chatman
Blogger
Share this content
0
14
2147

What software do I need?

What software do I need?

I  need something to automate the sending of engagement letters, reminders for VAT, reminders to carry out year-end procedures etc. Logical Office is overkill and too expensive. Do I need practice-management software, CRM software or something else?

Replies

Please login or register to join the discussion.

26th Aug 2010 08:59

PM software

In theory you need practice management software.

I've not seen anything that does what you want as easily as I would want but companies like Digita, Iris and Top Accountants provide such software. To get the full impact you would need an integrated package.

I'm using Digita and I've just upgraded to their Time and Fees module and I'm going to run my spreadsheets side by side so I can consider what is best.

Thanks (0)
avatar
26th Aug 2010 09:38

ACCA Practice Manager

I use to use ACCA Practice Manager before I left practice. It was a very good product and I thought reasonably priced.

Albert Camus

Thanks (0)
avatar
By pdh666
26th Aug 2010 09:55

Digita

Peter

I recently had a demo of Digita's software and it looked very impressive.

How do you find it to use on a day to day level and do you use their business tax module?

 

Cheers

Paul

Thanks (0)
26th Aug 2010 10:11

Digita

I use all of Digita's software.

The personal tax, corporation tax and accounts production have saved me a massive amount of time.

I think FileCabinet (which I have just purchased) will save a lot of time, too.

I've used Contact Manager/Practice Manager for a number of years and because it's integrated that can save a lot of time, too. I have just upgraded to Time and Fees and I think that the ability to easily compare time spent with invoice should help. Presently I use Excel to track deadlines and work to do. I'm not sure whether I am confident at this stage that Digita will do a better job than Excel. I'd like Digita to be easier to prepare standard emails to clients - maybe when I use the software more I will get the hang of it.

Thanks (0)
26th Aug 2010 10:55

HQ for Accountants?

Hi Chatman,

My practice has used this http://www.selestial.com/accountancy.html for a number of years now.

The developers are now making it available to accountancy firms generally. Let me know if you would like an online demo. Also, there's a quick video of the system in action here.

Adrian

Thanks (0)
By chatman
26th Aug 2010 16:33

Thanks everybody. Just checked them out.

Thanks everybody. Just looked at ACCA Practice Manager and it seems just as expensive as Logical Office. I looked at HQ for accountants, but I could not see that it does the things I want (although it does lots of other good stuff).

IRIS products seem to have a bad reputation (on AWeb at least).

Peter and I are the pro and anti Digita camps.

Thanks (0)
26th Aug 2010 18:01

Digita

 Chatman

Why are you anti Digita?

Thanks (0)
By chatman
26th Aug 2010 19:16

Why I do not like Digita
I think you and I have discussed this before Peter. Whilst Digita does everything I want it to, I feel it is slow and hard to use. It is probably overkill for a small-timer like me.

It is expensive and I do not like having to use SQL; I think it makes it resource-hungry.

I have just prepared my first set of accounts with VT and the difference is astounding. The TB import (in fact I imported a whole ledger) was incredibly easy, whereas with Digita it never goes well (eg account codes with leading zeros never import properly for me). It was hours quicker in VT, and that was the first time I had done it, so I was not even familiar with the process.

Automating backups is long-winded and requires support, but if you need to do it again (eg if you reinstall Windows) they understandably get a bit sick of you and are not that keen to help). In any case, they have to log in to your machine, which takes up time. Actually support issues often involve them having to log in to your machine. Also, the size of the backup is massive and takes up a large part of my on-line backup space (which I have to pay for), so there is a hidden cost there.

Talking of hidden costs, they advertise features but do not tell you these cost extra. Even when you ask why you haven't got it they say "This feature is controlled by licencing", which, you eventually find out, means it costs extra.

Making adjustments to the chart of accounts is hard work too, and child's play in VT.

I hate it when products have names that are real words, as I find this confusing in conversation.

Helpdesk used to be available whenever you called; now you *always* have to wait for a call-back.

Incomprehensible messages like "The timeout period elapsed prior to completion of the operation or the server is not responding" are common when I use Digita.

Names of accounts cause problem: for example if you are looking for where to post your Plant & Machinery costs, you will find some of them under Plant & Machinery, and others under P&M; when you find the first of these, it does not occur to you to look in another section of the chart of accounts.

No drill-down facility on numbers in accounts.

After updates, you are always confronted by messages saying there is an issue with your chart of accounts, necessitating a call to the help desk.

The people on the helpdesk are lovely, but that is not enough for me.

I went to a Digita presentation once and someone asked why their final accounts product did not do on-line filing. Their PR guy said that they had other important things to work on and if they hadn't done them we (the customers) would have complained. I felt so guilty I wanted to apologise and offer to pay even more for their already expensive product.

However, that is only my experience. I understand it works for some people and that is great.

Thanks (0)
By chatman
26th Aug 2010 19:26

Digita Backups

I got an email from Digita recently saying that it had come to their attention that a lot of their customers incorrectly believed they were backing up their data when they were not. I hope you are not one of those people Peter.

Anyway, judging by their email, it cannot be that easy to back up Digita data. 

Thanks (0)
26th Aug 2010 19:50

Digita again

 “I think you and I have discussed this before Peter. Whilst Digita does everything I want it to, I feel it is slow and hard to use. It is probably overkill for a small-timer like me.

It is expensive and I do not like having to use SQL; I think it makes it resource-hungry.”

I’m pretty small and I accept that it’s resource hungry and can be slowish but I don’t feel it detracts from the good things about it.

