Cloud Accounting Dashboard as of 5/24/2018

I’ve updated the CPATechBlog Cloud Accounting Dashboard for the latest statistics on cloud accounting adoption for the most recent earnings and public company disclosures from Sage, Intuit, and Xero.


Highlights from the most recent updates include the following:

  • Intuit continued to dominate the cloud accounting space, with 1.82 million companies on QBO as of 4/30/2018, as compared to 132,000 in North America for Xero.  The other competitors in this space do not break out North American adoption stats or are private and do not have to disclose adoption stats to the public.
  • In addition to the 1.82 million companies on QBO in the US, Intuit reported another 720K QBO companies outside the US, as well as 680K users of QBO Self Employed.  The 720K QBO companies outside the US compares unfavorably to the 1.25 million companies on Xero at 3/31/2018, but both performed favorably against the 431,000 reported on Sage Business Cloud Accounting (the product formerly known as Sage One) at 3/31/2018.
  • Intuit disclosed that 330,000 of the 680,000 total QBOSE users bundled the product with TurboTax, which may make some of you practitioners nervous about recommending that product – don’t forget that there’s a way to connect QBO for Accountants to your client’s QBOSE, and Intuit says that they won’t try to sell TurboTax to your QBO self-employed clients – if you need details, drop me a line – Brian at bftcpa dot com.
  • I still estimate that the ratio of QB Desktop users to QBO companies is 1.30:1 as of the most recent earnings release.  What’s more important for you, the gentle reader of this blog to know is two things:
    • While the ratio of QBD users/QBO companies is 1.18:1, the ratio of the desktop QB ecosystem revenues to the QBO ecosystem revenues was 1.42:1 – so desktop versions of QuickBooks are still essential to the QuickBooks business for Intuit.
    • Slide3
    • The really bad news for users of desktop versions of QuickBooks is the forward looking information about desktop versions of QuickBooks – and I’m quoting directly from their Q3 Earnings Call Script here.  “Desktop Ecosystem revenue grew 3 percent in the quarter and is up 7 percent year-todate. For fiscal 2018, we expect QuickBooks desktop units to decline mid to high teens and Desktop Ecosystem revenue to be up mid-single digits.”  While we’ve known for some time that Intuit passed on a price increase to QuickBooks desktop users, it tells me that we should probably expect prices on desktop software to continue to climb as Intuit continues to try to make it financially advantageous for users to switch to QBO, where they have more control over the ecosystem, as opposed to QB Pro/Premier/Enterprise.

While Intuit has a lead in US cloud accounting, if the much vaunted machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities which the cloud brings us in the next few years ever actually happen, accounting software may become something that people used to use – like buggy whips.  Truthfully, if the technology winds shift quickly – it’s still anybody’s race.

This blog has been verified by Rise: Reb62c83bbbeeaf7c441eb6f55d066bf3


Dear Brian: Clearing Out Old Vendors, Customers, Items, and Accounts in Desktop QuickBooks

Dear Brian:

My client has been using QuickBooks Pro for well over 10 years.  They upgrade every few years however the file size is getting very large.  They do not want to switch to another program and do not want to switch to QuickBooks Online.

I was under the impression that the newest versions of QuickBooks allows you to purge old data or allows you to reduce the file size.

What should I do?

Carl in Philadelphia

Dear Carl,

You may want to consider using the Condense Data feature in QuickBooks (File, Utilities, Condense Data from the menu)- it will let you remove the old data as well as the old list items – vendors, customers, accounts, etc. which you haven’t touched in years.

You can download a PDF file with directions on how to do this by filling out the form below:

“The Day The License Died” and “The Microsoft Triple Witching Day”

“The day the music died” Don McLean, in his epic song, American Pie.

I’ve been watching with great interest the efforts of Microsoft to migrate its enterprise customers from perpetual licenses with software assurance to subscriptions.  When we read recently that Terry Myerson was leaving Microsoft and his team was distributed to the four winds, we knew big changes were afoot, but I learned that Microsoft had already sent some signals to the IT community which I had somehow overlooked.  Mind you – I work hard to keep up at technology.  I listen to podcasts like Windows Weekly and This Week in Tech, I read lots and lots of blogs, attend a lot of briefings, and do a lot of tech social media – but somehow I missed something big coming up in 2020 and another event in 2025 which Microsoft signaled in February 2018.

