UPDATED: The main differences.
MYOB’s cloud subscription service AccountRight Live has begun its pilot phase and a few details have been released. The cloud service will be a great addition to the MYOB lineup and will introduce many accountants and bookkeepers to the amazing benefits of cloud computing. However, a quick comparison with the leading cloud accounting programs Xero and Saasu reveals some major differences in MYOB’s approach.
An article covering the three features AccountRight Live needs to win is here. A first look at the features in AccountRight Live is here.
Cloud sync and offline access
MYOB’s trump card is its ability to be used offline. An administrator can “check out” an online company file and sync it back to the online version once the internet connection has been restored.
But AccountRight Live users can’t access the online company files through a browser – there is no online interface. Instead, viewing and editing a file must be done through the desktop software AccountRight. The desktop software syncs with the cloud automatically every 20 minutes or manually, whereas Xero and Saasu make changes in real-time to the online company file.
It will be interesting to see how MYOB handles cases where two users on different PCs have made conflicting edits simultaneously to the same company file.
UPDATE: MYOB has clarified that when a user is editing a company file stored in the cloud the changes are made instantly, just like Xero and Saasu. It is only the syncing between the cloud and the desktop file which occurs every 20 minutes. See MYOB’s comments for more details.
MYOB requires users to log into an online portal first before logging into a company file with a different set of credentials. Xero and Saasu users log in once to the accounting program and can then select company files to view without entering in a second set of login details.
MYOB will no doubt argue their method is safer, while Xero and Saasu will say their approach is more convenient and the second set of login details are redundant.
MYOB AccountRight Live requires users to download a copy of its AccountRight desktop software before they can open or edit their online company files. Xero and Saasu can be used on any computer by opening a window on an internet browser.
If a business owner needs to check their accounts from a public place – say a hotel business centre or airport lounge – often it’s not possible to download and install software on a public computer which may restrict access.
Another drawback is that the latest version of AccountRight will only run on late-model PCs – here’s the minimum system requirements.
UPDATE: MYOB claims AccountRight Live works on older machines that have 2GB of memory and dual cores. See MYOB’s comments for more details.
Users might need to upgrade their computer to be able to access the online company file, while Mac users aren’t able to use the software at all. Xero and Saasu by comparison will run on any old laptop (PC or Mac) that runs an internet browser.
AccountRight users need to upgrade their company files to the latest version before they can start using the AccountRight Live service. They also need to download a copy of AccountRight to every PC and laptop from which they want to access the online company file.
Downloading software requires bandwidth and time to set up and install the desktop program. Desktop software also needs to be updated and protected with anti-virus software to be used regularly.
Xero and Saasu don’t require desktop software which means less maintenance and hassle for users, although it also means no offline access to company files.
MYOB told BoxFreeIT that details about AccountRight Live were commercial in confidence. There is no public information about how MYOB will price the AccountRight Live cloud service and the AccountRight desktop software together. Although MYOB says you can download a free trial version of the desktop software to access an online company file, it’s possible the trial version will only work for a limited time before requesting users buy a licence to the full product. Users could have to buy a licence for every PC from which they regularly access their online company files in AccountRight Live. It will be interesting to see how MYOB plays this one.
MYOB has said that an AccountRight Live subscription will be required for each company file.
MYOB’s AccountRight Live looks like it will launch without a web API to connect to other cloud software and automated bank feeds. I’ve covered these details in a separate article here.
On the other hand, AccountRight includes inventory, as does Saasu. Xero has to integrate with other cloud software to provide an inventory. Some businesses will insist on inventory as a core feature of their accounting program.