If its broke – fix it!

There has recently been a flurry of comment on the AccountingWeb Cloud – Accounting discussion group. Much of it is the same, somewhat depressing, comments from the gainsayers coming up with the same old negative responses to the whole concept of using the Cloud for everyday business processes.

There was an excellent blog written last year (I am afraid I can’t recall the author) which likened the apparent hostility and fear of disruptive technology to the negative and scaremongering criticisms of the steam trains that were introduced in the 19th Century – and it fascinates me that the whole subject of the Cloud should generate such passionate arguments.

On one level, I suppose it is positive that there is a debate, but I fail to understand the hostility to the concept – it is very much a case of if you are an adopter you are passionately in favour and if you are not – you are either indifferent or passionately against.

I gave an interview the other day to some business school students who were researching into the Cloud Computing market and were asking my views on the current state of play in the UK. I found myself pontificating on the issues that have been raised extensively in this blog and elsewhere and explaining how Sage has such a stranglehold on the UK accounting market. I went on to postulate that online accounting vendors were doing much better in Scandinavia and the Netherlands because Sage was not a barrier to entry there in the same way that it is in the UK and then was asked the money shot question – how did I see the future growth or otherwise of the Cloud Computing market.

Change shouldn’t necessarily happen for changes sake – if it aint broke don’t fix it holds true in this marketplace as much as any other. Change should and must have benefits – speed up processes, run more efficiently, save costs etc. etc. Exactly what Cloud Computing offers.

But of course what many people are turning a blind eye to is that Sage is broke – it doesn’t run more efficiently and it is considerably more expensive. When one of my staff is trying to justify to a Partner that the cost overrun of a job is due to problems installing the client’s version of Sage onto our network before he could work on it, you have to ask yourself – why put up with it.

What the marketplace needs at the moment is for a major player to announce that it is not going to use Sage for its clients but adopt an online system instead and that clients will have to adapt accordingly. It is a brave organisation that adopts that approach but they will become leaders of a group that will – inevitably – grow over time and will reap the benefits accordingly.

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2 Responses

  1. It’s good to hear someone in the accountancy world being straight about Sage. We’ve had accountants try to push our small business that way. We nearly went with it until one of them failed to customise the Sage invoice to our specifications. Isn’t that just basic stuff? Not for Sage, apparently.

    Our bookkeeper works for several small businesses, some of whom have Sage – she says it is the most awkward to use. By 2010, there shouldn’t be any software left which is difficult to use. And, of course, there’s the cost.

    However, I also have my reservations about accountancy as an SaaS application. We had our Internet down for two weeks last year (thank you BT for your ‘great’ infrastructure). If that had coincided with a VAT processing fortnight, we would have been in trouble.

    With 25 years in IT (the last 15 in successive management levels), I have some experience providing my users with SaaS. In 2002, the SaaS accountancy company my employer was using (they made the decision before I arrived) went under and was bought by another company. There was no access for a month!. And when my employer tried to get their data out, they discovered they didn’t even own their own accountancy data.

    An extreme example, perhaps, but a cautionary tale. But I still wouldn’t use or recommend Sage!

    • David
      Thanks for your reply. So many people agree that Sage fails on so many levels – yet they put up with it with almost religious fervour!

      AS for Internet outages – of course the same can happen with on – premise setups. Our City office had a power failure last year that lasted for 3 days! These sort of things happen and, in themselves, are not a reason not to adopt.

      The data issue is an important one. It is vital to ensure that the SAAS application you choose enables easy down load of data. E-conomic, for example, has a very useful facility to do just that and if it is a concern you need to set up a process that data is downloaded on a regular basis.

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