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From best of breed to integrated

From best of breed to integrated

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There are many threads where accountants have moved from integrated software to best of breed.

It would be good to know about experience of those who moved from best breed to integrated software. Was it a good move in terms of efficiency?

I am a best of breed user.


Replies (24)

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By petersaxton
21st Mar 2013 09:23

Not exactly best of breed

I did use TaxCalc for personal tax

but then I also used Excel and Word for accounts and Excel for corporation tax!

I still use Excel for managing deadlines and some time and fees and Outlook for managing tasks although I am looking to utilise Digita more and I am planning to get VIP Task Manager Professional.

As you can imagine going integrated was a great improvement.

I think most people who use Digita or Iris would never change although Iris get complaints about price and CCH and Sage get complaints about quality.

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By redman7
21st Mar 2013 09:46


Whilst I totally understand the benefit of integrated it would be very difficult for me to move away from the efficiency and joy that is VT Transaction+ / VT Final Accounts.



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By Steve Holloway
21st Mar 2013 09:57

Flexibility ...

is very important to me and the last thing I would want is to pick an integrated system and then feel it was all too much of a hassle to move everything should the supplier turn out to be wrong for me. I also never want to be saddled with practice management solution where the information is tied to a particular bespoke file format. I do suspect that my opinion is coloured by the fact that it is just me here and if I had multiple users I might consider something more 'formal' to be desirable.

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By petersaxton
21st Mar 2013 10:06

Tied information

I use Digita - as if you didn't know!

If I did want to change I could export all the data.

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By Steve Holloway
21st Mar 2013 10:15

Yes, I am sure that is the case with most decent systems ...

but I do recall some issues with people who had purchased bespoke document management systems. This was why I went for Filecenter as it is in essence just a clever front end for the windows filing structure although I appreciate that data could be inadvertently deleted etc (hence my coments about having staff).

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By petersaxton
21st Mar 2013 10:32

Very important

I was reviewing how to get emails out of Outlook to reduce the size of my pst file.

I wanted to avoid all the proprietory solutions and I went with MessageSave which saves as a standard Outlook message but has some clever options.


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Glenn Martin
By Glenn Martin
21st Mar 2013 10:44

I am a Digita Fan
I spent a lot of time looking at different systems and took a lot of advice from Aweb users
But Digita struck me as the best solution for me.

Must say nothing but impressed so far it's very slick and easy to use
I like Peter are going through the extras it can do to make my life easier and it does a lot of little extras that others don't which make your operation a lot more efficient.

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By petersaxton
21st Mar 2013 11:01

Digita User Group

Last week I went to a Digita Focus group.

Digita are holding them throughout the country. We discuss the good and bad points about the software and how it can be improved. I'm very happy with the software as it is but Digita seem to want to listen to their users and make it even better.

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By petersaxton
21st Mar 2013 11:09

Integrated v Best of Breed

Some people seem to think that integration is over rated. They say: "Is it so hard to enter a few addresses a couple of times?" There's so much more to it than that.

The Time and Fees uses the data in the Contact Manager. Accounts Production, Corporation Tax, Personal Tax and Company Secretarial uses the data in the Contact Manager. Personal Tax and Corporation Tax uses the data in the Accounts Production. Company Secretarial uses the data in the accounts Production and Contact Manager. I'm sure there's a lot more integration!

Digita have wrestled with the needs of users of single programs versus the suite users. I think they have come up with some very effective ideas using modules which can have their level of integration varied. Or at least that's how I understand it!

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21st Mar 2013 13:36

Interesting thread

We run a practice of 35 odd people on a best of breed basis. We clearly understand the data which is common to various applications and have controls in place to ensure we almost never have problems because of this.

And when you got down to analysing what you lose from best of breed it (to us) is a no brainer. The best example is accounts production and CT. After the client is set up (granted there is a small amount of additional set up time) we reckon it takes less than 5 minutes to transfer the necessary data from our accounts production application to our CT application. But we reckon that, on average we save around 2 hours on the accounts production.

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By petersaxton
21st Mar 2013 14:25

It's a miracle!

So if I moved from Digita to your secret software I would be able to go back in time?

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By MissAccounting
21st Mar 2013 15:23

I think the thing with software is that you have to use what you are comfortable with whether that be Excel, BoB or fully integrated.  What is right for one is not necessarily right for someone.

Some people can quantify the time savings with both who have used both methods where some people are put off by the high cost for trying an "unknown" by switching to fully integrated.

