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Alternatives to Iris following another 6.8% increase?

Alternatives to Iris following another 6.8%...

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After a near 13% increase in Iris subscriptions in 2012 and 6.8% increase this year, coupled with a lot more problems with the product than usual I'm looking around to see how other products compare with Iris.  I don't necessarily need all the bells and whistles that Iris has, but I do like good quality output in terms of reports such as accounts and tax returns and I don't want to be spending too much time having to manually enter all the correct accounting disclosure information in company accounts, etc., otherwise it will cost me more in lost time doing this than the difference  in subscription price.

In the past I've looked at:

Absolute - seems a bit low end

Keytime - but not sure how well this compares with Iris without spending a lot of time doing a full blown comparison

Digita - seems to be closest to Iris and seems the one that is progressing fastest towards doing more online, but also closest in price, so not necessarily much saving compared with the hassle of transfer

I want to move pretty much everything onto the cloud, probably via a hosted desktop solution, because I've had a lot of networking and SQL database issues with Iris, plus failure of Iris to support Word 2013 (until very recently), which comes with Microsoft 365 (I'm not very happy with Microsoft 365 either) and I'm working more and more from locations other than my office eg spending time abroad, so it makes sense for everything to be online.

Does anyone have experience of moving from Iris to Keytime or Digita, in particular anyone who has a practice of about 100+ clients who can advise me whether they are happy with the move or have experienced any major problems/additional costs/lack of functionality compared with Iris?

Replies (40)

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By frankie3
15th Jul 2013 16:38

how much were you paying? see my earlier  posts re my experience with sage. 149% increase this year plus another 58% increase next year. probably will move to tax calc accounts as I have tax calc already

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Glenn Martin
By Glenn Martin
15th Jul 2013 16:50

Digita

I will just put my broken record back on. I used to use Sage but was unhappy with lack of development with product and costs. I find Digita really good and allows tasks to be completed very quickly there is a lot of extras in it that add a lot of value to what you do. Was easy to learn went through tuition DVD in a weekend then that was it. Tech Support also very good. Its also going Cloud based in next few months which will be ideal for guys on the go.

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By BryanS1958
15th Jul 2013 17:43

Digita

I recently had a demo of Digita and was quite impressed.  As you say it does seem to be the one giving the option to go cloud based.  The importing of client data from Iris also seems to have improved, compared with a few years ago.

In the past I've been happy with most aspects of Iris, apart from cost.  However, in the last year I've found service levels have been lower and number of issues with the software have increased.  I even upgraded all my hardware because Iris was running slowly on it and their technical support said my hardware was a bit old, but I've had more problems since upgrading than I did before.  It took well over a week to sort out a SQL database corruption and during this time I couldn't use Iris at all.  In addition, Iris didn't support Word 2013 (until a very recent release), so I couldn't use Automail, all of which has cost me a lot in terms of lost time/workarounds, etc., yet management and customer service dept has taken minimal/no interest.  Whilst it isn't necessarily Iris's fault that the database was corrupted it is their fault that the issue took so long to resolve, leaving me with out on a limb, and it is their fault that Word 2013 wasn't supported when it has been on general release since 2012 and developers have presumably had access to it a lot longer.

On the face of it seems that if I want software that can easily be hosted online Digita is the way to go.  This will also hopefully minimise upgrade issues and downtime.  However, if anyone has any other comments on Digita or other products it would be good to hear their views.

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Teignmouth
By Paul Scholes
15th Jul 2013 18:08

Iris has been fine for me

I won't bother to put my broken record on, Iris has been fine for us and the costs, whilst not cheap, have been easy to justify on a client by client basis.

I moved everything to a hosted environment over 2 years ago so, unless you've already decided, give the lovely people at Hosted Desktop (UK) a call.

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By BryanS1958
16th Jul 2013 10:10

Hosted Environment

Thanks Paul, like you I've been a fairly loyal supporter of Iris for years, but this last year I've really been pushed to the brink on several issues, so once again I'm looking at alternatives and out of the main competitors Digita do seem to be getting their act together to be more of a contender.

