AccountRight Live is MYOB’s flagship among its cloud accounting programs. It’s unique hybrid construction – part desktop application, part cloud database – can sometimes cause confusion when compared to other cloud accounting programs.
MYOB stresses that although AccountRight Live can store the company file on the local computer, the program is not designed to save to the desktop first and sync the file to the cloud. How exactly does it work then?
BoxFreeIT asked Dale Dixon, MYOB’s product strategy manager for the business division, for an explanation.
MYOB’s entry-level cloud accounting program, LiveAccounts (soon to be replaced by MYOB Essentials), is built in an identical manner to Xero, Saasu, QuickBooks Online, Reckon One and other cloud programs. A LiveAccounts user accesses the program by opening up a window in their internet browser, visiting the LiveAccounts website and typing in their password and username.
The data in LiveAccounts is stored in MYOB’s cloud data centre and no information is stored on the user’s computer.
AccountRight Live is similar to LiveAccounts in that information is stored in MYOB’s cloud data centre. However, an AccountRight Live user must have the AccountRight program installed on their desktop or laptop computer to access the program.
The most common point of confusion is how AccountRight Live stores its data. The program doesn’t store the information in a database on the computer and then sync that database with another database in the cloud in the same manner as cloud storage services such as Dropbox.
Instead, the desktop application functions as a custom browser which sends and receives information directly to MYOB’s cloud data centre, says Dixon.
MYOB says this model gives traditional desktop software users the benefits of the cloud - accessing the data from multiple locations, sharing files easily with others, a secure online backup – without moving them to an unfamiliar interface or the perceived insecurity of a browser interface.
AccountRight Live can also be used by a business that never wants to use the cloud. In that case, the company file is stored on the computer in just the same way as previous versions of MYOB in the My Library section.
Larger accounting firms that store clients’ company files on a central server can still do so with AccountRight Live. The data files are located in the Network Library section which also stores point-in-time backups.
Users can direct the program to save to the cloud at any time by selecting the Online Library.
The AccountRight Live licence allows up to five people to use the software. A bigger licence adds more users.
The Local-Cloud Tango
But how does the local company file work for AccountRight Live cloud users? While the company file in the cloud data centre remains the primary version, AccountRight Live saves a hidden copy to the user’s computer.
“It’s almost like a shadow copy of the company information on your computer,” Dixon says. When an AccountRight Live user is offline the program will automatically open the locally saved version and set the cloud file to read-only. Once internet access is restored, the local file copies the changes to the cloud file and the latter again becomes the primary point.
“The people who use that the most are those who have lousy internet connections where browsing the web is really painful,” Dixon says.
The program can also take point-in-time backups such as just before submitting a BAS (business activity statement).
An accountant can file away the company in the state it was in when they carried out a compliance action. Point-in-time backups were useful for when a user made a mistake importing a list and could then restore the company file to its previous state.
“An accountant needs to know if any transactions have been changed in that period after their BAS was submitted. AccountRight Live tells you all the things that have changed,” Dixon says.
Is there a Browser-Based Interface Coming?
Given that the business logic and the data already reside in the cloud, the company could build a browser interface so that it functioned the same way as LiveAccounts or Xero. In fact, MYOB began work on a project to do just that. Some progress was made on an HTML5 version but instead the company decided to double down on mobile.
MYOB is building a string of mobile apps suited for particular roles such as employee, business owner and accountant.
“It’s something we call mobile moments,” Ross says. An app for a business owner could show who owes money and when the invoices will be paid, for example.
The mobile focus also fits with the point in development of AccountRight Live’s API, or application programming interface. The API is the set of instructions that allows a program to talk to other applications, whether that’s a mobile app, a browser interface or a third-party program (or add-on).
MYOB has invested in adding as many features as possible to its API so that it can connect to lots of third-party programs. It claims to have met 80 percent of requests from its add-on partners. But that breadth of features came at the expense of depth. For example, although add-on programs have access to payroll and invoices in AccountRight Live, they can’t perform more complex functions contained within the program.
Until the API is complete it isn’t possible to create a browser-based interface with an identical depth of features and functions as the desktop application.
One of the drawbacks of using a desktop application as an interface for a cloud program is that users are still responsible for updating the software. Ross admitted that accountants complained about maintaining new versions but said MYOB had come up with a solution.
A team of developers was working on automatic updates that would happen invisibly without the input of the user – in the same way as Google’s browser Chrome.
“With Chrome it seamlessly updates and you don’t even know what version you’re on. We have some pretty big steps that will happen this quarter that will bring a seamless update experience,” Ross said.
By Q2 this year, subscribers will automatically be bumped up to the latest upgrade. However, users who bought their software outright (a “perpetual” licence) will remain on the version they bought which means their accountants will need to maintain several versions of the software.
M-Powered Services – When Are they Coming?
The complete set of MYOB’s M-Powered services have taken a while to arrive for AccountRight Live. Several have already made the transition including M-Powered Invoices which adds a tear-off section on the bottom of invoices for receiving payments through BPay, Australia Post and by credit card.
M-Powered Payments, with which a business can pay employees and suppliers, is also in place. M-Powered Bank Statements was superseded by BankLink and already available.
But the “banking 2.0 stuff” in version 19 is not yet in AccountRight Live. MYOB is working on it in the first half of this year, Ross says. MYOB is also working on bringing advanced inventory to AccountRight Live this quarter.
The next service to be ready for launch i M-Powered Super, which has a target shipping date of May. MYOB was already alpha testing its M-Powered mobile payments service and hopes to release it this quarter.
Multi-currency is not in AccountRight Live yet, although work has started.