The IT Zone guide to practice management software 2006. By John Stokdyk

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CONTENTS

Selection criteria - what are your needs?

Time & fees and billing

Integration

Reporting capabilities

Client relationship management

Web functionality

Document management

Workflow

Key issues

Database transition

Customer service

Software options

Big firm specialists

Mid-market integrated suites

Niche suppliers

Online options

Time & fees programs

Introduction

Slowly, but surely, accountants are moving away from Outlook and Excel and realising they can improve their efficiency and profitability by using umbrella systems to tie together the different elements of their computerised office software.

Word from the marketplace is that 2006 is unlikely to see a boom in practice management software sales, but that hasn't stopped suppliers from racing ahead with new product...

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12th Mar 2006 12:17

Alastair - I have to agree
Try looking at the nonchargeable time posted by senior Team Members

Headings like "Practice Admin", "General", "Practice Development", "Internal" etc

Then value the time at charge rate..
(Actually, don't. Unless you have a strong stomach or a good sense of humour.)

So what's the answer?
1)
Getting the right people at the right level to do the right work.
2)
Automation

So, there's another selection-requirement...look at the level of automation offered and being used by the various products

Mark Ryan
[email protected]

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12th Mar 2006 22:44

Hi Mark
key question is, is there any value in measuring it. I once worked for a guy whose mantra was "you can't change it unless you can measure it". He had a point, but I tend to agree with Demming - much of what you should change cannot be measured.

My own view is that if you are going to measure it you should make sure you know what its value is. Many partners spend a lot of time on client development, but do they really test the value of that time or the benefit they get from it?

I would question how many practices really need a time recording system that accounts for all professional staff time, and I would also question how effective that is given my assumption that on balance staff record a 37.5 hour week, regardless of how many hours they actually put in, and in many cases the client is on a fixed fee for compliance work.

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09th Mar 2006 13:12

ACCA Practise Manager
I too have been using ACCA practise manager and it is Excellent.

Not only that but their service is fantastic. They can add on just about anything to tailor it to individual user needs.

How come this was missed out here?

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10th Mar 2006 08:57

i tried not to, but could not resist
surely you can have too much management?

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09th Mar 2006 18:10

As my name was mentioned above, I feel I must add a couple of po
1)
They all do time-and-fees, but many of the vendors listed try to differentiate themselves by offering a variety of features.
In many firms these features are simply not being used. Some of the vendors listed have very few (if any) users of these "advanced" features.

So, when selecting a product, don't just tick the boxes. Make sure the reference sites you visit are actually using the features you're interested in.

2)
Is Practice Management the same as CRM?
No. CRM is a subset of Practice Management, along with
Team-management
knowledge-management
document-management
budget-management
and financial management
(and probably a load of others...but it's been a long day...)
We need them all...

Mark Ryan
[email protected]

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By robert newman
07th Mar 2006 17:11

What about ACCA Practice manager?
You have overlooked this fab bit of kit that does all that its big name rivals does for about a tenth of the price.

I have used this for about two years and wonder how I survived before!

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08th Mar 2006 05:11

I know we've discussed this but...
A great roundup John - congratulations on a serious piece of work. But...I'm not seeing anything fresh or innovative here from the vendors' perspective.

You say the market is pretty stagnant. Is there any real understanding why that might be? Have any of the practices and vendors you've approached attempted to understand what's holding the market back? Is it that case that the whole CRM thing is a bit of a dirty acronym? Or is it the case that professionals struggle with the core issue of client relationships?

I'm raising the same questions at my place.

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