Saasu is an Australian online accounting software company who’s name stands for “Software as a Service Utility”. Saasu is also the name of their online accounting software for managing business finances. Saasu is capable of handling sales, payroll, purchasing, e-commerce, inventory, point of sale, document and workflow management that can be and is extended by third parties utilising their API.
There are a number of other players in the online accounting game, including MYOB Live Accounts, Xero, and Intuit Quickbooks Online. Two of these are products from two of the major desktop accounting sector, MYOB and Intuit (I also had a look to see if Reckon had an online accounting system available as the 3rd major desktop player. There is some information on their website about one, but I could not find much, or a dedicated website for it, so I have decided to leave it out of the comparison). Like Saasu, Xero has been developed specifically as an online accounting tool.
Saasu was originally developed in Australia to meet the needs of Australian businesses. Comparatively, Xero was also initially developed in New Zealand to cater for New Zealand business needs. Both have subsequently expanded to cater for the accounting and taxation requirements of numerous countries overseas and have offices in other countries. Comparatively, MYOB and Intuit already catered for numerous countries through their desktop products, however in the online sector, while MYOB do cater for Australian businesses, Intuit currently do not. This means that Saasu has at least 2 current major competitors in Australia in the online accounting market with the potential for a third major competitor.
All of these tools provide access across multiple platforms, they all work on any computer with a browser, be it Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, or other, thus allowing both the business operator and their accountant to seamlessly access and manage their accounts from anywhere in the world without the accountant needing to come on site, or needing to send accounts files off to the accountant to manage. They are all at different levels in terms of other device support.
Saasu currently has an iPhone/iPad application in development that can be used (though it does have some bugs still) and their website can be accessed on most mobile devices. Comparatively, Xero already has mobile versions of their web application available for iPhone, Blackberry, Android and Windows Mobile. Similarly, MYOB Live Accounts does not currently offer any mobile version, whereas Intuit Quickbooks Online does have mobile versions available for iPhone, Blackberry and Android. What this means is, you can access your accounts across a range of devices, and while Saasu is currently limited in terms of the range of devices it has a dedicated application for, it does give them room to improve, and they are ahead of one of the dominant players in accounting software, MYOB.
At this time, Saasu and Xero both offer an API true to Web 2.0 form to allow third party application development and integration with their systems, including online shopping carts and physical point-of-sale systems. Comparatively, MYOB Live Accounts and Intuit Quickbooks Online don’t, their systems appear to be more restricted and only appear to easily integrate with their own desktop systems.
Saasu, and other online accounting applications offer competition to the desktop accounting market quite easily. Accounting is primarily number and text based, so this is not something that takes a long time to download or upload, and things such as bank feeds and statements are available online anyway. This means bank feeds can be automatically integrated and reconciled, where on desktop systems they usually had to be manually imported. As the data is something that can be loaded quickly, it means that a low bandwidth connection is not much of an issue to a system such as this, and rather than paying for a new system every year to receive the latest tax rules, customers simply pay per month based on their usage and automatically receive the latest updates and rules automatically.
This sort of system can reduce costs in this way due to automation, not needing to install new software and so on, but it can also reduce business costs by allowing their accountant to work off site and save time. No need to bring an accountant in or send them accounts files, they already have access online. Similarly you can access your accounts from anywhere. This should overall make accounting simpler and cheaper than the traditional desktop based systems, at least for small to medium business enterprises that do not employ a full time accountant. While some applications make more sense to remain desktop based, at least for now, accounting is something that really does make sense to be done online.
Potential Legal and Ethical Issues
The biggest hurdle here is data security and privacy. Accounts data is extremely sensitive and as such businesses need assurance that their data is not only private but also secure. Saasu do not provide an information section specifically on their website, which I think is a rather big omission considering how important this should be. Even their terms of service do not provide much insight. They do however mention security, and recommended procedures throughout various sections of their website, including bank feed encryption and recommended system requirements to improve security, such as automatically logging out your session if your IP address changes (such as if your ISP provides you with a dynamic IP address instead of a static IP address).
It makes sense for Saasu to expand their services with dedicated applications for more devices, including Blackberry, Android and Windows Mobile, however, it makes sense that their initial focus is on the iPhone as it does have a large market share.
Saasu are currently pushing into the point of sale market with a desktop system that automatically sends sales to their online account. If the internet connection is not available, it simply holds them on the local computer until they can be sent. This is a logical progression and makes sense as there are many customers that would require a point of sale system to integrate with their accounts.
I would anticipate that further growth in this area would be a target, similarly, further growth in integration with e-commerce systems. At this time, this integration is provided by third party developers, such as Saaslink. It would also make sense for them to target third party developers and encourage more third party integration this way as it takes the load off of Saasu directly, allowing them to focus on their core system.
I would also expect that in the future they would continue to expand into other overseas markets as there is enormous potential elsewhere in the world, and a system such as this that can make software available above the level of a single device, subsequently reducing costs and making accounting easier is certainly something that is going to be increasingly in demand.
Intuit. (n.d.). Quickbooks Online. Retrieved April 17, 2011 from http://quickbooksonline.intuit.com/
MYOB. (n.d.). MYOB Live Accounts. Retrieved April 17, 2011 from http://liveaccounts.myob.com.au/
Saasu. (n.d.). About Saasu. Retrieved April 17, 2011 from http://www.saasu.com/about/
Saasu. (n.d.). Saasu for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Retrieved April 17, 2011 from http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/saasu/id415087144
Saasu. (n.d.). System requirements. Retrieved April 17, 2011 from http://help.saasu.com/answers/system-requirements/
Saasu. (n.d.). Terms of service. Retrieved April 17, 2011 from http://www.saasu.com/tos/
Xero. (n.d.). Online accounting. Retrieved April 17, 2011 from http://www.xero.com/accounting-software/online-accounting/?t2
Xero. (n.d.). Xero. Retrieved April 17, 2011 from http://www.xero.com/
Note: This blog post is part of a series of blog posts that form assessment item #2 for INB347 – Web 2.0 Applications.