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Online software review for WHOLE suite ?

Are there any comparisons of providers that offer THE WHOLE SUITE online (not hosted desktop)?

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Hi

Are there any good reviews that compare both big players (CCH, Digita, IRIS etc) and small players (Xero, Capium, RELATE etc)  regarding the WHOLE SUITE?

I have a feeling most practices still mix and match, which personally drives me nuts, different CRMs, jnls on two pieces of software, opening balances etc. 

I would LOVE to see a review showing what providers

1) currently offer on the cloud

2) what they are still lack (and suggested timeframes)

3) how easy to use it is, how good the audit trail is, fast to navigate, how good the reporting and exports to Excel are etc

4) prices

Not much to ask, eh?

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By johnt27
25th Jun 2021 08:17

Far too many questions to answer here.

In simple terms the legacy providers have a suite that works for the market they target, but there are many caveats. These are mainly server based with some dabbling in cloud. Integrations, both internal and external, range from reasonable to non-existant.

The new cloud players don't have a suite but they are able to serve some (generally) smaller practices deal with some or all of their compliance requirements. Only FreeAgent has CT, IT and CoHo filing so far, but with MTD this will come for others.

Personally, I see best of breed as the most advantageous to practices at the moment. The problem is many competing products don't integrate well, but most accountants turn away from products that don't which usually means looking at the cloud based players. MTD for CT I think will significantly change this as there is an expectation that end to end bookkeeping to final compliance is linked both up and down the chain using APIs.

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By Hugo Fair
25th Jun 2021 11:21

The problem with multiple points of 'integration' (which are in most cases actually interfaces not true integration) is that inevitably they lead to random bits of data 'corruption' (usually more mis-allocation between systems than actual corruption), which degrades the reliability of your data the further downstream you go.

This is hardly surprising and was a known issue with multiple communication points in any system more than 100 years ago - hence (the possibly apocryphal) story from WW1 when a general requested a message to be sent:
"Send reinforcements, we're going to advance" ... but ,after multiple 'pass it on' events, what arrived at HQ was "Send three and fourpence, we're going to a dance".

And the problem with APIs is the user cannot easily see any difference between data at its source and what arrives, so remains blissfully ignorant of problems.

The moral/message to be taken away?
The answer doesn't lie in particular technologies (such as Cloud), but in the appropriateness of the software's capabilities to your organisation's needs - and in minimising the number of 'feeds' between packages.

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By yaakovgrant
29th Jun 2021 16:14

The moral/message to be taken away?
The answer doesn't lie in particular technologies (such as Cloud), but in the appropriateness of the software's capabilities to your organisation's needs

[/quote]

Do you think it is fair to say that "good" software gives different organisations the freedom to model different processes whereas "bad" software constrains you to work in one way only, according to how the software operates eg filing deadlines?

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By Hugo Fair
29th Jun 2021 17:05

A (very cautious) Yes to your new question.
Personally I wouldn't use the labels "good" and "bad", because such judgements are dependant on the organisation's objectives when using the software.

For instance, even with something as 'basic' as Payroll ... all the software should hopefully perform PAYE calcs correctly and produce RTI files for submission. But one company may be more interested in improving timeliness/accuracy of data input for hours worked (whilst minimising the admin overhead in this process); whilst another company may see a higher priority being the management of an integrated suite of benefits (with interfaces to multiple pension schemes). And there are of course very many other possibilities.

Modelling different processes (rather than being constrained by the only way in which the software works) is broadly a 'good' thing - but will cost more to set-up (in licences and implementation effort), which will need to be considered when deciding whether the result is beneficial for a particular client's specific needs.

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By yaakovgrant
29th Jun 2021 16:09

thanks...just a shame we have to wait for MTD for CT, which is set to become mandatory from 2026. It's crazy to think we have bank feeds and APIs, but so much duplication of data across our own programs still.

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By johnt27
30th Jun 2021 15:02

I don't think it is crazy. As I mentioned many of the pre-existing suites are built on legacy systems. If you're lucky they have a SQL database and so data can be served and shared but some of these suites pre-date SQL. It's one of the reasons many of the legacy pack have struggled to transition to cloud and open APIs because essentially they need to rebuild their products from the ground up, whilst keeping exisiting suites up to date from a compliance point of view.

In addition, many of the legacy firms have driven product growth through acquisition so have ended up bolting together good products that were built with competition not compatibility in mind. It's the same reason it took the big banks so long, and so much money, to comply with open banking and PSD 2. They have tons of legacy systems with huge interoperability problems with often forgotten about linkages buried in code.

A combination of competition and MTD is forcing the legacy providers to change but that doesn't mean every suite and product will be exceptional.

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