- Older versions of MYOB AO and AE had less flexible licences
- Latest versions of MYOB AO and AE let firms cancel modules
- Firms had to hold same number of licences in each module
Jamie Johns was using a mix of cloud and server-based practice management software to run his firm in Ballarat and another office an hour away. He called his accounting software provider and asked to reduce the number of licences for general ledger while maintaining the same number of tax licences and was told it wasn’t allowed under the software agreement.
“When you sign up you don’t read all the fine writing,” Johns said. “We just wanted to drop back our licences. I wasn’t sure that if we wanted to drop back on ledger we could still have five licences for tax.”
Market leader MYOB confirmed that increasing or decreasing licences was possible – but paying a lower price for less licences depended on the software version.
Concurrent upheavals in accounting software had caused plenty of confusion among firms wanting to change usage of their practice management software. MYOB, which claimed 60 percent to 70 percent market share by revenue, was migrating firms to a more modern technology platform used by the latest versions of Accountants Office (AO) and Accountants Enterprise (AE) practice management software.
Over 2,000 firms had switched to the latest version of AO which used Microsoft’s .NET technology. The total number of firms using its practice management software was commercial in confidence, MYOB said. An unknown number of firms were still using older versions based on Microsoft’s FoxPro technology which was now labelled as AO Classic and AE Classic.
Competition from online accounting programs CCH iFirm and Xero’s Workflow Max Practice Manager was also encouraging firms to review their licensing and consider alternatives.
Although some firms thought it wasn’t possible to reduce their MYOB licences this was not true, said Adam Ferguson, general manager for MYOB’s accountants division.
“The short answer is the client can absolutely downgrade their licences,” Ferguson said. However, the method of downgrading depended on the version of MYOB’s software.
Classic versions of AO and AE bundled general ledger, tax and practice management modules under one price.
Classic AO firms could choose to stop using the general ledger module, for example, but would continue to be charged for the price of the whole bundle. However, a firm could upgrade or downgrade from one bundle to another.
The latest versions of AO and AE (on the .NET platform) had been sold with unbundled licences. AO or AE firms would be charged a lower fee if they decided to cancel one module but keep others. For example, an AO firm could cancel the general ledger and practice management modules and just pay for the tax module.
“In our transition to the next generation of MYOB AO we have been providing more flexibility by unbundling what existed in AO Classic,” Ferguson said.
But there was one restriction on licensing for the latest versions. AO and AE firms had to hold the same number of licences in each module. For example, if a firm wanted five licences in tax it had to hold five licences in any other modules also used.
MYOB’s licensing didn’t allow for different numbers of licences in modules.
“We have a concurrent usage model across all the products. If you’re subscribing to two products they have to be the same number of licences. You can’t say ‘I’m going to have 10 licences in practice management, five in general ledger and eight in tax’,” Ferguson said.
“But the client can choose to cancel any module,” he added.