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which practice software would you recommend?

We currently use the IRIS accountancy suite for practice software. I have been really thinking to change providers due to the significant price increases that they have every year.

I have come across Digita Thomson Reuters and am looking to change to their products. Does anyone use Digita or even made the change from iris to another system?

Any reviews about CCH? So far 1st impressions with their service has really put me off!

Other integrated software house recommendations greatly appreciated.

Thanks
Ash

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By Glennzy
02nd Feb 2013 11:05

Digita
I have just switched to Digita after 20 years of using sage products. I love it. The training DVD they give is excellent and I learnt it top to bottom in a weekend. A lot of people on here use tax calc software and VT accounts as a cheaper option but I preferred Digita as its all in one solution and very well put together. The practice management side of it is very powerful and useful for marketing your practice. The file storage is also very good with emails and office documents all referenced back to the client. It's cheaper than IRIS also, and the technical support is also very good. Would defiantly recommend, you need a good PC to run it on though.

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By chatman
05th Feb 2013 15:16

VT Offers Real Integration

Glennzy wrote:
A lot of people on here use tax calc software and VT accounts as a cheaper option but I preferred Digita... you need a good PC to run it on though.

I used Digita for a few years and now use TaxCalc and VT, not because they are cheaper (although they are), but because I find them far easier and quicker to use, saving me hours each month. Also, as Glennzy says, Digita makes more demands on your computer than VT/TaxCalc.

I find backing up and restoring data much easier with VT/TaxCalc than with Digita, as have other people, although it has been pointed out by a respected AWeb contributor that this is due to a shortcoming on our part, not on Digita's.

Remember that VT has a bookkeeping module that integrates seamlessly with the accounts production module, and a cut-down bookkeeping module you can supply free to clients. Journals posted to the final accounts are booked automatically in the bookkeeping module, and vice versa, so no need for retyping. For me, this is real integration.

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Fully integrated?

chatman wrote:
Glennzy wrote:
A lot of people on here use tax calc software and VT accounts as a cheaper option but I preferred Digita... you need a good PC to run it on though.
I used Digita for a few years and now use TaxCalc and VT, not because they are cheaper (although they are), but because I find them far easier and quicker to use, saving me hours each month. Also, as Glennzy says, Digita makes more demands on your computer than VT/TaxCalc. I find backing up and restoring data much easier with VT/TaxCalc than with Digita, as have other people, although it has been pointed out by a respected AWeb contributor that this is due to a shortcoming on our part, not on Digita's. Remember that VT has a bookkeeping module that integrates seamlessly with the accounts production module, and a cut-down bookkeeping module you can supply free to clients. Journals posted to the final accounts are booked automatically in the bookkeeping module, and vice versa, so no need for retyping. For me, this is real integration.

 

I am a long standing VT user but I dont think what you describe above is true integration as some of the other products offer, ie accounts, tax, practice management and billing integration.  Whether or not having 4 systems like I do (VT, BTC, MB Practice Manager and Quickbooks for billing) is any quicker than IRIS or Digita I guess I will never know until I fully try it in a live environment but Im currently happy with my "best of bread" solution and it works great for me.

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06th Feb 2013 10:50

Hovis?

MissAccounting wrote:

I am a long standing VT user but I dont think what you describe above is true integration as some of the other products offer, ie accounts, tax, practice management and billing integration.  Whether or not having 4 systems like I do (VT, BTC, MB Practice Manager and Quickbooks for billing) is any quicker than IRIS or Digita I guess I will never know until I fully try it in a live environment but Im currently happy with my "best of bread" solution and it works great for me.

 

Sorry, small things and all that

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03rd Feb 2013 00:47

agree with Glennzy on everything he says

plus Digita Accounts Production will handle anything. If it's something you don't deal with often Technical Support are very helpful in explaining what needs to be done.

 

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05th Feb 2013 11:03

CCH

In my previous firm they implemented CCH from IRIS. It caused lots of issues and IRIS seemed to work a lot better than it. In the long run CCH may have been better but I saw very little benefit of it.

There just seemed to be so many issues that kept coming up. Though most of these were with the CCH AP software which was quite new and only on second version I think. I much preferred Viztopia!!

However the practice management suite was easy to customise reports and settings on a user by user basis which was very useful and pulled some good information though which it was harder to get on IRIS.

