Accounting on a cloud

Organising finances over the web? Yes it can be done! BRENDAN LEWIS

Brendan Lewis

By Brendan Lewis

In 1998 I stopped getting paid to be an accountant. I came to the conclusion that being a scorekeeper wasn’t satisfying enough for me, I want to be kicking goals, not cheering from the sideline. I called it “getting in touch with my inner salesman”.

I said “stopped getting paid” rather than “stopped working” as I always seem to be keeping a closer eye on finances than anyone else, and always end up being company secretary in my ventures. So as part of my “Moving into the cloud” project, I took a particular interest in the accounting system I was going to use.

Because I am a tight-arse, I decided to take a look at open source offerings. I started my search at, which is a nice website that offers up open source alternatives to commercial software. The software available seemed to be: Grisbi, jGnash, GnuCash and GFP. All of them nice packages, but much more along the lines of personal finance managers, not accounting packages. Apart from that they were all designed to run on your desktop, not on the web.

Next off to Freshmeat where a search on accounting came up with 208 hits. A closer look brought up 2 candidates: Accounting and GnuCash. Both of which were just personal financial managers. Damn.

Finally over to Sourceforge. I tend to search Sourcforge last for software because you have to really know what you want before you get there. With 135,000 projects registered, its easy to get bogged down.

Under financial/accounting systems there was over 1200 projects.

Flicking through (90 pages) I came across some interesting prospects such as WebERP which runs in the environment I want and does everything I want plus a whole lot more. A Google search for “WebERP crap” came up with some interesting comments on it though. But at the end of the day, I didn’t like its usability as you need to do an awful lot of configuration work before you could make anything happen.

SQL Ledger also looked promising, but after having a closer look I decided my bookkeeper would absolutely hate it and be massively inefficient for the first couple of months.

Time to broaden the search and just have a look around the web. And that’s where I ran into SAASU. SAASU is an Australian (tick) web-based system with lots of users (tick). It has a nice interface (tick) and comes pre-configured (tick).

It also has some nice features such as auto generating invoices as PDFs and emailing them off (tick). You can use it for free if you’re doing under 15 transactions per month, or have the unlimited versions is $59 a quarter. I went with SAASU as it was an easy choice.

And now I don’t have to fart about emailing the MYOB files over to the bookkeeper and holding off invoicing until I get them back.

I also got to configure the chart of accounts so that I could get really useful information out of the system (people who don’t customise their chart of accounts drive me mad).

I didn’t end up getting a free a solution, but close to it. My banking and accounting now all happens online. My finances are in the cloud.

Life is good.


Brendan Lewis is a serial technology entrepreneur having founded : Ideas Lighting, Carradale Media, Edion, Verve IT, The Churchill Club, Flinders Pacific and L2i Technology Advisory. He has set up businesses for others in Romania, Indonesia and Vietnam. Qualified in IT and Accounting, he has also spent time running an Advertising agency and as a Cavalry Officer with the Australian Army Reserve.

To read more Brendan Lewis blogs, click here.



Scott Kilmartin writes: We’ve been looking at ways to take our accounting online, but although there are tonnes of options if you are a service business, this is the first I’ve come across that also works for product sellers like us.

Darren Jones writes: … integrates to my businesses management system (myworkspace – tick) 🙂

Tim Schofield writes: I was interested to read your comments regarding webERP. I feel it is a little unfair to compare webERP with SaaSU as the former is an open source project, the latter a commercial offering. There are a number of people who offer a similar service to SaaSU using webERP as their back-end, and like with SaaSU do all the configuration for you. These people obviously charge you for this service, but would make a fairer comparison. I too did a search for “webERP crap” on Google, and while coming up with a number of pages, in the ones I looked at the word crap was not associated with webERP, except on your blog. Brendan replies: Hi Tim, Thanks for your feedback. I reckon its perfectly reasonable to compare an Open Source Project with a commercial offering, in fact its required. But that’s just my point of view. At the end of the day I am interested in how technology can impact my business profitability (which is what I write about). Therefore I don’t care if I am comparing apples with oranges, just whether I get a good outcome. In regards to searching for “WebERP Crap”, I didn’t say WebERP was Crap, just I came up with some interesting comments on it by searching like this. Although I admit my phrasing was probably misleading. I like to search for technology with the word “crap” is it gives me an idea of what passionate people think of a technology.



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5 years ago

When I started my business my relative recommend slickpie. I said no my business will be medium and I need something like quickbooks. The worst thing I ever did. I hated using Quickbooks, It’s complicated. Everything took too many steps, invoices are hard. Now I am using to send my invoices and it works so well. Now I turn Invoices 10 times per year and not longer have cash flow issues.