Part of every business, like it or not, is accounting. If nothing else, IRD likes to know how much they can get from you. But you too should have some idea of how you're going - and maybe even more. And this is where we are different from most traditional accountants.


Accuracy is important: Some use it for more than others, but in all cases, the system has to be accurate. Bank accounts have to be reconciled properly, debtors have to show how much they owe, GST has to show what is owing, and so forth.


We believe in the importance of your system - so much so that we like to get it right and help you do almost all the accounting in the one package. By doing that with you we also teach you to get it right in the future. This means less effort for both you and us in the long term.


In the cloud or cloudless?


There's a lack of clarity in many people's minds about "the cloud". So in an attempt to break through the confusion, here's the state of play as I understand it.


We have three main types of system. The traditional desktop-based systems include Moneyworks, MYOB and Reckon (QuickBooks). The Internet-based systems - just include MYOB Essentials, Reckon One and Xero. Finally, there are those that combine both. These include MYOB Accountright Live and Reckon Hosted.


There are some who prefer the security and reliability of their own desktop (which of course requires you backup regularly and reliably). Advocates of cloud-based systems argue that their systems are more reliable because they have dedicated backups and extensive security. Plus their users are always on the latest version of the software with no need to upgrade. While the early days of "the cloud" involved a significant sacrifice of performance, that is less so today - although still significant.


While a desktop system may be slightly more reliable (if it is backed up regularly and reliably it's not dependent on access to the internet and less prone to hackers, etc), the convenience of access from any system and the reliability of backup (but in some cases inability to restore an historical set) and the widespread use of the internet mean more and more people prefer their accounting software to run over the internet. Unless there are major hiccoughs with the internet (e.g. nuclear war, solar interference, or your favourite doomsday event), this trend is only going to continue.


One obvious advantage of cloud systems is how cheap they are, right? Well, in his article "The host with the most" by Glenn Baker in the September 2014 copy of NZ Business, he says Grant Cowie (CEO of MoneyWorks) points out that it's difficult to see how paying a monthly fee in perpetuity is more cost effective than a one-off purchase. There's a lot more to this issue than just upfront fees - there are upgrades, backups (often totally ignored with cloud-based systems until you want to change), and many other factors. Sadly both MYOB and Reckon now charge for their desktop software on a dubscription basis.


So there's still no common, one size fits all, answer for everyone. Each person has to identify what's important to them, both now and in the foreseeable future. The most important advice we give is not to rush into whatever choice you are faced with until you have a good understanding of the features, and have looked at the alternatives.