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Friday, 13 June 2014

Ownership of Data - Cloud Based Accounting

Bookkeepers operate in different modes in terms of using software for their clients. With cloud based software the issues are around who has the contract with the software provider and who has legal/professional rights to the access to the software:

The different scenarios
  • The business has initiated, purchased and paid for the subscription to the software in their own right and provided access to the bookkeeper.
  • The bookkeeper/adviser has initiated, purchased and also pays the software company for the subscription.  The bookkeeper/adviser then provides access to the software to the business and also is including a fee for that software in their total invoicing.
  • The bookkeeper/adviser has initiated, purchased and is accredited with being the adviser, for purposes of software partner program accreditation, but the business pays the software company directly for the subscription.
Answer:
Once a bookkeeper has been paid for the processing of data then the detailed data and the results of that data must be provided to the client.

It is ICB's view that any professional who no longer acts for the business should provide the business with the ability to take over the subscription immediately. 

If there is a fee dispute we believe this is a separate issue from the access to the business records and any subscription to cloud based / browser based software.

If the client did not have the ownership of the subscription to the software, it should be provided to the business.  It should be made clear as to what date the subscription has been paid up until and from what date the business will have to arrange with the software supplier to take-over the payment arrangement. 

Even in the most conservative view any adviser who did "own" the subscription has an obligation to provide the detailed data and the results of that data to the business is some generally usable form. PDF versions of all reports would appear appropriate.
What is our recommendation in each of the above situations:
  • A business should be the primary account owner / administrator of the software subscription that is being used for their business.
    Recommend: The adviser should always have copies of the out-put of their work and evidence of the status of the "file" when they conclude an item of service.
    .
  • A business should always have their own password access.
    Recommend: The adviser should have a separate user ID and password.
The commercial agreement between adviser and the client should be established and understood at the commencement of the relationship, ensuring no surprises should the relationship deteriorate.

For the entire ICB Members resource library in relation to Software
www.icb.org.au/resources/software

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