Anyway just thought I would add review of CCH.

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05th Feb 2013 11:11

A Basic Question

 

The basic question is, of course, about cost.

When you factor in the cost of everything you need, what is the cost?

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05th Feb 2013 11:56

Other software

We have used both Sage and IRIS suite of practice products - IRIS is good - no argument there. As regards costs Absolute Accounting software is worth a look - developed by David Forbes and Tim Good. It seems an excellent product and worked well in our testing stage. I have spoken with a number of practices who have stuck with it, and worked through the teething issues and now speak very highly about the product.Has anyone else tried it? What are your views?

 

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Real comparison

It would be very helpful if someone with experience of more than one suite of integrated products (Iris, Digita and CCH seem to be the most highly rated by far) could offer their opinion of how they compare, based on features and quality, ignoring price. Non-users need to know what one suite offers that is better than another - only an experienced user of more than one product can provide useful insight into that.

The rest of us can make our own pricing decisions very easily (we are accountants!). As has been pointed out above in this post, if one is looking for the cheapest, good quality option one would probably go for a combination of VT and TaxCalc - both are first-rate products (I've used them both for years and rate them extremely highly) and very reasonably priced.

Someone wanting to move to an integrated suite really just needs to know why product A is better than B and can then make up their own mind as to whether it is worth paying the extra for A, given the specific advantages that users have highlighted. Anyone out there got an opinion, based on experience of multiple suites?

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05th Feb 2013 12:36

My experience

I've not used Iris but I have been to a seminar on Iris and I have had a demonstration in my office. I accept that isn't a real experience. I have used Digita for several years now - maybe 7 or 8. I find that even Iris is likely to cost less than £10 per client per program. I think Digita costs between £4 and £8 per client per program, maybe even less.

I think the main difference between Iris and Digita is that when it comes to practice management, Digita is more flexible and Iris is more rigid. I found I couldn't do some things in Iris. Iris is set up to use better out of the box and with Digita you have to think how to configure it.

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Thank you, Peter. Care to shed some light on the areas that offer more flexibility in Digita? Did Iris appear to offer advantages in any area (other than being easier to set up)?

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05th Feb 2013 13:12

Flexibility

The Iris demonstrator gave the impression that you couldn't charge clients partly on time and partly fixed fee. That may just have been him, of course.

The main area of difference is practice management. Digita needs you to set up trackers to guide you through things to do - asking for information, chasing, receiving information, doing subsidiary tasks, etc. - whereas Iris has these already set up. I like Iris's list which are very similar to QuickBooks reports.

With Digita you could have 100 company clients and a 1,000 personal tax clients and the price would reflect that. I think you tend to be charged by client in Iris - although I'm sure they would be able to quote you for anything you want.

Digita are setting up User Groups to see what users suggest in the software so I am sure that if Digita isn't doing something they should be doing now they will be doing it soon! I'm going to a meeting in March in London.

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By lme
05th Feb 2013 13:40

I vote for Digita

I have Digita and I love it. I am not very good with computers but  its quite intuitive and they have an excellent and patient help team. In my experience it feels more "joined up" than CCH which I used last year, somewhere else. I don't think their fees have gone up since I had it -  this is my third year. 

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05th Feb 2013 14:57

Iris v Digita v CCH

We used Iris's integrated solution in the mid to late 90's and it worked well until the move to Windows at which point we moved to another product that promised an integrated option that didn't arrive so after 5 years of that product we looked at Iris and Digita.  Iris had become more prescriptive than the version we had used in the 90's and we like flexibility to adapt the results to suit our clients so we opted for Digita; yes you do have to think but then you set things up to suit you not the software provider.  We did not look at CCH so can't comment on that.

The practice management resource in Digita is good, the time and fees is like most of them laborious, particularly when you have your own accounting system but you can obtain some good time management reports.

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05th Feb 2013 15:39

I echo what chatman says

I used the full CCH package for a few years and hated it. It may have improved now. I jumped from the frying pan into the fire, and got Sage full integrated. It worked (mostly) but made simple things complicated, and the integration caused more problems than it solved. With both Sage and CCH I found you needed a LOT of training/playing about/practicing to get best use of the software.

