite obvious that the electorate are calling for a General Election now.

The Prime Minister’s refusal to acknowledge this and the desperate attempts to cling to office are more relevant to a tinpot dictatorship than they are to the world’s greatest Democracy. Ministers who are more interested in holding onto their jobs than answering the call of their constituents, are equally to blame. They should have the guts to tell the Prime Minister to go to the country now – let him leave No 10 in dignity rather than disgrace!