News today that Saasu (more on them here), the online accounting software vendor, and Acclipse, the accounting practice management software vendor, have formed a deep partnership to market an end to end system that allows accountants and businesses to work off the same data.

This follows on from MYOB’s moves to move its accounting customers and end business users onto a common data model. It also follows on from moves by Xero to have accountants and clients work on the same data. This will finally move accounting on from the interminable model of having businesses email data files through to accountants and then have to manually enter journal entries once accountants have done their work on the data.

Xero had strong relationships with Acclipse some time ago, but with his deal it seems that Acclipse are really casting heir vote with Saasu, Acclipse CEO even goes so far as to say that:

Price plans cost about half that of one of our major competitors – and you’re getting a fully mature, feature-rich product from a company that has been in the online accounting business for over ten years, a big contrast to the online offerings from MYOB and Xero. I personally consider Saasu to be online accounting’s best-kept secret.

In one move this partnership has managed to cast doubt on MYOB, the big incumbent in the space, and Xero, the plucky upstart. I pinged Xero CEO Rod Drury to ask for his reaction to the move. he was upbeat saying that:

It’s good. Allows people to select best of breed combinations. The beauty of the web 2 model

In another statement that is a direct reference to the lack of inventory functionality within Xero, Chisolm points out that:

…accountants will be able to take advantage of Saasu’s online accounting system complete with a fully integrated inventory system

In terms of product integration Saasu will be integrated into two of Acclipse’s products: Acclipse Web Manager and Acclipse iFirm, the online practice management and tax system designed for New Zealand accounting firms.

Development has started on a single Saasu login within Acclipse Web Manager – which means businesses can login to their accountant’s website to access both their Saasu accounting system and any confidential documents and files their accountant wants to share with them in a safe and secure manner.

The key to achieving the benefits that cloud computing can bring financial software is allowing all parties, accountant and businesses (and for that matter other advisers) to look at the same data. Different people may need a different view of the data for their own purposes but there is immense value to be gained when those views are generated from a common data set. This move sees customers and accountants offered another choice to get these views – choice is a good thing

A common ledger is the holy grail of the accounting and SME world. Both Xero and MYOB are working towards this end goal but out of the blue Acclipse and Saasu have stolen a strategic head start on them – the question remains as to whether they can translate that into adoption by the all-important accounting practices.

[see disclosure statement here]

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.

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