 

How did you get on with moving to a hosted environment?  As with moving practice software supplier I suppose there is a fair amount of upfront work, but have you found the move worthwhile?  Have you gone the whole hog and tried to move more or less paperless as well?

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Teignmouth
By Paul Scholes
16th Jul 2013 10:40

Lock stock and reamless

Hi Bryan

We actually went 95% paperless in 2007 so that has never been an issue.

You make a good point about the upfront work.  I spoke to a number of HDT UK users (all accountants & Iris users) and did a lot of imagining about what would need to change and what life would be like without the server hammering away in the corner and boxes and cables running around the rooms but the reality is that all you are actually doing is making all the cables a couple of hundred miles long, so, in practical terms there was very little to do.

On Thursday they sent over an external hard drive that we plugged into the server and allowed them remote access to copy what they needed.  On Friday a courier turned up to collect the HD which they worked on over the weekend and so, on Monday morning, when we switched on our PCs all we each did was hit the "Remote Desktop Connection" icon and there was our new desktop with everything we needed.

Yes, there were some bits & pieces that needed tweaking, for example, changing setting on virgin Office instalations and getting the remote desktops to use the wireless printer/scanner in the office but we're talking 4-5 hours max over the first two weeks.

Despite this, and all the reassurance from other users, it was still a huge leap of faith to switch off the server and rely on someone else for everything but within 2 weeks I wondered why I hadn't done it sooner and whilst, overall, we saved money switching, my view now is that, even if it had cost more in £s to switch, the savings in time and anxiety are worth a lot more.

I would also say that whilst the technology allowing you to use a bit of a server 200 miles away is not that unusual or specialised these days, the support and reliability from HDT UK has been great.

Happy to give any more info via PM

Cheers

Paul

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Glenn Martin
By Glenn Martin
16th Jul 2013 10:49

@Paul

How good is your broadband? Have you ever found times when you could not access your data or do work because of weak broadband connection. I am keen to switch to hosted/cloud based solutions for the reasons you give,  but the broadband in my area is quite poor. Does your hosted software work as well (and as quick)  as when it was located in your own servers. Co Durham is still in the dark ages broadband wise and is holding us back in that respect.

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James Reeves
By James Reeves
16th Jul 2013 11:18

Taxfiler is a true cloud solution

If you are interested in cutting costs and going to the cloud, why not take a look at our product Taxfiler.  Taxfiler is a true browser-based tax preparation solution that requires no installation as everything is fully hosted by us. At this moment in time we include support for filing of individuals (SA100), Partnerships (SA800) and Trusts & Estates (SA900) including supplementary forms and computations.  Our CT600 corporate return is due later in the summer.  Unlike many other suppliers we are able to keep our cloud prices very low: we are not wrapping a hosted legacy system as Taxfiler was designed from the ground-up as a browser-based cloud solution. We follow a true cloud model so we do not charge annual fees but a monthly subscription with no setup costs or minimum term.  Prices start at just £10 a month which gets you single-user access to the entire suite, but our multi-user subscriptions are just £15 a month per user.  Cloud software really should be cheaper and that's what we are trying to do. We have a full demo system to view on our website at taxfiler.co.uk.

James Reeves (Taxfiler Ltd)

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Replying to Tim Vane:
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By jaybee661
16th Jul 2013 18:48

@James Reeves

James Reeves wrote:

If you are interested in cutting costs and going to the cloud, why not take a look at our product Taxfiler.  Taxfiler is a true browser-based tax preparation solution that requires no installation as everything is fully hosted by us. At this moment in time we include support for filing of individuals (SA100), Partnerships (SA800) and Trusts & Estates (SA900) including supplementary forms and computations.  Our CT600 corporate return is due later in the summer.  Unlike many other suppliers we are able to keep our cloud prices very low: we are not wrapping a hosted legacy system as Taxfiler was designed from the ground-up as a browser-based cloud solution. We follow a true cloud model so we do not charge annual fees but a monthly subscription with no setup costs or minimum term.  Prices start at just £10 a month which gets you single-user access to the entire suite, but our multi-user subscriptions are just £15 a month per user.  Cloud software really should be cheaper and that's what we are trying to do. We have a full demo system to view on our website at taxfiler.co.uk.

