Saasu Blog - Archive for category 'Saasu News'
General news and updates from, or relating to, Saasu—the people and company.
General news and updates from, or relating to, Saasu—the people and company.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
We’ve had a lot of interest in Saasu MkII (the upcoming, redesigned version of our product) since relaunching our website, which was kicked up a notch when Grant (our Chief Design Officer) shared some of the behind-the-scenes processes and learnings with attendees at the UX Australia conference last week.
As Labs (our development team) jump into a new sprint, we wanted to let you know that rolling out the new UI is right up there near the top of our priority list, and that while we have yet to announce any definite release dates, staying tuned to the blog (or one of our social profiles) is the best way to keep up-to-date with progress.
Alternatively, you can subscribe to our newsletter using the form on our homepage and get the news direct to your inbox.
Today we’re pleased (and relieved) to have launched our all-new website.
Over the past few weeks we’ve been drip-feeding you insight into the design process that has been going on behind the scenes, and showing off a sneak peek of our new branding – but, it’s great to finally get it all out in the open.
While all the team are excited to have the new design live and can’t wait for your feedback, this is just the tip of the iceberg. As the video below shows, we’ve been hard at work on what we’re calling “Saasu MkII” – the slicker, sleeker and smarter version of our online accounting product.
The first instalment of this will be going live in the not-so-distant-future, and so we wanted to share a preview of it with you now, so the website overhaul made a little more sense.
Enjoy the video, and let us know what you think in the comments below.
We’ve got a close-knit team here at Saasu, but as we continue to grow, we felt it important to formalise a few things—systemising (the things we can’t automate) where necessary.
Our aim has been to create reference documents and frameworks/guides that empower staff (as opposed to being restricting), as well as providing a way for new staff to get up to speed quickly.
As a company (and individuals), we’re big fans of social media, and we enjoy watching the way people interact online evolve. Many of us are active in a variety of communities. We wanted to find a way to harness that enthusiasm and passion for social engagement.
To support this, we’ve put together some ‘Netiquette’ guidelines, based on our Team Values, and centered around a few key principles. You can check out the full document if you want, but the main elements are:
Social as a service
We’re in it for you (our customers and partners).
Authenticity vs. spin
We’re up-front and honest.
Open & honest vs. private & confidential
Sadly, we can’t share everything with you.
Turn the other cheek
Beware the trolls.
Don’t get personal
Choose when a conversation is in the public domain
Sometimes social channels aren’t the most effective ways of communication.
Going on the record
Watch what you say.
Make sure we can deliver what we promise.
Image/media sourcing & crediting
It goes without saying, give credit where credit’s due.
We hope you find it helpful in thinking about your own social media approach. And, as always, we look forward to your feedback. Also, we’re always looking for ways to improve the way we do things here, so if you’ve got resources or references you think the community may benefit from, feel free to share them in the comments below.
I can feel the speed-of-everything accelerating. The vibration of human activity is rising.
In setting Saasu’s group strategy we have to observe what’s going on around us—but not just in our software industry. That’s too narrow, so we look broadly to avoid limiting our creativity which is required for step-out results.
So what are the themes in 2013, and what do they mean for Saasu?
There is a trend away from big devices to smaller devices or multi-device systems. e.g. Saasu recently changed to 12 cores per server in our private cloud. Chip makers stack cores to make immensely powerful multi-core servers, making lots of small devices that mimic the power and effect of a single large device. In astronomy, array telescopes are replacing the dishes (see, for example, the Murchison Widefield Array above). Retail is seeing smartphones and tablets replacing point of sale terminals. You can see a trend in the home also, moving to many small devices away from a single shared PC.
The “Why” cloud question of 2012 is becoming “How”. Adoption is at 5% for online accounting and I predict this will quickly accelerate to 10–15% this year. Marc Andressen was spot on with his comment that “software is eating the world“:
2013 will likely be the crossover year where devices exceed desktops. Saasu left the desktop as the primary design focus some time ago and shifted to tablets and mobile. Customers will expect all the features supported across all the platforms. Old accounting software companies currently building and supporting online accounting for desktops are building the very thing we see consumers starting to abandon.
Socialising applications and content portals are re-wiring many of us into habitually checking for updates, info and insights. Designers of the systems have learned to tap into at least a dozen intrinsic motivators which turns seemingly harmless apps into ego feeding, attention sucking machines. Note it’s not just gamification, this is just one piece.
