Last month’s launch of MYOB Advanced, a cloud ERP based on the solid Acumatica platform, was a big surprise, with some big implications.
MYOB Advanced knocks off one of the issues with online accounting software to date – that it lacks too many features compared to desktop accounting software. While this is good news for businesses, it leaves MYOB’s AccountRight flagship in a no man’s land where its only advantages are price (debatable) and its ability to be used offline.
If you are looking at AccountRight make sure you have checked out Advanced before going ahead. You might be surprised to find that an ERP is a smarter option.
Why Does MYOB Have Two Accounting Programs?
The lack of features in the cloud is the logic behind MYOB’s “portfolio” approach to the cloud.
MYOB Essentials Accounting is a browser-based accounting program designed for sole operators and micro-businesses with a handful of staff. It includes a basic payroll and inventory.
MYOB AccountRight, a desktop program that saves its data file to the cloud, includes a more complex payroll that tracks time against jobs and a smarter inventory that can assign multiple prices to one product or volume discount rules.
The two-pronged strategy gives MYOB a way to meet the needs of larger small businesses. Rivals such as Xero and Intuit QuickBooks have to turn to third-party apps in payroll and inventory to compete with AccountRight. The ecosystem approach opens the door to industry-specific or task-specific apps which is great, but the downside is extra expense and complexity.
The portfolio concept has worked so far for MYOB. It could take two years before the online accounting software companies can replicate the depth of features in MYOB AccountRight.
And the company plans to stick with it. The idea of building up Essentials to replace MYOB AccountRight was ruled out by CEO Tim Reed last week.
“We’ll keep the portfolio approach. (MYOB) Essentials is quick to use, and simple. There’s not going to be feature parity with AccountRight,” Reed told Digital First.
Growing businesses in MYOB’s portfolio will need to step up from Essentials then. Where are will they go? From a cloud app to a desktop app that saves to the cloud that has slightly more features? Or from a cloud app to another cloud app with much more headroom?
MYOB Advanced vs MYOB AccountRight: Features
A cloud alternative to MYOB EXO, Advanced has some serious firepower compared to other online accounting packages. In most categories it completely outstrips AccountRight.
The inventory does everything in AccountRight plus backordering, warehouses management, support for bar codes, tracking by batch, serial or expiry date, kit assembly and supplier purchase agreements.
AccountRight Premier includes two company accounts while Advanced has five company files with intercompany consolidation and reporting.
The top version of Advanced includes more advanced reporting such as cashflow forecasting, statistical ‘what-if’ scenario modelling, cost allocation templates, foreign ownership reporting and deferred revenue schedules. Add to that list customisable dashboards, a fantastic feature for giving managers an easy way to check KPIs.
Then there are the features that AccountRight can’t even touch. Advanced has an e-commerce module that lets customers view inventory, place orders and check status through a public portal without the need for third-party e-commerce software.
MYOB Advanced really pulls away when it comes to mobile. It has a customisable “player” that will show whatever information a business wants on a mobile device. This could be a picking template for warehouse workers, a customer list for sales execs in the field or a reporting checklist for managers.
The one area where AccountRight is ahead – and this is a major deficiency – is in payroll. Advanced doesn’t have any payroll at all. MYOB is addressing this with the release of the MYOB Advanced People module due this year which will be based on PayGlobal, a desktop payroll app for enterprises.
MYOB Advanced vs MYOB AccountRight: Price
MYOB AccountRight starts at A$43 a month for inventory but no payroll (the standard edition). The next edition (plus) adds payroll for A$70 a month, while the premier edition gives you two company files for A$99 a month.
MYOB Advanced is relatively affordable given the number of features at A$99 per user per month (NZ$109) for the entry-level standard edition.
Plus (A$139) and enterprise (A$179) add greater numbers of workflows and more licence types such as sales, warehouse, projects and finance.
Advanced can end up costing a lot of money given that it’s priced per user rather than per company, but not all users need the full-price licence. An employee user licence costs between A$12 to A$25 depending on edition and volume. It’s also worth remembering that your accountant receives a free licence to access your file.
A growing business considering AccountRight Premier could spend the same money and get twice as many company files, customisable menus based on user roles, a lightweight CRM and the ability to turn on a long list of features in the more expensive editions.
Add the cost and hassle of switching between accounting programs and it makes so much sense to go straight from Essentials to Advanced and avoid the AccountRight stopover.
For the cost of a couple of dollars a month it’s a no-brainer.
The Difference Between Cloud and Hybrid
It’s worth pointing out that MYOB Essentials and MYOB Advanced are both browser-based programs and operate very differently to MYOB AccountRight. Once a business has tasted the benefits of online software it’s hard to imagine going back to a desktop-based program.
- Browser-based apps can be used on any computing device with a browser (Mac, PC, tablet, smartphone, etc.). AccountRight will only work on a PC and it must be downloaded first.
- No upgrades or syncing issues. AccountRight software must be upgraded through regular download process. Data files can be checked out of AccountRight during which time no-one else can access it.
- Only one version. Essentials and Advanced will never have any confusion over versions as everyone is on the latest (thanks to background updates). MYOB’s AccountRight Live (the cloud enabled version) similarly has background updates as long as it is connected to the internet. However, it can be bought and used as an offline program which could create a gap in performance and compatibility.
In AccountRight’s favour, the fact that it can be used offline is a boon to companies in regional and rural areas with poor access to broadband. But in Australia that pool of businesses with flaky internet is supposed to reduce as the national broadband network rolls out.
It’s not a terribly strong proposition if AccountRight becomes the program a business has to have rather than the best option.
Once MYOB accountants understand the power of Advanced, AccountRight will look a little lacklustre in comparison and Advanced will most likely eat its lunch.