[IMGCAP(1)]Product enhancements, partnerships, and pounding of the proverbial chest  were abound over the past week -- all of this just as conference season is about to get into full swing, right after tax season of course. Here's my take on all of it.

For those of you paying attention, there was no Tech Take last week. Not because we didn't want to, but there was a certain forced office holiday and, quite frankly, there wasn't a whole lot to crow about in the week leading up to Easter weekend. Rest assured, things are back in full swing and I have a thing or two to say about what's gone on.

The most recent news came from Xero, who is quite proud of the fact that it's growing pretty rapidly of late. The New Zealand-based company boasted a doubling of full year revenue through March 31, 2013 to U.S. $32 million, with monthly committed revenue growing to $3.6m. The real feather in their cap came from a partnership with Top 100 CPA firm Armanino, the largest yet to take on the product for its small business outsourcing clients.

I do have it on good authority that there are several more Top 100 firms in line to take on Xero for similar purposes, which bodes well for the comparative newbie to the accounting technology space. For those in the know, Armanino is an Intacct reseller and does use the product for outsourced accounting but with Xero it is now able to serve a lot more of its small business clients. It's moves like this that (once tax season is over) do have firms sit up and take notice and it could very well work on Xero's favor. What's more about this deal is that Armanino plans to move clients that are using products like QuickBooks and Sage 50 off of them. There's a number of companies that claim to be "QuickBooks killers" and vow to virtually unseat the reigning small business accounting heavyweight. Now while I don't think one company alone has that power, it should be noted that there are enough players vying for this space that long-estabilished players like Sage and Intuit should be a bit concerned and I'll leave it at that.

Speaking of outsourcing, a new report stats that outsourcing of accounting and finance functions is expected to reach over $25 billion around the world this year. The report, by KPMG and HfS Research, found that 90 percent of finance and accounting business process outsourcing engagements have been consistently meeting their cost-reduction targets and initial delivery performance. So firms, no matter what your size, if you are at all looking to expand your service offerings this may be a profitable way to do so -- if you aren't already.

Moving on, there was also news from Kashoo who also has its hat in the ring to be a QuickBooks alternative. The inexpensive, and comparatively lesser-known cloud ccounting player from Canada now has printing, invoice templates and attachment features that allow for photo capture and import of receipts in the latest version of its iPad app(its most popular). I would defiitely look for more from Kashoo in their attempt to not only woo small businesses away from standard small business accounting products, but to get on accountants' radar in a big way. Look for them at an accounting trade show near you and who knows, accountants, you may become and MVP(Most Valuable Professional) -- which is essentially the title Kashoo gives to accountants who join their network of users.

Further on the alliance front, Avalara is back in action --this time signing on a large international partner in BKR International, which represents approximately 150 firms in over 70 countries. The sales tax and compliance automation company will supply BKR firms with sales and use tax and value added tax information. The company defnitely has strong international plans and is in the midst of getting them off the ground with a London-based office that is very near opening. Once it does they are likely to target Europe, Asia, and Africa more aggressively.

Those were what I feel were the highlights this week. Next week SugarCon is in town(that being NYC) so I'll be popping up there to see what SugarCRM and its partners are up to. I'm going because, well, more of you are taking an interest in CRM either for your own internal use or of you are a reseller, maybe you are looking for an alternative to what you already represent. SugarCRM is a hot ticket right now and, like anyway, they may have their issues -- I did hear talk about 10 or so of their channel and sales staff had left, but I never got a confiermation on what that was all about and, quite frankly, it's probably nothing to write home about.

Be on the lookout for my Tweets and overall take an what SugarCRM is up to, in the meantime do send in your thoughts, potential bylined article ideas, and of course your current favorite mobile business apps.

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