I intially went with VT/BTC combination when I set up in practice and have managed well ever since.  Ive looked at the possibility of switching to a full suite but always put it on the back burner because things are working OK for me currently and I dont want to rock the boat so to speak.

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By petersaxton
21st Mar 2013 16:06

My experience

I was using TaxCalc and MS Office which, I admit, is not exactly "B of B" but I when to seminars and talked to Iris and Digita. I don't think you would find many people thinking they are inferior products. What I like about Digita is that a large firm would have exactly the same software. If there's anything I need to do I know it can be done. My choice eventually was based on philosophy. I wasn't buying just the software but buying into the future of the business. The people have to have the right attitude and vision for many years to come.

I am aiming to move from Sage Payroll to Moneysoft in April. I would hope that it wouldn't be as traumatic as changing a complete suite of accountancy software. Unusually I am changing for financial reasons. I was paying nearly £2,000 for Sage Accounts, Sage Payroll and Sage P11D for 50 clients. I realised that none of my clients were using Sage so I was only using Sage for payroll. I stopped my subscription to Sage Accounts and now I am paying less than £1,000. I can buy Moneysoft in April for £112 + VAT. I'll run a few clients side by side for a few months and then make a final decision.

Being on my own makes me a lot more confident about change.

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By orchardacc
21st Mar 2013 20:59

Moving on ......

I have always been a fan of VT, taxcalc and moneysoft. In between, i used logical office and dropped it after a year as i could get the grips of the program. This year, i have decided to go integrated and now using Keytime. Although, i will still carry on using moneysoft for payroll as i cannot see any payroll software out there that can take moneysoft off my hands.

I am very pleased with the software so far. The account production, tax returns software are very easy to use. ( not as easy as VT though). Still having few issues with their client manager but the support team are currently working on it.

With a growing practice, it has become necessary for us to go this way because of flexibility and been able to deal with clients efficiently especially with emails and follow up.

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By Roy Price
22nd Mar 2013 11:40

Accounting Software

I have been a sole practitioner for many years and therefore have to work very efficiently and have used the Digita Suite or software; we are also moving to the Digita Practice Manager as well.  The benefits apart from time saving is the maintenance of accuracy as data can be transferred automatically to the tax programs.  Like any software product you do need to cross check results in the event of problems I have found their help line extremely efficient.   I use Quick Books Accountant and Enterprise for Payroll and Book keeping.  The payroll is excellent.  As a Pro Advisor you can obtain a shrink wrapped copy of the software to sell on you can often have it for free during the year.  Roy Price AIMS Accountants - Wimborne

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By petersaxton
22nd Mar 2013 12:40

QuickBooks Pro Advisor

" I use Quick Books Accountant and Enterprise for Payroll and Book keeping.  The payroll is excellent.  As a Pro Advisor you can obtain a shrink wrapped copy of the software to sell on you can often have it for free during the year.

You have a copy for yourself and a copy (or copies of other versions) to sell.

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Stephen Quay
By squay
22nd Mar 2013 15:07

Digita, TAS, Xero, MyPAYE, Excel

I have used the Digita integrated suite from many years and would be reluctant to change as it performs well and I am use to it. I use the contact manager, personal tax, corporation tax, accounts production and company secretarial, the latter now integrated at last. Accounts production creates the full and abbreviated iXBRL accounts and company secretarial allows me to submit that abbreviated iXBRL file direct to Companies House. Its all very efficient. I don't use the full practice manager as I don't need the time and fees option - I have a very old timeslips program that works fine. And before anyone shoots me down for measuring time spent on jobs let me say I sometime bill by value but I still like to know how long its taken.

For many years I used TAS Payroll and TAS Books and later TAS Books for Accountants. In 2012 we changed from TAS to Xero because I believe cloud accounting had come of age. We shan't be renewing our TAS licence this year and that decision was made easier when they announced last year they were pulling the plug on TAS Payroll and that it would not be making the leap to RTI. Having looked around for a cloud option I have chosen MyPAYE.

So for 2013-14 we shall have MyPAYE for payroll, Xero for book-keeping and the Digita suite again for everything else. For those clients with simple annual accounts I shall journal directly into Digita accounts production.

Despite all the above I still like to use excel for cash flows, CDP records and to do lists, etc.

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By kathrynfletcher
23rd Mar 2013 11:18


I have slowly over the last couple of years migrated all my software to Sage.  I use Sage 50 for my own accounts, Sage payroll, Sage Accounts Production Advanced, Sage Corporation Tax, Sage Taxation, Sage Company Secretarial, Sage Practice Solution.  I love the way that all the software talks to the other and changes details across all of them thanks to having Sage Practice Solution.

