Linux and Commercial Software Vendors... what "Linux People" think

Following is an email received by a commercial software company offering products for (among others) the Linux platform. When considering the factors that are
a)encouraging mainstream software vendors to develop on Windows platform and
b)stalling adoption of Linux products in the general user and smb markets... consider the following:

"Why is it that you believe that someone who wants to try your software wants to fill out your detailed form? If I try your software, I don't need you to call me, send me any email, or write me any letters.

Contrary to what you believe, you are not doing anyone a favor by allowing them the unspeakable honor of testing your product. In fact, it's quite the opposite. We do a great service by downloading your software, taking the huge risk of having it destroy our systems, undergo the hassle of installing it, with the strong possibility that it's garbage.

Even after purchasing the software, why does someone need to 'register' it? You can't legally withhold tech support to someone who can, at that time prove that they did in fact purchase it and when, if you offer it as part of the sale. You can't even write that into an agreement because it's against the law. You may say it's so that you can alert us of upgrades, or bug fixes, or security problems. Right. You a bit close to Redmond?

Also consider that you're marketing to Linux people. We all pitch in to provide quality (mostly) free software for each other. Here you come, using your free software that others provided, and selling yours. Do you believe that we cannot write accounting software, just because no one has a decent free package yet?

My name is xxx xxxxxxx. I own xxxxxxx xxxxxxxx. But I'll remain anonymous. For now."
I have reached the limits of my patience. I am surrounded by stupidity and incompetence. Not to forget deceitful behavior.From AOL who is blind to the fact that they employ morons. To Shaw who seek out morons as employees so that won't know that quoting line of bull to customers.Robert Half and Accountemps with ineffectual recruiters.Baywest, Pacific Quorum, and many other property management

The Evolution of SMB Outsourced Accounting Online

The concept of accounting and bookkeeping outsourced operations is not at all new. Businesses such as GE and others have been involved in this type of business for years. In most cases, up until just a few years ago in fact, only larger companies were heavily involved in offshore processing, and mainly handled these processes within offshore business groups and related business entities. Additionally, the platform and applications required to effectively facilitate the necessary collaborative environment were expensive and complex. Offshore outsourcing, in volume, was primarily a “big company” option.

The small-business market, unlike the mid- and enterprise markets, utilize the general services of public accountants in much greater volume and typically for more fundamental business services – such as business bookkeeping. Larger organizations typically employ accounting and bookkeeping departments and/or personnel, and rely on outside accounting professionals for higher-level work. Small businesses, however, outsource much more of the core bookkeeping and checkbook management functions to their public accountant. This creates a volume of fairly mechanical work – data entry, document management and filing, etc. – which can be burdensome and not terribly profitable for many practices. But this level of work is of significant value to the small business owner, and thus the value of outsourcing to the accounting professional is clear.

Then, small business applications went online

The real trigger for the SMB offshore outsourcing model was the introduction of accounting and business applications which were used by small businesses, but introduced in an Internet-based or online sort of technology model. Applications such as NetSuite (was NetLedger, then Oracle Small Business), Intacct, and QuickBooks for the Web were introduced to facilitate a closer and simpler working relationship between businesses and their team members, as well as their accountants. These web-based applications, however, offer differences in functionality and operation that many users were and still are not willing to adopt.

The creation of application hosting services for small business – namely, service which allows Intuit QuickBooks Pro to be affordably offered as an Internet-accessed application – became the magic bullet. The QuickBooks product line all but “owns” the small business market. Once the application was able to be utilized in an ASP technology model, the entirety of the SMB market became a potential food source for outsourced bookkeeping and business data processing companies.

Online accounting initial value statements

Early stages of marketing the “online accounting” model involved professional accountants selling bookkeeping services to small business, but offering a greater level of performance and cost-efficiency than the business could experience alone. The online technology model facilitates a closer and real-time working relationship between the accountant and the client, and results in better and higher quality information for the client. By using the online application model, accounting professionals are able to increase staff levels at reduced operating costs by allowing operators to work from home or other locations. Further, the elimination or reduction of time spent traveling to client sites, manipulating client data sets, and other similar activities helps to reduce the cost of delivering bookkeeping and accounting services to the client.

Low-cost Labor?

The benefits to be derived by the accounting professional were then leveraged by an entirely new set of start-up businesses… the offshore business process outsourcers (BPOs).

An unfortunate outcome of the inception of the smb e-Accounting model was the belief that anybody could do the work. Many organizations emerged into the market, espousing the benefits of relieving the accountant of the “drudgery, mindless mechanical data entry” which was representative of the client’s bookkeeping requirement. Accounting professionals frequently take issue with this concept, as the performance of “mindless” work is not the service being offered to their client. However, there is a grain of truth in the fact that small business bookkeeping can be a laborious and time-consuming task. And the CPA credential is not a requirement in order to offer quality bookkeeping services.