I moved to VT & TaxCalc, purely on cost, but boy oh boy .... I truly wish I had moved years ago.

As Chatman says, free VT cashbook for the clients, feed in to VT Accounts, feed into TaxCalc. Both VT & TaxCalc are the most user-friendly software I have experienced. The time saving from using this software over integrated just cannot be believed, unless experienced. Also, as Chatman says, you can backup individual client accounts/tax, and I really like that and would hate to give it up as it means I can easily use VT accounts & TaxCalc files that have been prepared by a subbie, which is something that many integrated packages don't provide.

I have never used VT support, and have used TaxCalc support once, and that was when I networked it. How many software houses can compare to that?

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By djn24
05th Feb 2013 16:58

CCH

We've used CCH for probably 3 years now.  When we first started using it the accounts production was the new version and needed a few updates to smooth out the errors. Now I have to say it's great- efficient and simple to use.

The tax return program is fantastic- I'd be amazed if there's a product as good on the market.

The corp tax program is very simple and fast. The new version is due soon so that should be another step forward.

All these programs sit inside central which is the hub.  The data passes from central into other parts of the software with ease. The software saves us days each year with it's efficiency.  It's not perfect but I'm very happy with it.

We looked at IRIS at the same time but it would have cost another £4k+ per year.  I think that IRIS had a few extra functions as standard which we didn't need so that explains part of the reason why it was more expensive. CCH offer these extras at additional cost.

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By Reeveaq
05th Feb 2013 17:15

CCH

I have been with CCH since 1995 when we first obtained their original tax product, Taxpoint for Windows.

We have continuously upgraded and added new products and 4 years ago went fully paperless using there full integrated suite.

We have always found their support to be excellent and throughout every upgrade we have had over the years have always retained all of our previous records and information.

Whilst their pricing is higher than IRIS I am more than prepared to pay for this as feel it is a product of higher quality and at the end of the day you get what you pay for.

We have also always paid for new products over an extended monthly period which therefore has not given rise to any cashflow problems.

Personally I would highly recommend.

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05th Feb 2013 17:45

We’ve been a long-time CCH

We’ve been a long-time CCH user and their  predecessors – certainly some challenges when they had multiple products (due to acquisitions) – but they really seem to have got their act together now – their CCH Central product provides some superb real-time integration across all of their suite, and their compliance products are rock solid. We have just had a  very successful tax season! no overtime needed due to the regular reports as to where we were with clients returns

I am also very pleased with how their practice management software helps us to run our business – I hope this adds to the debate.”

 we try to leverage technology as much as possible and CCH does just that for us

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By Glennzy
06th Feb 2013 00:00

You have to think of the future
Products like Sage Pratice suite work and are functional but have not moved with the times and, Digita is very well developed and is continuing to improve the data mining tool is excellent for those operating paperless and saves a huge amount of time, you can put accounts together then CT in very short space of time, the marketing on contact management side of things are very powerful and a must for someone wanting to grow rapidly. My view on things is that you get systems right first then grow your clients using those systems not start off on one then have to change as you grow to suit your clients needs. As I have already said in another post As ian invention Digita is up there with Fire, Sky + and plastic snow shovels.

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06th Feb 2013 09:16

CCH software

We have used CCH practice management and tax for some years now. We find it very comprehensive and the help desk is very responsive. We did use Digita but did not renew because at the time they did not have a practice management component. This has since been remedied. We are pleased with CCH and have now taken their fee protection programme. The tax helpdesk that comes with this is very good.

We use VT for accounts which is really straightforward to use and very inexpensive.

I would recommend CCH as it does provide an excellent integrated suite (tax and practice management) and the developers are always updating it and improving the product. I understand that they are now making it easier to process the updates but have not tried it yet.

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06th Feb 2013 09:34

CCH software and support

My practice (2 partners, 25 staff) implemented CCH Central and Personal Tax 3 years or so ago. Last year we implemented Document Management. The advice and implementation approach from CCH has always been excellent.  The ongoing support from the Support desk is in my opinion first class and way above that of other software providers we have used (Sage take note).  Support responses are quick and helpful.  Ongoing development of the software is good too, with quarterly release cycles leaving us to get on with work for most of the time but put new features in when they are released.  I find the customer account management approach very "consultative" which makes a change from the normal selling focus. Hope that helps, Olly

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06th Feb 2013 09:58

Has anybody had any experience with Keytime? We currently use IRIS, which is great, but looking at alternatives.

