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Moving away from Iris

Moving away from Iris

I currently use Iris full practice suite.

I have around 400 business clients and 700 personal tax. Iris costs me a lot of money - circa £7k per year. I don't feel I get it's full benefit.

What are members experiences of other software? I'm considering VT Accounts, BTC tax, Keytime, Taxcalc. Particularly if you changed from Iris.

Any thoughts good or bad would be appreciated.


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27th May 2012 10:59


Have you considered Keytime?

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By DMGbus
27th May 2012 11:37

Unit costs of £6.36 per client

A value measure that I look at is unit costs, so here it looks like you have:

£7,000 costs divided by (400+700) clients


Unit cost of

£6.36 per client.

Now, I've never used IRIS so don't know if it's anything special.

Also, I don't know what unit costs for other packages for this scale of practice are - I wonder what they work out at in comparison.




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27th May 2012 11:37


Another vote for Keytime here.

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27th May 2012 12:36

It doesn't sound expensive

I have about 200 clients in total and Digita costs me £2.5k. I could maybe get by with spending less than £2k because I don't use everything right now. I am paying about £10 per client which I think is good value for money, especially when everything is integrated and I can produce accounts and tax returns very quickly. I know people can pay a lot less for non-integrated software but I wouldn't change.

I think Iris is very good accounting software but so is Digita which I feel is more flexible but harder to take full advantage out of the box. You can pay for consultants to customise Digita software to take advantage of its features from day one. Another advantage of Digita is that you pay by client for each software program. This means you only have to upgrade as you use the clients in the software which could involve a considerable saving by not having to pay for new clients straight away and reducing your number of clients when they leave.

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27th May 2012 13:33

Getting full benefit?

Sorry can't answer your question as I've been 100% IRISd for a long time but I just want to reinforce the comments above.

There have been many posts on here over the years about Iris cost and, more particularly, its alien rate of inflation however I have yet to see any responses that state that they have got the same facilities elsewhere (eg Digita) for much of a financial saving.

My own practice is now half what it was a few years ago and on a client size basis, I pay a lot more than you but I feel I do get the full benefit of its facilities.

You say that you have the full package so, do you make full use of Practice Management, incl staff & job management, automail, company secretarial, or even Openbooks, OpenDocs etc?

Standing back, as DMGbus does, I look at what Iris (or any similar system) enables me to do for £XK and consider it in terms of what it saves me in staff costs & time.

Doesn't mean that other software may suit your practice better but going on cost alone I think is dangerous.

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By Locutus
27th May 2012 14:49

Don't forget the cost of migrating client data

If you are going to move to another system then don't forget the costs of migrating the client data.  I found this quite time-consuming last year when PTP changed to their new final accounts system (which is effectively a re-badged version of Iris).  Although there was a conversion routine, most of the standing data had to be re-input.

Fortunately I was familiar with using Iris, so there were no training costs.

I would expect the cost of conversion and training will probably wipe out any cost savings on the product for the first couple of years.

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27th May 2012 15:41


Isn't the hassle & cost of conversion what a lot of software companies rely on, plus long notice periods for non-renewal?

I believe some software suppliers will do the data transfer for you, and it is in their interests to keep the associated fee as low as possible.

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By Locutus
27th May 2012 19:46

@ ShirleyM

Software companies are experts at building in barriers to conversion in their software and contracts.

I've yet to see a conversion process that runs perfectly.  Would be useful to hear from anyone that has gone through the conversion process.

If PTP ups its charges to Iris levels then I may be changing software providers myself.  Fortunately I have far, far fewer clients than the OP to convert!

