CloudBooks Time for Change

The story of CloudBooks…

In October 20, 2014
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Cloudware Business

Experience and Perceptions

Over the last 40 years I have practiced as an accountant and run several of my own business ventures, in Britain, Europe and here in the United States. During this time I have made many observations on how business owners have reacted to their environment and the changing scene of business. Some of my more-significant findings are:

  • That the average small business owner hates (or at least is afraid) to take vacations, in fact the proportion who don’t take a vacation is in the region of 78%.
  • Small and Medium size business has become bogged down with the number of different software programs and applications needed to be successful and profitable.
  • As technology has crept more and more into the heart of business the owners have been left behind, becoming more reliant on IT personnel to run their systems for them.
  • The average business owner has little idea of what it takes to administer the finances of his business, leaving this function to highly qualified executives (the ones with letters after their names). This has caused some owners to become paranoid and concerned over whether they are receiving the right information or not – I have myself spent many hours being well-paid by business owners to carry out internal audits on their companies to make sure all is in order, and in the main it is, but there is very often enough evidence to suggest that some paranoia is not entirely unwarranted.
  • Most business owners have no idea how current business tax codes affect their bottom line, or how to find ways to minimize this type of expense – knowing where to find this information is daunting to the uninitiated.

So, how did CloudBooks by Cloudware come about ?

A Shared Vision

Four and a half years ago a mutual client wanted me to map a database that would allow him to keep accurate track of his ever growing list of clients, and he introduced me to a computer programmer that he wanted me to collaborate with to complete his project.
This programmer was, and is, Mark Amell, and in talking we discovered that we both had spent a lot of time listening to business owners complain about the software programs they used to run they’re business finance and administration. The mutual culprit for both of us was QuickBooks, and we discussed our mutual list of items that were a constant thorn in the business’ side:

  • Not being able to make preference, or company detail, changes to the system unless you were logged in as a ‘single user’.
  • The ‘multiple user’ version did not mean that you could have more than one user working in the same module, or performing the same task, at the same time.
  • Only being able to take advantage of the upgrades to the software if the business paid an annual ‘upgrade’ fee.
  • The business professional representatives, CPAs, could only work on the business records externally if they used the same version of the software as the business client.
  • Difficulty in learning the system processes meant that a business only made use of what was directly pertinent to their business, promoting the use of external programming to perform many of the necessary business related functions – with many of these external programs not being available for integration into QuickBooks.
  • The QuickBooks software could only be installed on ‘available’ devices and mobility was a distinct effort requiring additional cost to the business.

Birth of a Solution — and New Directions

Having exhausted our discussions on the above items, plus a whole lot more, Mark and I decided to do something about this and the resulting directive from Mark was – ‘if you can plan it, design it and map it, I can program it’- and so began CloudBooks.
Our first task was to set about programming a system that would take care of the vagaries we had already identified and we quickly realized that we could do so much more. We could:

  1. Create a program that would be totally cloud-based, and that would –
    a. Be not just cloud-based but fully leverage this architecture,
    b. Be accessible from anywhere there was an Internet connection,
    c. Allow multiple users to be performing the same function in the same program module at the same time,
    d. Let changes to system and company preferences be made without having to shut the system down to only a single user access,
    e. Provide the use of our software to any company regardless of the device or operating system they were working on, and
    f. Provide continuous and secure data backup throughout the data-entry function with multiple user data being saved on the ‘last out’ basis.
  2. Come up with programming that was ‘robust’, un-breakable, easy to use and above all easy to learn.

And so we progressed through our first year and completed the initial version of CloudBooks which we then tested in place with two companies here in Central Florida.

CloudBooks PRO Accounting TasksGoing PRO

Now we began to think about the marketplace, and that is when it occurred to me that, now we had the CloudBooks accounting suite we needed to have a professional version. CPA firms with 10 partners, each with 25 clients would amount to over 1,250 users…a fantastic way to get the CloudBooks products into general use very quickly. So I decided that the CPA, Professional Accountant and Bookkeeping firms needed to be able to set their clients up in one control panel where the client records could be accessed and worked on without logging in and out of the main system. This way, at the professionals’ suggestion, all clients would be on the same version of software at the same time, and there would no longer be a need for the accountants to have multiple years of accounting software versions in house and no requirement for data conversion and migration. The design and planning was done and Mark made the necessary updates to our programming — CloudBooks PRO was born.