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06th Feb 2013 10:39

16 column and ETBs

Or am I a bit behind the times..... :-)

I have considered switching to integrated suites (currently use VT and Taxclac like a lot of Awebbers) and have to confess to reading all these thtreads with interest so as to decide that if/should I switch it would be a good decision.

My choice would not be cost based but more user friendly and adaptability based - having used two suites before in previous practices the main bug I found was that by adapting one (say disclosures in the accounts to suit a clients whim) it threw out problems in the other (tax software that pulled entries from certain places)

That resulted in either having to not tailor accounts or other or to ensure all outputs were checked and amended in far more detail often taking longer.

At present I like the fact that by doing in seperate systems you get the opportunity to verify all entries as they go from one system to another thus checking both and kind of "self auditing" ones own work. I fear this level of checking may be lost if the figures were just pulled through automatically.

Some say the duplication of input time is the issue, I would argue that the 2 - 15 minutes re-entering (size dependant) from VT to taxcalc is time invested rather then spent as it is a good check.

I am sure over time my views will change but as it stands, and with my current practice set up, this small amount of time expended in checking my own work is by far and away superior to any integrated system. (again I will re-iterate cost is in no way an issue)

If others do feel that there is a far better way/software tool out there I will of course look as I am all for efficiencies, but not at the cost of inaccuracy!

Toodle Pip

(sometimes I do waffle, many apologies !!)

 

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06th Feb 2013 12:34

.

Ding Dong wrote:

Some say the duplication of input time is the issue, I would argue that the 2 - 15 minutes re-entering (size dependant) from VT to taxcalc is time invested rather then spent as it is a good check.

 

 

I absolutely agree with this statement. Having come from practices where integrated suites were used I was apprehensive to switch to BTC and VT in my start-up. My worries were misplaced. If anything this lack of a "link" provides a very useful check to make sure you're in control and if you don't understand something it doesn't just "appear" somewhere which you then assume is correct; it makes you look, research and understand and to my mind that's a great thing.

I think the integration links in the bigger packages breed laziness and incompetence and honestly don't think I would now go back.

 

 

petersaxton wrote:

I prepare accounts in Excel to trial balance - either from accounts software used by clients or from basic data provided by clients - I then either import into Digita Accounts Production or enter on a journal. I then export to Digita Corporation Tax (I only use Digita Accounts Production for company or LLP clients) but I may extend that to sole traders and partnerships in the future. I am also considering using CCH Interactive Company Accounts Disclosure Checklist.

I used to do the same. You are no doubt a skilled excel user and I consider myself one too. What I always found was lacking however was "structure" to the workbooks and ensuring data integrity - even more difficult with employees that don't have the same excel knowledge. I've found that VTT+ is massively similar to excel. I now collect all data in excel and import into VTT+ to provide that structure - it's a breeze. There are some lacking features however, like the inability to import foreign currency transactions.

 

Ding Dong wrote:

Maybe I am being too inward looking, my practice management/document filing are excel/word based as is my time recording system  (6 minute units ..... !) which I find works well in excel.

That sounds useful. I wonder if you'd care to share your time system? I need some sort of useful way of recording employee times! If you haven't tried BTC for practice management (it includes SA and CT filings) then definitely try it. Great for task management.

 

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06th Feb 2013 12:36

.

cparker87 wrote:

I absolutely agree with this statement. Having come from practices where integrated suites were used I was apprehensive to switch to BTC and VT in my start-up. My worries were misplaced. If anything this lack of a "link" provides a very useful check to make sure you're in control and if you don't understand something it doesn't just "appear" somewhere which you then assume is correct; it makes you look, research and understand and to my mind that's a great thing.

I think the integration links in the bigger packages breed laziness and incompetence and honestly don't think I would now go back.

Also, the savings here have allowed me to invest in a good technical library - I'm using Simon's and De Voil's online at the minute and they're great tools (but expensive!)

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06th Feb 2013 12:09

Ding Dong

I like integrated suites. It's not just about transferring accounts data to tax software, though.

