Earlier this month, I wrote an item about FreshBooks's quest to grow beyond its roots as an invoicing application to become a bonafide small-business accounting software option.
Not surprisingly, that post drew some criticism from accountants, who point out that calling something an accounting application when it doesn't handle some of the tasks required by their profession could be misleading.
Technically speaking, they are right, but it hasn't stopped FreshBooks users from referring to the appilcation in that way or discouraged the company from adding features that go beyond its original mission in order to deliver more features that are typically associated with accounting software.
The latest is one for generating balance sheets that include a summary of your assets, liabilities and equity. This is something that a small-business owner might want to take to the bank for a financing application. A sample of one of the screens is below:
Mind you, this is not something that is automated. You have to go through a manual process that generates the information, something that is criticized in the copious feedback about the new feature on the company's blog. Still, this sort of report is more than your average small-business or start-up owner would be able to create on their own without using some sort of application or asking for a report from an accountant.
One of the reasons that I was inspired to write about this new feature was all the feedback and comments on the FreshBooks blog post announcing it (42 at my last count). You'll also notice that the company is reading and responding to those comments, which is a model that other cloud software companies would do well to emulate.
Is FreshBooks creating controversy and jumping the gun by calling its cloud software an accounting application? Probably, but all signs point toward its intention to get there eventually.
(Screen captures and thumbnail graphic courtesy of FreshBooks)