Logically, any business can see the benefits of having every business function or process handled as cost-effectively as possible. Being provided with an opportunity to fulfill your requirements, but at a lower cost of operation, only makes sense. But this potential value proposition became the focus of the offshore outsourcing model, and limited consideration for how the model would actually perform was offered.

With nominal consideration for standards of operations or in policy, many accounting professionals engaged offshore processing entities based on their being “a wonderful group of low-cost people” (actual quote from one offshore-accounting promoter). Unfortunately, much trust was placed in these organizations, and in many cases the engagements failed miserably due exclusively to the lack of fundamental business and control processes. Quality of work was low, timely communications with the offshore group was limited, and mis-communications and misunderstandings occurred with some regularity. Many who embarked upon this offshore outsourcing path early on did not stay on the path for long.

The Impact in India

India was one of the first countries to visibly enter the smb outsourcing market en masse. Large numbers of business people and accounting professionals from the US paid visits to groups in India, discussing the market opportunity and potential around smb outsourcing, and to enlist processors and “head count” to prepare for the deluge of inbound work from US businesses. In many cases, the participants in India were required to pay heavily for the privilege of participation – spending thousands (hundreds of thousands, in some cases) of dollars in training and education, building infrastructure, buying software and services – only to find that the return on investment was not going to come any time soon if at all. The US accounting market was not yet ready to ship its work offshore in wholesale. And, in reality, the outsourcers weren’t ready for the business anyway.

Marketed to death

Road shows, seminars, presentations, free offers, email and fax mail and junk mail of all flavors… all have been employed to attempt to convey the value of offshore outsourcing to the business market and to accounting professionals. This marketing was, in many cases, the use of funds from the investments made by the offshore entities. Those promoting the opportunity in India were garnering funds from participants there (while promising that work would be coming in immediately), and then returning to the US only to spend the money on trying to get the business that was already promised. Needless to say, this did tremendous harm to many of the offshore start-ups, and ran some of them out of business before they ever had an opportunity to perform. Certainly, some of these businesses were simply ill-prepared and were not ready for operation, but there were many which were, and some of these positioned themselves with partners that took advantage without delivering anything of value in return.

There were other models employed, as well. Postings on open job boards, offering “e-Accounting work” for a fee, and with a promise of huge returns, are prevalent. The representation is that, if the offshore processor would pay into the model, then the work would be forthcoming. Many paid into the model; few received any real revenue-earning work.

There is success

There are numerous situations where successful offshore outsourced processing engagements have been won and fulfilled, to the benefit of all involved. In many cases, the work being performed is limited in scope. The most successful outsource arrangements are oriented towards a specific processing requirement, and are accompanied by strict and clearly communicated processes and controls. Knowing that the outsourcer not only understands the requirement, but is able to be easily communicated with in order to address changes or special circumstances is a key to a successful engagement.

Process Re-engineering

Only through a comprehensive review of the requirement and the engineering of the specific solution, with all conditions clearly communicated and understood by all participants, is the outsourced engagement likely to see a high level of success. This puts a significant requirement on the professional practice to create a systematic approach to performing the work and measuring the quality, and to be able to convey those requirements in detal to the outsourcer. Frequently, this means selecting and implementing certain technologies or services which can facilitate remote access and deliver comprehensive functionality to remote workers. Further, communications with clients, required disclosures in the engagement, etc. force the professional to not only adapt operational processes, but to also adapt agreements and business relationships to acknowledge and properly incorporate the performance of any outsource organization.

The second time around

As with any new business model or technology, the “early adopters” are essentially the beta testers for the rest of the market. Models which are believed to be fully developed are found to be lacking in significant detail or insight. And many approaches are simply not realistic when applied to the larger part of the market.

Having worked through a period of trial and error, many outsourcers are now finding their niche, and are delivering (very successfully and profitably) valuable services to their business and professional clients. This working model has not yet matured to the point where offshore (or domestic) outsourcing is an automatic solution for any practice, and there is no cookie-cutter model to follow to success. Accounting professionals understand the unique nature of each of their client businesses, and it is this unique aspect which represents the challenge in creating standards in processes and systems which are an absolute requirement for any successful outsourced engagement.

Many of today’s outsource organizations have learned that they must provide the expertise and tools to the practice, assisting with process and workflow development, and creating assurances that the work will be handled in a timely and efficient manner. While the model is still being fully-explored, the experiences of the past few years have given these companies significant insight into the issues and potential solutions to the problems faced.

Value delivered

The question is not whether or not your client should outsource their work… the answer here is obviously “yes”, and that’s why your client works with you. But whether or not YOU should outsource certain processes or functions remains a question. There are significant benefits to be derived, not the least of which is an improvement in workflows and controls to measure performance. The cost-of-service benefits may, for some, remain elusive. The primary reason many companies initiate outsource arrangements is based on the assumption of handling the existing work using the existing processes, but at reduced labor rates. In truth, the benefits more frequently arrive in the form of enhancements to workflow and control processes, and the development of a greater and more in-depth understanding of the work being performed on the clients’ behalf.

