Image: anniemole on Flickr
Things have been moving quickly for Saasu since our announcement of setting up shop in the northern hemisphere.
We’re really looking forward to being part of the UK’s only national exhibition for accountants and finance directors working in practice, business and the public sector, and sharing our plans for the local market and exchanging ideas with attendees.
Claim your free tickets to the event by registering online and don’t forget to come and see us at the Saasu booth!
Image: cebitaus on Flickr
We believe that business accounting is part of a much bigger process, and is the key to any organisation truly optimising their systems and processes. Our display will highlight this in more detail, and provide insight into where we see this heading in the future, within the wider context of the economy.
We’re also pleased to announce that our CEO and CDO will both be presenting in the Cloud Expo theatre on Wednesday 29th May.
Marc (CEO) will be presenting on “Business in a State of Flow”.
We’re heading toward 2020, quickly. Businesses are moving to the cloud faster than ever. However, to get amazing success we need to look at how online applications and automation tools can help us get our business into a state of flow. In this talk, Saasu’s Chief Executive Officer, Marc Lehmann, outlines how organisations of all sizes can look at creating frictionless flow—the future of banking and commerce.
Grant (CDO) will be presenting on “Invisible Accounting”.
Cloud-based technologies offer many potential benefits to business owners. Businesses can radically reduce the amount of work involved in entering data into and across key systems—such as CRM and accounting—whilst increasing the value of that data to the business. In this talk, Saasu’s Chief Design Officer, Grant Young, outlines how businesses are leveraging APIs, automation, and connectors to take full advantage of cloud-based tools.
To register free for these and other presentations, visit the CeBIT website.
Photo by Found Animals, and included because we needed an Accountant LOLcat to make this topic less serious.
This is re-post of a story I wrote over on What Product. It’s very relevant for accountants but equally relevant for business owners selecting an accountant that suits their needs.
Too often we see accounting systems viewed as pure compliance systems. This may be the case where the accounting system is only being used to produce BAS remittances or gather the info to prepare the tax return. However, as advisors, if you recommend purely basis this need you miss a fantastic opportunity to have the business owner benefit from other tasks accounting systems do for them.
Accounting systems are sometimes business systems. They do much more than just the accounts. They create workflow efficiency which leads to reduced operational labour costs. They can also help move the business toward straight through processing where customers do the data entry through their buying and ordering.
When compliance is the only consideration advisors drastically lesson the quality of service given to clients. I think you can come to this conclusion yourself by asking this question. Is my recommendation respectful of their business workflow needs and costs or is just about me and my cost of service?
Accountants and bookkeepers give varying levels of thought to this in my experience. Some are very good, considerate, and even go through a research phase before recommending any system to a client. They are quite agnostic on software vendors. They ask the right questions of the business owner and also the candidate software vendors to fill knowledge gaps. The decision is an authentic one that supports the business owners business workflow needs which may amount to hundreds or thousands of workflow hours.
The worst decisions are evangelised ones. Mostly the industry doesn’t fall for evangelising a particular software product but a surprising amount of firms do. This type of decision is religious rather than scientific. It’s when ego or the status within an accounting software tribe rules their decision process. “I’m an ABC firm” type of thinking. I think it (and I think business owners would agree with me) should be about the numbers. Leave the software vendors interests aside and make a decision in the interest of your clients business model. Nothing else matters in the long run.
Business accounting systems perform other tasks beyond compliance such as customer management, scheduling, time capture, inventory management, channel management (such as retail, partner and e-tail sales channels). It is also the system acting as a contact list for marketing purposes in many cases. Most importantly in the era of straight through processing from e-commerce or POS into accounting software it facilitates payment tracking in real time.
When I meet business owners I often ask them what process their advisors went through to pick a accounting system or did they just select one themselves. The answers I get back suggest that Micro businesses usually rely on their accountant or bookkeepers advice but small to medium business more often make the call themselves. They know their business better than their accountant so most often don’t even ask their accountant.
In my view business owners fall into two main client groups.
(a) Those that see accounting systems as a business system. They see it as part of their technology stack that they have personally selected.
(b) Those that are advised or told what to go and buy.
I ask the second type of business owner what made the advisor select the system. Mostly it’s what their practise uses. Often it’s about lowering the cost of producing a tax return and set of accounts which they suggest reduces the clients bill. Many firms explicitly admit it’s not about the client but about them. They say “we don’t provide services unless you use ABC”
This is very interesting in many ways. It implies that there are small to medium businesses that dominate their accountant and view them as a compliance or tax advice service provider and there are submissive business owners (generally micro business) who seek and accept advice given to them by their accountant on how to run their business.
The vast majority of my friends who own business are in the former category but when I talk to friends who are in sole trader situations or small <5 people businesses I do see lots of them seek and accept the advice as to what software to choose. They trust their accountant, and they should. So in response the industry should reciprocate and ensure selfless advice as to which software the client should use.