Humans are responive to guilt and the fear of missing out (aka FOMO). We need to ask: is this forming a type of mental slavery via guilt and missed experience in a social sense?
Getting the attention of your customers amongst all of this emotional warfare for minds is tough. Having a website that ignores most intrinsic motivators doesn’t cut it any more. It has limited usefulness in the attention economy. To keep customers interested you must give them value in every interaction. Buy the right to get their attention next time. Information is a near-free commodity now, so that won’t work. You need to give them what they really want—simplification and automation. That’s about more time which is an essential ingredient for happiness.
Curation is rising to address the information firehose phenomena. The rise of niche social networks is almost certain to cause problems for Facebook this year. You can see the panic already through their acquisitions. Users attention will shift to the networks that best align with their personal and business interests. Standing in front of Facebook’s firehose isn’t as much fun as it used to be.
Sadly, capitalism is changing. ‘Too big to fail’ are for me the most important words acted on in the last decade. Capitalism is now very impure. We are now more than ever exist in a Corporatocracy run by governments and banks. Unfortunately for small businesses, service companies, retailers and manufacturers you aren’t in that club. If you think this is USA only, it’s not. The EU, UK, Australia are all actively heading in this direction. You need tools that cut costs, create efficiency and save time for your business. You directly or indirectly fund Payroll Tax, Company Tax, PAYE, Capital Gains, Super/Pensions, Fringe Benefits, Workers comp/insurances and now Carbon Tax. Expect more tax and expect more compliance. That’s the nature of the system we live in.
One of the big unspoken risks this year is inflation. Unfortunately you can’t keep printing money to save the financial system without a price to pay. Quantitative easing will come home to roost in 2013. The potential for civil unrest is ongoing. Governments will do everything they can to stop that eventuating but the contagion risk is something we have in our risk waterfall. We don’t know what this means for internet and power continuity of service. Outlier “black swan” events are by nature hard to allow for.
In any case we think your data needs to be in two or more locations. A single country, data centre or supplier isn’t acceptable mitigation by our standards. We also think you also need to be able to download your data to your local devices. This may sound contrarian for the CEO of a cloud company to be talking this way, but my career has been about understanding risk. All business models have risks and the cloud’s biggest risk is a dependency on the internet. I know our customers will enjoy keeping a copy of their Saasu file for backup purposes on their own systems.
These are risks I’m describing, not expectations, so read them as precaution rather than paranoia. You should expect all your service providers to openly disclose, assess and deal with risk.
Saasu runs strategic and risk models which look at changes occurring inside and outside our industry. We use these to facilitate good decisions. We know that decision making is the single most important activity a business engages in. For competitive reasons I can’t elaborate on all our decisions for 2013, but here are some that give you some insights into our thinking:
Saasu MKII is in build, and it’s a business application that is a step out beyond other online accounting systems. We recognize that the business owners are the risk takers, they’re the ones with huge emotional and capital investments in their dream. We aren’t shy in saying we exist to solve accounting, operational and compliance problems for business owners. We partner with accounting and bookkeeping firms who have that same vision for their clients as we do.
Thanks for your business in 2012 and we wish you well for 2013.
This post is part of a series discussing the process we’re undertaking to redesign our user interface and branding. We’re sharing in the spirit of “designing in the open” with the hope that it might be of value to our customers and others in our community.
As mentioned in my previous post, we believe a strong set of brand values is important for the development of our new design direction and visual identity (which we’ll be sharing more of with you in the coming weeks). They are also important to ground our business practice as we continue to grow and new staff come on board. We thought it would be of value to share them here. We’d love to hear what you think…
SPIRITED. We believe that the small business community plays a vital role in society and the economy. We are inspired by the spirit of small business owners. We share their passions and frustrations and want to help make their day-to-day lives easier. We get a buzz out of seeing our customers’ businesses doing great things in their world.
CLEAN & CLEAR. Let’s face it, accounting is never as simple as we’d like it to be. Tax, legislation, business processes, legal structures and more conspire to complicate things. Business owners will always need good advisors to support them navigate this complexity, but there’s certainly a lot they can do, with the right tools. We make what we can simple, and make the rest as clear as possible.