I was preparing to speak at a state CPA technology conference a couple of weeks ago, and noted again that the following end of support dates were pretty close with each other:

  • Windows 7, SP1 – End of Extended Support – January 14. 2020
  • Office 2010 SP2 – End of Extended Support – October 13, 2020
  • Microsoft has also published a blog post here reporting that they will no longer support Windows 8.1 users who also use Office 365 ProPlus (the ENTERPRISE version of Office, on an Office 365 subscription) after January 14, 2020.

Hmmm.  That’s interesting.  Three big ends of support in a relatively small period of time – and the discontinuance of an ENTERPRISE Office 365 SKU on Windows 8.1, less than a year from the end of support for Office 2010 SP2.

I then saw that on October 14, 2025, Microsoft ends support for the following applications:

  • Windows 10, 2015 LTSC – End of Extended Support – October 14, 2025
  • Office 2016 – End of Extended Support – October 14, 2025
  • Office 2019 – End of Support (based on expected 10/2018 release date) – October 14, 2025

They say change comes in threes, so I was intrigued – what were the big things changing in 2020 and 2025?  So, I took to Twitter and asked two leading Microsoft journalists (Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet and Paul Thurrott of to tell me what they thought was going to happen:


Paul came back with a quick quip which made me smile:


Mary Jo, however, being the more enterprise-sympathetic of the two, came back with a post she wrote in February of this year about a February Microsoft announcement I had not read as closely as I should have related to the 2020 date – and as usual, when St. Mary Jo speaks, thou shalt listen, and you ignore her at your peril.


I reread her February 2018 article and the related Microsoft blog post.  As expected, the post says that Office 365 ProPlus will no longer be supported on Windows 7 (due to its EOL the same day) and Windows 8.1 as of that date (even though Windows 8.1 support doesn’t end until 2023).  The post also says that you’ll have to be on one of the last two semi-annual channel releases for Windows 10 at that time (e.g. what we used to call “current branch for business”).

But here’s something I missed – you can’t use Office 365 ProPlus on the long-term servicing channel version of Windows 10 Enterprise – the one used by almost every enterprise who implements Windows 10.  So if you took the bait and bought Office 365 ProPlus because it was less expensive than the software assurance alone for previously owned volume licenses of Office, you can’t go home again.  Really.  

Microsoft customers who bought Office 365 ProPlus (the version of Office included in Office 365 enterprise, government, and education SKUs like Office 365 E3 and E5) will be unable to stay on the Long Term Support Channel (LTSC) versions of Windows 10 and use Office 365 ProPlus.  They will have to instead use the semi-annual channel update (formerly known as “current branch for business”) of Windows 10 instead of the LTSC channel.  This has the potential to create many new headaches for Enterprise customers with backward compatibility of legacy applications, as it’s going to force you to update Windows twice a year – so instead of zero Windows feature updates a year under LTSC, you’re going to get two a year – two more opportunities for Windows, drivers, and your apps to find fault with each other’s new bits and decide to not work together.

Big Changes Come in Threes – October 14, 2025 – The Triple Witching Day

Let’s back up and do some finance background here – for those not familiar with the term, a “triple witching hour” is a quarterly time of big volatility in the stock market due to the simultaneous expiration of stock market index futures, stock market index options, and stock options.  (For those who want to know when the actual Triple Witching hour occurs, it’s the last hour of trading – 3-4P ET – on the third Fridays in March, June, September, and December.)  As you can see in the previous part of this post, we’re going to have big changes in 2020 – and possibly bigger changes in October 2025.  I, therefore, declare that henceforth, I will refer to October 14, 2025 as “the Triple Witching Day”.