James Reeves (Taxfiler Ltd)

... you've got my vote James, an excellent piece of software!

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Replying to Paul D Utherone:
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By BryanS1958
17th Jul 2013 09:16

Tax only?

Unfortunately Taxfiler seems to be a stand-alone tax only product, whereas I'm looking for something which shares the database between several products eg accounting, company secretarial, mail, etc.

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Time for change
By Time for change
16th Jul 2013 16:04

I moved from IRIS across to Keytime

in 2008 and, have never regretted the change.

My previous software provider certainly had their head in the clouds, when it came to being "user friendly" and approachable.

Keytime, across their suite, have kept their side of the bargain, on all fronts. Well constructed product, regularly updated/upgraded. Exceptional support, friendly team and, really sensibly priced, in my (humble) opinion.

The produce suits me down to the ground and I can't recommend this software house, too strongly. Keytime does what it says on the tin!

 

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By colinhigginson
16th Jul 2013 17:29

Fee increase

We didn't have anywhere near a 13% increase last year so I am not sure why that happened to Bryan.

 

Always found IRIS to be very good, we keep the costs down a bit by using INVU stand alone so as not forking out for loads of Practice Management Licences.

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By Hosted Accountants Ltd
16th Jul 2013 17:43

Lots of options...

We support hundreds of users across IRIS, Digita and Keytime - all hosted in the UK on our servers and using hosted desktops.

You will be pleased to know all these programmes work really well, if not faster on cloud based servers.Other hosting providers are available!

Dan

www.hostedaccountants.co.uk

0800 440 2282

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Teignmouth
By Paul Scholes
16th Jul 2013 18:28

Glennzy

Like anyone we get the occasional sluggish or frozen mouse cursor however it's worth pointing out that the only traffic up & downline are key strokes, mouse clicks and the screen view, ie all the processing is done in the Cloud server.  Consequently I regularly access my desktop via a 3G dongle on my laptop and notice no difference whatsoever compared to my 20meg cable average.

Ironically, the processing, ie Iris, Office, Acrobat and even browser access to the web, is actually faster via the remote desktop than when we had it all locally, Cloud servers and their pipes being far more butch than anything you & I use.

As part of the original discussions HDT UK gave us a dummy login to test it out, so worth a try.

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By morgani
16th Jul 2013 22:29

I've used Iris when I was employed and based on usability would probably be my software of choice. However, I just cannot justify the cost. I have also used Digita in the past which I was very happy with until firstly they had some major issues with ixbrl at first and the costs of adding additional users which were around 50% of the main licence cost per user.

I now use keytime which I am more than happy with. The cost are sensible (for around 175 clients and 2 users I pay around 2.5k including VAT. I've had some issues with it lately but that is a network switch problem at our end which has been causing corrupt data. The support team has been fantastic on all occasions and it has thrown up all sorts of errors. I must stress though that my 12 months or so prior with them was completely error free.

At present it would take a lot for someone to convince me to move.

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By Ned Ludd
17th Jul 2013 01:56

Key time v iris & "the cloud"
Used iris at my old employers for around 5 years and now used key time for 5 years in own practice.

Iris for me is the most integrated piece of kit out there, no doubt, but initially when setting up on our own it just wasn't cost effective.

Keytime has been fantastic re online filing and the switch to ixbrl was unbelievable seamless. Can't comment on iris re that aspect as my experience with iris per dated ixbrl.

Really happy with keytime but I still think presentation is slightly better in iris.

Re The Cloud; what a revelation; been on it 2 years now and, as Paul said, implemented in a matter of days over the weekend with very little disruption. Main issue; printer settings!

