Software as a Service (SaaS) | AccountingWEB

Software as a Service (SaaS)

Los Angeles, CA - This morning there's an editorial by John Stokdyk,Technology editor of where he introduces a new sister site of AccountingWeb -

John explains "Why run your accounting applications in-house when you can access the same functionality via a web browser on your desktop? Wouldn't it be good if instead of having to wait for your IT department to upgrade to the latest release of your chosen accounting application you just found it waiting for you when you open up your browser?"

The editorial caught my attention because just yesterday, BusinessWeek sent me a survey (OK, a reminder to do the survey)as a member of their BusinessWeek Alliance Panel. The survey was all about SaaS. Taking the BusinessWeek survey, most of the answer choices weren't relevant to my needs, to why I would consider using SaaS tools.

Personally, my interest in the concept started when I saw an Intuit demonstration of one of their new tools. Their Online Document Exchange system seems like an excellent idea. Instead of emailing tax returns or other forms to your client to review, you upload them into their secure system. Your client can log in to retrieve the document to review it, or print out signature pages.

Conversely, instead of faxing or emailing documents to you, your client can upload them into their own private section of the database. You or your staff can retrieve the documents to use for their tax return.

Everything is secure. Your client's SSNs and TINs are protected. Data isn't lost or inadvertently sent to the wrong email address. We don't run afoul of Circular 230 rules about mailing or emailing client documents with ID numbers.

It cuts down on paper flow, copying, faxing, etc. And you never have to look for misplaced documents. Think of the filing time you can save - especially since the Online Document Exchange integrates with Intuit's Document Management System using a dual system like this makes perfect sense.

In fact, I had intended to implement these systems this tax season. (Got sidetracked with a little hospital time, but..) I still like the idea and will test it out with my clients this summer.

After all, these days, most of your clients have computers and online access. Being able to upload their documents will make them feel a little more secure than mailing you originals, where they sometimes (not often, but...) get lost in the mail. Being able to log into their accounts, they don't have to call you for a copy of an urgently needed W-2 or 1099. Or even to request a copy of a tax return. It would all be there online for them. All they need is their username and password. (So, they will call you for that...of course.)

Oh, and all the records are continuously backed up - so even if your office burns down, or collapses due to an earthquake (hey, I live in California. It's been know to happen!), you can easily retrieve all your client data - and anything else you've chosen to store in this SaaS system.

It all sounds great, right!

Then I run across this question: “What happens to my data if my SaaS service provider/remote hosting service/other outsourced service fails as a business and is forced to close?”

Uh oh! That's a very good question. A fellow named Martin Banks tackles this question for the new BusinessCloud9 site.

Read what he as to say. Then, use your best judgment about implementing technologies like this.

Using the right tools can be a boon to your practice, and perhaps even reduce the staff you need - and reduce errors.

Be really, really cautious. Using online technologies like this you definitely want the company to be solid so they stay in business forever; to have deep pockets in case you are sued by clients for identity theft or other data-related disasters; and not to have a monopoly so they can raise their prices beyond reason.

Have you tried SaaS tools like these or others? What do you think?

This blog

Eva Rosenberg, MBA, EA, is the publisher of, and author of the weekly syndicated Ask TaxMama column. She provides answers to tax questions from taxpayers and tax professionals worldwide.

More from this blog

Bloggers crew

Steve Knowles has spent 25 years in business and practice in the UK, but he also worked in the states and the years haven't dulled his way of seeing an alternative view to everyone else, and every day is a new adventure.


Joel M. Ungar, CPA is a lifelong resident of the Detroit area and a graduate of The University of Michigan. He is a principal with Silberstein Ungar, PLLC, a Top 15 auditor of SEC public reporting companies.


Allan Boress, CPA, with over 25 years as a practitioner and consultant to the accounting profession. Mr. Boress is the author of 12 published books in 6 different languages, including a best-seller, The "I-Hate-Selling" Book.