My mind was continually coming up with ‘what if we could do this’ and I would talk to Mark and he would tell me the same as always…’if you can plan it, design it and map it, I can program it’. Now our list of accomplishments just grew and grew until we had a complete accounting suite that would accomplish everything that a business needed in its financial management.

TBM Time

Our attention turned now to the administration of a business and how we could combine these functions with the accounting and administration. Along came such functions as CRM, Document Management, Web-cam Security, GPS Tracking, Mapping & Routing, Collections, etc. All of which are now an integral part of our program and required no outside software applications. We were able to combine our efforts in the planning and programming into what we call ‘Total Business Management’ — and CloudBooks TBM was the result.

Removing Audit Interference

Audit DumpHaving been heavily involved in the audit process during my career, both internally on behalf of business and externally on behalf of regulatory authorities, I knew how disruptive this process could be to a business. Lack of knowledge meant that the majority of business owners allowed regulatory auditors to perform their tasks by giving them full access to the company accounting systems. Like letting the ‘fox into the hen-house’, and deeply concerning to the employees who work in the system, and who feel that their work is being scrutinized – work production slows down and the business suffers. At CloudBooks we have designed an Audit Dump system which allows the company to select exactly what information if required for any particular audit scenario, and over what period. Once the criteria has been set in the system that data is automatically selected and ‘dumped’ onto a spreadsheet where it can be made available to the auditor in several ways – placed on a separate computer on the business premises, sent directly to the auditor’s office, or any other requested location. Now there is minimum disturbance to the regular business routine and an audit can be completed with only the need to provide hard copy evidence to verify an audit sample from the data extraction.

Bringing Down the Language Barrier

Moving along in our same line of progression I did a lot of research into the language availabilities for business and found that other accounting software providers had different language versions of their programming, but that they did not integrate. You could work in only one language at a time. The research also told me that there were some 200,000 Hispanic businesses in the Southern Border States of the US, and that many of these businesses either did not go outside their own communities, or that they hired expensive bi-lingual help to enable them to communicate across the language barrier. So, we designed and wrote a program that would translate the system labeling into Spanish by selecting a ‘language’ button in the program, and tied into a translation program that would translate the text. The user could now toggle between English and Spanish and prepare a system document in either English or Spanish, then select the alternate language and instantly translate it and send to the recipient – seamlessly.

Multi-Lingual capability turns CloudBooks globalHaving successfully created a translation for English and Spanish in the system to date I was still intrigued by the issues with integrated language translation. In thinking and researching the subject I came to realize that there was an enormous, un-tapped, market and if we could:

  • Have companies select the language they wanted the business to operate in by default,
  • Let companies have employees working in different languages,
  • Have companies translate transactions from one language to another and always report to the main office in the default language, and
  • Include currency exchange rates that were up to the minute and accurate

We would be able to tap into the international business marketplace as no-one had done before us so, using our usual methods and logic we were able to get this done and tested – welcome to the Multi-Lingual Interface.

Making Some Noise with TinCan

In reviewing the possibility of raising investment funding to complete our development and get the CloudBooks products to the market I knew we ideally needed something that would set us above anybody else in our field, something that would put us out into the ‘clear blue’ water. I attended a business lunch function in support of a friend and was introduced to an Englishman called Ian Gibson.

xAPI Experiential Analytics InstrumentationThe conversation between Ian and myself quickly turned to an exchange of information and, boy, how my antennae were activated when he mentioned xAPI (aka ‘TinCan’) and his involvement with this. Light bulb time! Essentially xAPI is Experiential Analytic Instrumentation and we could use this to ‘drill’ into a company’s data to produce in-depth information the user had not even thought of. Quickly I agreed for Cloudware to become the first industry adopter of xAPI, brought Ian onboard with an ownership position in the company and we were on our way. Initial exploration into the possibilities led us to settle on the following areas as the first output for this new addition to our stable:

  • Human Resources – compliance and employees
  • Asset Management – fixed assets, digital assets and tangible property
  • Production Control – time management, material consumption and process management

So, xAPI Experiential Analytics Instrumentation is now firmly established as part of the CloudBooks platform and we are working toward completion.

The Future is Now

Cloudware is now in process of seeking the investment funding needed to get the products finished and onto the market and we have set ourselves a post-funding target of 120 business days to complete all the processes. We have more information available on the CloudBooks project available all through our website, a good place to start (of course) is the Introduction section and we have an investment profile at Fundable.com/CloudBooks or you can simply
call +1 (407) 442-0894 and ask me directly.

Join us for the journey ahead. You are Welcome and Thank You.

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