It is said that every cloud has a silver lining. While that may be true, each cloud may also have a dark under-belly. If you are considering a cloud-based accounting service, learn from our experience.
Today we present the first part of a three act play.
Act 1: Where WilloWare learns first-hand about the dark underbelly of a cloud-based accounting service.
Act 2: The cloud fights back and how WilloWare escaped its clutches.
Act 3: WilloWare goes live with Dynamics GP, and shares with you how we use our own software.
Like many companies, WilloWare started on QuickBooks, and as we grew we started bumping against the limits of the software. But it is difficult to make the decision to switch because it pulls resources away from doing the things that keep you in business. We felt we could stretch it out for a bit more if we could address the most pressing issue—QuickBooks Desktop (QB) did not support a virtual office very well. The primary pain point was providing remote access. As 2014 neared, Intuit re-released QuickBooks Online (QBO) in a condition that was reasonably functional, so we jumped on to it.
There are a number of cloud service Accounting Software providers: Quickbooks Online, Freshbooks, Kashoo, Intacct, Wave, and more. Unlike the web-client for Dynamics GP, QuickBooks online (QBO) has no similarities to QuickBooks desktop (QB)—they are completely separate, unique applications. This is a feature worth emphasizing—if you use the GP web-client there is zero learning curve because it is very nearly identical. Another key difference is that with Dynamics GP, even in a hosted environment, your data is in a physically separate database. The reason this is important will become apparent later.
Migrating data from QB to QBO was easy, and QBO provided the remote access we needed. There was some inefficiency as we climbed the learning curve, and a pretty significant loss of functionality compared to QB.
We had to deal with some data corruption related to a problem with their Bank Reconciliation functionality. Aside from causing a lot of hair-pulling, this was not the reason we left QBO.
The real reason we left QBO:
Please take a moment to read this section from the QBO Terms of Service.
We didn’t read their TOS. But even if we had, I don’t think we would have interpreted that clause to mean this would happen:
Note where Intuit’s loan offer says “Congrats on hitting about xxxx annual sales revenue.” Their ‘about’ is about as approximate as saying, "There are ‘about’ 13 donuts in that box." Which is to say, they mined our data, projected a very accurate year-end sales number, and made us a loan offer based on that number.
Who has our data? Who else has been looking at it? Who else did they give it to? Did they further mine our data to make offers to our customers? Will they delete it? Let our experience with cloud services be a lesson to you—make sure you know who owns your data and what can be done with it.
With the cloud service providers like QuickBooks Online, all data from all customers is together in one gigantic database. Intuit can easily run reports on all customer data. This is where the separate database of Dynamics GP is important. With hosted GP the amount of effort required to dig into each customer’s individual database would largely negate any value of the digging. There is also a question of motive—did Intuit have a motive to mine our data? Yes. Does a GP hosting provider have incentive to mine your data? Probably not.
The letter above was the trigger for WilloWare to end our one year experiment with QBO, and make the move to Dynamics GP. But, now that Intuit had us, they were not going to make it easy to get away—and that’s where Act 2 of this trilogy will pick up.
The conclusion for Act 1 is the lesson we learned. Make sure you know who owns your data. Who can access it? When can they access it? How? What can they do with it? Can you prevent it? Stay tuned for Act 2 to follow WilloWare's saga while escaping from QBO.