ELEVATING CONVERSATIONS. The conversations between a business owner and their customers, staff and advisors is where value is created. We seek to elevate these conversations, enabling key stakeholders to have high-value conversations focused on achieving success. Conversations informed by accurate, up-to-date financials rather than working out the mechanics of data collection and pulling together reports.
VALUE. We develop tools that fulfil a genuine need for our customers and partners. We bring ways of working that were previously the province of the big end of town into reach for small business owners—more affordably and with less complexity. We don’t try to lock people in; we strive to keep our customers because of the value we deliver.
ECOSYSTEM. Since our inception we have recognised that the value of our service is not just created by us, but in the ecosystem of advisory and technical partners that flourish around our service. Our application is designed to be open, enabling partners to unlock even more value for customers.
ENGINEERED. Security. Performance. Reliability. These are the essentials we need to deliver to our customers, to build trust and ultimately to succeed. We invest heavily in improving the “under the hood” aspects of our applications to make sure these foundations are always solid.
As Saasu has grown over the past 12 years we have attracted customers from around the world. In the UK we had our first customer sign up in 2007 – long before many other cloud accounting applications were on the radar – and the number of users in this part of the world has steadily grown over the years.
Recently we made the decision to establish a physical presence in the northern hemisphere, setting up an office in London and appointing our first Saasuvian ‘on the ground’, UK Managing Director, Daljit Bahia.
In doing so, we are pleased to have greenlight status in UK Trade & Investment’s Global Entrepreneur Programme (GEP). Similar to Saasu’s belief in developing an ecosystem of partners and customers, the GEP is focused on creating an ecosystem where technology entrepreneurs can grow their global presence.
This move will see us roll out several UK-specific enhancements in the new year; including changes to the tax code report, UK pricing and HMRC electronic reporting.
Initially our current Australian-based global support team will continue to service UK customers, but as part of our commitment to this expansion, we will be adding local UK-based support staff in due course.
We look forward to sharing more about our UK-based expansion as we continue to grow and our plans start to come to fruition.
In Marc’s recent article about the changes brewing at Saasu, he talked about preparation for the new user interface changes. Part of my role as Chief Design Officer at Saasu is to help develop our brand and visual identity, which feeds directly into the new user interface changes.
I thought it might be of interest to share a little bit about what we’ve been up to over the past few months in this regard.
One of the best bits of my job is being able to speak to people as part of design research. So, very high on the list when I started at Saasu was to speak to the team here about what inspires them and what kept them coming back to Saasu each day. I felt it was really important to get a sense of what made the “Saasuvians” tick so that we could make sure that this personality, and the things that we really valued, were reflected in how we communicated. Just as importantly I wanted to understand what the extended Saasuvian clan—our customers and partners—valued about working with Saasu. So we conducted a series of interviews exploring their passions and goals.
It was a really inspiring experience, especially so early in my time here. I discovered that I was working with and supporting people with big hearts and aspirations, and a authenticity that is very rare in my view. When I attended the Saasu conference earlier in the year I was blown away by the passion that our customers demonstrated for what we do. Some really striking stories were told, both on and off the stage (which played a big part in me taking on the role at Saasu). These stories were reinforced by the interviews I conducted.
While we’re still in the early days of the journey, there are a few strong themes that have already started to coalesce:
People: Businesses are built on relationships. While we use technology as our means/method, our interest is in making life better for people. Our customers appreciate the genuine interest we take in their needs, and how that’s reflected in our approach to both doing business and our product.
Potential: We love the “eyes light up” moment when we see our customers do things they didn’t think were possible as a result of our work. We are inspired by the spirit of small business owners and want to help them achieve all that they can—many of them share our pioneering spirit and quest for meaningful work.
Productivity: You’ve heard us say it often—you are what you don’t automate (Marc’s recent ATSA presentation has more on this idea). That is, the more you can get your systems working for you, the more time you have to spend on the meaningful things. The value of this aspect of Saasu was highlighted in our customer and partner interviews, and is reflected in our focus internally.
This has inspired us to make Saasu even more of a place where these things come together.
As part of our process, we’ve started collaborating with the team at Studio Sammut (another local business with big hearts and aspirations) to translate these shared values into visual form—redefining our brand to to better reflect our collective personality and to provide greater focus on what our customers, partners, and our broader community, value. We’ll be sure to share with you more about the process and our learnings along the way over the coming weeks.