I moved server yesterday and was dreading it because of the way the software links to each other but it went like a dream and Sage technical support were great. 

A number of my clients use Sage Payroll and/or Sage 50.  Importing from a Sage 50 back up to the Accounts Production Software and then into Sage Corporation Tax or Sage Taxation is seamless and saves so much time.

We also file everything online at Companies House and HMRC and the Sage software makes it so easy.

Its not cheap but I believe the time savings and the peace of mind that we are compliant, are paying for it.

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By Flash Gordon
23rd Mar 2013 12:24

VT, BTC, Moneysoft

I find that I've saved more time with these three than I think I could with integrated software. Maybe a bigger practice would be different but for me right now it works...

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By petersaxton
23rd Mar 2013 13:07

VT, BTC, Moneysoft

I think these are undoubtedly good software programs and if the bookkeeping is prepare on VT software there are undoubted time saving in that area.

The accounts production and tax software offered by Digita and Iris is very good, too, though. I know that my accounts and tax software will do everything that is needed by any accountant whether a sole practitioner or an international firm of accountants.

The integration is a great time saver especially when you combine time recording, invoicing and tracking.

I am at the stage where I don't use Digita Practice Management as well as I could but I can see that I could save a lot of time if I had the time to spend on it - chicken and egg!? A bigger firm could set up a task force to implement it or pay for Digita to do it.

I'm using Excel, Outlook and today I will buy VIP Task Manager Professional. Once I get these three programs working to their potential I will start to move over slowly to Digita Practice Management.

I will also consider the Digita Data Mining software which is ideal for identify potential additional services to current clients.


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Locutus of Borg
By Locutus
23rd Mar 2013 13:33

Best of breed vs integrated
If you are a certain size practice, more than say 2 or 3 workers with say 100 reasonably sized clients then integrated makes sense. Iris is a great integrated solution.

If you only have a few dozen clients then best of breed is probably best, as the time re-inputting data across 2 or 3 databases is hardly prohibitive and annual cost of products like VT and Moneysoft is minuscule compared to a big integrated solution.

One risk with going with a big integrated solution is that the software company can, at a whim, increase their prices (Sage have been known to do this) and it is a real pain and cost moving to another.

I currently have PTP for accounts production and corporate tax, although since iXBRL there are two separate databases (PTP accounts production is essentially Iris lite and corporate tax uses the old PTP engine). I feel quite happy that should PTP suddenly hike their prices to Iris levels then pretty quickly I could move over to VT and BTC like Flash Gordon.

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By petersaxton
23rd Mar 2013 13:52


If Digita increased their prices I could move but obviously there would be a cost in time involved.

I did quite a bit of research before I chose Digita. It would appear that Sage and Iris try to get as much as possible out of their customers whereas Digita works hard at developing their software in a more efficient way. They increase their total fees by offering more products to their customers who are impressed by what they are currently using. I would also imagine they would get a lot of recommendations from customers which would increase their client base substantially.

I think I've been with Digita about eight years now and I haven't noticed a price increase in that time. There may have been small changes but I haven't noticed them and I do compare my invoices. I wonder how many other major software suppliers can say the same? I think when they introduced a major component of Practice Management I wasn't impressed with the banding for users/clients/prices and I mentioned this to my account manager. I think other customers had mentioned the same point because very soon they brought in a more favourable set of bands. Digita really does listen to their customers!

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By Ned Ludd
23rd Mar 2013 13:55


used keytime since opening own practice in 2008

use it for accounts prod, SA and CT


Was very quirky and not great on presentation of accounts initially and Im sure we absoluely did their heads in at the outset but every little gripe we had we brought to their attention and they dealt with every single one. its come n leaps and bounds and not had one prob with internet filing incluiding ixbrl. I had previously used Auditman back in the old DOS based era, then sage accounts and finally IRis which tended to have some real issues at times; but that was over 5 years ago!!


For payroll Moneysoft is a great piece of kit; very very user friendly; great price. Hope it stacks up on RTI.


Other than that Excel spreadsheets for accounts workings and to keep track of deadlines etc.


One job where I produce the actual accounts in excel purely for presentation to directors as its needs a hell of a lot of detail.






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By petersaxton
23rd Mar 2013 14:02

Moneysoft and Digita

I'm going to get Moneysoft in April and if it does the job I will switch from Sage Payroll.

Why don't you phone Digita and explain the issue to them? Digita Accounts Production will do anything you need. They may be willing to offer a one client licence at a good price.

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