Accounting 2.0 at CloudAve
In an ongoing series of reviews and analysis pieces, CloudAve will be taking a deep look into accounting software for the new world.
See the other posts at this tag
Introduction & Background
KashFlow was created in 2004 when Duane Jackson, a web developer, couldn’t find an accounting product that suited his needs as a owner of a small business with no accountancy knowledge.
The product has iterated since this time based on customer feedback. It’s now a fully fledged accounting product and recently beat all other products, including Sage 50 and Quickbooks Pro, to be crowned Best Small Business Accounting Software at the Software Satisfaction Awards.
In an endorsement to beat all others, the company is chaired by the Rt Hon Lord Young of Graffham, a former chairman of Cable & Wireless. The company and its founder have attracted praise from Bill Gates, Prince Charles and UK Chancellor Alistair Darling.
Bucking the 30 day free trial trend, Kashflow is available for a 60-day free trial, thereafter it costs GBP15.99 per month.
The user experience
Maybe it’s just me but KashFlow looks a little funny for an accounting application – the pink and blue swirls look OK on Bebo but not so on an accounting application. That said were looking at functionality here so we’ll look past the aesthetics!
KashFlow is aimed at businesses on the smaller end of the SMB spectrum and as such is designed with the lay user in mind. Someone with no accountancy training. It’s simple things like the term "receipt" (in place of the more correct "purchase invoice". Given the fact that it’s a fully fledged accounting system – KashFlow does a good job of keeping the UI simple – everything is accessible from a menu bar without the need for massive hierarchies. The first level has broad functional areas (Customers, Quotes, Sales, Suppliers, Purchases and Bank) while the second goes deeper into each functional area.
The basic functionality
It goes without saying that an accounting application will have invoicing and purchasing functionality, as well as customer tracking and reporting. KashFlow also has some nice tweaks that are obviously aimed at micro business customers (time constrained as they generally are). Invoices can be automatically emailed to customers, along with which reminder emails are automatically sent for overdue invoices.
KashFlow does not include any payroll functions but users can sign up for 12Pay, a UK Government approved payroll product which integrates with KashFlow.
KashFlow is not multi-currency. Users can decide which currency they want to use, but they can only use one at a time. KahFlow has bank statement importation although it is surprisingly hidden in the settings screen (this user missed it!). KashFlow, like other UK applications hasn’t convinced the banks to allow automatic uploading of statements – until someone cracks this problem some of the value of connectedness will be, if not lost, at least a little diminished.
KashFlow has a massive range of reports – as would be expected A/R and A/P, P&L and Balance Sheet are all available but there are some interesting and potentially useful other reports;
Business Progress Summary – the Princes Trust has some specific reporting requirements for the businesses it supports. This report fill those requirements but would also be useful for businesses committed to periodic reporting – in essence it is a report detailing both soft and hard measured – mentor hours utilised, financial performance, trading status, agreed actions etc.
Sage Export – This generates a CSV file of all information ready to be imported into the UK’s most popular desktop accounting package, Sage.
HSBC Factoring – Many micro businesses rely on factoring to ease their cashflow. This report fulfils the HSBC Bank requirements for customers using their factoring facility.
The Value Adds
KashFlow is completely integrated with PayPal and is certified by PayPal themselves for this integration – KashFlow are very proud of the fact that they’re the only accounting application to be so certified. Users can can import all of their sales history from PayPal. It’s a quick job to set up the PayPal integration and as detailed in the pricing matrix above there are plans allowing for hourly or weekly PayPal importation.
Retail and wholesale price-lists can be created. As an option Stock Control can be enabled which runs a rudimentary inventory system – deducting stock after sales.
The security issue
KashFlow has followed the norm and uses SSL encryption for data transfer. They also utilise additional login processes to prevent unauthorised access. Physical security at their London Docklands data centre is the norm for a modern data centre.
APIs – connecting the dots
KashFlow seems serious about its API play – it has a dedicated API site where public offerings are promoted and developers can get information about the API process. Publicly available are an e-commerce solution, the aforementioned Payroll offering and PayPal integration. As with other SaaS applications – much API work happens on a proprietary business-specific basis so isn’t publicly accessible.
KashFlow has produced a good product. The lack of multiple currency will be a barrier to some. In their home market they’ve won a fair amount of acclaim for their offering – one can’t help but think that s more a reflection of a move from installed to SaaS than because of the offering per se.
KashFlow has however gained much credibility by being very responsive to their customers and this agility will stand them in good stead to be reactive in places that their larger competitors cannot.