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Any one with experience of changing software?

Practical help of changing software providers required

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My current software provider almost doubled my annual fee last year by seperating the bundle I have into part monthly subscription and part annual contract. Whilst they communicated the change in how I would be billed several month before my previous contract expired I did not find out what the costs were going to be until two weeks before the contract expired. As I was extremely pee'd off they offered to waive my three month notice period but wouldnt budge on the price. As a result I am now in the process of moving everything to an alternative software.

The one thing that I do find dawnting through this process is, A) the work involved in migrating all of my clients to the new software B) The amount of historic data I will be loosing upon migration. The one thing that is particuarly worrying is that if HMRC ever investigate a client I wont be able to access the old software to interigate the data. I know I can save the data in CSV files or PDF's but the time this will take to save everyVAT return, CT return, SA return etc makes me question whether it is actually worth the change.

Obviously I am not the first person to have to go through this process, so any practical help or advice from anyone that has been through the process would be gratefully received.

Replies (9)

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By stratty
09th Feb 2017 15:34

Have a chat with any potential new software provider. They usually have conversion routines for data and in some instances may even offer to do it but usually for a fee.

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By lionofludesch
09th Feb 2017 16:57


"The one thing that is particuarly worrying is that if HMRC ever investigate a client I wont be able to access the old software to interigate the data."

Henceforth, my excuse will be "Well, we were happy keeping records on paper - this is all your fault."

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Replying to lionofludesch:
By rob winder
09th Feb 2017 17:09

Not a particularly useful response for historic records that I DIDN'T KEEP ON PAPER.

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Replying to rob winder:
By lionofludesch
09th Feb 2017 17:12

Ach - you can always tell them you were bullied into trying software out in preparation for MTD.

Be inventive.

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Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
09th Feb 2017 18:46

Are the only copies of documents stored in the software?

How did you get client approval of tax returns?

I have pdf copies of all tax returns.

Picking up on stratty's comment regarding client details and transfer - software companies will be used to dealing with this so speak to them

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Replying to Kent accountant:
By rob winder
09th Feb 2017 19:16

In the order of your questions.

Basically, yes all of the details are held on the software.

They were sent a tax calculation (SA302) and returned a signed authorisation.

I don't have pdf copies of all tax returns although now wish I had.

Its not just SA returns, its CT, VAT, statutory accounts etc. Even if I had a copy of the SA return this doesn't hold the transaction by transaction detail that would be required if HMRC carried out an investigation. When they want a breakdown of cost of sales etc what good is a PDF of the tax return? None whatsoever, the devil is in the detail.

As for the software vendors being able to transfer data, I beg to differ. At best they might be able to transfer opening balances and a limited amount of account details like name, address etc. Again I loose the detail and history of ten plus years.

For what its worth I am moving to SageOne and they weren't able to offer any form of data transfer. I have spoken to all the usual suspects like VT, Kashflow, Xero, Quickbooks etc and no one offered a full data transfer so that I didn't loose any historical data.

If any vendors read this and can carry out a full data transfer and offer a competitive price, a fully integrated suite (bookkeeping, payroll, accounts production and tax) and first class support please contact me.

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By Chris h
09th Feb 2017 23:22

Have you considered Wave. It's free and has some good features. I have used Sage one and found it a bit cumbersome, although their final accounts looks good.
I am considering moving to Wave (for non vat clients) and using Taxfiler for accounts and tax

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By Cloudcounter
10th Feb 2017 09:39

Not much help now, I understand, but we've always kept pdf copies of returns, nominal ledgers, VAT workings specifically so that we aren't tied in to the supplier. Our tax return programs have always provided a detailed data summary to break down items like dividends and interest on the returns.

If I was in your position, I'd look at the cost of hiring in somebody (a student to use the cliche) to export the reports as pdfs for the last six years, and from now on save everything that way as a matter of course.

You'd have to weigh up the costs of hiring somebody in (including possibly an additional user licence) against the cost of continuing to use the software at next year's renewal.

If it's too expensive, then you are probably stuck with what you have until your change of practice to saving pdfs accumulates six years worth, when you can leave with no major historic data issues - just the transfer of data, which is another matter.

Thanks (1)
By andybailey
13th Feb 2017 12:32

Hi Rob,

This is a problem I see time and time again from accountants and other professional service companies and is the main reason I founded Octopus Blue; helping Accountants choose and adopt the right software for their practice. I have been an accountant and tax adviser for nearly 20 years, and spent the last 10 working for accounting software companies as domain expert and product manager, and have been through the software switching process many times as the accountant and the software provider.

Please contact me on 07974 717713 or [email protected] and let’s discuss how we can work together to get your practice up and running with the new software, whether it be Sage or anyone else.

Founder Octopus Blue

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