Accounting software provider MYOB has clarified the situation around its plans to cease support for its desktop product, amid some confusion and frustration at the move.
A number of My Business readers have expressed concerns at the situation, including about how the transition is being managed, why it is being done and what they have (or have not) been told about it.
MYOB's general manager of clients, Nick Burkett, told My Business that the decision to stop supporting its Version 19 desktop accounting software was driven by a desire to deliver more value for its customers.
"We vehemently believe that the move to online is really beneficial for clients and industry in general, and we can see from the people who have made that move already that they have seen really large benefits from doing so," he said.
"We're seeing a range of benefits … the first thing I would say is that by using online, they've got a number of features that they can use that aren't available on the desktop software. That's everything from bank fees, which enables them to reconcile and save lots of time within their business, through to online invoicing, which enables them to track whether people have received the invoices, take online payments etc … and the ability for multiple people to collaborate [among employees from different locations as well as with the business' accountant or bookkeeper].
"There are a huge number of benefits of moving online, and in fact the people who have moved say those benefits are pretty large."
Business owners and MYOB customers had raised the following concerns and frustrations, to which Mr Burkett has directly responded:
My Business reader: "I was told by the MYOB Melbourne office … that my product was no longer supported."
"That's not accurate," Mr Burkett replied.
"That is in a year's time, so September next year  is the point at which MYOB will no longer be supporting version 19."
My Business reader: "For many years, I was assured that desktop would continue without an end date."
"The v19 [Version 19] software, while it has been a good set of software, is coming to the end of the road," said Mr Burkett.
"And while that's true, people can continue to enjoy using that software for as long as they want, we just won't support it anymore.
"As an example, if Microsoft were to release a new operating system, we will not be doing work to make sure that the version 19 product is compatible with that. It may continue to work, we can't guarantee that it will not, but we will not be supporting the product any longer [past September 2019]."
Mr Burkett added that anyone who bought a desktop product has purchased a "perpetual license", meaning they are able to continue using it for as long as they choose to do so.
My Business reader: "I run a manufacturing business in a rural area where NBN is not available and ADSL2 is so slow. I could never operate on a cloud-based product."
"Version 19 is not the only product that can work in desktop mode," Mr Burkett replied.
"AccountRight Live, which is the product that people can move to very easily, also works in desktop mode, and customers who are in areas with poor internet connectivity could use that product as a replacement.
"It has an identical feature set to version 19 [and] a very similar user interface, and so that, we believe, is a very easy transition for customers to make."
My Business reader: "People that have paid good money for the full desktop version (non-subscription) are effectively being forced to hand over MORE money by MYOB intentionally disabling their files."
Mr Burkett said that such an experience sounds extreme, and suggested it could actually be caused by fraudulent access or unlicensed software.
"That is in no way, shape or form linked to people being required to upgrade," he explained.
"Anyone who has had an experience like that … they should reach out to MYOB and we will look into that really closely.
"There is a feature in all of our desktop products – and it's a feature that has existed for a long, long time – called 'activation and confirmation', and that is really an anti-piracy process.
"Because desktop software can be installed on multiple computers, that process ensures that people are licensed appropriately and have not, for example, installed it on a thousand computers and are using it freely.
"So the software can lockout [users] and require you to call in an ID. What should happen is that, if you're licensed appropriately, you should be turned straight back on and be up and running again."
My Business readers' concerns around pushy sales tactics and misinformation being supplied by MYOB's call centres.
Mr Burkett urged any customer who has specific questions, or who is unhappy with their experience in dealing with MYOB, to contact the company directly.
"We pride ourselves on delivering great customer experiences in our local call centres. If anyone has any concerns about interactions with MYOB, they should contact us directly and we will look into those matters very seriously," he said.
"To my knowledge, we haven't had any of this feedback directly, which is why I would encourage anyone who has had experiences like this to reach out to MYOB … so that we can investigate it and come up with a solution."
According to Mr Burkett, MYOB has already been actively engaged with customers impacted by the transition – and will continue to do so in the lead up to September 2019 – through a series of emails, running webinars, visibility on its website and announcements at its Partner Connect events.
Editor: If you would like some assistance in determining a course of action for your desktop MYOB product, please contact us for a confidential discussion of your options.