Monday, December 22, 2014

An Australian finally selects Kashoo – accounting and cloud subscription services

Designing Naked writes: I spent the end of October buried with tax time obligations. My books were a mess. For twelve months I’d neglected to enter my transactions into a centralised ledger. Electronic receipts were languishing on my computer. Nary a bank reconciliation in sight. I had the digital equivalent of the proverbial shoebox full of receipts.
Every year I swear to myself that I won’t my tax return to the last-minute. I’m not normally a negligent or ambivalent person, it’s that bookkeeping always seemed like such a mundane and joyless activity. I needed an injection of colour into the grey world of personal finance to prevent another last-minute rush in October 2015.
Thankfully there is at least one intersection of beautiful design and accounting software.Kashoo is a cloud accounting app that actually makes lodging financial transactions a delight. They even have a YouTube channel.
Kashoo-iPad
The design is exceptional, the learning curve short and the feedback instant. The Kashoo dashboard means I see at a glance how my business is going. I’ve already dutifully entered every transaction for the current financial year.
I could (and should) have used Kashoo for the last two years. There was just one caveat: a minimal monthly charge.  I used to be adverse to software subscription services. Over the last two years aversion has slowly melted away.

Cloud subscriptions – why opt in

My gateway subscriptions were Unblock-Us and Netflix. These services are akin to a utility, I am happy to pay for ongoing access to an ever expanding library of television and movies. The agreement is simple: I keep paying, they keep adding more content for me to watch. Conversely an upfront (one-off) payment provides no incentive for Netflix to improve their offerings.
Software development works the same way. Tech author Ben Thompson expands on this in great detail:
I like companies that are incentivized to make andkeep me happy:
  • My favorite business model is a subscription: I pay every month for a piece of software or a service, which means the software or service provider is always under pressure to earn my money…
  • Up-front payments can go either way:
    • I’m a fan of up-front payments if the developer has plans to release new versions of the software that require me to pay to upgrade. This sort of business is similar to high-margin hardware: not only must this developer offer something very compelling to earn my up-front payment, they must also deliver something of quality to ensure I’m willing to pay for versions two, three, and four
    • On the other hand, if the developer will never charge for upgrades, then I think this business model isn’t consumer friendly at all. A developer of such an app is incentivized to garner as many up-front payments as possible with no regard for existing customers (Ben Thompson, Stratechery)
Armed with this understanding I’ve taken on a deluge of subscription services: Adobe Creative CloudOffice 365Hulu750words and Any.do. Paying monthly means I can cancel the subscription as soon as it is irrelevant (I often put my Office 365 account on hold as I barely use the service).
Framed within this knowledge Kashoo is a perfect fit for my needs. I pay the developers a small continuous monthly fee and they continue to provide me with up-to-date and beautiful software.

Selecting the perfect accounting app

Picking Kashoo was easy thanks to some hardwork I put in 2012. Back then I had a steady government job – my days were spent attending meetings, compiling project status updates and attending more meetings. This uninspiring schedule left me with an abundance of creative energy, which I poured into studying and freelance design work.
With a secondary income stream I needed a way to keep track of invoicing, payments and expenses. I put together a wish-list of what I wanted in an accounting programme and started road-testing. My 2012 wish-list:
  • browser based (no software to install)
  • Google Apps single sign on (no additional password)
  • free full functional trial (try before committing to buy)
  • well designed (user interface and user experience is extremely important to me)
  • easy to use (small learning curve)
Incidentally I’ve continued to reference this wish list whenever I evaluate new software. Wherever possible I opt for browser based, cloud services that I can use on a range of devices.

Making a decision (UX > everything)

My evaluation consisted of road testing five applications: Rhino AccountingYendo,myERPXero and Kashoo. I expanded and refined my original wish-list as I went.
A mundane task like accounting needs to endear itself through an attractive interface. Even more important than design is the user experience. A complex and difficult experience is a complete repellent.
After trialling each app I had a solid leader: Kashoo.
The interface is beautiful, clean, clear and easy to follow. After enabling the app it was simple to register payments and create invoices. Links to provide feedback and receive help are easily accessible, and to make sure you are comfortable they send a sling of welcome emails inviting you to webinars. No fuss, no muss, just easy to use. Kashoo met all my requirements and more. (2012 Cloud Accounting)
I wrote the above summary in 2012. It took me two years to adopt Kashoo as my everyday accounting programme. I’m glad I’ve finally taken the leap and embraced my 2012 decision. My financial records have never been in better shape.
As a bonus I’ve also parlayed my new-found bookkeeping experience into a part-time job. Unfortunately the business uses an aging version of MYOB, but there’s always room for change.

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