Introduction & Background
Less Accounting’s mission in life is to make book keeping as easy and simple as possible. Less goes out on a limb, saying that they’ll change the accounting landscape in the same way that Basecamp has changed the project management landscape. Whether or not they subvert the industry as much as they wish, a fair analogy is that Less is to the incumbents models what MacOS is to Windows.
Less Accounting is just one offering from the Less Everything stable – they also do project management, time tracking and expense tracking solutions.
Less have just revisited their pricing at the same time as rolling out some great new features. Their pricing options are shown in the diagram below – note that, as is de rigeur for SaaS applications, they offer a free 30 day trial. Even Less is a simple offering with invoices, expenses and contacts. Less adds deposits and reports while More gives automatic bank reconciliation – one of the killer features for accounting applications.
The user experience
As is the norm in the 2.0 world, and in keeping with their "less is better than more" ethos Less Accounting is pure simplicity. They’ve spent a bunch of time honing the menu choices and screen features down as small as possible, resulting in a user experience that admirably hides the complexity behind the system. Less Accounting is a simplified book keeping solution – it’s not double entry and so won’t fulfil the requirements of a business needing full accounting functionality (balance sheets, trial balances and the like). Less contend that their reporting structures are written in such a way as to provide the same level of protection that full double entry accounting does – notwithstanding this assurance it’s advisable to seek advice from a CPA on these matters.
The basic functionality
Less has a very simple menu choice. The main headings are split between Money IN and Money Out, with miscellaneous functions coming across a few other headings. Their In/Out methodology works well for SMBs – aligning as it does with the way they actually think and work.
Their dashboard is an exercise in elegant simplicity, it foregoes complex charts and flow diagrams and in their place provides some bottom-line numbers to give users a quick overview of where their business is at financially.
As would be expected Less is heavy on the invoicing side of things – allowing customers to create invoices with a custom design and then to either download and print them, or email them as .pdfs directly to their customers.
Less has great expense tracking functionality – which also allows for direct importation from consumer finance applications (in the image below an expense claim has been imported from an individual’s credit card transaction on Wesabe)
Multi-currency support (a rare feature at the moment with web based accounting applications) is about to be released and Less Accounting will soon come "packaged" with Less’ own time management solution, More Honey (currently a $7.95 per month add-on).
The value adds
Auto bank feeds – in a new development, and due to be released by the end of October, Less will be rolling out functionality that will allow for automatic bank feed integration into their application. It’s an amazing time saver (I’ve been using the function in another application for quite awhile now – it really does start to make book keeping fun)
QuickBooks importation – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – migration support is the most important thing that SaaS vendors can do. Less has just rolled out an automated importer to allow QuickBooks data to be bought into the Less Accounting application.
The security issue
Less has a security brief on their FAQ page – In their words;
Less Accounting runs on redundant hard drives. Data backups are made nightly and stored in a different location. SSL (https) encryption is standard with all accounts. The safety of your data is our #1 concern.
Enough information for the digerati to be satisfied with, but not too much to scare away the customers.
APIs – connecting the dots
Less Accounting’s API is due for release about now – while they’re not releasing information about potential future integration partners, they’re already fully integrated with Gmail, Basecamp, Highrise and Wesabe.
Less is an excellent package for small businesses that don’t want or need the complexity that full double-entry accounting brings. The UI is great, it’s very quick to learn and intuitive to use, and with the recent changes it has some good features that really add value to basic accounting functionality. The fact it isn’t double-entry limits their potential market, but Less seems to prefer the simpler end of the business spectrum so this would seem to be part of their score strategy. It’s a great offering and eminently suitable for small service type businesses.
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 below;