Can't think of our provider off hand as I just call them Cloud, but will post tomorrow.

Alas we are nowhere near paperless but the net speed is better on cloud and knowing that things ae backed up allows me to sleep at night.

We pay approx £140 per month incl vat purely for cloud but well worth it for piece of mind re back up, accessibility from home, quicker Internet speed etc.

It also gets some serious hammer as does keytime ( approx 600 SA clients), but no real complaints.

Prob as happy as I've ever been with software and I've used loads; including DOS based auditman, sage accounts prod, pinnacle, iris.

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By The Innkeeper
17th Jul 2013 10:14

@Paul Scholes

Paul please see my pm re Hosted Desk Top

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By petersaxton
17th Jul 2013 10:32

Cloud

Am I the only person who doesn't feel the need to have a cloud solution?

I very rarely visit clients and practically all the time I'm working I am sat in my office.

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Replying to Manchester_man:
James Reeves
By James Reeves
17th Jul 2013 10:42

@petersaxton: Peter, the advantage of cloud solutions is not necessarily just about being able to work remotely etc. It is as much about not having to worry about software installs, version upgrades, database backups, computer power etc. A good cloud solution should remove the considerable "cost of ownership" (in terms of money and time) of running internal systems.

James Reeves (Taxfiler Ltd)

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By petersaxton
17th Jul 2013 10:45

James

Thanks for that comment.

I don't have any problems with installs, upgrades, backups, computer power - with one exception (Outlook pst file is a worry but I can get that fixed online separately.

I don't like the idea that internet access will limit my working.

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Teignmouth
By Paul Scholes
17th Jul 2013 15:57

No problems with installs & upgrades?

What you don't use Windows?!

Peter, if you work on your own and everything you need is on a good quality laptop that you can backup with the press of a button and, as you say, you spend little, if any, time on the problems above then you're right, you may as well keep everything in house.

But if the huge IT gremlin you hit last year was anything to do with your all-in-one laptop office or someone Nicks it, then you may want to think about it.

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Glenn Martin
By Glenn Martin
17th Jul 2013 16:10

@Paul - I'm Jealous

The move to cloud does appeal to me, but you say you have 20Meg speed I have between 4 and 6. This is my main barrier to moving cloud based. I would concerned I wouldn't be able to work as freely as I do at present. BT really need to get a finger out and sort the upgrades out on my manor.

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By petersaxton
17th Jul 2013 16:23

I must be lucky

I do use Windows. There is a lot more software and hardware available for Windows than the alternatives.

I use a desktop computer.

The problems I had were caused by not wanting to upgrade my computer due to the downtime involved. I have now got a very fast computer. If I had bitten the bullet earlier and upgraded I wouldn't have had the problems that I did have.

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By COPPINS.HUGHES
18th Jul 2013 10:56

DIGITA

I CHANGED TO DIGITA, AFTER 16 YEARS WITH IRIS, LATE IN 2012. THE SUPPORT IS GREAT, THE PRODUCT IS VERY SIMILAR TO IRIS EXCEPT IT IS MORE RELIABLE AND THE COST ABOUT ONE THIRD OF WHAT I WAS PAYING IRIS ON AN ONGOING BASIS. I HAVE NO REGRETS ABOUT THE CHANGE AND WOULD RECOMMEND DIGITA TO ANYONE WHO WAS LOOKING TO CHANGE SUPPLIERS.

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By The Innkeeper
18th Jul 2013 10:59

@coppins

Why on earth are you shouting

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Replying to Kent accountant:
Quack
By Constantly Confused
18th Jul 2013 11:24

BECAUSE

The Innkeeper wrote:

Why on earth are you shouting

CAPS LOCK IS CRUISE CONTROL FOR COOL!

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By bigmuggsy
18th Jul 2013 11:07

Various opinions here, we've used Keytime for the past four years and while, at first, we had a few problems they've sorted themselves out, customer service is second to none and the system itself very user friendly.  The only complaint we have is the layout, as mentioned in a previous post, Iris looks better but at the end of the day as long as it all balances who cares!  Has all the programs required, we predominantly use Corporation tax, Tax and Accounts production but also features payroll, company secretarial as well.