To date, Saasu has mostly focused on personal service and feature depth to drive growth. We’ve always spoken about this changing over time, but we’ve also said that when we did change it wouldn’t be the way people expect—or necessarily the same way others do it.
Bringing a Chief Marketing Officer on board and expanding our Marketing Team is indicative of this starting to happen within our organisation.
I met Rhys Taylor (@rtlr) back when we were partnering with Acclipse (the partnership concluded over a year ago). Rhys’ progressive digital marketing mindset was apparent despite the more traditional model his team was pursuing at the time. 6 months ago Rhys was considering a move from New Zealand to Australia, and when we found this out we were keen to have him join us at Saasu HQ.
Something central to our marketing principles is a sense of respect for our customers’ time. Our anecdotal evidence from customers suggest people are swamped with information (from us, and other vendors) that hasn’t been targeted and may not be relevant to their business model. It is also clear that customers aren’t getting enough important information from us, and we need to fix that. This means establishing very targeted communication processes, with specific information that ensures we don’t waste the recipient’s—our customer’s—time. By expanding the team with specialists we are able to address this more effectively.
One of the enjoyable things in my role in recent times has been this ability to establish a Management Team out of our natural growth in revenues. To date the core team consists of Paul Glavich (Chief Technical Officer), Grant Young (Chief Design Officer), Matthew Ardeljan (Chief Business Analyst), Shasha Gong (Head of Service) and now Rhys.
An objective in growing this team is to hire people who are up for something big out of life and have big plans (that might not include Saasu). We encourage staff to start thinking about their exit from the day they arrive—we want Saasu to be a part of creating beyond our company walls.
Our company is its people. I think bigger businesses don’t always get this, or if they did they lose sight of it as they grow and corporatise in their behaviour. As we experience this growth ourselves it’s something we continue to remind ourselves.
There are already a large number of Saasu add-ons and connectors available to customers, but it’s always exciting when new ones are announced.
Today, NeoTechnology (who are one of our long-standing developer partners, and the company behind the Amicus point of sale solution) have launched their new point of sale product, SprintPOS, which is designed specifically for small business.
For over 15 years Amicus has been NeoTechnology’s flagship product—a high-end POS solution for customers in the retail, hospitality, fuel and wholesale industries—and now with the introduction of SprintPOS, Neotechnology is able to offer an easy to use, affordable POS package to small business operators (very much aligned with our belief that one of the major benefits of SaaS is that is allows vendors to create and provide software and systems that perform tasks and address business needs that were once only catered for by expensive enterprise solutions).
When connected, information is pushed from SprintPOS to the customer’s Saasu file automatically, which makes it easy for business owners and advisors with access to Saasu to gain a complete picture of the business. This also eliminates the double handling of data, reducing the potential for human error and saving time.
SprintPOS is ready to go out of the box, and is available to Saasu users for as little as $8 a day. This includes all necessary hardware, along with access to the software a retailer needs to get up and running. Visit sprintpos.com.au to find out more.
On a recent trip to New Zealand I was lucky enough to catch-up with long-time Saasu customer, Teza—brewers of premium iced tea.
I sat down with co-founder Daphne Raj to chat all things business, beverages and to find out what they loved most about online accounting software (read the full story for an answer to that).
It was great to hear how they’ve continued to grow and experience success in new markets, and that Saasu has been able to scale with their business development needs—and to sample their range, of course.
You can read the full story here.
A few weeks ago I was approached by the moderator of a LinkedIn group, to contribute to a conversation in which an advisor was seeking advice on “the right product for their client”.
As you can imagine, we receive requests like this frequently, and enjoy the opportunity to engage with others, and share some of our insight.
As I sat down to go through the usual “online accounting vs. desktop software” and “us vs. them” discussion I was hit by another thought: I knew absolutely nothing about the business I was about (by default) to help out. In fact, neither did any of the other advisors or vendors adding to the conversation.
I suddenly didn’t feel very qualified to add anything of value, but I did have another thought: With trust comes a duty of care.
One of the great things about the Australian (and global) software industry is that it is very competitive. This keeps software costs low and ensures your clients get a great number of choices to fit to their specific business model. One of the costs of that competitive situation is that there is a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt in the industry. More recently, with online and social media involved, it can get as ugly, personal and dirty as politics.
What I’m writing about here is how to avoid the industry FUD and MUD being slung around, and instead be the trusted advisors you were trained to be – and choose the right solution for your client needs purely out of your duty of care for them.
The client comes first. Always.
So often I have run into industry participants who have forgotten this basic quality of a trusted advisor. I read with disgust a post on the ICAA LinkedIn group where a person asked what software he should buy. The only detail he provided was that it should have multi-currency. People (should I say the minions serving software companies) recommended their favourites without a clue as to what this person’s business model was about. If we want an authentic relationship with our clients then we must ensure their interests are served first which means recommending nothing unless you have asked the right questions. It also means buying the accounting product that’s right for your client’s business, and not your own. I call this selfish-service not service.
