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Iris practice management

Hi All

We are thinking of signing up for Iris Practice Management,  We currently use an Excel T card type system which is not really fit for purpose.  Can any users of Iris PM share their experiences good or bad?  Note that we are Iris users and like the integration so not really interested in other PM solutions,


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I have no recent experience but have tried to use PM twice in the past, attended training etc but both times found it too cumbersome to use and gave up. My thoughts are to use it properly all staff need to enter most things they do which adds best part of an hour to a job each year. Staff are not as dedicated as they could be and do not enter actions they have taken, making the outcome not so good.

Yes, I have the same problems with the Excel database I use but I find this simpler to use.

One of the major problems is when you already use Iris and then try to start using PM. I have 15 years history of hundreds of clients on Iris. I am not saying you can backdate the info on PM but this was a major problem getting started. I think if you were a new Iris user and used PM from day one it might be easier.

I will be interested to read other's comments. Some users think PM is fantastic!




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I am gradually ...

... getting going on PM. If I did it again I would have sat down day one and implemented properly, rather than piecemal as I have done.

The main problem with introducing it is that IRIS autopopulates many fields in the background. This "hidden" history needs to be sorted out en-masse.

The first thing is to do some planning, decide what points of each type of job you want recorded - the default IRIS ones are way over the top for me - so be bold and cull out pointless stages.

I would recommend paying IRIS to come along for a day and get you set up, then enter in all the jobs you have in hand, I wouldn't worry about the past, just start with the snapshot on day one and move forward.

If you don't have it I would also get Automail at the same time as many of the standard letters can be set as templates and will automatically update the PM stages when run.

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Not a user, But I've met a lot of users

I worked in the PM product development team a few years ago.

But I have no axe to grind because I haven't been there for several years.

In the course of my duties I met a lot of clients, and I don't suppose the Iris bigwigs went out of their way to shield me from the unsatisfied ones.

Almost uniformly the client opinions of the product at that time were extremely positive. The impression that I gained with Iris was that the more modules you had the more you liked it. That could of course be a self-fulfilling prophecy since perhaps satisfied clients buy more modules!

I don't know if it is still a separate product but you do need Automail to get the best out of PM.

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You will need ...

... PM user licences for pretty much everyone, but not so Automail

This is where I think IRIS fails most, as the monthly costs are reasonable to my mind, but, the up front costs means people don't take as many users as they may want.

Seems silly to me as surely a larger ongoing revenue stream is better than a one off lump? As an example, if budget is £5000, if hypothetically PM is £1000 for first year and £500pa thereafter you will take five licences, so IRIS get the same £5000 year one, but only £2500pa thereafter. If was just £500 flat you may take 10, then they will get £5000pa thereafter.

Most people I spoke to at IRISWorld agreed that there overall spend with IRIS would probably go up if it was easier and more cost effective to change user numbers, especially personal tax around November - January!

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It's good but not perfect.

We've used IRIS PM for about 6 years, and IRIS generally for 12 or so. The Service and Job parts of PM (essentially workflow planning and monitoring) are pretty good and have proved fairly flexible. As OGA says, PM's default job types are over the top for most small practices, so it's worth thinking about what it is you actually want to monitor and control from PM. It's actually a good time to think about what you do and why on earth you do it like that. It wouldn't take long to become totally bogged down in trying to get everything on PM and disappearing up one's own fundament when a lot of stuff would be best left on an Excel-type system. It's good for multi-stage 'big' stuff like accounts preparation, though.

PM is really the central 'hub' of IRIS and without it you're missing a big chunk of the IRIS experience (although you will already be benefitting from another part of that experience - cash diminution). I think you'd be missing a trick with PM if you don't use Automail for communications generation as letters can be generated automatically from job stages, they're all stored electronically and available in the communications screen (along with external docs if required). Automail is a great bit of software - we haven't needed an admin person since the day we got it (well, almost).  Where PM falls down for me is its handling of emails. Pretty much non-existent which is a shame. No doubt there's solutions to this, but it would be nice if emails to and from Outlook could be stored within PM as a matter of course. It can also seem a trifle clunky when you're used to nice modern, minimalist interfaces but that's more my inner Jonathan Ive coming out than a serious issue. 

I'd agree that you should get IRIS to come and set it up for you - you'll potentially have shed-loads of IRIS data that may end up populating the software unnecessarily when really you'd be better off striding purposefully into a new dawn as OGA suggests.

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Ah, but there is...

ChrisMartin wrote:

Where PM falls down for me is its handling of emails. Pretty much non-existent which is a shame. No doubt there's solutions to this,

... that is why attendance at IRIS World is a must for IRIS users.

The OpenDocs module, the Document Management System that handles the lesspaper office side of things now can manage your e-mails!

I am serious about attendance being something you should do, firstly, you keep up to date on new products and features, but also it is the best place to give feedback on functions and improvements you would like made. I made the decision a number of years ago to stop whingng about software and be pro-active with feedback - if they don't know what you want they can't give it to you! I get tired of people moaning about software from whichever provider in public forums, but who never bother to give any feed back to the vendor. (Half of the problems is that people haven't invested adequately in training anyway and the product can do what is required, they have just never bothered to learn how: the number of people who cannot import a SAGE TB straight in to IRIS, or know how to use posting batches to produce an extended TB to make it easier to give adjustments back to the client for two instances is astounding)!




