As I wrote earlier this week, Reckon’s survival hinges on the success of its new cloud accounting program Reckon One. The verdict – albeit based only on a live demo: Reckon is going to be a strong player in this race.
1. Customisable Dashboard
The dashboard is made up of customisable widgets – up to 18 can be placed on the screen. The default includes Net Position for the day, the month and the quarter. But these can be changed to other timeframes with a couple of clicks. Everyone has a dashboard but Reckon One feels more sophisticated and powerful than rivals’.
Reckon One’s dashboard had to be good enough so that a business owner could run his or her whole business from the one screen, says strategic director Daniel Rabie. Accountants and bookkeepers will like the ability to create a custom dashboard for each client that includes the KPIs relevant to their business. It’s definitely one of the highlights.
2. Mobile App
The mobile app is hands down the best in the market. It’s almost like Reckon has been working on two programs; a business can almost run their accounting program from the mobile app alone. For a start the dashboard on the mobile app is much more informative than Xero’s mobile app. But it’s the number of things you can do with Reckon One on the mobile that make it so powerful.
I had a quick look at the mobile app after the presentation and there’s a dropdown menu that replicates much of what’s possible in the browser app but in a mobile format. Although it was not a hands-on demo, the functionality is clearly more advanced than other programs.
Throwing so much weight into the mobile app was a very smart move for the simple reason that Cloud = Mobile. Businesses love to use their accounting software on the go for snapping receipts, sending invoice reminders and checking account balances.
3. Managing Projects
One of the surprise inclusions is a project billing module. You can create projects with specific project rates and manage billing, project costs and related items. Trades and services makes up 20 percent of Reckon’s customer base, says Pete Sanders, general manager of Reckon’s business division.
Reckon Accounts (formerly QuickBooks) has a strong following in the construction industry because it is the strongest in time and materials billing and project management. Reckon has done a good job on the basics but it’s not equal to the desktop software. An advanced module is due later which will remedy this, Rabie says.
My initial thoughts on the pricing was that it was far too complex. There’s a base price ($17 a month for Lite, $25 a month for Medium) but you can increase or decrease that price by adding or subtracting modules.
But the pricing is flexible on a monthly basis, Clive Rabie, Group CEO, says. A business can use Reckon One for a holding company, turn off all the modules for 11 months and pay just $5 a month. Then when they need more functions at end of year they add the module and pay a little more.
There’s a huge spread in the cost of cloud accounting apps but you usually get what you pay for. More money equals more features. It’s a pretty straightforward pricing structure but the downside is that some companies pay more than they need to for tracking trusts and holding companies.
Reckon is not locking in customers to one price and feature set for 12 months. You just pay as you go for what you need. This could be very attractive for large accounting firms that want to move all their clients to cloud software at the $5-a-month base price and turn on more features as needed.
I have to admit that Reckon One is better than expected. But it still has a long way to go. These are all obvious but they need to be spelled out.
One of the most common responses from partners at today’s Sydney roadshow was that it looked great but it needed payroll for them to move clients. Xero travelled down the same path. Sales in Australia took off after Xero bought and integrated the cloud payroll app Paycycle. Reckon can’t expect strong sales until it provides its own payroll or access to third-party cloud apps.
Reckon made one major error in building Reckon One: it didn’t start with the API. The API (application programming interface) is the software connector that lets one cloud program talk to another. Reckon is rectifying this and will complete the API after the program goes live.
Unfortunately it won’t be ready until 2014, and Reckon won’t commit to a time other than “early next year”. It’s a long time to wait for such a crucial component which, once working properly, would solve the payroll issue.
Just get it out already. Reckon has been promising its cloud app for over a year now and the delivery date has kept slipping. The roadshow this week was supposed to be the actual launch, then it was June and now it’s July. And that’s just the beta launch.
Reckon One is not vapourware. The live demo clearly showed a developed cloud app working well and I’ve talked to one or two people external to Reckon who have tested it. The mobile app looks like it is ready to go.
Reckon has done a huge amount in 18 months and partners have waited patiently to see what it would deliver. The journey has been much smoother than MYOB’s path to the cloud. But it’s time to see this program “hit the shelves”, so to speak.