While remaining confident any changes to the current Business Activity Statement (BAS) may generate sales in accounting software updates, resellers are becoming increasingly aware such revenues would be unlikely to outweigh the effort of making their own systems compliant.
With the two major parties in the upcoming Federal Election considering changes to the BAS as a way of winning the votes of small business owners, accounting software vendors are banking on more updates to sell through the channel.
John Telitidis, proprietor of Melbourne reseller Downtown software, said the hassle of making his own systems compliant will make the changes less likely to result in profit.
"I'm a businessman too - I have adjust to these changes," he said. "At the end of the day, everyone's systems are more labour intensive to administer because you have to total up figures on a more regular basis. It can take a half-man week - the theoretical simplicity of the BAS is undermined by the effort it takes to administer it."
The channel for GST accounting software has been fraught with issues over the past nine months. While some resellers claim the major vendors responded with updates very quickly, others found the software a source of trouble between customer, reseller, distributor and vendor. One source, who preferred to remain unnamed, said the Quicken's Quickbooks product in particular caused a great deal of channel heartache.
The software hit the market too late and had several bug correction updates within its first few months of shelf-time, the source claimed. A high return rate is also rumoured to be the major reason distributor Express Data split with the vendor a few months ago, although Express Data national marketing manager Peter Masters said it simply came down to the two companies having "their own reasons".
"Half the product they get to us gets sent back for one reason or another," the source said. "Either it didn't fulfil what the customer wanted, or there were bugs, or it was their money-back guarantee, which people tend to use as a rental scheme."
Lorenzo Coppa, managing director of phone and Web-based reseller City Software, said any updates caused by changes to the BAS would be considered an irritation to a manager but an opportunity to a salesman. Coppa is fortunate enough to have two chartered accountants on hand to help with BAS administration, and said his customers have been very understanding over any licensing bungles or confusion caused by GST changes.
Telitidis said he considers upgrades of equal importance to core software products. "A lot of our business is about selling the upgrades," he said. "If they didn't exist, we wouldn't be around."
But despite the necessity for updates, he is finding it harder and harder to justify the cost of changing his systems when he is working with such small margins. "Unfortunately, all the dreams and promises made to us by vendors are rarely satisfied," he said. "It is only pure innovation and evolution that keeps us going."