“I have just prepared my first set of accounts with VT and the difference is astounding. The TB import (in fact I imported a whole ledger) was incredibly easy, whereas with Digita it never goes well (eg account codes with leading zeros never import properly for me). It was hours quicker in VT, and that was the first time I had done it, so I was not even familiar with the process.”

I prefer to input a TB rather than import so I can ensure I am aware of everything that is happening and it reduces errors. Most of my TBs are less than 50 lines anyway. If they are more I tend to use Excel to group lines.

“Automating backups is long-winded and requires support, but if you need to do it again (eg if you reinstall Windows) they understandably get a bit sick of you and are not that keen to help). In any case, they have to log in to your machine, which takes up time. Actually support issues often involve them having to log in to your machine. Also, the size of the backup is massive and takes up a large part of my on-line backup space (which I have to pay for), so there is a hidden cost there.”

I like to keep things simple so I don’t automate backups. I set a reminder in Outlook and do it manually. I keep my files on a networked hard drive with RAID 1 so I don’t have cost issues. The only backup that is big for me is Accounts Production and that is less than a 4,000th of my hard disk space.

“Talking of hidden costs, they advertise features but do not tell you these cost extra. Even when you ask why you haven't got it they say "This feature is controlled by licencing", which, you eventually find out, means it costs extra.”

I’ve never been confused by the extras. In fact I’ve not even needed them.

“Making adjustments to the chart of accounts is hard work too, and child's play in VT.”

I used to think that but I now approach it from a different angle and I find it child’s play in Digita.

“I hate it when products have names that are real words, as I find this confusing in conversation.”

I don’t find this a problem.

“Helpdesk used to be available whenever you called; now you *always* have to wait for a call-back.”

I think this is one of the things they need to address. I used to be very impressed when I could pick up the phone and get an answer immediately. Nowadays I have to do something else until I get a call back.

“Incomprehensible messages like "The timeout period elapsed prior to completion of the operation or the server is not responding" are common when I use Digita.”

That’s incomprehensible?

“Names of accounts cause problem: for example if you are looking for where to post your Plant & Machinery costs, you will find some of them under Plant & Machinery, and others under P&M; when you find the first of these, it does not occur to you to look in another section of the chart of accounts.”

I thought all the plant and machinery costs are in the same section. I have raised the P&M silliness with them. I always used to get caught out when I first started and did a search but now I remember it every time.

“No drill-down facility on numbers in accounts.”

That would be an improvement but I rarely need to look at the details.

“After updates, you are always confronted by messages saying there is an issue with your chart of accounts, necessitating a call to the help desk.”

I think they could make more use of their user area and emails regarding problems. The problems they publicise don’t occur on my system.

“The people on the helpdesk are lovely, but that is not enough for me.”

It’s not enough but it’s a good start.

“I went to a Digita presentation once and someone asked why their final accounts product did not do on-line filing. Their PR guy said that they had other important things to work on and if they hadn't done them we (the customers) would have complained. I felt so guilty I wanted to apologise and offer to pay even more for their already expensive product.”

Never let PR people have that effect on you. I prefer the Sage person who, when I asked why I had to enter my username and password for each company I submitted using their P11D product said: “I don’t think they’re going to improve things because there may be big changes to P11Ds soon”.

“However, that is only my experience. I understand it works for some people and that is great.”

Your points are valid but I think integration makes such a difference to my work that I prefer using one quite good suite of software rather than “best of breed”.

Thanks (0)
26th Aug 2010 19:58

Digita Backup

“I got an email from Digita recently saying that it had come to their attention that a lot of their customers incorrectly believed they were backing up their data when they were not. I hope you are not one of those people Peter.

Anyway, judging by their email, it cannot be that easy to back up Digita data.”

It’s not me because I follow Digita’s advice.

It’s very easy to back up and restore Digita data if you use the free Digita Backup software.

The people who were having problems were people who were not using the Digita Backup software. Digita make it clear that you need to use the Digita Backup software.

Thanks (0)
By chatman
26th Aug 2010 21:14

Integration

"integration makes such a difference to my work that I prefer using one quite good suite of software rather than “best of breed”."

I agree that integration has benefits, but I probably weight it less heavily now than I used to. In any case, with VT I have integration between my bookkeeping programme (previously QuickBooks) and my final accounts programme, which I never had with Digita. That saves me a lot of time. Integration between final accounts and CT only saves me entering a few items of data.

Integration between bookkeeping and personal tax would probably be quite good because of having to add P&L accounts together to get them into those SA100 categories. I think VT can produce a file for the personal tax products of TaxCalc, BTC and some others. I assume this gets imported by those other packages, but I have not tried it yet.

Thanks (0)
27th Aug 2010 08:21

Integration and bookkeeping

I don't do any importing and exporting of numbers between Sage, QuickBooks and MYOB (3 three programs I use presently - hopefully I will drop MYOB soon) and Accounts Production and my tax programs. The integration I rely on is simply the central database of client and contact information that other programs pull information from.

Talking about bookkeeping, since my wife started her own business I have been routinely turning away any bookkeeping work but I'm think that I may take small jobs on if they can be done from home. This is because so many potential clients seem to want bookkeeping done as well as the year end stuff.

Thanks (0)
By chatman
27th Aug 2010 11:36

Taking on bookkeeping work

Out of interest Peter, would that include inputting of invoices, or just booking from bank downloads? I notice you are not a big fan of importing, but would you be importing the bank downloads into your bookkeeping software? I would not have thought inputting would be worth it for you.

I ask because I do not really offer bookkeeping unless I get a bank download with account names and VAT columns added by the client, but I have considered accepting invoices and then sending them off to somewhere like Receipt Angel for inputting.

Thanks (0)