I think it saves some time in many other ways. I have some clients who are involved with several companies and it's good when they change address and I can have everything updated in one go. I can keep track of time and sales invoices and the profitability is calculated automatically and I can review profitability in absolute terms and by fees or any other way I wish. I am about to transfer from spreadsheets to Trackers in Digita and this will ensure I don't overlook anything and it is easy to sort on various fields and spot problems - either my errors or that of clients.

I know people like how the bookkeeping transfers to final accounts in VT. That is an obvious plus.

I prepare accounts in Excel to trial balance - either from accounts software used by clients or from basic data provided by clients - I then either import into Digita Accounts Production or enter on a journal. I then export to Digita Corporation Tax (I only use Digita Accounts Production for company or LLP clients) but I may extend that to sole traders and partnerships in the future. I am also considering using CCH Interactive Company Accounts Disclosure Checklist.

http://www.cch.co.uk/croner/newProductDetails/category/subscriptions/pro...

I try to be "paperless" as much as possible but sometimes it's quicker and easier to print something and work from paper than try to following information on screen. I try to be flexible in this way.

 

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06th Feb 2013 12:27

@Peter

Thankyou for the comprehensive response. I am "just about" paperless, probably 99% and use excel trackers on top of the aforementioned VT/Taxcalc. (I copy TBs into the TB page in VT and then map the VT coding/input fropm there thus having all core data in one place)

You like many others use (and reccomend) digita so when I "switch" that may be firm route to follow.

Maybe I am being too inward looking, my practice management/document filing are excel/word based as is my time recording system  (6 minute units ..... !) which I find works well in excel.

I may invest some time.....

 

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06th Feb 2013 12:46

Excel & Bloomsbury

Excel: I build in various checks to ensure that the data is correct. Nothing is ever going to find a posting to the wrong expense category.

Bloomsbury Online costs a minimum of £199 per year.

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06th Feb 2013 12:50

Solo?

petersaxton wrote:

Excel: I build in various checks to ensure that the data is correct. Nothing is ever going to find a posting to the wrong expense category.

Bloomsbury Online costs a minimum of £199 per year.

Are you solo?

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06th Feb 2013 13:35

Very solo

Yes, but I still think the prices are reasonable.

Excel: Obviously reviewing comparative figures helps.

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By dollop
11th Feb 2013 09:35

CCH

 

Found this to be the easiest integrated practice software we have used . 

It has given us a great balance between ease of use, control over input and value for money.

The support and training has also been excellent. 

 

 

 

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Logical Office
Has anyone here got any experience of Logical Office to run practice management (eg deadlines for filing, or for receipt and processing of client papers, VAT, payroll, etc.)?

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By cbp99
13th Feb 2013 11:19

I found LO to be

fiendishly complex.

On one occasion it repeatedly replicated an email which filled my hard drive by mid afternoon. They sorted it out, but a significant inconvenience.

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11th Feb 2013 14:07

FirstTab

FT was talking about Logical Office so maybe you can ask him.

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@petersaxton
Thank you, Peter. Who is FT (I'm assuming you don't mean the newspaper!)?

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12th Feb 2013 19:55

I thought he was the most famous member!

http://www.accountingweb.co.uk/user/160446

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13th Feb 2013 11:38

Not accounting software but

My wife sent me a 6 Mb video from an hotmail email address but hotmail decided to send me the email repeatedly every second! By the time I got my ISP to block it my pst file was over 29 Gb. I should have deleted them and compressed the file every few minutes. I now couldn't compress the file because it was doing it too slowly and so I have to export the data to a new pst file.

I phoned Microsoft but they seem to be full of fools.

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By mabzden
13th Feb 2013 12:18

Recently tried gbooks - an interesting option

I've tried a few types of software over the years, usually the cheaper non-integrated products. They've varied between OK and - to be blunt - pretty appalling.

This year I tried gbooks for some of my 2011/12 compliance. It's a cloud-based system, and does everything the other providers I've used have provided. It's an integrated system but is priced closer to the more economical products on the market.

The fact that it's cloud-based is definitely a plus point. I was able to log on from home in the peak SA season, and there is no software to install and no network issues. So overall I was happy, and I'm going to move more of my compliance to the system for 2012/13.

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27th Mar 2014 21:36

Starting out
I'm a student/part qualified so just starting out and after reading the posts, I wondered which one would be best for a newbie?

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