It's meant to allow accountants to share documents with clients, but doesn't cloud accounting already allow that? Daniel James explains.
One of the big advantages of cloud-based accounting software such as MYOB Essentials and MYOB AccountRight is that a set of accounts can be worked on by a business owner and their accountant at the same time - there's no need to export the data, ship it off to the accountant, and then merge the changes made by the accountant with the transactions that occurred in the intervening period.
But there's more to communication between accountants and their clients than just a set of books and financial statements. And that's where the forthcoming MYOB Portal comes in.
MYOB Portal provides a channel for improved collaboration between the two parties.
It has two main functions: one is a shared task list, the other is the secure transmission and signing of digital documents.
The task list is displayed according to the user's role. For example, if a process reaches a stage where the next step is approval by the client, a corresponding task appears in the client's list. Once approval has been granted or denied, the process moves back onto the accountant's task list. This reduces the need for person-to-person communication between the parties.
The MYOB Portal also allows accountants to send a document to a client for digital signature. One example could be a financial statement prepared for submission to a bank. This approach eliminates the time needed to shuttle physical documents between accountant and client, as the digital signature is legally binding.
Another benefit is that clients can access the portal - and therefore documents and tasks - wherever they happen to be, by using a smartphone or tablet. This provides opportunities for saving money as well as time by avoiding the need to courier urgent documents when the client is travelling interstate or overseas.
Andrew Kristallis, managing director of Kristallis Accounting, gave her view on the service in a press release issued by MYOB:
"It's very hard to have hundreds of clients, large clients that you've got to communicate with quite regularly via email and phone, and I think that communication portal will be just essential."
MYOB Portal was developed under MYOB's 'mobile first' strategy, and is a 'white label' service so accountants can apply their own branding rather than MYOB's.
It will be released during the first quarter of 2015, according to MYOB officials.
MYOB is also working on cloud versions of its Accountants Office and Accountants Enterprise practice management software, though there was no indication of when they will be released.