IRIS readies iXBRL accounts tools for launch

John Stokdyk reports on the product announcements and gossip at the London IRIS World 2010 event on 5 October.

iXBRL accounts prep programs almost ready for launch
The tax and accounting practice wing of IRIS went public with a working demonstration of the iXBRL tools in its next accounts production software release that will let accountants comply with next April's electronic filing requirements for Corporation Tax returns.

The new iXBRL module is currently undergoing user testing and will be available with Version 10.4 of the IRIS Practice Suite. IRIS promised the delivery date would be "in October" to give practitioners a chance to test the software before the onset of Self Assessment season.

PTP is using the same underlying engine and the PTP Accounts Production iXBRL Version will be available at the same time.

First sight of IRIS Accounts Production iXBRL moduleIRIS product director Simon Witkiss (right) demonstrated the iXBRL-compatible IRIS 10.4 accounts production system at the IRIS World event in London on Tuesday. Where tax computations are automatic, every set of accounts is different, so IRIS provides a standard iXBRL template with the application along with tag editor that allows the user to add and adapt their own iXBRL definitions, Witkiss explained.

"You can make a change when you enter the data or when you've got a report where you want it and you want to tag the final version," he said.

"The software has an integrated taxonomy browser which is aware of HMRC's minimum list and integrates into the IRIS workflow and permission systems to control tagging."

The editing tool opens a view of what the accounts look like on a printed page, but the numbers within the accounts are ringed by small on-screen boxes. A blue box indicates an item that has been matched to iXBRL tags, and a red highlight box indicates that no tag has been assigned to a figure, with possible options displayed in an accompanying on-screen menu. The tags applied to one set of accounts can be stored for use with other sets.

The final accounts are then finalised, locked and validated against HMRC's filing rules. The resulting iXBRL file can be saved externally, or the user can tick a box within the output menu to make the file available for the Business Tax module to submit along with its iXBRL computations file as part of the electronic CT600 pack.

Since April, IRIS has been promoting its "iXBRL compatibility" before this final piece of the process was actually available. By the end of the month the company should be able to claim full compliance with HMRC's filing requirements.

IRIS Accountancy Practice Solutions managing director Phill Robinson responded to this point by explaining the mechanics behind the company's seven-figure iXBRL development project.

"We decided to do it as a two-stage project," he said. "We could have coded IRIS for tax and accounts in April, and tackled PTP and Drummohr later. We decided to do it in two lots so as not to disadvantage PTP and Drummohr customers."

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Video interview with Phill Robinson

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‘I am not a gossip,’ says Warburton
Mike Warburton was on great form at the opening date of his IRIS World 2010 October tour on Tuesday morning.

“Let me start with some words in favour of Dave Hartnett,” he said to grab everyone’s attention in the Olympia conference auditorium. What followed was a blow-by-blow account of how Warburton helped stoke HMRC's PAYE reconciliation backlog into a national scandal - proving the point that it can get pretty hairy for anyone who sticks their head above the media parapet.

What Mike didn’t say is that the information that underpinned the whole scandal had been in the public domain since it was published in the NAO’s Report on HMRC’s 2009-10 accounts in April. Somewhat belatedly, AccountingWEB published the information on 18 August and the “scandal” kicked off the way Warburton described it a couple of weeks later. If you miss PAYE being on the front pages, you can hark back to September's silly season in the latest Editor's blog. (More material on Warburton's thoughts on tax planning will follow soon in Tax Zone).

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Opendocs upgraded
As part of its growing relationship with document management developer Invu, IRIS is demonstrating the new version of its Opendocs implementation at the IRIS World 2010 events.

The market is so important for Invu that IRIS World is the main launchpad for its new software, Invu’s Louise Prophet told AccountingWEB.

The new features are impressive, and reflect work behind the scenes to tighten the integration with the IRIS tax and practice programs.

But the most important facility is the ability to capture emails from Microsoft Outlook into the client files. The Opendocs interface includes a screen showing departments and individuals alongside the incoming emails. Messages can be quickly transferred to the person or team’s icon in the team window, and will automatically be routed to them and filled according to the incoming email address. Notes can be added and the email can be tracked as it moves around within the firm.