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By jm66
18th Jul 2013 11:16

@Glennzy, 7Mb works great

Like Paul we are with Hosted Desktop UK and have no problems.  We can't get fibre so the fastest broadband available is 7Mb downstream and 1Mb upstream.  This works fine because we are only sending keystrokes and mouseclicks.  

I had similar concerns (especially the 1Mb upstream!), so had the whole team using the demo session provided by HD at the same time to evaluate the adequacy of the connection.  No problem.  We soon found that our browsing and file access on the remote server is actually faster than when we had our own server. 

Try the demo and see what your connection is like.....

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By [email protected]
18th Jul 2013 11:44

I have moved from digita to keytime. It is cheaper but it will work but not as well as digita. I am actually thinking about going back to Digita due to the issues with keytime such as spelling mistakes etc.

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By pauljohnston
18th Jul 2013 13:46

Routers

If using broadband or cloud the week point is your modem/ router.  From what I can glean these have a life of 3-5 years.

can I recommend that you purchase an exact duplicate of the one that you have.  Take a backup from the one currently in use and restore the backup to the new one.

If in future your modem/router fails you can plug the new one in and it should takeover the burden.  This will allow you to decide what to do next whilst still working

 

 

 

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By E Scott
18th Jul 2013 22:44

me too!
I too have been looking at changing as after 10 years I feel iris is just a luxury I now can't afford. I have passed my views to my iris account manager as I may be happy to look at ptp but must admit they didn't seem very bothered. I've done a demo with digita and keytime. For me keytime personal tax was just too much like completing a manual return and doesn't have the facility to retain asset info for cgt purposes. Digita seems to do even more than iris but the cost saving is only a few hundred pounds and I question if it's e
nough to merit the downtime in learning & changeover. I am tempted though! Let me know your outcome as I need to make a decision soon!!

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By North East Accountant
19th Jul 2013 08:53

Call me old fashioned

Good luck cloud people. What happens if the company hosting your data goes bust!

Not an unlikely scenario and how do you get your data back then. Have you ever tried getting information from a receiver. A simple request takes forever.

I may be old fashioned but I know exactly where my data is, take offsite backups ever day and control the entire process.

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By Lutondata
19th Jul 2013 09:17

Alternative to Iris

We are small with only 600+ clients but Iris is a tad expensive.

If you are as mobile as you say, then possible a cloud based server would be an answer?  As for software we use VT and taxcalc.  You would find these a little "Basic" but they are both extremely robust products.  If you want to go the all-in-one route then Taxcalc maybe the answer.  They are a really nice firm to deal with. 

We have looked at Absolute and as we are multi-user the price seems out of kilter with the type of market they are in.  Though when the software works, it produces a good format.

If I`m honest, we didn`t find the keytime tax software as slick as taxcalc though the practice management part was fairly good.

BTC is a good product, but we found the interface a little dull

If you like working with Excel, then VT for accounts production is just supreme.  However, if you prefer a more detailed entry option then Taxcalc would be better.  You can import your client base into it and work from there.  The savings are staggering.  The service from the support team is above excellent and the product is straightforward and slick

If you want any help with cloud IT.  let me know and I will put you in touch with people I know at my gliding club

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By orchardacc
19th Jul 2013 10:24

Keytime

I have moved from what most of us on here called the "best of breeds" ( VT, Taxcalc) with the exception of Moneysoft for payroll to keytime. I have mentioned in a previous thread as well about how impressed we are with this product and will recommend on the following basis

1. Ease of use

2. Price ( veruy competitive for what it is and can do)

3. Techincal Support ( best ever)

4. Effortless transfer of accounts to tax program etc

As others like Time to chage, Morganni and NedLudd already said as well.

new

I have moved from digita to[email protected] PM | Thu, 18/07/2013 - 11:44 | Permalink

I have moved from digita to keytime. It is cheaper but it will work but not as well as digita. I am actually thinking about going back to Digita due to the issues with keytime such as spelling mistakes etc. 

