Matt JagstThomson Reuters has spelled out the pricing for its SaaS for the CS Professional Suite this past week at a strategic update at the Dexter, Mich., headquarters of the unit that markets products such as UltraTax and WriteUp CS. And the pricing, which hadn't been previously published, shows just how the concept of what software is and how it will be sold is changing as applications go to the Internet.

As outlined by the organization that is part of Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting business, the Web-based suite is not sold by application. Instead, users purchase profiles and get functionality depending on the monthly subscription they pay.

"This is a significant shift in our business model. You don’t chose the product," said Jack LaRue, SVP of the company's MyPay operations. "We look at focusing on the end user rather than on our product line."

As explained by product manager Matt Jagst, pricing for the Internet-based suite was built around the roles that workers play in their organizations. Not only do prices vary depending on the role profile purchased, but the appearance of screens change with the employee's role. If a worker moved from one job within a company to another position with a different role, "the next time he logs on, his desktop will look different," Jagst said.

Businesses pay $424 per month for a full-service profile, which gives them access to all the modules in the CS suite that are now sold separately, ranging from UltraTax CS and WriteUp CS, through Practice CS and FileCabinet CS. The tax profile, priced at $350 per month, offers access to most modules, but not WriteUp CS, Payroll CS or Financial Analysis CS, and also lacks access to the Client Bookkeeping Solution master license. The accounting or bookkeeper profile costs $250 a month and omits UltraTax CS and Planner CS, but gives access to all other modules. The most limited profile, the administration role, is priced at $165 per month. It provides the users with only ToolBox CS, Practice CS and FileCabinet CS, along with access to the online version of Microsoft Office with Exchange.

Those are the starting prices for single profile subscriptions. There's an 8 percent discount for two to four profiles; 18 percent off for five to eight profiles; 25 percent off for nine to 12 and a 35 percent discount for more than 13 profiles.

Jagbst said the pricing model gives firms a great deal of flexibility when employees join their organization or when they leave. "Firms can add part-time staff and can assign a tax profile for them to work in January, February, March and April and when they leave, they can shut that off," he said. That's opposed to the current pricing scheme under which firms pay for the user for the entire year.

The goal has been to attract smaller firms and provide applications without requiring them to make "a huge upfront investment," Jagst said.

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Bob Scott
Bob Scott has provided information to the tax and accounting community since 1991, first as technology editor of Accounting Today, and from 1997 through 2009 as editor of its sister publication, Accounting Technology. He is known throughout the industry for his depth of knowledge and for his high journalistic standards.  Scott has made frequent appearances as a speaker, moderator and panelist and events serving tax and accounting professionals. He  has a strong background in computer journalism as an editor with two former trade publications, Computer+Software News and MIS Week and spent several years with weekly and daily newspapers in Morris County New Jersey prior to that.  A graduate of Indiana University with a degree in journalism, Bob is a native of Madison, Ind
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