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Fair point

I've been looking at OpenDocs in fact. What I really meant was - I wish IRIS would do it all for free! The Moon on a stick, basically. At the risk of hijacking this thread - do you use OpenDocs OGA? If so, what do you think?

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Sorry ...

ChrisMartin wrote:

I've been looking at OpenDocs in fact. What I really meant was - I wish IRIS would do it all for free! The Moon on a stick, basically. At the risk of hijacking this thread - do you use OpenDocs OGA? If so, what do you think?

... I don't use OpenDocs, it is on my shopping list though!

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Attending Iris World (or not ....)

Old Greying Accountant]</p> <p>[quote=ChrisMartin wrote:

Where PM falls down for me is its handling of emails. Pretty much non-existent which is a shame. No doubt there's solutions to this,

... that is why attendance at IRIS World is a must for IRIS users.

The OpenDocs module, the Document Management System that handles the lesspaper office side of things now can manage your e-mails!


When I went to Iris World last year when ixbrl was being introduced I was so disappointed that i decided not to go again. More than half of the time was spent trying to get you to spend more money on new products, most of which I don't want. I want software for Accounts Production and to do Company and personal tax returns. Iris does that very well ... and I use time and fees as well. I don't use Company Sec as this is done online with Formatiions Direct software, I don't want OpenDocs as I use Docusoft for DMS and I don't want OpenBooks either.


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Add me to the list

We've used PM since it was first released and it's what holds everything else together.

I recently consulted with another firm over them getting it up and running and agree that, when you first start the process, it will seem extremely daunting.  Couple of things to bear in mind are that you needn't use all of the facilities, buttons & whistles and, as mentioned above, you can make the job profiles as simple as you wish, building on them if you want more sophistication.

Having said that, at nearly 30 stages long, our accs prep profile is longer than we need on most jobs but some of the stages are marked as "sub - whatever" and not automatically alocated to any staff member and so nobody gets prompted to tick them off.  They are there though if we need them and can be allocated manually when you plan the job.  In other cases you can start & end a job in a few hours without having ticked off anything and so all you do is tick the important ones and mark the others as NA.

As well as the standard accs & tax jobs you'll find you can start your own to handle other processes in the office so we have short jobs for any quarterly VAT returns that need checking/submitting or the annual returns and I couldn't do without the NEW clent job which covers every stage and must-do when you take on a new client and a BILL job which monitors our annual quoting & billing process.

As mentioned, Automail is the icing and in the accounts & tax jobs there are internal planning & review forms that are automatically generated at the beginning and end of jobs as well as AML check at the end of each job.  None of these need printing out and can be completed and left on the client's comms tab.

I agree (and Iris is only too aware) that the email element is naff however, with data mining you can easily pull a list of clients together (whether whole practice or special interest) and use the CSV export in Word to email merge.

It is essentialthat all staff members are involved and part of the process, ie avoid imposing PM on them.  When doing it this way, I never had any problems with people thinking it a chore to keep it up to date. Using the Staff Control Panel to monitor your jobs & stages and update them takes seconds and staff soon realise how worthwhile it is having just one place to look for any info on how jobs are progressing and what needs doing next.

One tip that works for us is that, if any stages are designed to wait for information from the client, you can allocate it to a new staff member "Client" this way, on the staff control panel, anyone can get an immediate list of information awaited from clients and you can have a regular blitz to remind all of them.

We've found this easier to monitor and work than leaving the job stages as assigned to the staff member who quite often is too busy to keep chasing clients.  It also makes staff stages lists shorter.

Best of luck.


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Of course ...

... they try and sell you new things, they don't run IRISWorld for the fun of it! but you get access to all the movers and shakers to make your ideas, gripes, etc known to them, and can pin them down and quiz them on your burning issues.

Co Sec is worth it, we use an online formation agent for forming companies, but rather than re-keying the information into IRIS you can download it back into IRIS so it more than pays for itself in time saved.

Not sure of your point, mine was IRIS does it if you want it, if you don't that's up to you!



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The best Irisworld in a long time

I agree that in times gone by much of what Iris did, especially at IrisWorld, revolved around marketing.  This was not the case this year.  With regard to iXBRL they rightly saw this as both a threat & opportunity and did well in dealing with both and a small but useful offshoot is their work with Companies House that will enable us, in a few weeks, to submit proper abb or main iXBRL accounts there as well.

Whilst new innovations and products may not be of interest to all, IrisWorld has always been a good full-stop for me to take stock and look at what might be coming, ie to be ahead of the game.  As well as iXBRL mkll AKA RTI the main message this year was Cloud and what it will mean and who best to let us into the possibilities than a company like Iris?

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Have to agree Paul ...

... but the fact it was only a 15 minute drive away helped, and have to say the venue laid on fantastic refreshments and lunch of the highest quality!

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