Considerations for Disaster Recovery Planning

Disaster Recovery Planning is currently a leading topic of discussion for business IT administrators and owners. With the recent Gulf Coast disaster, issues relating to business and technology operation and continuity have become a central point of discussion for many organizations. After the disaster occurs is the wrong time to determine whether or not your company is adequately protected. Unfortunately, when you need your plan most is when you find that you either do or do not have things well in hand.

Hurricane Katrina has taught many companies some hard lessons ranging from the inability to locate or communicate with employees to the entire loss of the business and surrounding community infrastructure. Certainly, the current situation is a reflection of the worst-case scenario, but it also points out some fundamentally important considerations that a company must incorporate when creating a technology plan for disaster recovery and business continuity.


One of the first things to remember in any disaster is that your employees are people. They have families, homes, lives outside the office, and responsibilities. They have fears and concerns. In short, they are human beings. This is a reality that is frequently overlooked in a disaster plan.
Much consideration may be taken with respect to handling business issues such as customer or vendor communications, technology and systems continuity, etc. But in the event of a disaster where lives are at stake, can the company expect personnel to overlook those personal impacts that present themselves, all in the name of keeping the company going? Probably not, unless perhaps they are in health care, law enforcement, or the military. Even in those cases, caring for family and loved ones may take precedence over job responsibilities. Businesses need to make certain that there are SYSTEMS in place to assist with continuity and recovery, as personnel may be hard to come by.


Businesses rely on facilities.
Facilities are created from infrastructure.
Infrastructure, more often than not, is not in your control.
Telephone service, connectivity, electrical power, street access to the building, access to the surrounding areas - these are infrastructure elements that you have little control over, if any at all. The loss of infrastructure, however, impacts you significantly. It does not matter how much backup power you have if you have no physical access to the building. And telephone service becomes valueless (frequently) if the power is out.

Redundancy can come in many forms, but creating fully-redundant facilities means being redundant with the infrastructure. Opening offices in multiple locations, distributing personnel and resources to various locations - these all come with potentially tremendous cost impacts to the business. There are, however, affordable technologies and services available today which can help mitigate the impact of the loss of a location or facility, and whenever possible these services should be incorporated into your daily processes to ensure portability and a smooth transitioning of systems should the worst occur.


Developing an IT recovery and continuity plan is similar in nature to purchasing various types of insurance. The level and cost of protection must be evaluated based on the benefit to be derived, and weighted by the risk. For example, low-cost flood insurance is probably not worth the investment where there is no water. Obviously, there is cost associated with different levels and types of protection, and different situations warrant different types and levels of coverage.

In terms of IT continuity and recovery, the most frequently-implemented form of "insurance" is redundancy or the duplication of a resource. Every business, however, has requirements that extend beyond a reasonable ability to fully duplicate. A small flower shop, for example, cannot reasonably afford to implement "alternative business locations" or a remote office in the event of the loss of the primary facility. With this reality in mind, the business must focus on addressing those conditions that are within its reasonable ability to control, as well as those that it can mitigate to some degree.

Infrastructure & Facilities
Business locations - building and access
Telecommunications - telephone and voice communication services; transmission lines
IP Connectivity - internet and IP network services
Electricity - electrical power
Utilities - water and sewer, natural gas

IT Assets
PBX and voice systems - telephone systems, handsets, voicemail systems
Network servers - file and print; applications, database, messaging, web, etc.
Network communications equipment - routers, switches, hubs, cabling systems
Power - UPS, battery backups, generators
Workstation equipment - desktops, laptops, peripherals
Software - operating system, applications, tools and utilities

Key Processes - information technology
System building; placement and installation
System and user account management and administration; patch management
Data management; backups and archives; version controls
Security administration: anti-virus, adware/spyware, intrusion detection and prevention

Key Processes -general business
Sales and billing functions
Receipts and banking functions
Payments and settlement functions
Accounting and reporting functions
Production and operational functions
Support and service functions, including employee, customer and vendor communications

ASPs can assist with business recovery

InsynQ and a community of application service providers (ASPs), managed service providers (MSPs), messaging providers, and software publishers are coming together to offer support and services for businesses effected by Katrina and disasters in the Gulf Coast region.

The truth is that the virtual services offered can help... help businesses re-connect to team members and operations; reach out to customers and vendors. Whether or not data or applications are retrievable, the virtual environment offers the ability for people to collaborate, share information, and communicate - regardless of location - as long as there is connectivity.

Telco and other infrastructure services are slowly recovering in certain areas, and impacted individuals are slowly but surely looking for ways to recover their livelihoods.

We can help. But VISIBILITY is the key. Somehow, we must find those who we can help and connect with them.

InsynQ has created a website where interested parties - those seeking to offer service, as well as those looking for needed service - can participate.