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Down-under cloud accounting: Our B+ review of Saasu

Online accounting for small businesses is a messy space. There are dozens of competitors with significantly different feature sets and price points, often targeting different subsets of accounting without offering a complete package (“just invoicing” or “just expenses”). In an industry dominated by Quickbooks, it’s hard to know which solution(s) to choose.

This week we’re reviewing Saasu, an Australian-based accounting application that’s trying to change-up online bookkeeping. It’s not exactly a newcomer – they’ve been around for over 10 years – but they’re slowly gaining market share, and for good reason. Let’s take a look.

The Quick and Dirty Verdict

Saasu is a fully featured, competent accounting system, but it fails to offer significant value when compared with its competitors. We’re giving it a 87/100, a respectable B+ by our scale. If Saasu shores up some of its obvious shortcomings (tax support in the US, for example), it could easily earn an “A” – until then, we’re not 100% convinced that small business owners can’t do better.

The Details

Functionality = 25/30

Saasu is feature rich, refreshingly so considering the specialization route many accounting tools take. It supports invoicing, expensing, purchasing, subscription payments, bank feeds, international currency, payroll, timekeeping, even inventory management. They even sell point-of-sale hardware and software that syncs with your Saasu account, a tempting ERP-lite approach that some small businesses might really like.

Unfortunately, Saasu isn’t perfect, particularly for US-based companies. There’s no US tax support, meaning your financial reports won’t translate easily into figures the IRS likes. Compare this with how Xero manages taxes and it’s a hard sell. Saasu’s contact management system is also disappointing – it’s not meant to be a CRM (or an ERP), yet Saasu offers a sort of disappointing hybrid CRM way of managing accounts (this is helped by 3rd party CRM integrations). Finally, there’s no Android app, though it’s on the horizon (the iPhone experience is quite good).

All things considered though, Saasu’s features are impressive, despite their gaps. We give them 25/30 points.

Usability = 15/20 points

Before we bash anything, let’s make it clear that Saasu’s UI and UX is perfectly ok. It’s clear, functional, clean(ish), and perfectly adequate. It’s all those things. It’s just not… innovative. Using Saasu feels like using, well, an accounting tool. It’s boring. For a tool that can run 70% of a business, it’s disappointing that more effort isn’t put into making it a positive, rewarding, dare-we-say exciting experience. We give usability 15/20 points.

Security = 20/20 points

Saasu maintains impressive security standards and, to the best of our knowledge and research, has never suffered security breaches. They maintain multiple redundant backups, utilize SSL encryption, seek 3rd party uptime verification, and are fully-transparent about system continuity should they seek bankruptcy or takeover. We like that. 20/20.

Integrations = 9/10

Saasu sports a wealth of integrations with outside apps, and in general the integrations seem to really improve the Saasu experience. There’s too many add-ons to list here – check out their ever-growing list for yourself. Standouts include everyting from Itunes and Ebay to Mailchimp and Paypal. No Gmail integration though, which is a bit discouraging to Google Apps clients (though they do support Google Contacts).

Without playing with it too much, the Saasu API looks robust and helpful for developers wanting to integrate Saasu with their own systems. 9/10 for integrations.

Price = 9/10

Saasu’s pricing is competitive. For $25/mo – roughly the same as Freshbooks – you get unlimited users and access to almost all of Saasu’s functionality. $10 more a month buys automated recurring billing, international currencies, time tracking,  and phone support. $90/mo, their top plan, buys all that plus inventory serialization, a few more reports, and unlimited payroll (the other plans  are limited to payroll for <25 employees). Not bad for an application that covers most of accounting’s bases. It’s marginally more expensive than Xero, Kashflow and Quickbooks, but only for small numbers of users – generally speaking,  Saasu  cheaper for companies with more than 10 employees. 9/10.

Support = 9/10

Help is only a click away with Saasu – par for the course, perhaps, but their help center, which includes a knowledge base and user forum, is generally quite helpful. We were impressed. An inquiry about bank feeds was responded to the next day, which is pretty good, especially considering that they’re based in Australia. 9/10.

Conclusions

All in all, Saasu is a formidable cloud accounting tool: it’s mature, fully featured, and adequate in most of the categories we analyze. That said, it’s clear that Saasu isn’t keen on the US space, and there’s a few features that could push it from “ok” to “exceptional” (Gmail integration, Android app, UX, US tax). We like Saasu, enough to give it a great score – it’s just not “top” enough to get our “VM Approved” award.  Here’s hoping it keeps getting better!

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Chris Bliss works at VM Associates, an end-user consultancy for businesses looking to move to the cloud from pre-existing legacy systems.