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By Jimess
27th May 2012 18:20

Just changed from Iris to VT & BTC

I have just changed from Iris to VT and BTC and I have to say that I wish I had done it long before now. I had used Iris for a lot of years and was worried about moving to something else but the experience for my practice was quite positive.  I was paying circa £5K plus for a range of Iris products and was looking at another huge hike in fees for my sins of exceeding the client limit for the fee band. VT and BTC worked out at less than £1,000 per annum and I have to say that I like them better.  They are easy to use and get to know and pretty user friendly, with unlimited clients and trust tax returns thrown in.  (It always irked me that I had to purchase a separate 5 client licence for trust tax returns for the one and only tiny trust client I have). BTC comes with a powerful practice management module and unlike Iris there are progress logs for Partnership and CT clients as well as individuals (unless CT and partnerships were in Iris practice management which I did not have). The only problem you may have is the transfer of data, there may be a way of doing this with data mining on Iris and I think if you can get a CSV file some of the basic data can be transferred.  We moved around 120 individuals and about 50 companies, partnerships, the one trust and a handful of other matters that we could or would not service on Iris for various reasons. We did this manually, mainly because we wanted to tidy up the database. All new clients coming on board after 1 April were held in abeyance until we got the software in place and then put straight on to BTC. Three months down the line we have the main data on the BTC database that will enable us to track work.  I can see that we will gain more benefit next year when we have had a good run at it.  VT is easy to set up and comes with it's own walk through instructions, but once you get used to it it flies.I took note of what some of the AWeb VT users said and run everything through VT transaction + and then copy over to the accounts prep side.  It makes things much easier.

Take a look at the demo versions and have a play around with them - you get quite generous amounts of trial time on both packages. 

Just a word of caution about leaving Iris - they will try to tie you in for a further year irrespective of how you pay for your licences (i.e monthly, quarterly etc).  I stuck to my guns and eventually got them down to 1 months notice, but they made loud noises about it being concessionary.

Good luck.


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28th May 2012 08:47

It's three

yes's for Keytime -you're through to the next round!

I migrated from IRIS over 4 years ago now and have never looked back. IRIS had become a fairly arrogant outfit in my opinion and really couldn't have cared less, for their "loss" of one very small practitioner.

Keytime are entirely the opposite and, in my opinion you really do feel that they care about your business and your software well-being. Jim Mackenzie would be my first point of call.

Thanks (1)
28th May 2012 09:22

Aww shucks.

Thanks for the recommendations Bob, Andrew and Time for change - a wonderful way to start a Monday morning!

QualityAccountancy - please get in touch if you have any questions about Keytime.



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28th May 2012 10:30


They obviously don't need my vote as others have got here before me!!

However I changed from Iris to Keytime 2 years ago (or was it 3 years? ... time flies!!) and I love the software.

Everything about the software is simple and where you'd expect it to be but that's not to say you are left on your own after you purchase the software, the support team are there whenever you need them.

As an example, I was deleting old files from my computer last week and I deleted something I shouldn't have. I emailed Keytime support who replied within minutes and shortly after that they remotely fixed the problem for me and I was back up and running again. Thank you Keytime.

You'll also save yourself a fortune so don't delay, sign up today!!

Regarding the changeover, I believe Keytime can help you with the conversion process to import your old data but I decided that I wanted to input all my clients standing data from scratch to ensure everything was correct and up to date. I did this at the start of each accounts/tax job and it hardly took any time at all, the only thing was posting last years trial balance but again it didn't take long.

Speak to Keytime, go on!!


Thanks (2)
28th May 2012 10:30


I have seen and/or been involved in most migrations people have mentioned. Whether it is from/to IRIS/Digita/Keytime/Other there are a few basic pointers to consider:

1. Know your notice period and contract. There is no point considering change if you are then forced to see out a long contract. Most compliance software is sold as 12 month minimum contract.

2. Do the research. Make sure you demo a live version of the software you are moving to.

3. Buy on value not price. It is very easy to just compare on price. Consider the other efficiencies that can be gained by fitting software to how you work.

4. Get detailed analysis of what will be migrated. Most migration routines will transfer basic details, will this also cover historical data? Ask what things won't be migrated?

By working closely with a provider there is no reason why firms cannot move smoothly from one package to another. It is not always easy but happens all the time.


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By Marmite
28th May 2012 12:40

Data cleansing

I actually think that migration to alternative software is a good thing to do once every few years as it forces us to undertake a process of "data cleansing". It also keeps the providers on thier toes.

We recently moved from Sage products to BTC and VT and found thge entire process very easy. We now also have a very complete database of client data.

We are a relatively small practice so I am sure the process of migration of larger practices will be much more demanding.

After 3 months of using BTC and VT I am very happy and would not hesitate to recommend




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