 

Swaran, are you really serious of about moving back to Digita because of spelling mistakes with keytime? I appreciate you want the programme you've paid for to be perfect but in my experience, if you bring this issue to their attention, i am sure it will be dealt with swiftly.  You can PM me if there is anything I can help with.

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Teignmouth
By Paul Scholes
19th Jul 2013 10:37

North East Accountant

Nothing wrong with worrying about that, it's a risk factor we all take into account when we do anything on the web or over email, it's just that some worry more about the washing machine (what I used to call our server) in the corner exploding and the time and hassle of retrieving everything from backups, than using highly recommended online facilities like the banks, google, yahoo, paypal, hosted desktop UK, FreeAgent, Xero etc etc, many of who rely on data centres where their whole business revolves around keeping machines running, with fail-over & backup facilities that can kick in in seconds.

For me the benefits and ease of running everything on someone else's state of the art kit & cables, from whereever I happen to be far outweighs my fears of losing the lot.

Having said that however, in my case, be it all our stuff on Hosted Desktop or our (and our client's) accounting data on FreeAgent & Xero, I take regular dumps of data to my local machine.  Hosted Desktop provides an "old fashioned" batch file to run that retrieves/appends anything that's changed since the last one and with the bookkeeping data we can dump everything to spread sheets in a matter of seconds.

In 2-3 years never needed any of it but I too have some old fashioned bits left.

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By Lutondata
19th Jul 2013 10:43

Fan club

Lets face it.  If a product is half-decent we will be fans!

I recently tried all the packages mentioned, as I wanted a replacement to Act!  Instead I am having an Access/Outlook program designed for us to be our database

Each software firm have their own pro`s and con`s.  To me key time fell down on the tax side.   It did not flow as well as Tax calc in simple mode.

But any of these are great value for money.  So long as you go in with an open mind and put aside when you worked in a corporate office with another 200 people.

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By StephenGuy
19th Jul 2013 13:08

Is the cloud really a sensible option

A couple of years ago a contractor put his digger through the phone cable on our High Street and the whole street lost its broadband and phones.  It took almost 2 weeks before everyone was reconnected.  I for one am not prepared to risk being unable to work for 2 weeks, which is what would happen if my software was in the cloud.  

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Replying to Euan MacLennan:
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By DMGbus
19th Jul 2013 13:33

Risks doubled? Maybe / maybe not?

I tend to like the idea of a hosted remote server if it really does provide better speed and reliability than having your own term server in your own offices, but do have some reservations / concerns.

With the hosted option the risks of localised power supply failure are doubled, that is online back up site plus your own office both a risk - unless the hosted solution has an online power back up facility, or maybe they have two identically synchronised server sites that are geographically separate?

Similarly if the "internet goes down" this is a risk now doubled - both at your offices and at the hosters site (again unless a duplicated geographical servers solution is adopted by the host).

Then there could be an issue of what happens if the hosts premises burn down - again the solution is choose a host that has at least two geographical sites hosting your identical data on two sites simultaeneously.

So, check that your sever host does indeed have two geographically separate facilities holding identical copies of your data.

The risk of a host going bust is perhaps the most difficult one. Hopefully the Receiver would "see the light" and recognise the value of maintaining continuity of service (but this was most definitely NOT the case for many months recently when a popular photo-hosting website went out of business).

Finally where are the serers.  If outside the UK then this is a NO NO for me, even if in a so-called allie / friendly country like the USA.

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By carnmores
19th Jul 2013 13:44

i have just read taxation magazines annual ? review

there are a number of solutions therein , if you want acs and tax you maywish to look at GBOOKS.CO.UK

 

 

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By asillahi
19th Jul 2013 14:20

PTP

We moved from Iris to PTP and the software, although not quite as integrated, is in effect the same but much cheaper.

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