March 12, 2012
[Update - it turns out Acclipse have purchased an existing product with some 5 years development and the partnership with BankLink is for the bank feed part of the deal. I'll try and get my hands on the client side application to review]
Acclipse is a New Zealand based accounting practice management solution that I’ve covered previously, specifically when it announced eventually ill-fated partnerships with Xero (covered here) and Saasu (covered here). Acclipse’e product, iFirm is an integrated suite of online products that boasts over 2,000 firms and 10,000 licensed users of its products in New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom and India.
Acclipse today announced a partnership with BankLink to roll out iBizz, a client-side accounting solution that gives practices a tool their clients can use, that is deeply integrated into their core practice management solution. iBizz is a rebranded BankLink and, as such, gives end users the same benefits that the BankLink product does, namely daily automatic importation of bank account transactions.
In recent years there has been a strong move towards deeply integrating client and practice side solutions – the previously announced partnerships between Xero/SaaSu and Acclipse were intended to provide this. Xero has since gone on to acquire WorkFlowMax in order to create its own integrated solution, while Acclipse is hoping that this, its third attempt at a client side integration, will hit the jackpot.
Regardless of the customer acquisition impacts of this deal – it does point to the fact that the “Modern Practice” the idea of practitioners looking at the same data as their clients, albeit from a different perspective, is a far better approach than that of days past where emailing locked data files and waiting weeks to manually input a series of journals into the source application was the norm – we’ve all heard for years that cloud software means everyone can view one “version of the truth” integratged client and practice side tools achieves this for financial data.
Data within iBizz will be fed via the direct feeds that BankLink already has with 100 or so financial institutions, and with an existing 250000 userbase, Acclipse will be hoping that this deep integration helps it convert a number of existing practices with BankLink customers, over to the iFirm practice management suite.
iBizz will be offered exclusively through accounting practices, and what will be interesting here is to see how the success of this strategy compares to that taken by other Cloud accounting vendors who have a dual direct and partner driven sales model – given the traditional conservatism of accountants, it would be expected that practices would feel more comfortable with a solution that is only available directly from themselves. Acclipse CEO Mike Chisholm isn’t being shy about pointing this out as a differentiator to the other Cloud providers when he says that;
You don’t take your own spare part with you when you drop your car off at the mechanic – you rely on their expertise to identify the best match. The same goes for the accounting software that will become the backbone of your business.
Outside of this marketing bluster, it will be interesting to see if Acclipse is third time lucky with this partnership.