For each client within the system, email messages, document scans and outputs from IRIS applications are all displayed against each client’s entry in the database.

In response to user requests, Invu has also added PDF as a scanning capture option, and the software can now capture data from “zones” within any document.

“Accountants love PDFs,” Prophet said.

Invu now has around 500 accountant customers, and the Iris contingent is becoming increasingly important. This group played an important part in shaping the Opendocs development roadmap, she added.

(see clarification below)

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IRIS World 2010: A personal view from John Stokdyk
Like many AccountingWEB.co.uk members, I've watched intently to see how the new IRIS has changed since CEO Martin Leuw embarked on a serious corporate expansion back in 2002.

The old, friendly firm with its squad of regional account managers and strong roots within the profession has been changing into a much more corporate software industry combine. The transition has been marked my some uncomfortable episodes, particularly with flaws in the 2005 payroll software upgrade and with version 10.2 of IRIS Business Tax, which included inaccurate Capital Allowance calculation routines.

IRIS Accountancy Practice Solutions managing director Phill Robinson touched on these issues in his introductory talk, and apologised for the most recent Capital Allowance errors.

“We made a few mistakes,” Robinson admitted.  “And you’re very vocal when we don’t get it right.”

With regard to the Capital Allowance problems that were not discovered until after version 10.2 was released, he said, “I take responsibility as MD of the division and I want to apologise. The important thing is we learn from that and improve quality as we go forward as part of our focus on delivering value to you.”

The division's Net Promoter Score reflected the impact of the April release, dipping to around 40, but has since recovered to nearly 50, he said. For those who don't know it, NPS is a common software industry measure based on the proportion of users who would recommend the software to someone else.

Some of Robinson's comments illustrated the culture change taking place within the company. Rather than the face to face glad-handing of the old days, IRIS World was more of a US-style, presentation-based software industry event. When I put this observation to Leuw, he commented, “This is all part of going from a cottage industry to industrial strength.

Robinson, too, was unapologetic about the new style IRIS. “If we're more like a software company, that might be a good thing.”

Now that the iXBRL project had been tackled, there was an engineering legacy that would mean the people taken on to implement the new accounts production and efiling capability would be switched to focus on quality improvements within the IRIS suite, he added.

This is what Robinson said in response to my questions on software quality and customer satisfaction:

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IRIS World 2010 is a series of free one-day events taking place on between 5 and 20 October in Warwick, Leeds and Glasgow. To find out more and reserve your ticket, click here.

Comments
Paul Scholes's picture

Highlight of the day

Paul Scholes | | Permalink

The above iXBRL intro/demo and afternoon session taking us all back to basics on the topic were well judged and presented (ie I stayed awake and understood it all).  In particular I'm please to see the ability to determine tagging at both input and report stages and the screen and interface Simon demo'd looked well designed.

As always with Iris and other providers "the proof of the pudding etc" and so, as we will be in the rare position of trying out an update before it's needed, I would echo the request to try it out well in advance of the deadline and feedback the inevitable bugs (significant or otherwise!).  In this way we should end up with "fit for purpose" functionality come 1 April.

As they clearly did with HMRC, my hope is that Iris can now persuade Companies House to come up with workable arrangements for electronic submission.

 

John Stokdyk's picture

Clarification of the Opendocs situation

John Stokdyk | | Permalink

Sorry folks, I got a couple of points wrong in my original report on the document managment module launch. Invu's Mark Palmer got in touch to ask me to point out that IRIS is not the exclusive distributor to the accountants mark for Invu, as orginally reported. Existing partners such as Scan Worx and Lindenhouse retain the right to sell Invu in this market.

This point was quite important, Palmer said, because "They bring a lot to the party and have built up a great deal of knowledge in the domain. This is not just IRIS, but also to practices using other vendors software e.g. Sage, CCH et al."

The full IRIS integration within Opendocs is exclusive to IRIS, he confirmed.

The figure of 500 accountant users also applies to Invu as a whole rather than just IRIS users.

My apologies to all concerned. I'll try harder next time and as is often the case with software news, it's always worth looking at the stuff yourself and asking suppliers the questions you'd like to find out more about.