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
Bootstrap was created in mid 2008 by Kevin Reeth and Ben Curren a couple of software guys with significant accounting software experience from stints at Intuit. After a few months the name was changed to Outright (a lack of forward planning?) Outright is currently in beta mode with no public announcement of when it will come out of beta. Outright just received USD2million in venture funding from a variety of sources.
As mentioned Outright is currently in beta and is allowing customer access at no charge. While not divulging the timescale for exit from beta, or functionality on the horizon, co-founder Reeth told me that “the current functionality will remain free after the beta period ends”.
The user experience
Outright is simple. Designed as it is for small businesses with very little accounting knowledge, it is set up to be easy and intuitive to use. It’s a cash-based, single-user lightweight offering that doesn’t pretend to be more than it is. It’s got a lovely user interface and is (dare I suggest it for an accounting application) fun to use.
Outright is totally US centric – with a market the size of the US this isn’t a problem for them but the rest of the world is best to look elsewhere for a solution.
From the outset I have to say that it’s pretty disappointing to see that Outright is a single user product. Part of the value add of SaaS is that it allows for real time collaboration – without that it’s little more than SoSaaS. At a minimum I expect users to have the ability to invite their accountant or adviser into the program to see how things are going.
Outright keeps the functionality down to four simple navigation tabs. These four are income, expenses, taxes and reports. As mentioned above, Outright is a cash rather than an accruals based product so users simply enter the amount received.
Outright is pre-populated with the IRS standard expense categories but cunningly learns a user’s situation so with ongoing user it suggests the correct expense category for that item type.
The taxes tab is a nice (if somewhat simplistic) value-add for US businesses. It estimates quarterly federal tax payable based on amounts entered into Outright. It does not however provide for state tax estimates so in some senses only provides half the needed functionality. Seeing Outright works on a cash basis, the tax report also does not not take into account deductions for capital purchases, depreciation and the like – as such it is a fairly rough and ready sort of an estimate of ones tax liability.
Reports, as the name would suggest, is the portal to a (very limited) reports menu. At this stage Outright will show profit and loss, income by customer, expenses by vendor and a US1099 declaration generator.
Outright is integrated with FreshBooks thus allowing for the automation of at least the income side of the application.
Help – sometimes people need some. other than a fairly rudimentary FAQ list, Outright has no online help other than the obvious support email capability. Compare this to some of the other players who invest heavily in both online documentation and live help.
The security issue
Outright allows for the .csv export of user data. As well as that they have a rudimentary security disclosure. A couple of things in the terms of service gave me a bit of a fright, notably;
- Outright reserves the right at any time to modify or discontinue, temporarily or permanently, the Service (or any part thereof) with or without notice
- You understand and accept that the Service is provided on an AS IS and AS AVAILABLE basis
- Outright may choose to begin charging for some or all of the Service at any time
It’s up to prospective customers to decide how comfortable they are with those possibilities over their heads.
APIs – connecting the dots
It would seem that thus far the FreshBooks integration is the only API exercise that Outright has completed.
The pedigree of the founders gives me certainty that Outright knows what it needs to do to create a robust and fully featured product.It’s all a matter of their attention and finding sufficient customers to fund the ongoing development – a case of watch and wait.
Their USD2million in funding should build a more fully featured product – especially in these tight times, the fact that they’ve attracted funding indicates that their plans are more robust than their existing offering would suggest.
At the moment however there are sufficient other alternatives (some paid, some free) which provide a more complete solution than Outright. It’s more what Outright doesn’t provide for – assets, accruals, A/P and A/R – more than what it does provide that is the problem.