Some might say that practice efficiency is the only thing to worry about, the bottom line of your cost of sale. I disagree completely with this assertion. Businesses that do this tend to go broke over time because they aren’t operating for the customer, but for themselves. This inauthenticity manifests itself through the culture, through customer churn and in destroying trust.
Your charge model should be elastic with respect to client complexity. The more complex a business model then it’s more likely the supporting systems won’t work as cleanly with you practice systems. An example might be dealing with a client which has multi-channel sales across resellers, e-commerce stores and wholesaling to retail outlets. That type of client should be on Saasu rather than Banklink. Likewise a client who doesn’t want their data online and only has some basic expenses each month probably could just use BankLink rather than Saasu. The right product for the right client is the right approach. This is what adds value to your practice long term.
Some advisors have an approach to advise based on their comfort zone or out of an evangelised view. Essentially what you have done here is monetised your customer’s trust upfront and dramatically increased the risk and cost of maintaining it now that they aren’t in the right system for their business. A few weeks into the change they call you and aren’t happy because the Tier 3 accounting solution as it is a little lightweight. Your internal processing costs might have gone down a little but their costs have gone up a lot, and your brand (reputation) as an advisor is now damaged. You get churn and thus your real position isn’t a good as you first thought.
I recommend you don’t listen to any one software company, but instead be a researcher and an analyst. You and your industry nearly own the phrase “due diligence” so live that behaviour and don’t trust everything you read.
Get real about it. The software industry sees and uses you as a free sales channel (an off-balance sheet sales team selling and evangelising their products), and they make you pay for the privilege of doing that! Make the decisions for your clients in a scientific way rather than an emotional one based on the hype and FUD the software companies have fed you. Do this because you too are a small business owner, an entrepreneur – just like the people you want to help be successful – for their families and in their lives.
This post was first drafted as a response to a conversation in the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia group on LinkedIn. It was also posted on the WhatProduct Accounting Resources and Software blog.
We were keen to be a part of this initiative headed up by the teams at Fathom, ShareSight, Shoeboxed and Workforce Guardian as we’re big believers in building a community – not only amongst our customers, but with other vendors as well.
The events did a great job educating both accountants and business owners of the opportunities that are available with online software, to fully integrate business systems and create a smooth, systemised machine that promotes automation and accuracy in place of duplication and repetitive manual labour.
We’ve been a keen promoter of APIs and integration between vendors from day one, and already have over 50 add-on applications with publicly-accessible connections that plug into Saasu, along with many more custom plug-ins built by our customers to meet their specific requirements or work with proprietary systems.
Access to our API is well-documented and open to all developers, and our Developer Partner Program helps you get the most out of Saasu – including access to bounce ideas off, or question, Labs (our codename for the Saasu Development Team) - to make for a straightforward development and testing process.
If you’re using an online application which doesn’t yet connect to Saasu, why not point them in the direction of this blog post, or send an introduction through to email@example.com.
Organised by AWIA (Australian Web Industry Association), Edge of the Web is (literally) a fringe event in Perth, Western Australia for web developers, digital agency execs, creatives, entrepreneurs and futurists with a focus on outsourcing, design thinking, ethics and profitable collaboration.
Marc spoke on our recent rebrand, as well as delving into some of the strategic changes we’ve made as a company in the last 12 months, which resulted in rethinking our identity and approach to the product.
While all the speakers at the event ran excellent sessions, a stand-out in my mind was Jane Farrow from Clever Starfish, who provided us with insight into the business model her agency employs - breaking things down and sharing their processes at a granular level (flexible workstyle, systems and tools, documentation, accountability and most importantly – cake). I believe this appealed as it was very much aligned with our approach to running things here at Saasu HQ.
You view notes from Marc’s presentation “Design-centred Accounting” below, or over on SlideShare.
Saasu gives you plenty of flexibility with regards to how you interact with your customers – especially over the way your communications look and feel.
We thought we’d put together a quick list, as many customers have been asking us how they can tweak the default styles in the app.
In summary, Saasu lets you customise:
However, you will require knowledge of HTML when it comes to customising PDF themes (your web designer or other IT consultant should be able to help you out here). If you don’t have a web designer on your books, get in touch with our Service Team, who will happily point you in the direction of someone that can help.
We’ve had lots of suggestions and spent plenty of time thinking about how we can make it easier for you to mix and match themes and templates, and are pretty excited about working on these ideas further down the track. Keep the feedback coming in, as we want to ensure we design the best experience for you.
Also, if you’ve got a great template you’d love to make available to others (or would just like to show off), or have experience customising Saasu templates and would be willing to help out others, share it in the comments.