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Accountancy software costs

Accountancy software costs

Currently my practice is using Iris software. We are a relatively small practice but we are growing. I've recieved Iris's invoice this morning for the coming year's fees and let's just say I am a little dissappointed at how much they want to charge.

Can anyone recommend a software provider which offers a similar serice to Iris at a good fee.


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31st Jan 2012 12:59

"good" or "cheap"?

Hi there - it's been a time but this question used to arise every week or two a couple of years back.  Have a look at the following link.  As far as I am concerned the only thing that has changed is that there are far fewer negative experiences reported my end and on ACC Web about Iris, in fact it has been very "good" and I'd not risk that satisfaction for a cheap alternative.

Interested to see if others agree or whether another integrated package or best of breed combination can be championed.



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By DMGbus
31st Jan 2012 13:47

Need to cost out FULL cost of any software

Some software (cheap or expensive) is rubbish in that the consequential training costs and downtime / disruption (learning curve) will be high due to the software being unintuitive (written for the benefit of making life easy for their programmers rather than easy for end users).

Some software (cheap or expensive) is rubbish in that features are lacking or to get simple reports of what you see on screen is NOT a simple matter of "File > Print" due to the software supplier either failing to employ competent programmers or offerring a product that is overdue for overhaul / replacement / past it's "sell by" date.

Some software (cheap or expensive) is rubbish in that it has illogical or overly complicated routines (do you really want to get involved with long formula conditions including text and "1-1", "0=0" or "1=0" to get notes included or excluded from a set of accounts?)

(do you really want software that to update it you do NOT click "Update" but first have to click "Edit" ?).

(if you need to get a set of Abbreviated Accounts do really want software that requires you to tell the software TWICE in two different places that you want Abbreviated Accounts?).

(Hidden flaws in software like the above examples will often only become apparent once it's too late!)

Some software providors get away with providing a substandard or shoddy product because they are immune from reacting to user needs because they have a high market share so they "don't have to try that hard".

The purchase price of the software is definitely NOT the only consideration; As it happens I believe that some of the highest price software is rubbish, smaller players in the market know that they have "try harder" so sometimes will provide a better product at a lower price.  Cheaper might actually be better. 




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31st Jan 2012 14:27

Buyer beware

@DMGbus - The reasons you mention are the reason why I always advise people to get a free trial, or, insist on a free hand to play with a demo of the software, before committing themselves to purchase.

If you cannot have either ... then start wondering why!

A demo given by a salesperson will NOT give enough assurance to make a decision on software costing a lot of money. They will merely show you the 'good bits' and accidentally overlook the 'not so good' bits!

I would also ask what happens when the licence comes to an end. Will it be automatically renewed unless you advise them otherwise. Will the renewal notice come too late for you to cancel your renewal if the annual increase is much higher than expected? Will the software stop working if you do NOT renew, or will it still allow you to 'view only'.

Ask these questions before you buy, as afterwards is too late.


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31st Jan 2012 15:28

What do you want out of your software?

What are the type of services you need out of your software?

As a small practice I need the ability to deal with book-keeping and VAT, produce annual accounts for sole traders, partnerships and limited companies.  Prepare Tax Returns and CT600's and payroll facilities.

We use VT+ which coveres most of the points above for a very small annual fee.  Its very easy to use and produces a good end product and you get a 60day free trial.

We were using PTP but changed last year when they upgraded their product to an inferior version.

We use SAGE for payroll although there are a lot of good similar payroll products around.  And we use PTP for CT600's and Tax Returns - at the moment.

You may get a better reponse after the 31st Jan deadline though, which apparently is now Friday!

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31st Jan 2012 16:28

Agree with DMGbus & ShirleyM

How long have you been an Iris customer? Do you have more than one product? maybe get in touch with one of the sales guys and tell them you are thinking of leaving unless they can offer you a better price? (worth a shot? :s )

Personally, having used both Iris and Digita, I can honestly say that Digita is a far better product (we are a medium sized firm with around 50 employees).

I agree with DMGbus that being charged a higher price for software does NOT mean it is a better product.

@ Paul Scholes- have you ever called Iris's support helpline? Iris used to have a number of software issues (not sure if this is still the case though, i lost count when i was using the software), and for the price you are paying for the is not acceptable.

I have been using Digita for nearly a year and maybe come across 2/3 minor issues?

I know that once you are used to using a product for ages, you don't want to change....but are you willing to pay such a high price for software when there are cheaper alternatives that do a better job?

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31st Jan 2012 16:32

@ SJRUK- I think you mean Thursday 2nd?

and yes, always look at what you want from the software, no point getting an expensive product with a number of features which you will never use!

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31st Jan 2012 17:20


Hi - yes, I have to say that most of my support contact is via the knowledgebase or email however, unusually, I've spoken to them 3-4 times in the past month and had no problem at all.

Always a bit of a chicken & egg situation with support for any supplier in that if a release comes out with more than the usual number of bugs then there will be a sudden upsurge in support calls and this certainly happened with Iris in 2010 and early 2011, which coincided with iXBRL,  but, as I say, it's been great since.

From past questions along these lines it's always been Digita that's been most closely compared to Iris but (referring to the OP's quetion) so has the cost, with some saying they pay marginally more & others marginally less.  I have no reason to doubt that Digita is a great product/service so, as others have suggested, it's a case of seeing whether you can get more or less from the same number of £s and whether this premium is sufficient to make you hold your nose and jump.

