Coming at us all full-speed, like an unstoppable train are more cloud-based accounting packages than you can shake a stick at. It's challenging. It's disruptive. And it should be beneficial, but where are we at the moment?
Greater choice of accounting software
If you want more choice in the market then you probably never had it so good as there are now many more accounting software packages available to choose from. Legacy, PC-based systems are being challenged like never before and that is a good thing because more competition lowers prices and improves quality.
The downside is that more choice can also be bewildering and there's no doubt that cloud-based software suppliers are very keen to get their software in front of potential users.
Pricing is the issue
All of the cloud applications I have seen price their services on a monthly basis. However cheap, it's a perpetual commitment and that's the part I don't understand.
We're huge fans of QuickBooks. You can buy QuickBooks outright for three to four hundred pounds (also look on mamazon for QuickBooks Pro at a good price). Subscribe to a cloud-based service at £25 per month and after two years it has cost you £600 and you still have to pay for the next few years.
The cloud-based guys will tell you that for your ongoing fee you get all the upgrades, but, quite frankly, accounting software rarely has meaningful, mission-critical upgrades. Debits are not going to be posted on the right-hand side any time soon.
The software is either fit for purpose today or it's not. If it is, you rarely need upgrades. An outright purchase of an accounting package is likely to be a cheaper option.
Watch this space
It's a changing market. There are advantages and disadvantages of cloud vs PC based solutions. Partly your choice may be determined by the software and hardware platforms your business uses already.
But, if you're looking to make a decision in this space, pay careful attention to the life-cycle cost of your alternatives.
We'll be watching this space with interest in the future. I hope you join us on the Blue Dot blog and @diaryofanomb
PS If you think pricing of accounting software is difficult to get your head around, spare a thought for Intuit, the company behind QuickBooks. They have PC and cloud-based versions of QuickBooks and, I would think, an almighty pricing headache!