[IMGCAP(1)]I’m a CPA. A professional knowledge worker. Not a software marketer. 

Yes, I use software to do my job but it’s just one of the many tools in my toolbox. The most important tool I have is my ability to interpret data. I help my clients either reduce their taxes or grow their business. My job isn’t to “do bookkeeping” but to be their most trusted advisor. Your software accounting package (in the cloud or not) really has a limited impact on my clients or me.

Now, granted, the data we enter has to be correct so that we can get a complete and accurate set of financials. As a result, the software product we choose needs to work well and our clients need be able to use it properly and with ease. Bells and whistles just add to my efficiency—and if the tool is in the cloud, even better; it improves the collaboration I have with my clients.

It’s no secret many vendors on the market are vying for the top spot, wanting to be the provider with the best package. Many accountants have a tendency to jump all-in with particular software, whether that is Xero or QuickBooks, Sage One, Wave, or Kashoo. Whatever happened to addressing specific needs by picking the solution that is the best fit for the client?

Whatever happened to good old Excel? Don’t tell me you are done with clients giving you information this way. We all know many CPAs take information via Excel and manipulate it in a way they can use it. It’s as simple as this at my firm: If a client comes into our office with Excel we will convert them to a cloud accounting package. If they don’t want to convert, we won’t accept them as a client.

But I know we are not the average CPAs.

I also know most accountants allow their clients to take the lead in their relationship when it really should be the other way around. I know many clients who are not capable of doing any accounting and really don’t need much more then invoicing. Yet many accountants don’t even think about suggesting a package like FreshBooks or Bill.com. 

As the “accounting wars” play out, I will sit back and watch. I can’t help but think our leading software providers act like kids as they fight for their product to win over the market. I see this competition as a good thing; I am thrilled that finally there is some real competition in a space that has too long been monopolized by one company.

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I have a long history with QuickBooks – I used to promote and train for them and I formed the Chicagoland QuickBooks user group that has more than 50 paid members. I still have many clients who use the software. But, if Intuit had continued to innovate like they were doing in the early ’90s maybe they wouldn’t feel the need to fight back with road shows, coughing up extra dollars they haven’t had to spend on marketing in years.

My hope for vendors is this - to quit marketing about who is better and work even harder on a product that will blow us away.  Every vendor in the market right now has work to do—there is no perfect solution. Software is just a tool.

And if I have to, I can always pull Excel out of my bag of tricks – especially since the program is collaborating in the cloud these days.