Given the possible end of perpetual licensing and IT as we know it, let’s go back and look at what’s going to happen on that day, the end of  what I will now call:

Microsoft’s Mayan Calendar of Support Apocalypses:

Microsoft ends support on 10/14/2025 for the following applications:

  • Windows 10, 2015 LTSC – End of Extended Support
  • Office 2016 – End of Extended Support
  • Office 2019 – End of Extended Support (based on expected 10/2018 release date)

So the first version of Windows 10 LTSC (the 2015 version), the one which was likely adopted by many enterprises, is going to end that day.  Office 2016 ends that day – OK, no big deal yet… but this one – Office 2019 ALSO ends that day.  So may be no option but Office 365/Microsoft 365 at that point. 

Let that sink in for a minute.

There may be no option but Office 365 or Microsoft 365 at that point.

What’s really going to happen then?  I have no idea – but it could be–(with apologies to Don McLean) – “The day the (Microsoft perpetual) license dies?”  Mind you – this is not something which has been overtly signaled by Microsoft – it’s all based on inference, speculation, and conjecture (and Paul’s wise crack, which one wonders if he was congratulating himself on being a smart aleck at the same time he was sharing a possible reason for the convergence of those dates).  Either way, it certainly makes for an interesting story, doesn’t it?  And – it makes you think about how long you really have until you’re forced into all subscription, all the time.  Maybe not as long as you think.

Nobody but Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and maybe a few of his closest apostles know at this point, but I know a company whose SEC filings, press releases, and blog posts I’m going to read with a fine toothed comb for the next few years – because ending perpetual licenses is a very big change which could (and should) influence long-term IT strategy today.  As the details emerge, it should be an interesting few years as we see how hard Microsoft and the other software vendors are going to push hard to move us all to subscriptions running on the cloud – voluntarily – or perhaps involuntarily.

Note: Microsoft PR/WagEd people – would love for you to set the record straight and help me correct any errors I’ve made in this post.  If you would like to make any statements, I’m @BFTCPA, my office number is pretty easy to find online, and I’m in the office from 9-6 ET every day this week.   I’m sure that the two tech journalists I admire most –  @MaryJoFoley and @Thurrott – would also welcome a statement on this.  Help us out here – and please – stamp out any ignorance I have with respect to your future plans – because a lot of people in businesses who use Microsoft Windows, Office, and Windows Server are going to spend a lot of money in the next few years, and it would help them make better investment decisions if they knew more definitively how quickly you’re going to force the laggards to move to the subscriptions and the cloud.


A Report from the AICPA/ Blockchain Symposium

I was fortunate to be selected to participate in the AICPA/ Blockchain Symposium, which was held May 2, 2018 at the AICPA offices in New York.   This meeting, which included leaders from around the profession, including practitioners, educators, consultants, and AICPA leadership, was the kickoff of an effort by the profession to address the accounting, auditing, tax, and regulatory issues associated with distributed ledger technologies and assist members in understanding how they work, where they make sense, and what issues they should evaluate associated with their use.  The 64 participants were divided into three working groups for each of two sessions addressing accounting, auditing, tax, legal/regulatory, education, and privacy.  Prior to the symposium, each participant was asked to submit questions related to unresolved issues surrounding blockchain ledger technology and its use in the profession.  The groups evaluated these questions and created a list of possible strategies for a report which will be issued by the end of May.  AICPA will create working groups and an action plan in June, and the initial deliverables will be released at the end of November.

We discussed a wide range of issues where practitioners, clients, regulators, and taxing authorities need guidance to make it possible for us to do business more easily.  Some of the items which I recorded in my notes include the following:

  • The general understanding of the basic terms and concepts related to blockchain needs improvement in the profession.
  • It is clear from observations and behaviors viewed by the participants that cryptocurrencies and ICO’s are a major focus of law enforcement agencies and regulators, while the lack of guidance and caselaw makes it difficult for practitioners to hang their hats on available precedents to make good decisions.
  • Because it’s such a new area with new risks, there are clear issues related to client acceptance, what constitutes sufficient competent evidential matter, and how transactions should be recorded and disclosed for book and tax.
  • Authoritative guidance from the profession is clearly needed – perhaps an accounting/auditing guide for crypto-based ledgers and ICO’s?
  • The profession needs to work with many regulators to address the unresolved regulatory issues with agencies like the SEC, IRS, FASB, PCAOB, and numerous state departments of revenue and securities regulators. There are many unaddressed issues like
    • What represent constructive receipt of a token?
    • Is a token a security, an asset, a liability, an expense, revenue or something else?
    • How does one calculate the accounting and tax basis of bitcoins received in exchange for mining currency?
    • How can we get some “safe harbor” guidance for these unresolved issues so that we can deal with this rapidly emerging area?
  • Unfortunately, we see the possibility of state-by-state regulation of this area instead of federal leadership, which could make it very difficult for the US to take a leadership role in this area.
  • Many countries are ahead of the US in the adoption and implementation of regulations in this area, and one participant cited regulatory frameworks from the governments of Singapore and Switzerland as possible templates to be considered in the US.

