Hertfordshire practice Visionary Accountants is behind the latest contender in the practice management software market - a new cloud program called Prosper.
The application is the brainchild of Visionary founder Chris Wallace, who explained that as he was growing his firm he encountered “the usual software issues”.
“No one product out there solved my problems,” Wallace said. “Like many accountants I’ve used many software solutions including Xero, IRIS and Sage. But I had an idea in my mind for one piece of software that could manage workloads and scheduling, communicating with prospects and clients, and getting visibility on those workflows to cut down wastage on admin tasks.”
A 2015 conversation with financial software developer Ryan Franklin-Smith encouraged Wallace to pursue his idea and the duo founded a new company, Practice Tech Ltd, to put a team together to deliver it.
Wallace and his colleagues are entering a sector where industry giants like Sage, Xero and Exact are building out their practice management tools, add-on apps such as Karbon and Practice Ignition are making in-roads and newcomers like Capium, Nomisma and Jessica Pillo’s mTrio are jostling for a foothold, but Wallace was not deterred from his vision.
“Practice management is beginning to look like a crowded space, but when you look under the bonnet, they’re CRM systems that have been developed by techies for accountants,” he said. “Prosper has been developed by accountants from the inside out.”
James Brunton, who joined Practice Tech as technical director, did further competitive research. “There are some established incumbents such as Digita, Sage and IRIS who are strong on functionality and usability, but don’t enable client interaction or get them involved in progressing automated workflows,” he said.
“Looking deeper at new brands like Nomisma, Practice Flow, and Capium, they didn’t have workflows - they had tasks and took a lot of work to get them out the door. They weren’t hitting the mark on workflow and client interaction. That provided the motivation for moving forward with Prosper, where we are trying to get the client as invovled as possible.”
The Prosper developers sat alongside accountants working in practice and build a system where the user defines the steps needed to complete a particular task such as bringing on a new client, completing their monthly accounts or quarterly VAT return.
The main screen is set out like a Kanban index card holder that steps the user through each work process. to achieve these workflow goals.
“When the phone rings, you capture that lead, which you can validate with Companies House and then send an engagement letter to the prospect. It has an automated on-boarding process and schedules all the deliverables that come out of that process. That is unique,” said Wallace.
Starting with a free, 14-day trial, Prosper is priced to start at £50 a month for firms supporting up to 15 clients and goes up in bands as you add new ones. “You can have as many users as you like,” said Wallace. “The heart of Prosper is to help accountants in practice grow their business and the return on investment can be tracked on a per-client basis.”
So far the Prosper team has nearly 400 of its own prospects, ranging from sole practitioners to some of the profession’s franchise operators. According to Wallace, however, the software is particularly suited to established firms with multiple teams serving 100+ clients. As a cloud tool, it can be an effective way to get a central overview of multiple offices and teams.
“When you have full and multiple-services firms, capacity becomes a problem. Prosper gives you visibility on that in a scheduling tool. That’s what we geared the program to address.”