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By Jimess
01st Feb 2012 09:44

In similar situation...

I am in a similar situation to the OP and have used Iris for quite a number of years now, both as employee of a larger firm and now in my own practice.  Iris are getting increasingly expensive for smaller practises, to the point where I honestly believe that they are trying to squeeze us out so they can concentrate on the top tier buyers only. Over the last couple of years I have been increasingly disappointed with the number of software updates, the horrific price increases and more recently their blase attitude towards the withdrawal of support for XP users.  In the past I have used other products, but have yet to find one that I like.  I am on a mission however to get the "Iris dissatisfaction bug" as I call it out of my system this year and to compare some other products again.  Like some of the posts have already mentioned - often you don't find out how other products stand up until you take the leap, but when you are familiar with a product and have used it for a number of years perhaps you get to think of it a bit like a pair of old slippers - comfortable and familiar but perhaps a bit sloppy in how they fit your feet.  A new pair (or new software) might be better or it could be worse, it is an unknown until you try it.  Iris currently represents my biggest cost after salaries (yep more than my rent!) so I am beginning to wonder just how long I can continue to justify that level of expense.  One of the things that really bugs me on Iris is that there are bits within the package that come as part of the parcel, that we do not use.  It's a bit like Sage - you buy their bookkeeping software and it has all sorts of bells and whistles, but how many people actually use the "added extras".  The other thing that needs to be taken into consideration is the actual cost of moving everything from one package to another and how easily that can be done, and what the ongoing costs are as your client base increases.  I have not had too many problems with Iris support, and I find the online database of known issues really useful, but I just have this overall dissatisfaction that I am getting charged premium rates for being a smaller scale user.

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01st Feb 2012 10:28


I keep praising Keytime Software and would recommend them to anyone.

I have just about finished all my tax returns for January (1 to go) and I had no problems with the software in January, either with regard to bugs or situations that it couldn't cope with ... I bet other accountants weren't so lucky with other software packages!!

As "Jimess" said your software package can become like a pair of old slippers but the difference is you only pay for the old slippers once!!

I changed from IRIS to Keytime two years ago and the first couple of weeks (max) I thought it wasn't the same as IRIS, wasn't as robust and didn't do as much ... I was wrong. 

I didn't need any tutorials to use the software and everything I've needed to do I have been able to. I have phoned the helpline 3 times in 2 years and my problems were sorted very very quickly, once by one of their staff remotely correcting a bug on my system.

I have full confidence in using Keytime Software and you know what's the best thing, its so much cheaper than IRIS and I dread to think what my software costs would have been if I had still been with IRIS.

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01st Feb 2012 11:06

February shopping...

Like anything in life why not set yourself a day or two to assess the market for yourself?

Without recommending any particular product (although I have tried and seen the demo/s for all of them) these are the areas to watch out for:

1. As Shirley suggests quite rightly you want a demo and then maybe a trial. Some of the reps will aim to show you just the best bits. They sometimes resist giving trials because they lose control of the sales process. I do have some sympathy here as a new user could find a "feature rich" package difficult without training.

2. Prices vary wildly - from literally £99 a module to what you are paying now (£4/6/8k per year for an average practice) - only pay for what you need and look at the ongoing costs, not just the initial licence. Some packages will have extras you do not need.

3. Plan for growth. Many packages actually get cheaper per return or set of accounts as you grow. Others however get very expensive very quickly as you have seen. How much will it cost if/when you double your client base.

4. Test their support line. Put in a call and see if they answer quickly and how friendly they sound. Not a scientific test but you should be able to call in to ask for system requirements, for example.

5. Negotiate on licence costs. Is there a better deal if you sign-up for longer or pay a lump sum? It's worth asking.

My final tip would be to always at least strongly consider training. It is often overlooked yet can be invaluable especially if you are using unfamiliar software. A few £100's now could and should have you and many staff up to speed very quickly.





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01st Feb 2012 11:29


I started out with Iris and then switched to Digita because of price, although I seem to remember that the first year is more expensive with Digita as they charge a "newbie" fee. 

As a user, I was happy with both.

Point of this post is that I sold the bulk of my practice, took a gap year (turned out to be a thirty month year) and now I'm starting again.  I was recommended PTP software and their accounts production software seems, to my memory, identical to the Iris product but it's cheaper.

So, if it's just price that's your concern, but you like the Iris product then maybe consider PTP (owned by Iris now).  Picking up on the point made by Jimess, it's possible that Iris price rises follow the business model that PTP will service the small practices and Iris will service the larger ones.

Ours is not to reason why!



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01st Feb 2012 11:54

Im still interested to hear anyone's view on Relate Software, the PM module keeps winning the software satisfaction award.  Been meaning to check it out for a little while now but the website doesnt really give much away.

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02nd Feb 2012 14:20

Relate Software

MissAccounting – We are due to launch our new website in a few weeks with more interactive content. However in advance of our go-live date please find below a link to our product videos,
which will hopefully provide you with a good overview of our comprehensive offering.

DRIVE CRM, Practice Management Product video
Relate Accounts Production Product video

If you would like to discuss further with a Relate consultant please call 0871 284 3446.


Conor Kerrigan


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