So….. reporting from the Small Business Expo – I’ve been undercover today – doing the rounds of the accounting software businesses talking them about what they do and pretending to know nothing.

Both MoneyWorks and MYOB are on the defensive, running down Xero‘s strategy, product offering and viability. The man from Xero was the least combative of the three – Xero would no doubt say that both the ISV’s feel threatened and this is where their hostility comes from.

I talked to the guy from MYOB about my previously posted about problems with their product. In relation to the agonisingly slow processing across the network, MYOB had two comments to make;

  • It works well under terminal server
  • It probably needs to move to an SQL platform

Now on a technology-centric level, and as a bit of a geek myself, I can see that and buy into the story. However we need to turn it around (and if nothing else SaaS by its very nature forces us to do this) and look at it from a user-centric perspective.

I run six or so businesses through MYOB, all I want is an accounting package that does what I need it to, reasonable rapidly and without lots of technical wizardy – IT JUST NEEDS TO WORK! From a user-centric perspective then, MYOB is failing dismally at doing what it needs to.

Both MoneyWorks and MYOB made some valid comments questioning how Xero will work once it has to serve up long lists of customers, or inventory items or whatever. Of course the technology-centric perspective we could get all excited about would include increased latency, upscaling broadband speeds and improved bandwidth functionality. None of that matters, what everyone needs to do is some “mind of the customer” analysis to determine what exactly it is that the customer needs.

If Xero has an issue dishing up long lists of data then behnd the scenes it needs to resolve that – from a user-centric perspective it doesn’t matter how they do that – it just needs to work.

The encumbants dont work particularly well so in my judgement all three enterprises are at a similar level right now – the interesting thing wil be which of them moves the quickest to sort out their individual issues.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

6 Comments
  • You must’ve skipped past us, I was manning the BDO Spicers / Sybiz Vision stand for the 3 days… or perhaps our stall just wasn’t as eye-catching! Had a good chat to the man from Xero too, funny how MYOB/Moneyworks feel so threatened by such a small player. All power to Xero I say!

  • Hi, Just a comment on the MoneyWorks v Xero discussion.
    Software development does take some years and is very expensive especially as the application becomes more complex. Xero does not yet have Inventory nor Job Cost so as a complete business solution it has a long way to go. In the meantime they have burned through nearly 5mil of 15mil of investors money, all for a total of 1406 customers (NZ Herald 14/05/2008) with revenue of only $213,000. These numbers are not good and represent a big risk for a businesses financial records. There are more viable solutions available from other suppliers.

  • Make that 2000 customers as of today, rough forecasting of 3000 in Feb and 4500+ in May… Xero in my belief has passed the survival risk period, now the only question is how big Xero is going to be…

  • Thanks for the article, I have been using MYOB for the last 2 years and havent had a problem. I am in the process of setting up a new company and I have been looking into Xero as an option, and it looks great, especially how you are able to automatically import bank statements. Other than Xero not having an inventory list (which I dont need being a service), what are some other bad points of Xero?

    Cheers,

  • @Scott – if it works for you, and the price isn’t prohibitive – then I’d say just go for it – Xero is beautiful!

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