Today we mark the end of our formal relationship with US software company Intuit, and that prompts me to take a moment to reflect on Reckon’s history. I’ve always been told that software development is not a destination, it’s a journey. Reckon has certainly had a fascinating journey and in this post I want to share some of the highlights.

Reckon – in the beginning

It started way back in the 80s with publishing translation and computer assisted design software on floppy disks (hands up anyone still alive who remembers what that was?). This was quite a diverse portfolio that foreshadowed what was to come.

A key aspect of what might make the then fledgling business a success was to make sure that the business model for distribution of software went past just re-selling or publishing software in its original form, it had to be localised to meet the specific needs of Australian businesses.

There are the legendary stories of what came next. In the early 90s Reckon’s founder, Greg Wilkinson, literally camped outside Intuit’s offices in the US to persuade them to give his company, Reckon, exclusive rights to distribute QuickBooks and Quicken products in Australia, and parts of the Pacific. Greg was running the operation out of a residential unit in Sydney, funded by a credit card.

The big change that helped the business take off

A legislative, rather than technological event, the introduction of the GST in 2000, provided the trigger for growth and acceptance by small business of the need for technology to run their businesses. The business then really took off, so much so that it attracted public attention and inevitable ASX listing. That was accompanied by investment in building an internal development capacity.

Reckon’s management had realised at the time that the value chain is not one sided with businesses dangling by themselves at the one end, they also have their professional advisers, bookkeepers and accountants providing balance at the other end of the chain.

These groups were relied upon for support and advice and we wanted to bring these professionals together with small businesses more effectively. That realisation led to the acquisition of APS in 2004, a provider of blue chip practice management solutions for professional accounting firms. That was soon followed by acquisitions in the corporate services space to provide other products and services that fit logically into the small business and professional adviser value chain such as company searches, registration and secretarial software.

This was later supplemented by cost recovery, expense management and document management solutions.

Moving toward a more integrated product suite

As much as the business was diversifying from its early QuickBooks and Quicken days, we  remained conscious of the need for integration between all the  solutions we had acquired to meet the ultimate goal of streamlining business process to make the lives of accountants and small business owners as easy as possible.

In recent years we’ve continued on this journey as our solutions evolve to meet the needs of modern business owners and professional advisers. Our technology capability has certainly grown as we’ve aimed to make sure that our customer base is properly served across three key platforms: desktop, hosted and cloud.

Today, we succinctly capture what we do and where our journey has brought us as Reckon creates Business Software for Accountants and Accounting Software for Business, all under the one Reckon brand.

2014 and ending our relationship with Intuit

Today we mark the end of our relationship with Intuit.

What does the end of this relationship mean for our customers?

Not much changes really. Reckon will now continue selling and developing products that are based on the QuickBooks and Quicken source-code in Australia and New Zealand under the Reckon Accounts name. Customers outside of Australia or New Zealand will need to deal directly with Intuit who will continue to sell and develop products under the QuickBooks and Quicken names.

What does this change mean for our network of partners? Not too much here as well. Simply, just like us, from now on our partners may not sell new versions or upgrades or renewals outside of Australia and New Zealand.

We’ve had a long and successful relationship with Intuit, but as much as we feel a strong emotional connection to our friends in the US, the time has come for us to stand on our own to deliver on our vision to create the best possible integrated suite of products and services for accounting professionals and the small businesses they support.

It’s been an exciting and interesting journey so far. What’s especially exciting now, as we embark on a solo voyage, is the imminent release of Reckon One.

Reckon One is a wholly Australian developed true cloud product designed on the back of our 25 years of experience and understanding the needs of small business and accountants. It is marked by its nimble development platform to meet the unique needs of every customer taken into consideration in the “designed by you” concept. More on this to come.

That’s our brief history of time, what’s yours?