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
Siondo is a London-based SaaS vendor that has been “bootstrapped” into existence. Founded by Christian Steiner (CEO) and Jason Devenney (CTO), Siondo aims to be a “One Stop Shop” for extensible SaaS business applications.
Siondo is aiming to build modules to provide for most business needs. Currently their ERP product is available while their CRM module is due to be released this month. Further modules are planned for release over the next couple of years.
Interestingly Siondo is one of a select bunch of SMB SaaS products that is completely built on Microsoft technologies – Siondo uses the whole range from ASP.NET, C#, MS SQL Server, AJAX.NET, IIS to Windows Server – a very interesting facet given Microsoft’s recent dumping of its Money product.
Siondo ERP is currently priced at £60/€70/$120 per month and includes 1GB of free storage space. Storage space upgrades are priced at £2.50/€3.00/$5.00 per 500MB per month. Siondo will introduce package deals for storage space shortly while SiondoCRM will be priced around the £50 p.m. mark.
The user experience
The starting place for Siondo is the central dashboard – as we’ve come to expect from SaaS applications, the dashboard gives an overview of main areas of functionality and in a nice touch, can be customized depending on branch, department or staff positions. The dashboard itself is “widgetized” similar to what we’ve come to expect from services such as iGoogle.
The basic functionality
Siondo ERP – As an ERP offering, Siondo provides the gamut of business functions
- Customer Management – customer detail management, terms for product and service sales.
- Supplier Management – supplier record management, supplier-specific product catalogues,
- Sales and Service – Lifecycle management for quotes, orders, contracts, invoices, cash receipts, credit notes, and returns and cancellations.
- Purchasing – Purchase orders, contracts, invoices, receipts and supplier returns.
- Inventory – Real time stock control including LIFO, FIFO and AVERAGE inventory costing. Ability to track stock by serial and lot numbers. Automatic stock ordering with buffer level control
- Resource Management – Work requests and work orders.
- Banking – Bank statement upload and reconciliation of bank and credit card accounts
- Bookkeeping – Double entry accounting engine including charts of Accounts, General Ledgers, Receivables and Payables Tracking, Fixed Assets, Budgeting, and GAAP/IFRS Reporting
Taxes– Siondo includes a global taxation engine which can either be pre-populated when the user sets their local setting, or can be manually entered and changed at any time.
Taxes are grouped in three levels to allow for the various combinations internationally;
- Country (Tax Groups: UK, NZ, US, etc.)
- State/Region (Tax Types: NY, California, or Scotland, Wales, etc.)
- Local (Tax Items).
Tax Items are Tax Type-specific, while Tax Types are Tax Group-specific.
Lifecycle Management – Siondo takes a very process driven view of transactions. In what will be a relief to auditing types, every transactions within Siondo follows a defined lifecycle with the ability to authorize users with fine granularity – in this way an accounts clerk could post an invoice while only a supervisor can authorize it for example.
Siondo has been built around what they’re calling a dynamic service platform which at it’s core comes ready built with;
- Security and multi tenancy
- Dedicated databases
- Full API integration
- A plug and play vertical rules engine
- Single sign on
The stack diagram below shows that there is plenty of control at each layer – from multi-lingual and thematic control of the UI, through to Live currency and external single sign on at the API layer. In many ways Siondo is continuing something of a theme in that it is as much a PaaS offering as a SaaS one. In fact the combination of built in private label functionality and Single Sign On enables Siondo to place its “plug & play” shopping basket on any website, allowing virtually anyone to white label and on sell a customized version of Siondo.
Configuration Wizards/Templates enable Siondo to populate all software applications according to country, region, and type of business. This way, and with the help of local expertise, Siondo can also offer compliance as a service.
The security issue
In keeping with the granular control over users that Siondo allows for, each area within Siondo can be completely configured by the subscriber. From module access, tabs, panels and lifecycle access. If required a subscriber can add an authorization code to each user so a senior member of staff can authorize a user transaction.
APIs – connecting the dots
Siondo are creating some of their own add-on modules including;
- SiondoCRM – customer relationship management
– human resources management
- SiondoPOS – point of sale system
- SiondoWeb – e-commerce module
- SiondoMAN – advanced manufacturing module (BOMs, work process management etc) i>
SiondoCRM is due to release this year, the other modules have no set release date as yet.
As well as this they are teaming up with other SaaS providers to increase the offering as quickly as possible. The first 3rd party service to be launched later this year is Document Management from huddle.net.
Go to market
Siondo recognizes that the small business market is highly diversified and difficult to target with direct marketing and sales models unless serious money is thrown at a startup. They’ve chose therefore to concentrate on indirect marketing and sales channels such as reseller networks and licensing/co-branding agreements with partners that already have an existing SMB user base. Siondo have four main partnership strategies;
- Global resellers – jamcracker and MyBusinessMVP selling through their existing chanels
- Large resellers – partners such as PCStars and SoftSearch that have existing large customer bases
- Resellers – smaller businesses and professional practices reselling to their customers
- White label partners – Siondo plans to offer their product as a completely customizable offering.
The Redmond Connection
As mentioned previously, Siondo is one of a small number of SMB business applications built entirely on a Microsoft stack. They were the first UK company to be invited into Microsoft’s BizSpark program and are now one of only 13 European companies to be part of Microsoft’s Accelerator program. Siondo is planning to migrate to Microsoft’s Azure Cloud platform soon – all of this together, added to the fact that Microsoft only recently ditched its Money product and has stated its intention to move into the SaaS area, leads one to suspect that there might be a future acquisition in the cards here – watch this space.
Siondo has a nice level of functionality, and the fact that they’ve built their platform thinking about downstream extensibility give me faith that, third party developer willing, they’ll get some traction in their aim to build a fully broad offering.
As with all these things, the product is only half the battle and seeing how Siondo succeeds with their channel partnerships will be very interesting, as will watching how their Microsoft relationship develops over time.