Larry Perry, CPA, CPA Firm Support Services, LLC, is the author of accounting and auditing manuals, author and presenter of live staff training seminars, and author of webcast and self-study CPE programs. He blogs about small audits, reviews, and compilations.

Sandra Wiley, COO and Shareholder, is ranked by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting as a result of her prominent role as an industry expert on HR and training as well as influence as a management and planning consultant. She is also a founding member of The CPA Consultant's Alliance. Sandra is a certified Kolbe™ trainer who advises firms on building balanced teams, managing employee conflict and hiring staff.

Maria Calabrese, CIR, Human Resources manager for Fazio, Mannuzza, Roche, Tankel, LaPilusa, LLC in Cranford, New Jersey, Maria's topics revolve around the world of: Mentoring, Performance management, and The "Y Generation," a.k.a. "The whY generation".


William Brighenti is a CPA, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified [Business] Valuation Analyst, operating an accounting, tax, and QuickBooks consulting firm in Hartford, Connecticut, Accountants CPA Hartford.


Ken Garen, CPA, is the co-founder and President of Universal Business Computing Company (, a software development firm of high-volume, high-productivity accounting and payroll technology.


Eva Rosenberg, MBA, EA, is the publisher of, and author of the weekly syndicated Ask TaxMama column. She provides answers to tax questions from taxpayers and tax professionals worldwide.


Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP is the CPA Programs Leader for Intacct Corporation responsible for leading the CPA/BPO Partners nationally.

Brian Strahle is the owner of LEVERAGE SALT, LLC where he provides state and local tax technical services to accounting firms, law firms and tax research organizations across the United States. He also writes a weekly column in Tax Analysts State tax Notes entitled, "The SALT Effect." For more info, visit his website:
Scott H. Cytron, ABC, is president of Cytron and Company, known for helping companies and organizations improve their bottom line through a hybrid of strategic public relations, communications, marketing programs and top-notch client service. An accredited consultant, Scott works with companies, organizations and individuals in professional services (accounting, finance, medical, legal, engineering), high-tech and B2B/B2C product/service sales.

Rita Keller is a nationally known CPA firm management consultant, speaker, author, mentor and blogger. She has over 30 years hands-on experience in CPA firm management, marketing, technology and administrative operations.

Stacy Kildal is the mom of two fantastic kids, an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Certified Enterprise Solutions ProAdvisor, Sleeter Group Certified Consultant, a nationally recognized member of the Intuit Trainer and Writer Network, and co-host of RadioFree QuickBooks.
Michael Alter's blog specializes in providing practical advice to those who seek greater profitability and practice management tactics that enhance deeper client relationships.

Sally Glick, CMO, Principal, Marketer of the Year in 2003 and AAM Hall of Famer in 2007, leads a lively discussion of the constantly expanding roles of marketing and the professional marketers that drive this initiative in accounting firms of all sizes.


The IMA Young Professionals Blog features the insights of IMA’s Young Professionals Committee. Committee members share advice and experiences on careers, continuing education, work/life balance, and other issues affecting young accounting and finance professionals.


FEI Financial Reporting Blog provides highlights from SEC, PCAOB, FASB, IASB, and other regulatory news, including reporting under Sarbanes-Oxley Sect 404. It is written by Edith Orenstein, Director of Technical Policy Analysis at FEI.


Sue Anderson has 30 years of experience in continuing education for accountants. Currently she is the program director for online CPE provider CPE Link.


Jim Fahey is COO of Apple Growth Partners, a regional CPA firm in Ohio. His focus is on the effective and efficient use of technology within the firm by all team members.

Caleb Newquist is the Editor-in-Chief of Sift Media US, overseeing content for both AccountingWEB and Going Concern.

Leita Hart-Fanta, CPA, CGFM, and CGAP is the author of "The Yellow Book Interpreted" and owner of a website devoted to training for governmental auditors.


AccountingWEB is more than just a U.S. team of journalists and financial and technology experts - we have an international side, too! Members of our British team who publish share their ideas, insights, and perspectives from across the pond.