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Practice software - HELP!!

We run a small ish accountancy firm.  Around 400 accounts client, and 600 personal tax clients.

We use Iris.

I believe that Iris does far too much than we need.  We don't use their job tracking or time and fees to great effect.  While I know these are obviously good elements I doubt we have a great need for them. 

Our renewal is coming up.  If we add some more staff then this renewal will be close to £7000!

So I need some reasons to stay.

We have looked at Absolute.  While it is a much smaller/more basic package there are some really nice elements.  For example Company Secretarial looks good.  At the end of the day I need something that will produce accounts, a CT600, SA100's for directors and the odd sole trader and then generate a few reports each month plus the odd letter.

I can afford Iris at £7000 (it's not a case of the current climate therefore cutting costs etc).  But then I could also afford a more expensive office, car, computer etc.  But choose not to. 

Just because Iris is the most expensive does it mean it is the best for my practice?

Any reasons to stay?

Are there any Absolute/Forbes users out there?

Is there anything else?


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That's some growth

Yesterday you only had 500 clients, what's your secret?

You say you have little use for the PM bits of Iris, yet, as I said yesterday, we couldn't operate without them, makes managing workflow and general client admin so much more effecient.

On that basis therefore, if all you need are the boring bits, accounts, tax, then get the best from each provider, or as you say Absolute looks good (on paper) and has a good background with Forbes & Good.

Good luck

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...Thanks Paul.  Yes obvioulsy I'm talking rough accounts clients.  The 600 tax clients are all part of those accounts clients (sole traders, partners, directors).

I have considered the best of breed option.  But how many accountants with those client numbers use seperate software?  I used to use VT, Drummohr and then client database on Excel.  Letters merged well with Word.  I must admit it did work ok - certainly no more/less efficient now we have Iris.

Are there other medium sized practices using VT etc??

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By mm01
11th Sep 2010 11:26

500/600 clients...

We use VT, drummhor and ACCA practice manager and while it isnt intergrated the time savings certainly wouldnt add up to the £5k approx difference?

Tax calc may be worth a look with there new practice management module coming out soon?

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Shocked by Drummohr...

...Prior to us using Iris I had Drummohr.  This was just before it had been bought by Iris.

I am shocked.  Back then we paid £600 ish for the whole suite.  I have just looked ( and it has gone up to over £1000.

It has made my mind up to leave Iris.  What a rip off.

Drummohr was a great little package.

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13th Sep 2010 12:23

Arithmo Online bookkeeping system

Have a look at Arithmo Online bookkeeping system.  For a month’s free trial, click on 

You can run your clients books online and can work closely with your bookkeepers and clients (no extra charge for multi users and you can simultaneously go into a client’s books).


Your data is hosted in a secure data centre and the data is backed up every 30 minutes.


The system is branded in your practices livery.  It is one of the cheapest online systems and is very simple to use.


For Accounts production and tax:  have a look at Keytime, Forbes and Digita.



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Don't need bookkeeping system!!

Thanks but don't need bookkeeping system!!

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14th Sep 2010 09:59

Try Sage


Have you looked at converting to Sage.

They have a great system and have even better offers for people moving from Iris.

I moved from Iris six months ago and saved alot, Sage is much better on all aspect, support definatley!

They will also help move all your data over from Iris....


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14th Sep 2010 10:21

Be careful with Sage

Sage have, in the past, tempted people by quoting low annual fees. These low fees won't last, and they may 'forget' to tell you that you are receiving a massive discount in year one that will be withdrawn later.

Myself, and many colleagues, were taken in by this ruse. This selling tactic may have been corrected, maybe not. I don't buy Sage Practice software any more. Also, the software isn't of the best design. It takes forever to prepare a self employed business/personal tax in Sage. It takes even longer if you have to go back to business tax to disclaim CA's. TaxCalc prepares a self employed return in a fraction of the time needed by Sage.

Add up how many self employed returns you do and you will soon see the benefits of avoiding Sage tax software.

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14th Sep 2010 11:49

VT, TaxCalc Hub and TaxCalc

TaxCac Hub will change the market. Out soon. Above sofware would be ideal. Just leave IRIS.

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15th Sep 2010 10:41

Check out Digita

A comprehensive small firm solution that uses up to date technology and has Iris conversion tools.

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...had a quote from Digita that was more expensive than Iris!  Couldn't believe it.

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By cbales
15th Sep 2010 11:11

Never regretted my change to TaxCalc software

User friendly good Taxation software for individuals, partnerships, limited companies and trusts with brilliant support service at a very realistic price.  Their Anti-Money Laundering program is a real boon for me.

Hub software is to come this year as a free of charge upgrade for existing TaxCalc Professional Taxation software users at that time and modist costs as a standalone program for others.  Accounting and Accounts preparation software is to come next year.

I have been a well satisfied user for many years, having used software from a number of taxation and accounts prep suppliers before that.

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15th Sep 2010 12:26

Accounting software

I use Absolute Tax & Absolute Accounts.

I used to use PTP, but changed because Giles Mooney & Tim Good left started Absolute.

Their Technical Support staff went with them, too. I cannot praise them too highly. Sarah ALWAYS gets back to you

promptly and knows so much it is unbelievable!

Another plus is that Absolute is one of the packages (in common with the VERY expensive ones!) which is iXBRL compliant.

In addition, it is very inexpensive.

You can download a trial version before committing to buy - if you did buy you certainly wouldn't regret it!

Hope you find what you want.

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15th Sep 2010 22:43

Cant fault Forbes or Absolute

but for the rest have a look at Drive by Relate Software just been up graded to Version 2.  Co Sec.  The best in my opinion if you can afford it is PC Share Register by BHIS Ltd.

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15th Sep 2010 23:17

Negotiate with Digita

We have recently gone with Digita and so far have been very impressed.

Remember the software purchase is just an expense in year 1. It is not every year.

Also try a bit of negotiating. I told Digita my budget was £900 lower than their price. Let's just say we ended up reaching a deal.

In respect of Absolute I know first hand they are looking at introducing additional charges for multi users and I am not sure if this will apply to existing customers. Check that out before you buy.



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21st Sep 2010 14:30

Stick with Iris

I would not consider changing - how many of those "cheaper" options are ready for iXBRL or any of the other changes which undoubtedly will follow. Stick with the best, it's worth the extra cost.

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By mm01
21st Sep 2010 14:54

Most, if not all!

Even the cheaper(!) ones are all iXBRL ready.  VT will set you back less than £200 and will even convert other softwares accounts to iXBRL.

I wouldn't personally suggest sticking with IRIS for the pricetag and the badge!

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21st Sep 2010 16:57

have a look at BTC software too

full downloadable working edition on the website 

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22nd Sep 2010 09:22

Absolute Software

I am currently using Iris and I am seeing the cost increasing every year and no notification which does not help. I have looked at Absolute Software and spoken to them and it seems a very attractive offer.

My concerns of introducing a new package:

I will lose time and money implementing the new software (and the when the actual switch over should occur which is best for me).How well will Absolute respond to tax updates and accounting updates which are regular at the moment. (Comments welcome on this point)I need to investigate the termination clauses with Iris.

I also understood that Absolute promise to fix their prices for 5 years which is fantastic.

I am planning to get the January 2011 personal tax return deadline out of the way and I will move to move to Absolute.

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