I also think it’s important to address the fearmongers who say that blockchain, artificial intelligence, and machine learning will be the end of the accounting profession (to that, I say “balderdash”).  When I started in the profession in 1992, I did everything on 5, 7, and 14 column papers with a mechanical pencil and a 10-key adding machine.  Upon graduation, I was told by a friend that computers and the internet were going to end accounting.  In the 2000’s, I was told that my job was going offshore, and I would need to do something different to make a living.  Over the last few years, I’ve been told that artificial intelligence, machine learning, and blockchain are going to end jobs for US accountants.  My response to is that it’s 2018.  I’m still here, and am not going anywhere, and the world is becoming grayer instead of black and white – so accountants are going to be needed to make good decisions in this area.  While I do see many practitioners who clearly have not adopted technologies and methods to make their work more efficient (including one practitioner I recently saw who was working off a five-column pad), these emerging technologies will require changes to how we work, banishing the last few adding machines to the museums or the scrapheap.

It is clear to me that our profession must rethink how we work, what we do, and effectively “disrupt ourselves” before we fall so far behind that our work is irrelevant.  Many things have changed or will change – basic account classification/coding will be done by AI or user-programmed rules into applications like Xero, QuickBooks Online, or Sage Accounting, data will be entered using OCR tools like Receipt Bank, and the advanced technologies and analytical tools used by Wall Street financial services companies will find their way into our toolboxes.  The purpose of the work we all do ten years hence will be similar, yet the low-level tasks we perform will be different – in ways many of us cannot imagine.

I was absolutely blown away at the top-notch practitioners in the group, who were clearly deep thinkers and technicians who were at the absolute top of their game.  I also enjoyed the banter back and forth in the group, which was very collegial, and while there were politics in the room (as there is with any meeting of this type), it was as apolitical of a meeting as I have seen at this level in the profession.  In addition to the partners, I had the pleasure of meeting some exceptionally bright managers and senior managers who were members of the group.  These people remind me that, despite the rumors to the contrary, our profession is continuing to advance in this fast-moving world, and it gives me great hope about the bright future of the accounting profession.

Tax Haiku, 2018 Edition

Kelly Phillips Erb, who covers tax for Forbes, and is the majordomo at is running her annual #TaxHaiku contest.  (Many of you, the gentle readers of this blog have seen some of my previous year entries here and here).  (Who knew that people who could do #taxes could also write poems?  I suppose it’s the torture our souls have endured during the long, long winters in front of monitors.)

Continue reading “Tax Haiku, 2018 Edition”

The World Continues to Evolve. Will You?

I’ve been part of the CPA profession since I graduated from the University of Tennessee and joined one of the “Big Six” accounting firms in 1992.  I started during the waning days of working papers which were made of paper, and had the privilege of carrying a 40 pound Compaq “luggable” transportable PC as my first work computer shortly thereafter – so I’ve been around a while.  During the last 25 years, we’ve transitioned from paper to computer-based documentation, and have also seen the rise of the internet.  The changes we’ve seen – the rise and fall of Yahoo, Amazon’s domination and disruption of everything, and the rise of smart phones – are nothing short of breathtaking.  When viewed in the context of how we worked 40 years ago, it’s important to remember they didn’t change overnight – it took decades for things to shift to the new paradigm.

