We recap the main messages from the vendor keynote panel at the Alternative Accountancy IT Conference on 20th March 2019. In this session, PayDashboard COO Paul Gibbons joined panellists from Sage and AccountsIQ to discuss technology development in the accounting sector, from cloud-based services to Open APIs and software integrations.
Read an outline of some of the topics covered and PayDashboard’s insights below.
Q. How close are vendors to offering truly cloud-based services?
A. New entrants to the software market are invariably developing their product for the cloud from scratch. If you look at all the recent entrants to the payroll market they are predominantly cloud-based and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
It’s more of a challenge as a vendor to migrate your existing install-based software to the cloud or enable it as SaaS. For established providers transitioning their current software to the cloud, this can be a fundamental change to how the software is structured – in some cases they are better to build the software again from scratch rather than try to re-purpose a desktop software for the cloud. The danger if you just keep patching the software and building on top of redundant code is that the vendor gets to a point where their development team are too scared to remove seemingly obsolete old code because doing so might affect other areas of the software.
Q. What can vendors do to help accountancy practices get full functionality out of their systems?
A. It’s important to create a constant feedback loop with clients so that you develop the functionality that they need or will value. There’s no point developing something that none of your clients will use. So, listening to clients and incorporating their feedback in your development roadmap is key.
This is something that we are currently working on at PayDashboard. We have created a Product User Forum whereby our clients can be involved in the evolution of our product and influence our development pipeline.
Q. How can software vendors work together to help practices connect disparate accountancy systems?
A. Open APIs are the obvious solution to system connectivity. If vendors were to develop more Open APIs as standard it would just be a case of writing to each other’s APIs – which is a one-time job plus occasional maintenance/updates if required. PayDashboard already have an Open API and we readily talk to any payroll software provider who would like to develop an integration.
Q. Do vendors have any appetite for opening their platforms to smaller developers through APIs?
A. Speaking as a relatively small developer in our industry, we’ve seen mixed attitudes to this from software providers. While some vendors have been forward-thinking in developing an integration or writing to our API, there has also been a very fearful attitude from some enterprise software providers towards PayDashboard where they see a cross-over of services.
One reason for this is due to the traditionally-held view that the more services a client has with you, the stickier they become. By connecting to third party systems, vendors may fear that they are making it easier for their clients to leave in the future.
However, the software landscape is changing. Clients want to be able to mix and match their software services to build the best solution for their individual business needs. To succeed in this changing ecosystem, vendors need to stop dictating what other software their clients can and can’t use by refusing to integrate with third party products. The days of your data being locked into a single system should be over. If a client wants to extract their data to use with a third-party product, or want to import data from another system, they should be able to do this.
In the future, the ability to integrate with a specific product may even by the deciding factor as to whether a vendor wins a new client or not. If that prospective client is happy with one part of their technology stack but wants to change another aspect, they will be certain to look for a new provider who will integrate with their existing products that they want to retain. The future of accounting and payroll products is an interconnected software ecosystem. Instead of fearing losing small percentages of their revenue in the short-term by opening their systems to other connected providers, software vendors should concentrate on the long-term benefits of increased client retention and acquisition that these software integration partnerships will bring if done right.
At PayDashboard we integrate with existing payroll software in order to improve delivery of payroll data for accountants, their clients, payroll managers and employees. Contact us for more information on how we integrate with your current payroll software and to arrange a demo.