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Practice Management Software Client Portal

I am considering a practice management solution with client portals

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But I wonder if the clients will actually make use of their portal, what is your experience?

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By williams lester accountants
12th May 2021 19:14

We don’t offer an option not to use it! They must sign accounts and returns within our portal (in Accountancy Manager) and they can also upload any documents which are not suitable to be sent to Dext or QBO/Xero, such as loan agreements, leases etc.

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ALISK
By atleastisoundknowledgable...
12th May 2021 20:01

I used to use VirtualCabinet. About 50% of clients were fine, 30% grumbled and 20% point blank refused to use it.

I’ve taken a few clients on from firms who used Iris OpenSpace (Ed?) who non-stop bitched about it and the firm refusing to email anything, plus the client not knowing their logins etc.

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Slim
By Slim
12th May 2021 20:34

I've thought about it but I'm someone who it annoys and would rather be emailed it.

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blue sheep
By Nigel Henshaw
13th May 2021 06:38

We started using Accountancy Manager last year, we have taken a slow and steady approach to getting clients signed up to the portal and we are up to approx 30/40%, as I expected there are some that like it and others that see it as a pain and others that just refuse.

All new clients have to use it so they just accept that, onboarding of a client is now done with a few clicks whereas before even just formatting the LOE used to take a while.

The portal is only one aspect to the software, it has much improved our efficiency, task management and communication with clients (automated reminders, e-signing of documents etc).

I was a bit unsure to start with especially as its not cheap, but now it would be very difficult to live without it

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By 0098087
13th May 2021 13:38

Had a nightmare with one client. Doesn't want anything in the cloud as he was hacked a few weeks ago. Told me they probably got info from me once they got it off him. Told him we have enough firewalls to sink most battleships. Amazed you can get new clients to sign up. We use accountancy manager but they don't know where to start.

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By ENJAY
13th May 2021 09:40

Thanks all for your insights on this. I am in 2 mind. I have been playing with Senta for a while and only introduced one client to it. now with the IRIS acquisition I am looking to move on as my previous experience with IRIS as an org was not good.

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Replying to ENJAY:
ALISK
By atleastisoundknowledgable...
13th May 2021 09:54

If it helps, we use Glide for practice management - workflows with automated communiques. Everything is super configurable, in that you totally create the workflows yourself with whatever wording, triggers, steps you want. It comes with some basic templated ones which you'll probably want to change, but it's all relatively simple to do. Create the individual buttons/steps etc you want, then design a logic tree.

Glide has a job planner module & timesheet module, although we found them too cumbersome.

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By 1 2
13th May 2021 09:58

We use Senta, and are happy with it (no negative changes of note since Iris acquisition).

Like Slim said, it does annoy me when suppliers need to send us completely non-contentious stuff, no sensitive data, but insist on putting it behind a client portal. It's especially annoying when it's a portal we'd only use once a year just to get that document (eg annual insurance renewal/similar). However, partly for fear of GDPR laws, partly for fear of upsetting clients hot on data security, we do tend to get the more sensitive things behind Senta. It does also enable things like e-signatures to approve figures, which most clients understand are important. Touch wood we havne't had too many grumbles.

Another key thing we make use of is the "forms". Basically a bunch of boxes a client has to complete. Ignoring privacy concerns you could ask for the same data via email/similar...but that makes it quite easy for clients to miss out/ignore certain boxes. You can also add useful little tips to the form, eg to help a client know where to look to find a specific reference.

Trial it with some of your more tech savvy clients, see how they react/figure out what it can best be used for within your firm. Then you can gradually roll it out to the less tech savvy.

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By Hugo Fair
13th May 2021 11:27

It all depends on your target market - or, perhaps more accurately, on how you want your offering/proposition to be seen by your clients.
If I've picked, say, a conveyancing Solicitor on the basis that the job's simple and the quote is low ... then I'll tolerate the need for passwords and trying to navigate around a strange portal.
Conversely if I've picked, say, a specialist Tax adviser on the basis that the job's complex and multiple iterative conversations will be needed ... then I'll refuse to do anything that isn't commensurate with the personal service for which I'm paying (and this won't include spending time learning the vagaries of yet another portal).

So horses for courses, but I'd certainly recommend getting a less tech-savvy client to have a play with any that you're considering. I did this and IRIS OpenSpace failed the test almost immediately ... client had to end up printing/signing/scanning/emailing for me to upload to IRIS at our end!

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By eileengrigg
20th May 2021 09:52

Another vote for Accountancy Manager. Been with them since April last year. We've got a lot of small sole traders and one-man-band companies. As we filed each tax return for the 19-20 season, we signed up all but one client onto the portal. We quoted COVID and GDPR reasons. Clients are split 50/50 whether they send info via the portal but we keep all documentation on there - IDs, 64-8, signed accounts and returns. Now couldn't live without it for time recording and task reminders.

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By 0098087
20th May 2021 10:02

Had an issue with one client. Won't touch the client portal. We asked to update his ids for MLR. He says he was hacked a few weeks ago and said he wouldn't send it over as they'd hack us as well.

Eventually he agreed so long as it wasn't in the cloud, where does he think our back up goes to.

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By Software Seeker
20th May 2021 12:23

We use Accountancy Manager for general internal office admin (control lists, time recording, tasks, reminders, etc.), but haven't yet taken the plunge to go the whole hog with their client portal facility. We've always used IRIS Openspace for our client portal (sharing and approving documents, etc.) which has always worked well and it looks nice and professional too. Can't think of a reason to change at the moment. I know it probably isn't the most cost-effective way of doing things, but it suits the need. 99% of clients use the portal and, importantly, are happy with it. In the early days, we offered a fee reduction for those using the client portal, but we don't need to any more as internet-based services become the norm and is what people expect tbh.

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By CardiffAccountant
22nd May 2021 21:02

Have been using Accountancy Manager since last summer.

Advised all existing clients that the portal allowed for better security and met the latest GDPR guidance. All clients ‘signed up’ with no hesitation (about 60 or so).

All new clients have to use the portal in order to ‘e-sign’ LOE, proposal and such like.

Many are now uploading documents with little difficulty - and they seem to be more than happy with this.

Getting ‘signatures’ is now so much easier.

Lastly, the task manager, automated emails and the like makes life so much easier.

Be sure to spend time on deciding how and when to set the tasks/emails.

Whether you use Accountancy Manager or AN Other provider, it is a move that I would strongly recommend.

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