A two-sided

The late Roy Amara, a respected researcher, scientist, and futurist who led The Institute for the Future during the 1970’s and 1980’s, is credited with creating “Amara’s Law”.  His maxim states, “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.” If you think about the tools we use in our offices every day, almost none of the tools we used forty years ago are used today.  Gone are the paper rolodex cards, typewriters, 10-key adding machines, workpaper binders, 5-column paper, phone books, and colored pencils from the past, replaced by multiple monitors, printers, e-mail, and software like ProSystem fx Engagement.  An accountant from 1978 who visited a cloud-based accounting firm without a physical office wouldn’t recognize what he or she saw.  They would be shocked how simple tasks like payroll have been automated and centralized into computer data centers operated by ADP, Paychex, and Intuit which are accessed using the internet– they would be completely lost in today’s world.

We are all learning about emerging technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and process automation.  While most of these technologies are platforms for software developers instead of applications you can use to solve a specific business problem.  As I write this in the spring of 2018, there aren’t many ways I can utilize these technologies today – but I believe that they will impact how we work in the future in ways we can’t imagine.

It’s important to stay current on technology, but that doesn’t mean that you have to know everything about it – or as my friend Gary Boomer often says, “you don’t have to know how the movement mechanism in a wristwatch works in order to tell what time it is.”  The time to change your work processes is when it makes financial and operational sense to do so, not when “the cool kids” say it’s OK.  Keep up with your competitors and don’t get behind on technology– because there are a lot of dinosaurs with dusty offices full of paper who upon retirement will realize smaller gains when selling their practice because they didn’t keep up.

You can subscribe to my newsletter and get articles periodically by clicking here.

5th Annual Accounting Firm Ops and Tech Survey Awards Announced

April 05, 2018, Hutchinson KS and Minneapolis, MN – Randy Johnston, CEO, Network Management Group, Inc. and Dr. Leslie Garrett, CEO of Insight Research Group are pleased to announce the winners of the 5th Annual Accounting Firm Operations and Technology (AFOT) Survey Awards. Survey respondents identify the software used in their accounting firm that has the greatest impact on their firm in three separate categories: Profitability, Risk Mitigation and Productivity.  The 5th Annual AFOT Survey results book will be released in May 2018.  Respondents selected award-winners in each category from a list of 87 accounting firm software products.

Continue reading “5th Annual Accounting Firm Ops and Tech Survey Awards Announced”

Cloud Accounting User Counts

I’ve been tracking the user counts of cloud accounting tools for microbusinesses from publically available sources for about seven years now.  My latest cloud accounting user counts appear below.  Note that Intacct probably shouldn’t be in this list (especially since we also didn’t include other mid-market apps like Oracle NetSuite, as they’re both a little “up market” for most users of this.  As you know, FreshBooks and Wave are private, and don’t have to report anything publically, and with Kashoo doing more as a bookkeeping service instead of as a software company, the user counts there (which were hard to get anyway) are a little less relevant here.  We expect to have new data from Intuit, Xero, and Sage sometime in late April/early May.


P.S. Tipsters who have good public (non-confidential) data sources for user counts (e.g. court filings, press releases, etc.) which are more detailed or more current than this (as I write this on March 27, 2018), I share Starbucks cards with those who point new things out – I’m @BFTCPA on twitter.

P.P.S. If any software publishers want to be included in this list on a going forward basis (or want any of the analysis which goes along with this), including some work on cloud vs. on premises for user counts, reach out to me and we can discuss.

Zoho: The Most Interesting Company You’ve Never Heard Of

I was fortunate to be invited to attend an analysts conference for Zoho Corporation.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with Zoho, they have about 60 different SaaS applications for all aspects of running a business, including e-mail, calendar, CRM, accounting, reports, HR, e-mail marketing, help desk, meetings, and many, many more.  The apps are sold individually, in four bundles (CRM Plus, Workplace, Finance Plus, and IT Management), or in a mega-bundle called Zoho One.  I’ve been using Zoho One for a couple of months, and it’s been pretty amazing.  Some of the things I’ve done with it include:

Continue reading “Zoho: The Most Interesting Company You’ve Never Heard Of”

A CPA’s Guide to Address Spectre and Meltdown

There were two major security vulnerabilities announced in January of this year: Spectre and Meltdown.  Both affected, for all intents and purposes, every computer which has been sold in the US in the last 15 years.  Read more:

Original Article

Follow-up Article