Swap to “Free” cloud software –or carry on with the existing paid version?

A client made contact this week. He had been offered free online software by his bank and he was thinking of changing from his current paid for online accounts and payroll.

As part of the sign-up process to the bank offering, there is a data sharing agreement which allows the bank access to the data to “provide them with additional insight into any borrowing applications in the future, provide them with additional insight into the ongoing maintenance of any credit facilities as well as identify certain products and services which may be of interest.”

Whilst this was not an issue to the client, the sheer logistics of a transition to a different product and the learning curve in doing things differently had not really crossed his mind. His focus was on “free”. In reality, after tax relief on current subscription levels, his cash saving was only around £250 p.a.

There is no conversion routine to move from one product to the other. It would involve exporting various data to csv files from the existing package and importing them into the new package. This would apply to suppliers, customers, nominal ledger codes etc. Opening balances would also have to be entered, bank feeds enabled again…..and so it goes on.

Payroll would also have to be migrated across from one system to the other, taking year to date figures. This would however lose the history built up if having to calculate holiday pay or sick pay etc.

There was nothing to be gained from a functionality viewpoint in moving, and similarly nothing new on the reporting side either. All the benefits of moving from his desktop product to the cloud accounting package a couple of years ago were already being seen – access from anywhere, bank feeds, automated backups, no software updates to apply….to name just a few.

He would also need training and hand-holding – and he had had lots of that in the past on his existing product! There are still a few issues that need ironing out on a regular basis.

We have seen banks offer software in the past, either free or at reduced rates, and then after a period of time pull the plug on them, reverting to full price. Will the arrangement offered continue – who knows?

In the end, he decided that there were no real benefits apart from a small saving and there were only downsides in having to learn a new system.

He therefore decided to carry on with the existing system…but it could have been different.

Have you had anyone take up the free offer migrating from other cloud products, and what benefits did they see, if any, apart from some possible cash saving?